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The Ruttle Report - Buildings can hold a lot of history

A lot of history and a lot of memories were produced in that old building
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I don't remember my very first time inside the Outlook Civic Centre, but I can surely remember a lot of other good times that were created inside that building.

They're moments in time that I hold near and dear to my heart, and they took place inside that very venue.

As most know, the Civic Centre has undergone a massive overhaul as of late. The facility is very much a "new and improved" one, with some work still left to do on the inside and a lot of work to do on the outside. But that didn't hold back any of the wide eyes and the breath being taken away as people entered the building this past weekend for the casino night event that was held. Sure, the building looks the same on the outside, but it's truly been transformed when you walk right on in. The work that's been done is out of this world.

But seeing the Civic Centre's new digs and upgraded amenities made me think of all the good times and memories that were made when it was still very much "that popcorn ceiling joint".

Back when I was growing up, Boxing Day dances were a regular occurrence. They were fun events and had great timing because you typically got to see a whole bunch of classmates who were home for the holidays. I remember being there in 2005 and 2006 and meeting up with classmates who I hadn't seen since we graduated, and it was great catching up with them. Sometimes I wonder why those Boxing Day dances stopped because as far as I can tell, they were always packed pretty good and always brought the people out. Oh well, maybe one day they'll be picked up again.

Of course, doing what I do for a living and in the town that I do it in, the Civic Centre has very much been a facility where I've covered more than a fair share of stories.

Who can forget any of the Equinox Theatre productions over the years? This is a community theatre group that has been staging plays at that building for over 25 years. Homecoming, Mom's Gift, The Little Mermaid, Hilda's Yard, Fawlty Towers, All The King's Women, I mean, I could go on and on and on with the productions that have been enjoyed in that building. There's set to be another one coming up here at the end of May, 'You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown'. I'm sure the Equinox group is ecstatic about hosting their latest show in the revamped and renovated environment. Looking forward to it.

I remember a few town hall-style meetings that were held there. One of them was held just after the Town of Outlook had let the chief administrator go, perhaps 'unceremoniously' depending on who you're talking to around town. When the meeting arrived, I remember getting the feeling that literally everyone inside that building was expecting some clear-cut answers as to why he was let go. When that answer didn't come, it felt like the air was being let out of the entire building. I stood around and had coffee with a few other people, who just rolled their eyes as if to say, 'Should we have expected anything else?' Yes sir, sometimes the events in that building just created questions instead of getting answers. Life in a small town can be, well, interesting sometimes!

Then there were events such as the Citizen of the Year banquet, which eventually would become the Community Appreciation Awards, growing to include categories that spotlighted youth, businesses, and community events. I can remember some of those events vividly, with speeches done by recipients that produced thunderous applause. These were definitely some of the most fun events I've ever covered in my fifteen years as a community news journalist because they showed exactly what life is like in our comfortable little part of the world; things made to happen thanks to great volunteer efforts and a hell of a lot of gas in the tank by those driven to make all of these things happen. I can remember people such as Lyall Campbell, John McPhail, Bob Stephenson, and Brent Larwood taking the stage to accept such an honor. Everybody's dressed to the nines, wine is flowing at several tables, the food is delicious like always, the conversation is light-hearted and easy-going, and everyone is just there for the same reason - sending our congratulations to all the deserving recipients. These ceremonies were held at the Civic Centre for years, and I gotta say, a lot of memories were made on those nights and I'm sure the recipients of these awards certainly won't forget them anytime soon.

While I'm on the subject, can we just step off the track here a bit? The last Community Appreciation Awards were held in 2019, and I can't help but think that in the three years that it's been absent from Outlook's upcoming events calendar, a whole slew of deserving citizens, youth, businesses and community events have come and gone without being recognized. On the surface of things, I can understand how COVID-19 played a part in the event sitting on the shelf, but I think it goes deeper than that. I have my own ideas on how to revamp it, but I'd love to hear what other people may have to say on the event and how it could possibly make a return because it absolutely SHOULD make a return; there are simply too many outstanding people who make this community what it is to deny that fact. Besides, how cool would it be to have that event return now that the Civic Centre has been remodeled? OK, OK, I'm getting off my soapbox now.

There have been countless events held inside the Outlook Civic Centre, and thanks to the eye-popping work that's been done, it's safe to say that there will be plenty more over the years that are still to come. More dances, more plays, more ceremonies, more town hall meetings, and more of everything else. I look forward to attending all of them and then some. Bring it on.

Can I make a suggestion though, since there are talks of renaming the facility? Instead of expecting some company to pony up some cash so it can be called the "Dunkin' Donuts/SaskTel/Subway/Walmart Centre" or whatever, what if we delved back into Outlook's rich history and selected an outstanding citizen or forefather to name it after? I get that money is a great thing and if it can be produced by offering naming rights to a building, that's neat and all, but I can't help but think there's a unique opportunity to bring some of Outlook's past into both the current and future picture.

But hey, what do I know?

Great to see the facelift on you, Civic Centre.

For this week, that's been the Ruttle Report.