One of the biggest accomplishments this past year for the Washington Area Chamber of Commerce was construction of a concert stage and event center at the fairgrounds.

“We worked hand in hand with the city, the park board, Fair Board and contractors, to bring the future to our community,” said Joe Schneider, outgoing Chamber board chair.

“I cannot think of any other community that could have pulled this off,” he said.

Schneider gave a special salute to all of the sponsors who have pledged or donated to the project during the Chamber’s breakfast business meeting, held last Thursday at the Elks Hall.

The facility has been on the Chamber’s “wish list” for at least 20 years, Schneider said.

Pledges and gifts for the concert and event center total $301,000 to date, he said, and fundraising efforts are ongoing. Pledges can be paid out over five years. Total cost for the project was approximately $750,000.

“The city covered the entire cost up front and we will pay them as promised,” Schneider said.

The Chamber also received “enormous contributions” from Gary Terschluse and Ron Unnerstall of Washington Engineering and Architecture, who developed the plans and coordinated the construction at no cost.

“That is huge, folks,” Schneider told Chamber members.

Local contractors also “sharpened their pens” when bidding, he said, to make the project work.

“I thank each and everyone of you for your foresight, commitment and dedication,” said Schneider, who also read off the names of companies and individuals who have donated or pledged to the projects. Those donors include:

Bank of Washington, Ameren Missouri, Lions Club, Rotary Club, Pepsi of New Haven;

Mercy Hospital and Clinic, Grey Eagle Distributing, Edward Jones Advisors, CG Power Systems, Citizens Bank;

Deppe Farms, Heritage Bank, Jaycees, Optimist Club, Wiemann & Pues, Carpenters Council;

Four Rivers Area Young Farmers, Parmentier Auto Body, Quality Coach, Walt Meyer and Chamber.

The new facility features a 5,000-square-foot reinforced concrete main stage, a 1,200-square-foot high-ceiling storage area, an 800-square-foot recreation room, a 400-square-foot office area, restrooms, loading docks and driveways and paved parking for 15 to 20 vehicles.

In addition to being used during the Fair, the multi-use facility is available throughout the year for park department or school programs and other events.

Chamber officials said it provides a low-cost rental space for recreational purposes, more storage area for the parks department, a safe venue for large, main stage events and more parking around Lions Lake.

Individuals, groups or businesses interested in hearing a presentation by the Chamber or making a donation may call 636-239-2715.