Editorial: By the numbers

By Brent Frankenhoff

Jensen Center Executive Director

Jensen Community Spirit Editor/Ad Manager

Numbers. Nearly everyone deals with them on a daily basis and, over the past several months, we’ve been working with more numbers than usual as we developed and now begin to implement our 3Stage Expansion Project. The popularity of the Center continues to increase as it is utilized by community members, businesses, private rentals, and organizations on a daily basis. In the past year, the Center has hosted or been rented for:

Event Type                                                     Number

                                                                        of times

High School Quiz Bowl/Testing/Clubs                 26

Bridal Showers                                                   5

Elementary Concerts/Entertainment                    3

Family Holiday Gatherings                                  5

Musical/Dance/Play Rehearsals                         53

Musical/Dance/Play Performances                     12

Concerts                                                            5

Graduation Parties                                             8

Exercise classes                                               176

Church Services/Youth Group                           134

Senior Meal Site for ADRC                                 52

Pickup location for home-delivered meals          208

Cooking/Craft/Wellness Workshops                    13

Memorial Gatherings                                          3

Corporate/Business Seminar Days                     14

Baby Showers                                                    8

Safety Courses (Hunter/Snowmobile and ATV)   11

Scrabble/Card Games                                       48

Craft Fairs                                                          2

Non-profit Organization Meetings                       49

Anniversary Parties                                            1

Class Reunions                                                  2

Music Lessons                                                  19

Blood Drives                                                      2

Drug Take-Back Events                                      2

Retirement Parties                                              1

Birthday Parties                                                  6

Dances                                                              2

Banquets                                                           2

Benefits                                                             1

Piano Recitals                                                    2

In addition, the Center sees plenty of drop-in visits to ask Jensen Center and community-wide questions, see fresh artwork in our display cases and in our lobby, use our restrooms, have a quick meeting, pick up rental items, and more. Currently, this year we are on target to increase activities by 5%.

We estimate that between 1,700 and 2,200 people visit the Center each month, which translates to 20,000 to 26,400 visitors coming through our doors each year. While many visitors are local, we bring in event and rental attendees from the surrounding area and statewide as well, creating additional traffic for our local businesses.

All of this activity benefits the Tomorrow River community. Our theater has had a significant influence on the lives of many, including the three young people who grew up in Amherst (Seth Barnes, Chandler Benn, and Ben Villnow) who are spotlighted on this month’s cover. We cannot count the number of times renters and users of the facility have mentioned how fortunate a community of this size is to have the Center and to publish the Community Spirit you are currently reading. We continue to owe a debt of gratitude to the family of Lettie Jensen, whose original bequest in the mid-1980s allowed this community gathering space to be built and maintained with no burden on the local tax rolls.

After 35 years, it’s time to add additional functionality and safety to the Center, and that’s where the 3Stage Expansion Project comes in. Phase 1 is now fully under way with the construction of a beautiful terrace on the southwest corner of the building available to the community on a first-come, first-served basis when not being rented, and we’re finalizing plans for Phase 2, the long-needed fire alarm and sprinkler system, and Phase 3, which will add additional storage and performance space for the theater. As you can imagine, these ambitious plans take money well beyond the prudent investments of the Jensen bequest. We encourage everyone in the Spirit’s readership to consider a donation to the project to help us bring it to completion as quickly as possible before construction costs increase further.

As we continue the initial fundraising efforts for our 3Stage Expansion Project, we’ve been dreaming what would happen if 5 very generous donors contributed $100,000 each or 10 families donated $50,000 each or 100 individuals gave $5,000 or 500 contributed $1,000. In each of those cases, it would generate $500,000 for the project. These donors would be recognized on our permanent outside donor wall of the terrace. All donations of any size are acknowledged on the gratitude list that appears in each issue of the Spirit until the full $900K project is completed.Our Board of Directors and our staff are very excited about this project and can just imagine how much more we can do once everything’s complete. The new double doors in the Community Room have already proven useful during the week-long Emerson Automation Solutions School in early June, and the newly expanded soundbooth in the theater will allow our sound and light technicians more room to work during our Summer productions of the children’s musical, Princess Whatsername, and the community musical, Grease.

You’ll find more information and a donation form and QR code on pages 15 and 16 as well as at our website, jensencenter.org. Follow our progress on the website and on our Facebook page at Jensen Community Center/Community Spirit.


Educational presentations are just one of the many activities that the Jensen Center offers each year.


The Jensen Community Center is a popular venue for numerous Tomorrow River Schools’ activities from Quiz Bowl to testing to social clubs to entertainment and beyond.


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