CROFTON – A valued northeast Nebraska establishment is closing after years of financial struggle. The board of directors met after the last day of business Thursday afternoon.
The Corps of Discovery Welcome Center sits along Highway 81 in Cedar County, just south of Yankton. It announced it’s closing its doors after more than 19 years of business.
The Welcome Center opened in 2001 and according to their official website, has greeted more than 300,000 travelers from all 50 states and 62 countries.
Board president David Cheng says the spot is popular for not only travelers, but also a gathering place for presentations, local vendors and families.
“People tend to use this facility not just as a rest stop but for shopping, visiting and exploring the area.” Cheng said.
The center’s most dependent source of funds, The Lewis & Clark Natural Resources District, recently told the board that it would not continue its financial support. That, and the lack of donations and general revenue decline made it tough to stay open.
In it’s last several years, the center had a budget of around $58,000.
During the discussion, Cheng looked back at what made the center special for locals and travelers alike.
“There’s a lot of memories in this building, I haven’t been on the board for the 19 years its been open. But in the six years I’ve been on the board. There’s a lot of memories here for me and my colleges, other directors, officers that think of this building of the epitome, the guide to both states.”
Although January 31st was the last day open to the public, volunteers will spend the next two weeks cleaning, moving inventory and donating furniture and appliances. The final day will be February 28th.
“The biggest thing I’m going to miss is the volunteers and the visitors that actually used this center as a guide to their trips, their traveling. I think its important they have this, and without this it’s going to be a big loss for the whole area.”
Cheng says he will miss the center. It’s the same sentiment carried by all board members and volunteers in attendance for the meeting.