Nature center groundbreaking planned this week

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Above is an artist's rendering of the Nature at the Confluence Environmental Learning Center in South Beloit. A ground-breaking ceremony will be held Thursday to signal the begining of construction of the center.

SOUTH BELOIT — A groundbreaking ceremony will be held Thursday to mark the beginning of construction of the Nature At The Confluence Environmental Learning Center and Campus.

The groundbreaking will be held at 8 a.m. Thursday at 306 Dickop St. and the public is invited to attend.

The theme of the ceremony is “Planting Seeds of Renewal,” and those in attendance will have the opportunity to help plant seeds of renewal and restoration at the Confluence, which is the area where the Rock River and Turtle Creek meet.

The center is planned to be open by the summer of 2017.

Nature at the Confluence is an initiative of Beloit 2020 in cooperation with the City of South Beloit to transform the area into a community space to celebrate the natural and historic significance of the land. Over the next several months, Phase I work will transform the property into an outdoor recreation and education area that will provide nature-based programs for people from the area and the region. Further developments are anticipated in the future.

Beloit 2020 has worked over the last three years to raise funds to acquire property in the area. All funds for the project have been donated to Beloit 2020 by members of the organization and their families, as well as the Beloit Foundation.

The cost to acquire the property for the Confluence Campus was approximately $500,000 and the cost for the development of the Environmental Learning Center is estimated at $1 million. Beloit 2020 also has established a $1 million endowment fund to sustain education programing at the center. Donors will be recognized for their contributions at the grand opening of Nature at the Confluence in 2017.

Representatives from Angus-Young Associates and Ayres Associates will be at the groundbreaking ceremony to talk about the education center project. Locally sourced building materials that have been designed for this project by Mid-States Concrete Industries will be on display.

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