New Community Center in St. Joseph to Honor Wetterling

May 16, 2017 06:42 PM

A new community center in St. Joseph will honor the memory of Jacob Wetterling.

The city council approved plans for the center Monday. It will be built on the current Colts Academy educational site and the design is expected to honor Wetterling, the St. Joseph 11-year-old who was kidnapped and murdered in October of 1989.


His disappearance remained one of the state's biggest unsolved cases until last September when 53-year-old Danny Heinrich admitted he kidnapped, assaulted and murdered Jacob, and led authorities to his remains.

The St. Joseph Community Center will have a lantern lit 24 hours a day, seven days a week - a symbol of porch lights left on for Jacob over the years.

Spires resembling the number 11 will lead to two benches embossed with the 11 attributes Jacob embraced.

The $12 million center will also have 22,000 square feet of gymnasium space with locker rooms and a track.

The neighboring building - Jacob's old elementary school - will be remodeled to include space for youth and senior services.

"The beauty of it all is this came from the community," Jacob's father Jerry said. "This wasn't our idea, our plan, our project, our space."

Both Jerry and Patty Wetterling said they will do whatever they can to make the center a reality. They said the community has needed and wanted one for many years.

"We can think of no better way to honor him and all that he stood for," Jerry Wetterling said.

The city has dedicated $6 million to the center via a half cent sales tax, but it will be looking for donations and grants to cover the remainder. There is a fund set up through Century Bank in St. Joseph.


Jessica Miles

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