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The City of Jasper has marked a new chapter in its history.

Community leaders, including Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch, Jasper Mayor Dean Vonderheide, Jasper Arts Director, Kyle Rupert, and Library Director, Christine Golden cut the ribbon for the Thyen-Clark Cultural Center on Friday.

The ceremony was originally scheduled to take place earlier this year. But like many events, officials had to make some adjustments because of the pandemic. Rupert explains what they did to keep the community safe.

“When we started this project, we planned on having a grand opening with hundreds of people. And of course, life happens, and we had to make adjustments. Fortunately, things got to a point where we felt like we could gather those who helped make this possible, and really mark this occasion,” Rupert says.

Even with these challenges, Rupert says the pandemic is helping the community find new ways to stay connected.

“Over the last year, we found ourselves turning to books, movies, television, and other art forms to stay connected to friends and family,” Rupert says.

The library has over 87,000 books and has already had thousands of visitors since it opened to the public in January.

Library Director, Christine Golden, says she has been waiting for a space like this for years.

“This has been a moment that I’ve been thinking about for about seven years. I’m surrounded by thousands of books every day, and I don’t think any book could tell a story quite like this one. It is a story of friendships, challenges, perseverance, and in the end, triumph,” Golden says.

The library also has several new areas for visitors to enjoy. There are new sitting areas and even a new space for classes called the Maker Space. The room has a 3-D printer, laptops, a whiteboard, sewing machine, and an ironing board.

The center will be holding art classes in areas like this once more space opens up.

The facility is also home to the Jasper Community Arts Center.

Three galleries of artwork are currently on display for the public to view. More space will become available in the future for even more artists to show off their pieces.

Lieutenant Governor, Suzanne Crouch, also had a chance to walk through the facility and says she has seen nothing like it.

“I travel around Indiana a lot and come upon very special places. Southwest Indiana is a special part of the state. But I will tell you, Jasper, Indiana, is a jewel,” Crouch says.

The Thyen-Clark Cultural Center on 3rd Avenue in downtown Jasper near the riverfront.

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