The Downtown Development Authority has raised $1 million for the David Street Station since the September death of Brian Scott Gamroth, the local radio personality who had been leading fundraising efforts for the public plaza project.
The surge in pledged funds brings the agency within $1.1 million, or 12 percent, of its $9.1 million goal.
The new fundraising effort has been led by John Jorgensen and George Bryce.
The duo initially wanted to raise money to name the stage after Gamroth.
But when they approached the DDA, the two realized that 75 percent of the total necessary funds had already been raised.
“With that in mind, we went from attempting to raise money in honor of Brian to accepting the challenge of raising the $2.1 million remaining,” Jorgensen said.
Hilltop National Bank executive Cathy Carson was the person who first approached Jorgensen and Bryce after she was inspired to do something in Gamroth’s memory.
Carson had previously served on the DDA board and worked on other community efforts with Gamroth.
“He was always very helpful,” she said.
Jorgensen and Bryce, who have served on the Casper College Foundation board and worked on other local philanthropic projects, agreed to help. Within roughly four weeks, they raised half the remaining total needed for the plaza. Most of the money came from individuals and family foundations who do not want to make their gifts public yet.
Part of the newly raised $1 million is an offer to match up to $250,000 in community contributions toward the “Brian Scott Gamroth Community Stage.”
Jorgensen said he expects more money to be raised in the coming weeks as people look to make tax-deductible gifts before the year ends. But Jorgensen said the entire remaining $1.1 million probably won’t be raised until the end of March.
His pitch to donors has focused on the importance of the plaza for both visitors to Casper and young families who are considering whether to leave the region.
“This is for the entire community,” Jorgensen said. “It will be for travelers, tourists passing through.
“We hope that it’s a calling card for young families especially.”
Construction began last month, with plans to complete the first phase of the plaza in time for the eclipse festival on Aug. 21, 2017. The festival is expected to draw thousands of visitors to Casper.
But with the likelihood that the rest of the money needed for the second phase will be raised before August, Hawley said more of the plaza may be finished in time for the festival.
“Even if we gave them the go-ahead tomorrow, we couldn’t get 100 percent of phase two finished in time,” Hawley said. “But I’d like to bleed in some portions.”
He said that could mean paving the entire plaza, doing more landscaping and perhaps installing the splash pad.
The recent $1 million in contributions comes on the heels of two major gifts announced in early October. Hilltop Bank paid $500,000 for naming rights to the splash pad and Tony and Cole Cercy, the new Wonder Bar owners, donated $1 million.
“We’re really excited about the help and enthusiasm,” Hawley said. “This is Casper. It makes you pretty stinking proud.”