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Jim Bob Infanger, Nep Lynch and Bill Allen worked together to get the $5 million Nep and Mary Ellen Lynch Center in Salmon off the ground. Lynch made the original donation of $2.5 million, but since then he’s donated more money. The gym is scheduled to be complete by the middle of June.

The $5 million Nep and Mary Ellen Lynch Center, Salmon High School’s new athletic facility, should be finished by mid-June, but not in time for graduation.

Project Manager Ken Armstrong said when Salmon educators and community members broke ground on the project in March 2020, there was hope it would be ready for the 2021 graduation ceremony. However, the coronavirus slowed the project down and Armstrong said the building won’t be finished in time for the June 11 ceremony.

Nonetheless, Jim Bob Infanger with the Salmon Education Foundation said he’s impressed with the work volunteers have done so far. In the 13 months since they found an architect for the project, volunteer construction workers have used donated materials to finish the exterior and start on the interior.

Armstrong said last week the wooden floor to the main gym was being installed. After that comes the locker room floors, lockers, cabinets and then countertops.

“It’s been amazing to see everything coming together,” Armstrong said. The most amazing part has been the community support, Armstrong and Infanger said. Community members are still donating to the project, according to Infanger, with some like Nep Lynch coming back to give more.

Lynch got the ball rolling on the new gym last year by donating $2.5 million. Since then, Infanger said he’s continued to offer financial support.

Plans called for using the existing wrestling mats in the Lynch Center. New mats cost around $30,000, and Infanger said the wrestling program had about $15,000 to spend.

“Nep said the wrestlers can keep their money,” Infanger said. “He paid for new mats instead.”

Custer Telephone Cooperative donated fiber cables and conduits that will connect the new gym to the high school, according to Infanger. Grateful for any help, Infanger said such donations are what has kept the new gym going despite challenges.

Once completed, the new facility will feature two basketball courts in the main gym and a multi-use auxiliary gym. While the Lynch Center will mostly be used for athletic events, Armstrong has said it can accommodate community events.

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