SHERIDAN — Members of Joey’s Fly Fishing Foundation updated a crowd of local contractors, government officials and benefactors on the organization’s plans to build a new facility on Goose Creek Thursday.
Joey’s Fly Fishing Foundaiton Executive Director Joey Puettman said his organization is currently working with five to eight kids a night and has received calls from nearby schools, mental health centers and the Department of Veterans Affairs that want to participate in the nonprofit’s programs.
“I’ve been so fortunate to have the shop and the building where we’re at — it’s about a 2,000 square-foot building — but we’ve outgrown it, we’re busting at the seams,” Puettman said.
In addition to concerns over space, Joey’s current Main Street shop can only be accessed by a steep flight of stairs and has limited accessibility to disabled youth or veterans.
The organization is eyeing two adjacent parcels of land, totaling just over two acres, along a section of Goose Creek near the North Main Street Interchange as the site of its new location.
Having direct access to the creek would not only make taking Joey’s children fishing more convenient, it would allow the foundation to expand its offerings. Tina Kruegar, a volunteer with Joey’s and the owner of Steady Stream Hydrology, said the project would include stream restoration and use the structures the foundation hopes to build to provide an ecological uplift.
The foundation would involve the children it serves in those efforts, she added.
“Our rivers around here need a little help, and why not educate our younger generation of kids to help (restore) them,” Krueger said.
Puettman said his foundation has not officially begun designing a new facility yet, because it still has to acquire the land. The city of Sheridan owns one of the parcels Joey’s is targeting and the Sheridan Educational and Economic Development Authority owns the other.
SEEDA Administrator Robert Briggs explained that SEEDA will have to evaluate the public benefits of the project before it can move forward with a land transfer.
“(SEEDA) has a responsibility and a stewardship to foster economic development,” Briggs said. “And so the SEEDA Board indicated…what they needed to see was how all of the pieces came together in a business plan so they could look at it from an economic development standpoint.”
Puettman said he and his partners have spent the last several months working on a business plan and are scheduled to present that plan to the SEEDA Board at its Sept. 24 meeting.
If and when the public entities approve that plan, Puettman said Joey’s Fly Fishing Foundation would begin to move forward with design work.