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Celebrate Mardi Gras, help Child Development

Jan 29, 2012 By Martin Reed, Staff Writer

Mardi Gras is coming to Riverton thanks to a fundraiser benefiting Child Development Services of Fremont County.

The Mardi Gras Masked Ball starts at 6 p.m. on Feb. 25 in the armory building at the Fremont County Fairgrounds in Riverton. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and masks will be available for purchase at the party.

Tickets cost $50 each with the donations benefiting Child Development Services of Fremont County, which is in the middle of a significant construction project for its Riverton site and a remodel of its Lander facility.

"We had a capital outlay of a little more than $500,000 for the Riverton building and another a little over $20,000 for the remodel project in Lander," said Lori Morrow, executive director of Child Development Services of Fremont County.

"With our economy being so tight right now, the Legislature -- we have not received the funding we were originally receiving. In essence that money we were kind of saving for a rainy day is going to the new building," Morrow said.

Child Development Services must come up with grant matches on the projects that total $280,000 for remodel in Lander and $1.1 million for the new building in Riverton.

The Mardi Gras celebration will help Child Development Services reach its goal while supporting ongoing operations at its facilities.

As one of the fundraiser's primary organizers, Ricci Larsen has arranged auction items for partygoers, secured The Caterers to serve the evening dinner and scheduled Nick & Slick to provide the night's soundtrack.

Auction items include a 46-inch flat-screen television provided by Aaron's, a custom guitar donated by Mammoth Music and a painting each by Nita Kehoe and Jane Skarr.

Other donated auction items include a flyfishing trip and a scenic float trip each offered by Blane Gilliland, and laser hair growth treatment from Leslie Larsen and a spa package for two, both at Sunset Boulevard.

Artist Jon Cox at the celebration will reveal his puzzle painting consisting of 24 pieces that are each selling for $100. Each buyer will paint the piece according to the design on the surface.

"We'll put the puzzle together and have the big reveal that night," Larsen said. "You don't know how important your piece is but once you put it in the big picture" each contributor's significance is revealed.

"That's the whole point of the fundraiser: Every piece helps," she said.

Tickets limited to 300 total are available by calling 856-4337, 332-5508 or Larsen at 856-4029. Additionally, one corporate table is remaining out of 12 total, but sponsorship opportunities abound.

"They can do that the night of the party" or beforehand, Larsen said about becoming an event sponsor. "It's all tax-deductible, of course."

Donations can go beyond the event. "Any and all donations are very much appreciated," Larsen said. "If anybody wants to donate an item for the auction or a door prize, we'll take it."

Last year's Mardi Gras in May fundraiser generated about $15,000 for Child Development Services, Larsen said.

"We were able to utilize all of the proceeds from the fundraiser last year to go to the Riverton building," Morrow said.

Child Development Services is rapidly making progress on its building improvement projects. The Riverton facility should finish construction in late April, while the Lander remodel is ongoing.

"We're putting an addition on and we're adding a new bathroom and we're providing a couple more offices because we're out of office space in Lander," Morrow said.

The agency is also trying to sell its 202 S. Sixth St. East. house it has outgrown. "That will be part of our match going into that building," Morrow said.

"Ivan Judd with Home Source Realty is selling that for us. It has all new windows through an ARRA grant and a new swamp cooler, and we will be putting a new roof on it," she said.

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