WASHINGTON — Five Points Washington was a gathering spot, triage and makeshift warehouse of donated household goods in the aftermath of an EF-4 tornado that devastated the city Nov. 17, 2013.
Three years and seven months years earlier — April 17, 2010, to be exact — 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin spoke and held a question-and-answer session in front of a full house of enthusiastic supporters within the facility's Caterpillar Performing Arts Center. That appearance started the facility's speaker series.
The two events are arguably the most memorable in Five Points' history, but the not-for-profit, multipurpose facility's impact on Washington and surrounding communities is what's being celebrated as Five Points observes its 10th anniversary.
Five Points opened Oct. 1, 2007.
A combined effort of the city of Washington, Washington Park District, Washington District Library, Washington Community High School and Washington Area Community Center organization, it cost $21 million to construct and furnish the facility.
Private donations and money from the tax-supported bodies provided the funding.
The 144,900-square-foot building at 360 N. Wilmor Road is home to the library's main branch, 1,100-seat Performing Arts Center, fitness center with a two-court gym and indoor running track, four banquet rooms with a seating capacity of 125 each, and aquatics center with an eight-lane competitive pool and therapy pool.
A board of directors is in charge of operations.
Fitness center user fees, rental revenue and event admission sales finance day-to-day operations and build reserves for major repairs and replacements.
Five Points is a busy place. And one that's well maintained, said a key figure in the facility's early years.
"I don't think I've ever driven by Five Points and seen there weren't a lot of cars in the lot," said Sherril West, who was the Five Points board president for several years after the facility opened and left the board in January 2015.
"The staff has done a great job maintaining the facility," West said. "When I show Five Points to people from out of town, they're always impressed how it looks inside and outside. It doesn't look 10 years old."
An estimated 600,000 people pass through Five Points' doors annually to perhaps use the library or fitness center, go swimming, attend an event in the Performing Arts Center or a banquet room, or go to a birthday party.
Vikki Poorman, who has been Five Points' general manager since it opened, said the annual usage has been steady for five or six years.
There are about 7,000 Five Points fitness club members and more than 130 employees, 14 of whom are full time.
"We pump more than $1 million a year in salaries into the area economy," Poorman said.
While there are no figures on the economic impact Five Points creates in the area because of events held there, Special Events Manager Brian Garnant provided these morsels:
* There will be 28 wedding receptions at Five Points this year.
* The Heartland Festival Orchestra performs at Five Points on six weekends each year, attracting an average crowd of 700 to 800.
* Bethany Community Church meets every Sunday at Five Points. An estimated 500 to 600 families attend each service.
* Three regional dance competitions are held each year at Five Points, with the largest featuring about 700 dancers from Illinois and neighboring states for a multiple-day event.
* Four area dance studios — two from Morton, one from Pekin and one from Peoria Heights — have their annual recital at Five Points, attracting crowds of 600 to 800.
"It's safe to assume people who attend events at Five Points shop and fuel their vehicles in the area, eat in area restaurants and stay overnight in area hotels," Garnant said.
Hosting events means always being on your toes.
A 2009 town hall meeting on health care hosted by former U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock was moved from a Five Points banquet room to the Performing Arts Center in 30 to 40 minutes, West said, when it became obvious the crowd of more than 1,000 was going to be far too large for the banquet room.
Schock, a Peoria Republican, was back at Five Points in 2011 when former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice spoke at a campaign fundraiser.
The Taste of Washington was moved within hours from the downtown square to Five Points in 2010 because of threatening weather.
When an August 2015 storm damaged the Goodfield barn where the Conklin's Barn II Dinner Theatre called home for 40 years, Five Points officials offered the use of the Performing Arts Center so Conklin's Players could continue to perform.
Saturday was a big day in Five Points' month-long anniversary celebration. Thousands stopped in for an open house, free fitness classes and an evening event in the Performing Arts Center that included a game show and nationally known comedian.
Five Points' front desk and foyer area were remodeled to be more customer-friendly, Krizman said, and a year-round youth swim team was launched as part of the anniversary festivities.
In an event unrelated to the anniversary, World of Vitamins opened a store Oct. 1 in the Five Points foyer.
Poorman said the 10th anniversary is meaningful to her professional and personally.
"It means successful teamwork and a lot of hard work have paid off," she said. "Besides myself, three of our full-time managers (Garnant, Fitness Center Manager Joy Grove and Maintenance Foreman David York) have been here since Day One. Our staff and board members do what they do because Five Points is an asset to the community.
"We help create healthy lifestyles, provide a venue for high school and park district programs, give senior citizens a place to gather, and help area businesses profit from the events we bring here."
Steve Stein can be reached at 686-3114 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.