Ground broken for new CTC Center at Pillager Schools

The 350-seat auditorium is expected to be completed by fall 2021.

CTC CEO Kristi Westbrock (left) and Pillager Superintendent Mike Malmberg discuss plans for the school's new auditorium, which will be called the CTC Center, during a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday, June 16. Voters approved the 350-seat auditorium during the 2019 referendum. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

A new partnership between the Pillager School District and CTC will manifest itself in the form of an auditorium.

The CTC Center will be a 350-seat performing arts center at the school, approved by voters in the May 2019 referendum. The partners kicked off their new endeavor with a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday, June 16, in front of the construction site, with representatives from Widseth and Nor-Son, along with school district and CTC officials.

“It just kind of started with a conversation about having a new event center here in Pillager and having somebody that could bring some other things to the table for us with their expertise and their marketing and ideas,” said Pillager Superintendent Mike Malmberg, after Tuesday’s ceremony.

Malmberg hopes the partnership and the new auditorium will bring in concerts and other artistic activities to Pillager residents.


“Our goal as a board and as a school is really to provide more opportunities and events for our community,” he said. “It might be from outside groups coming in or events that normally maybe our residents in our community may not get to be at.”

CTC CEO Kristi Westbrock said her company is excited for the opportunity of a partnership outside the immediate Brainerd/Baxter area.

Gallery: Breaking ground for Pillager School's performing arts center
“Many of our memberships — and the heart of where our business started — is in this small, more rural area of our service territory,” Westbrock said. “So this was just a perfect match for us because we have so many members that live and reside right around this area that will be able to take advantage of this great opportunity with the performing arts center.

“We’re also really excited because we think culturally this brings together a very diverse group of people. It’s going to bring together the young and the old old and the people who have families to be able to come to affordable activities, and so overall it fits our mission of connecting the community.”

While the construction of the $5.9 million auditorium will be funded through tax dollars, Westbrock said CTC will put up funding as a part of its contract to help the school district bring in initial entertainment acts and to help sustain the building and its operations.

The two entities hope to have a community festival and picnic as a grand opening celebration once the facility is completed, which is slated to be fall 2021.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at .
Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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