The 2013 year was somewhat of a rocky one for the Twin Lakes Family Wellness Center, but at the same time, it was one of progress as the fitness center began, slowly but surely, digging out of a financial hole that had built up over the previous couple of years.
Wellness Center Director Charlotte Dick, who began working at the facility last March and was appointed director a bit later in the year, said Monday of this week that the facility is in much better shape than it was just nine months ago and hopes the progress made last year will continue in 2014 and years to come.
“We have paid off all of our small (local) bills and we’re currently paying down on the larger ones…paying extra on some,” Dick said.
“The Center was in debt since the day it was opened and it’s going to take a while to get things paid off,” she said.
When Dick began her tenure at the Wellness Center, membership was down to 658 and she feels the pool being closed was a factor in the decrease. The current membership has risen back up to 722 members.
“We began working to find any ways we could to save money, including having South Kentucky RECC to do a walk-through of the building to find energy savings where possible,” she said. That has amounted to around $700 per month in savings, which is being put toward other debt.
When the facility initially opened and began being publicized, membership rose to over 1,000 but Dick feels the decrease, other than the pool closing due to the high cost of heating it using propane as the primary fuel source, was that the “newness” of the building wore off somewhat.
Dick blames several problems with the high cost of heating with the construction of the building itself, noting what she inferred as being some deficiencies in that area. She also added the (Wellness Center) Board did all they could with the information they had available from architects and contractors at the time. “The building itself wasn’t constructed properly,” she said.
A primary money-saver that should occur as soon as late this month will be the changeover to natural gas, as Martin Construction is due to begin digging for the gas line to be installed and the new energy unit is also completed. Dick estimates the changeover will save almost $2,000 monthly in energy costs, even when the pool re-opens.
Also in the works is the availability of using a swipe card to allow members 24 hour-a-day access to the Wellness Center, something that could also help increase membership.
Dick also noted several classes are currently offered at the center and more will be added when the pool is opened back up. She is also working with school superintendent Charlotte Bernard on offering swimming classes to elementary age students, which she said may need grant money to make happen.
“With enough memberships, we can sustain ourselves,” Dick said, adding that higher debt bills were slowly but surely being paid down, although it may take a few years to completely pay them all off.
Another important aspect is that of corporate sponsorships, as she noted that Albany IGA had taken a corporate sponsorship for their employees–which saves them about 10 percent on health insurance costs and hopes to see more businesses join as well.
Although many have credited Dick with helping change the perspective of the Wellness Center and help it get back on track financially, she gave all the credit to the five employees that work at the Center, saying it would have never stayed open without them. Those employees include Betty Smith, Jennifer Riddle, Dee Soma, Tyler King and Adam Davidson.
Current rates per month are $27 individual ($24 for seniors); $34 for one adult and one child; $36 for couple and $45 per family. New rates will be announced once the pool is reopened in a few weeks.
The current facility hours (not counting when members will have 24-hour access) is 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sundays from 1-4 p.m.