Twin Lakes Wellness Center working to get through financial difficulties

Posted February 19, 2013 at 7:38 pm

The Twin Lakes Family Wellness Center has been in operation for almost two years and has recently incurred some unexpected debt that is causing concern. However, long-time proponent of the fitness facility, Pastor Bobby Grant, says the financial woes are temporary and several steps are being taken to pay off the debt and fix the problems in the long term.

The problems that have built up over the past few months prompted a member meeting earlier this month and several members and concerned residents attended, according to Grant, who told the Clinton County News this past weekend that the crux of the problems was a boiler they have had problems with since the beginning. Those problems have apparently put the Wellness Center around $60,000 in debt for fuel costs.

The situation has also led to the temporary closing of the swimming pool, which is currently undergoing some other work while the fuel problems associated with operating it are being resolved.

A mechanical engineer is currently assessing the boiler situation, which Grant said was operating at about 90 percent efficiency when first installed but was now operating at about 47 percent, meaning about half the gas used “going up unburned.” “We’re working at getting it (the current boiler) replaced,” he said. He added that officials, including the Commission of the Department of Local Government (DLG) Tony Wilder and Area Development District officials were well aware of the problems and hopes they can help in getting some type of compensation for the energy expenses that have been lost because of the boiler that was installed in the building when it was constructed.

“We got to where we were paying $500-$600 every three days for heating costs,” Grant said. “We can’t maintain operating expenses on our cash flow with that type of bill.”

Although the Center still owes on the gas bill, Grant said they were working on getting funds to pay for that. He continued that County Judge/Executive Lyle Huff has been working tirelessly, including setting up meetings with state officials, and said they were making some headway in coming up with solutions to get the financial issues resolved. “Before too long, we hope to get back in the black,” he said.

Grant said Commission Wilder had told him that there were three or four other fitness facilities constructed in rural areas of the state around the same time the local facility was built and that each faced some type of financial difficulties for one reason or another.

Grant continued that the current boiler only had a one-year warranty and the cost of fuel has gone from about $60 per day to almost $190 per day.

Currently, the Wellness Center, which derives funding from memberships, averages between 700-900 users.

However, since memberships are based on varying degrees–individual, couple and family–there are about 225-230 paid memberships, if, for example, you figure a one price membership for a family of five who use the facility for that one price.

Membership per month for a family of five is $45 and Grant estimated that it only costs members about 60 cents per day to use the facility.

“We know this is a small, poorer county and don’t have a lot of resources, so we try and keep the (membership) costs down to allow everyone access who wants it,” Grant said.

Almost ten percent of everyone in the county–when usership is around the 900 mark–take advantage of the programs and facilities offered at the Wellness Center, which will be open two years in March.

“I have enjoyed being a part of it,” Grant continued.

He would like to see that membership increase significantly, noting that one member who attended the recent meeting had challenged all other members to get at least one other person to join. This would be a way of creating more revenue for the facility.

“We have worked hard for a year to convince officials that the boiler was drowning us,” he said. “We want to and will pay our bills,” he added.

Grant said that while a lot of people, members and non-members alike, were encouraged, he said there were always a small group of others that are afraid of change and progress.

Many people, however, see the Wellness Center as a plus, not only for members who use the facility for health and fitness activities, but as ways to help attract industry and tourism. He said that when industry comes to a community, they not only look at things like the school system, hospital, etc., but also things like the social aspects a community has to offer. He continued that the Twin Lakes Wellness Center is one of the nicest of its kind in Kentucky.

Although not giving any specifics as to what is in the works to relieve the problems associated with the boiler issue and financial issues themselves, Grant said, “If people bear with us and support us, we’ll come through this okay. It’s one of those glitches and we’re going to take care of it…we need government and membership support.”

Grant did confirm they were waiting on approval for a smaller boiler, which could cut the fuel costs in half. “I can’t elaborate on any specifics, but there is a lot in the works and things are looking positive. We are getting help from the judge and state government.”

“Hopefully we’ll get some of our cost reimbursed and we’ll keep people informed as it goes along,” said Grant. “I feel really confident that good things will begin to happen…this is not really anyone’s fault, but it will be corrected.”

Grant also noted that several people in the community support the Wellness Center, even those who may not use it themselves. He said one person supported it with a membership but doesn’t use the facility. They support it for the sake of others, especially young people as a way to give them something positive to do.

He also mentioned the current annual fund drive the Wellness Center has conducted during the month of February. He said people didn’t have to be a member to donate and donations are tax deductible. Anyone wishing to contribute can take them to the Wellness Center or mail them to Twin Lakes Family Wellness Center, 325 Bobby Grant Dr., Albany, Ky. 42602.

Grant said this temporary setback for the facility could and will be resolved, but added it is going to take people pulling together.

He concluded by saying a lot of people had worked very hard, including the Wellness Center board who has spent a lot time and their own resources over the past couple of years. He also said he appreciated all the businesses and individuals who have and continue to support the Wellness Center and the programs they offer to the community.