Ever optimistic, Director Grant hopes changes will keep Center afloat

Posted June 12, 2013 at 2:19 pm


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Tyler Shearer checked the pool’s alkalinity Monday to make sure everything was on spec. The pool had recently been drained and closed due to heating issues. Last week, the fire department filled the 82,650 gallon pool in preparation of reopening it soon. Twin Lakes Family Wellness Center Director Bobby Grant said if everything goes as planned, the pool will reopen this coming Monday.

In recent weeks, the Albany/Clinton County Family Wellness Center has undergone hard times. With the closing of the pool, Director Bobby Grant said the center has lost several members, but now, things are looking up for the center and the pool will open soon.

“I want to thank the mayor, city council, fiscal court, the judge and the fire department, for filling the pool for us,” Grant said. “If all goes well, it will be open Monday. All the volunteers who have helped, along with Matt Smith, who helped pressure wash and clean the pool, through this difficult time.”

During the past several months, the Wellness Center has been joined with a new manager and according to Grant, she has a lot of energy and is proving to be an asset to the center and everything it stands for.

“Our business manager, Charlotte Dick, has helped us out. She has been great,” Grant said. “Our future looks bright for us. We are beginning to pick up new members and starting new programs. It’s going to benefit a lot of people.”

During a fiscal court meeting held last month, more than 100 people showed up to support the Wellness Center and it was explained how the facility became and the public and magistrates were educated as to how some monies had to be spent on certain things and could not be used for paying bills.

At one point, County Attorney Michael Rains was asked to read parts of the lease agreement, which began in 2009 and runs for 50 years. That agreement, in part, says the lease (Wellness Center) is to pay the county $100 per month and also pay all charges for water, electricity, gas, telephone or other utility. Also, taxes, and water and sewer service.

Magistrate Patty Guinn inferred that if the county had the money, they needed to help pay.

According to grant stipulations, the facility has to remain open as a fitness center and serve 53.3 percent of the low-to-moderate income citizens of the county until at least June of 2016 or both the city and council could be liable if the facility ceases to operate as such, and be made to pay back up to $500,000 each.

The city and county applied for the original funding, with the county being the lead entity.

Judge Huff also noted that the (fiscal) court nor city council was “in the Wellness Center business” and noted they were fortunate to have the leftover grant funds to make the needed conversions to save the facility money.

The judge then opened the floor for some public comments with a few people speaking on behalf of the Wellness Center, some of whom received loud rounds of applause.

One person said the main reason they were there was concern for the pool. Another said she used the Wellness Center for herself and her kids, noting that fitness was important and that obesity is a major health concern that costs everyone in the long run.

“If they could only go out there and see those kids in the pool, or see those young people using the weight room … I understand people get upset when you talk about taxes and money.”

With the pool set to open Monday the Wellness Center should acquire more members in the upcoming months.

Grant said the pool is very necessary for the county because it provides exercise for a lot of the senior citizens in the county.

“There are a lot of senior citizens who use the pool for therapy,” Grant said. “When we decided to close it down, we froze all the accounts of the people who solely use the pool that way it wouldn’t cost them any money while the pool was down. When we get it back up and running, we will reopen those accounts.”

The pool is not just for members. Grant said “Anybody who wants to use the pool can come out and pay five dollars and use the facility for two, three, or four hours. They can stay out there all day if they like.”

The Center is also about to undergo the installation of an entry system that would allow members the ability to access the facility on a 24 hour basis.

That proposed system would give members the option of using much of the equipment late at night or in the early morning hours if they choose.

Access to the swimming pool would not, however, be included in the 24 hour entry system, according to the current plan.

The new 24 hour system will cost around $4,700 and Grant said they are working to raise money to install it. The Wellness Center is selling tickets on a grill and other items, as well as seeking donations in order to cover the cost of the 24 hour system.

“We are always looking for new programs that will help physically and mentally,” Grant said. When we go to this 24 hour service, there have been tons of people at Equity Group say they would join. They work eight hours at night and when they get done and they are wound up, they can work out. A lot of people don’t like to go when there is a crowd there, so they can go at 10 o’clock at night. Everybody is not going to like the Wellness Center and everybody is not going to join and that’s okay, but for those who do, they are taxpayers just like everybody else. That’s why we live in a free nation. I don’t have any problem with that. We would like for more people to join.”

Grant said he wants the public and the members of the Wellness Center to bear with them during these difficult times.

“Things are looking up. We have a limited staff and there are some things we would have done differently and some things were unbeknownst to us in the beginning,” Grant said. “You learn from your mistakes. We’ve rearranged some things and given responsibilities to other volunteers to help us maintain and keep our status quo going.”

Grant said there have been several people who have stepped up and donated their time helping with the books and other things and he couldn’t be happier with the way people in the county have donated their time to the Wellness Center.

“I’m so pleased with the people who have stepped forward,” Grant said. “The thing we need now are members and people are joining. I think during the last two weeks, we’ve had 15 or so join and that was with the pool not open. I think things are going to get better and we are going to have a great year.”

When dealing with the public, doing something that is popular to everybody is unheard of and Grant recognizes that.

“I didn’t stay in the ministry for 40 years and not go through conflict” Grant said. “It’s not all a bed of roses. It’s getting there. We will survive … we have survived. We have about 270 paying units. If we could double that we wouldn’t have a care in the world.”

If anybody would like to donate to help fund the 24 hour service, stop by the Wellness Center and make a donation.

“We want to be a positive member of the community and we want to enhance our community,” Grant said. “