January 10, 2002

Rec-Plex Volunteers Working To Have Facility Open In February

If your New Year's Resolution was to lose weight or to get in shape you may have a little help on the near horizon. Representatives of the Scotland County Rec-Plex are making preliminary plans to open the facility, possibly as soon as the first part of February.

The organization has nearly completed the remodeling of the interior of the building, located on Highway 136 in Memphis. A community room has been created complete with kitchen area and seating for roughly 90 occupants. The room has already held its first paying customers, as the Weight Watchers group met January 2 at the facility and have made arrangements to continue to use the site for future meetings.

Rec-Plex chairperson Judy Campbell indicated that the Weight Watchers group is not the only organization that has expressed interest in using the facility. She has also spoken with the local aerobics instructors, a martial arts teacher as well as the administrators of the public CPR classes, which all have shown interest in using the site.

Campbell stated anyone interested in renting the community room simply needs to contact her or any of the facilities board members.

She noted she hoped the facility was within three weeks of being open for business. Board members and other volunteers gathered at the site Saturday, January 5 for a workday. The major project was the installation of the rubber flooring for the walk/jog track that will encircle the main room of the center. The group plans to install the strength training equipment in the center of the track area while the cardiovascular equipment will be installed at the front of the facility.

The strength training equipment is fairly extensive with numerous Nautilus machines and free weight equipment. The cardiovascular machines will include stationary bikes, treadmills and a rowing machine.

In addition to the construction of the community room, a second smaller room was created. The "toddler's room" has a playfully colored padded floor and comes complete with toys to keep the young ones occupied while parents work out.

Once the interior is completed the organization will then make the transition to marketing and sales. Annual membership fees have been established at $275 for a family or $200 for an individual.

Campbell said the group needs to have the facility open and operating for at least six months to get a firm handle on costs and expenses. After that the board will review the numbers and consider improvements and other options including possibly hiring a part-time manager to run the facility and maintain the membership drive.

The board is also in the process of writing another Neighborhood Assistance Pro-gram (NAP) grant application that will hopefully help fund the construction of a gym for the facility. A majority of the funding for the purchase of the Rec-Plex, the exercise equipment and the improvements were made with NAP generated funds.

The organization was created in 1997 after several community health assessment meetings held across the county determined the support for such a project.

The building was purchased at a public sale on the steps of the Scotland County Courthouse in the spring of 2001 after MicroEnergy did not make an attempt to meet the financial requirements to maintain the site and was not present at the sale.

The purchase turned a $1.5 million dollar dream into reality at a fraction of the previously estimated costs. However the gymnasium and the proposed swimming pool represent significant future costs for the organization which will require continued financial support from the community as well as additional searches for public funding sources.

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