Sabetha Health and Wellness Center: Breaking ground

Sabetha Community Hospital board members, Sabetha Health and Wellness Committee board members, city commissioners and AHRS crew members gather for a photo for the groundbreaking of the Sabetha Health and Wellness Center on Wednesday, August 22. Pictured are FRONT ROW (L-R) Greta Heiman, SH&W director; Jay Herrmann, AHRS estimator; Leslie Scoby, SH&W Committee board member; Brett Lukert, SH&W Committee board member; Dave Remmers, SH&W Committee board member; Lavon Wenger, SCH chairman of the board; Marvin Kohlmeier, SH&W Committee board member; Norm Schmitt, city commissioner and vice president of the SCH board; Susan Leiker, SH&W Committee board member; Jamie Strahm, SH&W Committee board member; Julie Burenheide, city commissioner; and Lora Key, SCH CEO; BACK ROW (L-R) Eric Stallbaumer, AHRS project manager; Lonny PIerce, AHRS superintendent; Doug Allen, city administrator; Luke Scoby, SH&W Committee board member; John Pierson, SH&W Committee board member; Doug Clark, mayor; and David Heit, Tevis Architects. Not pictured were Kara Tramp, SH&W Committee board member, and city commissioners Maridel Wittmer and Nick Aberle.

Signaling the beginning of construction, a groundbreaking ceremony was held Wednesday, Aug. 22, at the site of the highly anticipated Sabetha Health and Wellness Center (SHWC), located at the corner of 14th and Oregon streets.

Groundbreaking at the site actually began a few weeks ago, but board members of the Sabetha Community Hospital (SCH) and Sabetha Health and Wellness Committee and members of the Sabetha City Commission were able to gather last Wednesday for a photo at the site.

Construction is now in full swing, and a new director has been hired to begin planning for the facility programs. Greta Heiman of Sabetha was hired to fulfill the role of SHWC director and began work Aug. 1.

“As I look out my office window, I can see the dramatic changes the new health and wellness center brings to the campus of Sabetha Community Hospital,” said Lora Key, SCH CEO. “It is exciting to be a part of the vision the Health and Wellness Committee envisioned years ago. Seeing that project to completion will be a major accomplishment for this Committee as well as the City of Sabetha.”

The facility will offer brand new cardio and weight equipment, and will have therapy pools for rehabilitation, water aerobics and lap swimming. The facility also will feature two rooms for group exercise classes, along with a gymnasium that houses a three-lane walking track around it.

“I appreciate the opportunity for the Hospital to be a part of this progressive outlook in providing healthy initiatives for the community,” Key said.

Construction

AHRS Construction has been contracted to build the facility. It is expected that construction will take approximately 10 to 12 months. The anticipated opening date for SHWC will likely be spring or summer of 2019. If all goes as planned, City Administrator Doug Allen said it is hoped the SHWC building will be completed by Memorial Day weekend, with an opening date shortly thereafter.

Allen said all funding has been secured for the facility, including funding for the endless pools. Because the endless pools were in high demand, it was necessary to cut out a few things for now — surfacing for the basketball courts and drop down nets, as well as the hard surfacing for the parking lot. Allen said approximately $200,000 is still needed to cover those items. Without that funding, it is planned that pea gravel will be used for the parking lot.

Follow Sabetha Health & Wellness Center on Facebook to see updates and progress on the new facility.

Project Background

In 2008, the Committee was organized with the purpose of researching, promoting, securing funding and successfully operating a private fitness center.

Throughout the years, various designs and locations have been selected for the facility — none of which seemed to fit. Prior to the current location at 14th and Oregon, the City Commission approved deeding the Midtown Building and land to the Committee for the purpose of constructing the then proposed 25,555 square foot fitness facility. This option included the demolition of the Midtown Building, with the city assuming the demolition costs.

In February 2017, select members of the Committee board met with City Commissioner Norm Schmitt — as a member of the City of Sabetha governing body — to initiate discussions on how to utilize the plan and funds to not only facilitate the construction of the Health and Wellness Center, but also to ensure that it created a widespread positive impact for the entire community. It was during those discussions that the decision was made to partner with SCH. Schmitt also is the vice president of the SCH board.

At a September 2017 meeting of the City Commission, commissioners approved an agreement with SCH for a Health and Wellness Center to be constructed and managed by SCH, using funds already raised by the Committee. It was determined that the facility would be located on the SCH facility campus at 14th Street and Oregon Street on property owned by the City of Sabetha.

Agreement between hospital and City

As part of the agreement between SCH and the City of Sabetha, SCH will manage the facility that the City will in turn own. The approximate $2.7 million in funds already raised by the Committee will pay for the construction of the facility. The agreement states that the facility was to be designed to coincide with that amount or lower.

The equipment will be either purchased with additional funds raised or will be leased from a company that provides fitness equipment.

The Committee agreed to “turn those funds over” to the City. An agreement was signed, solidifying this arrangement.

Management

SCH has been contracted by the City to manage, operate and maintain SHWC. The facility director will be charged with marketing and promoting the facility,as well as building programs that will add a health and wellness aspect to the center. SCH also will manage all operations, including access to health equipment, implementation of membership programs and guidelines and implementation of health, fitness and nutrition classes.

Krista Wasinger71 Posts

Krista Wasinger is Co-Editor of The Sabetha Herald, where she has been on staff since 2011. She specializes in city reporting and feature stories, as well as photography and page and advertising design. Krista is a 2004 Fort Hays State University graduate with a degree in communications studies with an emphasis in journalism. She lives in Sabetha with her husband and four children.

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