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Wellness Talk: Fundraisers hope to provide more options

I was talking with Jeff Browne the other day. For a few minutes, we actually got to talk about something other than raising money or spending money for the new Wellness Center.

When you work on a project as big as this for as long as Browne and I have been working on it, you can't lose sight of what this is really all about.

A big reason for building this facility is to enhance recreational opportunities in our community. Browne has been very involved in community recreation (especially basketball) for a long time.

"I was talking with Paul Drange, who used to coach basketball here in Wadena. He told me that he was hoping that building this new Wellness Center would lead to a resurgence in local basketball leagues like we had 20 years ago," Browne said.

He also said we used to not only have basketball leagues but very active racquetball and wallyball leagues as well.

"When you talk about being in a league, it can mean a number of things. For the younger kids, being in a basketball league could be a more formal arrangement where you keep standings, have tournaments," Browne said. "Maybe for M-State students or older guys like me, we're really talking about pickup games. It doesn't really matter if we win or lose, it's just a chance to get out and work up a sweat several times a week."

Browne added that the old Community Center had a couple of racquetball courts and a hockey arena, but the new facility will have more options.

"The design of the gymnasium floor should allow for indoor tennis. I can also see us restarting swimming lessons for all age groups. At the old outdoor pool, we had about two months to cram in lessons. Now we can have lessons year-round," Browne said.

Browne hopes that all these activities can be coordinated with the summer rec program so kids can pay one low fee and have access to a state-of-the-art facility.

"We want to keep this affordable, just like it was in the old days," he said.

I couldn't agree more.