MILLEDGEVILLE — Construction on Georgia Military College’s new, $17 million Health and Wellness Center is heading for completion slightly sooner than expected.
“Since the groundbreaking in late October , we expected construction to start in October, but we received initial approval Dec. 20. Skanska was already on site getting ready for construction. We moved equipment in immediately,” said Jeff Gray, GMC vice president for engineering services. “Right now, we’re in the excavation phase. We’re installing shoring [this week] and begin with concrete [next week]. We’re on track to be complete by Dec. 23, if not sooner, and everything will be moved in as far as with furnishings and classes can start in January.”
The new state-of-the-art facility will provide appropriate space to educate GMC preparatory and college students on health, nutrition and fitness. As part of Phase I of the Health and Wellness Center, the facility will add 55,000 square feet on three levels on the north side of Cordell Events Center and be integrated into the existing building. It will be comprised of an elevated walking and running track, two multi-purpose courts, an athletic health care and training lab, six classrooms for health and wellness instruction, 9,000 square-feet of weight and cardio training spaces, athletic storage facilities, staff offices, and locker rooms to support all of the prep school and junior college students and visiting teams.
“There’s a lot of excitement on campus. The students are tired of cold concrete places; they’re excited to see some activity with the new construction,” said Dudley Rowe, chair of the GMC Foundation and campaign steering committee. “It’s always nice to see something new and different; I think it’s a positive for the community.”
Cordell Events Center, the existing 32,000 square-foot health and fitness building, was built in 1964 to serve fewer than 500 students in grades six through 12 and the junior college. Today, it accommodates the needs of nearly 2,000 students, and with a projected total enrollment of more than 2,200 students by 2015, facility expansion is critical in order to provide quality health and wellness education to a generation mostly made up of overweight children.
“Childhood obesity has tripled in a generation. Obese children are more likely to become overweight or obese as adults, developing diabetes and cardiovascular risk factors. Currently, three out of four military-age Americans are unqualified for military service, largely, the result of obesity,” Rowe said. “By having more health and wellness programs, then it can help cure some of these issues. It’s all about developing intellect and elevating the character.”
More than 94 percent, or $16 million, of the needed funds have already been secured for the $17 million project. Through support from the legislature, the State of Georgia provided $7 million in bonds while $7 million was set aside from institutional reserves.
“The remaining $3 million represents the fundraising goal for the GMC Foundation’s Health and Wellness Campaign. Of this amount, $2 million has been secured thus far. The total amount of funds remaining to be raised in order to complete the project is $1 million,” said Elizabeth Sheppard, GMC vice president for advancement. “We’re pleased that we’re at the $2 million mark and have yet to raise $1 million from now until the building opens at the end of the year.”
The additional costs of maintaining the facility and its health and wellness programming are projected to total $156,000 annually, which has been figured into the fiscal year 2014 budget. Additional revenue to be generated is projected to total $110,000 annually.
“We entered the public phase of the campaign since the groundbreaking by involving all alumni, friends and the community to take part in supporting this project. People can sponsor fitness equipment that will furnish the fitness facility, or make gifts at any level,” Sheppard said. “With the construction going on, people are able to see a dream become a reality right before their eyes. The whole community can do that and enjoy being part of that.”
Phase II of the Health and Wellness Center will encompass a substantial portion of the existing Cordell Events Center through renovation and will involve new construction, including a convocation center with a capacity of 1,800 as well as additional instructional and physical training spaces and offices.
Under the campaign leadership of Powell Moore, campaign chair, and Dr. George Echols, honorary campaign chair, the steering committee monitors progress, provides guidance and strategy to move the process forward. The steering committee also includes Rowe, Sheppard, Dr. James Strom, GMC Athletic Director Bert Williams and Dr. John Ferguson.
For more information about the campaign, to donate funds, or sponsor fitness equipment, call the GMC Office of Advancement at (478) 445-0202, or visit www.gmcfoundation.org.
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