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Although the official groundbreaking isn't until Wednesday, April 22, heavy machinery began digging operations this week at the site of the Alexandria Area YMCA along County Road 82, near the intersection with County Road 45. Echo Press photo by Al Edenloff

YMCA digs into site

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A long-held goal to build a YMCA in Alexandria is no longer just a dream.

The big rigs started digging ground on the new facility this week.

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The public is invited to join in the celebration by attending the official groundbreaking on Wednesday, April 22 at 10:30 a.m.

The event will take place on the YMCA site - the intersection of County Road 82/45.

Anyone interested in attending should park in the east parking lot of Tastefully Simple. Shuttle transportation will be provided to the site.

YMCA leaders say the proposed facility will address numerous critical issues that have been present in the Alexandria area for many years.

Highlights of the facility include:

•Aquatic center, featuring a recreational pool.

•Gymnasium.

•Health and wellness center.

•Indoor walking track.

•Child care center (licensed for 124 children).

•Social lounge.

•Aerobic studio.

•Men's, women's and special needs locker rooms (six of them).

•Office space and conference room.

•Child watch (drop-in child care).

•Outdoor field space.

•Douglas County Hospital services - physical therapy and rehab center.

•Fellowship of Christian Athletes office location.

A YMCA financial assistance program will provide essential scholarships for kids, adults, seniors and families in the community to become members or participate in one of the YMCA's diverse programs, according to YMCA executive director Jeff Bartholomew.

"In today's difficult economic climate, the YMCA will help individuals and families that need assistance," he said.

The YMCA will also be a recruiting tool for area employers and those that are perhaps considering retiring to the Alexandria area, Bartholomew noted.

"The importance of health and wellness and quality facilities for families is becoming increasingly more important," he said.

In addition to the design and construction management being performed by local firms, the YMCA project will employ numerous local contractors.

One hundred percent of the project bid packages that could be awarded within the Alexandria YMCA service area will be, according to Bartholomew.

This will provide essential jobs for many local individuals and support many local businesses, he added.

Funding still needed

Although construction work is now under way, fundraising efforts are far from over.

The YMCA has raised $8,050,000 from 671 donors and is continuing its capital campaign to reach the original goal of $8,885,000.

Donations to the Alexandria Area YMCA will be doubly important in the next few weeks. Thanks to the continuing support of its "Legacy" donors, the organization is once again offering a challenge match program that will double the dollar amount people contribute or pledge to the facility.

To make a donation or pledge, call (320) 763-9621 or visit the website, alexandriaYMCA.com.

About YMCAs

YMCAs are autonomously run by a local board and members that guide programming based on community needs.

YMCAs, collectively, are the largest not-for-profit community service organization in the U.S.

The YMCA is at the heart of community life in neighborhoods and towns across America.

The Alexandria Area YMCA was formed in 2005 to serve an extended community and works to build strong kids, strong families and strong communities.

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