Design firm OWPR, of Winchester and Roanoke/Blacksburg, Virginia, designed this computer rendering of what the Northern Pocahontas Wellness Center will look like once built. The NPWC board is seeking grants and donations for construction of the center. S. Stewart pohto
Design firm OWPR, of Winchester and Roanoke/Blacksburg, Virginia, designed this computer rendering of what the Northern Pocahontas Wellness Center will look like once built. The NPWC board is seeking grants and donations for construction of the center. S. Stewart photo

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

The Northern Pocahontas Wellness Center board has dreamed for years about what the proposed fitness center would look like once it was built. It no longer needs to wonder. Design firm OWPR presented the board with 3-D renderings in November.

The plans include an exterior design of the building, as well as floor plans, including a four-lane pool, therapy pool, fitness room, multi-purpose room, locker rooms, a full-court gymnasium and more.

NPWC treasurer Malinda Meck said the board is very pleased with the design and is excited to share it with the community.

“They designed this so that we can build this room, then add this room and then add this area if we want to,” Meck said of the three section design. “We’d love to think that we can build the whole thing at once, but we’re also realistic enough to know that that’s probably pie in the sky dreaming.”

While the annual Space Race Rumpus is the main funding source for the project, the board is seeking grants and donations from the community.

“[The firm] is going to finish all the details, put some brochures and 3-D things together so that we can go to the different funding resources and say ‘here’s what we want to build, what can you give us for this project?’” Meck said.

The building is designed so sections can be built one at a time. It almost looks like three buildings constructed side-by-side.

The facility will be used by both the school and public, so there are security measures included to protect the children.

“We’ve set it up so we can lock it out, so if somebody wanted to rent the pool or if we would have a school function going on during school hours where you couldn’t have public and school interactions, we’ve set it up where we could lock it in several places depending on what access you wanted.”

The design is also open for additions. The section of the building which houses the fitness, multi-purpose and locker rooms has the option of a duplicate section added to one side.

The facility will be built on land donated by the National Science Foundation and it will share a parking lot with GBEMS.
The firm is also putting together a financial estimate value for the facility to give the board an idea of how much money is needed to build it in its entirety.

NPWC has a temporary facility located behind Green Bank Elementary-Middle School which residents may use in the meantime. Individuals who volunteer an hour a week are eligible to use the facility for free. Others pay a small membership fee.

Along with two treadmills, two elliptical machines, a leg press, a universal machine, free weights and bench weights, the facility has a new piece of equipment purchased last year with a grant from the Snowshoe Foundation.

“We have a New Step which is similar to a bicycle, but it also has arm bars with it, as well,” Meck said. “It’s a combination of a bicycle and a rowing machine, but you can sit down. A lot of older people really like it because you can exercise all your limbs with minimal impact because you can sit down to do it.”

The machine is identical to the one used at Pocahontas Memorial Hospital in the physical therapy department. Meck said individuals who finish physical therapy at the hospital, but want to continue their workout can use the same machine at the Green Bank center.

The board carefully monitors use of the facility and keeps records of demographics in order to serve the public in the best way possible.

“When you sign in, you’re also supposed to mark what pieces of equipment you use,” Meck said. “That way, we can see who is using the equipment and what is being used. We use that information for grant purposes. It also helps us to see, if we get new equipment, which piece of equipment we should get first.”

Along with running the temporary facility and making plans for the new facility, the board is finding ways to reach out to the community and offer incentives to those interested in making donations or partnering with NPWC.

“We’d like to work with some of the businesses,” Meck said. “[Board president] Karen O’Neil has worked on this diligently with the Observatory. Their health insurance will pay for memberships for their employees.”

Meck said the board plans to visit local businesses to explain the health insurance membership in hopes of getting more involvement from the community.

The board is also looking for additional members. If anyone is interested in serving, Meck said they should contact her at 304-456-5357.

The temporary Wellness Center is open Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to noon and 3 to 7 p.m. Anyone interested in volunteering at the center may also contact Meck at the aforementioned number.

Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at sastewart@pocahontastimes.com