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NPCW reveals preliminary blueprints

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

Northern Pocahontas Community Wellness held an open house November 13 at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory where the board shared a preliminary blueprint of the proposed wellness center at Green Bank.

Vice President Rachel Taylor said the design was created by Chapman Technical Group, the architectural firm that designed the Pocahontas County Community Wellness Center in Marlinton.

The center includes a gymnasium, racquetball court, multi-purpose room, weight room and pool.

“This is just a preliminary sketch of ideas,” President Karen O’Neil said. “This is all designed so you could close off access so students can be in one area and the public can be in another area, whether it’s the pool or the gym. That’s one of the requirements of the design.”

The current design is for a building that is 310 feet by 100 feet on a parcel of land donated by the NRAO. It is located behind the parking lot at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School. O’Neil said the area may be expanded if the plans call for it.

“We could always clear more trees,” she said. “Basically, what it comes down to is the more trees we clear, the more trees we have to plant. The parking lot, all of that belongs to the observatory but having said that, we don’t want to infringe on the schools ability to do things. We don’t know exactly how big the building is going to be.”

The board foresees a sufficient water system as being the biggest cost.

“It’s a big concern to be honest,” O’Neil said. “The water to fill the pool is not a major issue because you can do that with tanker trucks. The water concern is actually the water requirement for fire safety. We don’t have anything in that area right now. The school has a well system that is definitely not in any shape for anybody else to tap into it.”

O’Neil added that one consideration for the water system is to do a joint grant with GBEMS for a water system that will supply both facilities.

Setting the center apart from the Marlinton facility is the inclusion of a pool. Of all the items included in the community survey, a pool ranked number one.

“Some of the many benefits of the pool would be that people of all ages could use it,” Taylor said. “Young children could learn how to swim. It could be used for water aerobics which has been very beneficial to people who have joint problems because the water takes off quite a bit of your weight.”

The only drawback to having a pool is the initial cost of building one. VISTA Lindsey Sutton reported that the organization has raised $15,000 and once the 501(c)(3) is in place, the board will be able to apply for grants.

O’Neil said once the board has all its ducks in a row, it will hire an architect and begin searching for grants.

“We need to get a formal understanding with Parks and Rec about how we’re going to share memberships,” she said. “Once we have all that together we can put out the call for architecture plans. That seems to be a very fast thing.”

A projected open date depends on the time it takes to raise money and complete the building, O’Neil said.

“I’d love to say, if the world worked well, we could be applying for grants in a year’s time and building in a year-and-a-half, but that would assume that A) we pulled off getting the grants and then B) our first round of applying for grants is successful which is not very common,” she said. “Realistically, it’s a couple of years before we really are going to have enough money to start building something.”

NPCW currently has a small wellness center with exercise equipment in the annex building at GBEMS. Those who have memberships at the Marlinton center may also use the Green Bank facility and vice versa.

Sutton said while NPCW is working on finding funds, it still needs the assistance of the community.

“We want businesses and organizations for partnerships,” she said. “We want people to help volunteer. We want people to just use the facility. We’ve had fifty volunteers, and volunteers are what help us sustain. It’s how we stay open right now. We appreciate all those people that come in and sit there, and make sure that the community can come in and work out. We’ve had seventy-plus patrons that have come in and either pay to use it one time or come in for monthly memberships.”

The wellness center is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to noon and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Volunteer coordinator Myrtle Thomas is currently selling tickets for a basket drawing. The drawing is for 12 themed baskets. Tickets are available at the center.

Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at

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