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Shepherd breaks ground on center

December 14, 2007|By DAVE McMILLION

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.VA. - Shepherd University officials on Thursday broke ground on a $21.6 million wellness center that will include a 25-yard, eight-lane pool, gymnasium, two racquetball courts, indoor jogging track, a weightlifting and fitness area and other amenities.

Construction on the building next to the Butcher Center on the west campus started about Nov. 1, and the facility is expected to be completed in the spring of 2009, said James Vigil, director of auxiliary enterprises for Shepherd.

Shepherd officials decided to build a wellness center after realizing that the school's recreation offerings were not adequate for students and also because competing schools were offering their students about twice as many recreational opportunities, Vigil said.

Another reason a wellness center was needed is because Sara Cree Hall, the building on the east campus where wellness programs have been offered, was built in 1952 and its swimming pool cannot be used for competition swimming, Shepherd officials have said.

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Shepherd University wants to return competition swimming to its offerings, school officials said.

Shepherd officials celebrated the beginning of construction on the wellness center Thursday afternoon during a ceremony in the lower level of the Butcher Center.

Shepherd University President Suzanne Shipley joked that she had nothing to do with the center, "except to kick it off."

The wellness center has been four years in the making and Shipley became president in July.

"We'll get it in the ground very soon so you can enjoy it," Shipley told a crowd gathered for the ceremony.

The group then moved outside for a formal groundbreaking.

The wellness center will have a rotunda with a social space and flat-screen televisions, Vigil said. A dining area also will be offered.

The two-court gym will be able to handle two separate activities at one time and the fitness area will be built with volume in mind, Vigil said.

"It will not be crowded," Vigil said. "There will be plenty of equipment for people to use."

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