The largest part of the project is the Paynesville Area Community Center attached to the north side of the secondary school. Career and technical classrooms were remodeled, and indoor air quality work at the elementary school is ongoing.
Community centers connected to schools are found in all sizes of school districts in Minnesota. New London-Spicer High School has had an attached fitness center for more than a decade. Redwood Falls has a civic center/community center connected to Redwood Valley High School.
The Paynesville Area Community Center had a grand opening in August, two years after voters approved the project. Its field house has room for four full basketball or volleyball courts, a walking track around the perimeter and a group exercise room. Many features are available 24 hours a day for members.
Matt Dickhausen, community education director for Paynesville Area School District, stands in the weight room of the community fitness center connected to Paynesville Area Secondary School. Dickhausen worked for years to develop the fitness center funded by a community referendum.
Linda Vanderwerf / West Central Tribune
“We’re all about keeping our community active and fit,” said Matt Dickhausen, Community Education director, as he conducted a tour of the new facility. The center has about 600 memberships.
A large wrestling room/multipurpose room has replaced the school’s old wrestling room, which is now a student training center. Having the student center leaves the fitness center for community members.
The “fun part” of the new wrestling room is the black lights mounted near the ceiling, Dickhausen said — “We just had black-light Nerf wars with kids, and we can do black-light dodgeball.”
The center offers party rentals featuring open gym time and blacklight play.
It’s a healthy option for a party, too, Dickhausen said.
“When you’re playing dodgeball or Nerf, you don’t know you’re exercising or working out, but you’re just sweating,” he said. “The kids are having so much fun.”
The group exercise room has a system that allows members to choose from hundreds of exercise videos if they don’t have an in-person instructor.
Dickhausen said the community fitness center first opened in 2001. Eventually, “we just needed more space,” he said. “We were so short on community gym space for our adult rec things; and youth sports had to go pretty late in the day to get practices in.”
Dickhausen has been with the …….