LA JUNTA — Otero Junior College will host a ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday, January 31 at 12 p.m. to officially open the college’s new Fitness Center. Construction of the facility began almost a year ago and was completed in December. The ribbon cutting ceremony is open to the public.
The OJC Fitness Center is a 10,800 square foot addition to the existing McDivitt Center Gymnasium, located in the middle of the OJC campus. The Center includes areas for elliptical and weight training equipment, an aerobics room, two racquetball courts, men’s and women’s dressing rooms and shower facilities. The facility also includes offices for athletic coaching staff.
Bassett Construction, from Pueblo, was the general contractor for the $1.50 million facility. Several subcontractors from the local area were also a part of the construction team. The facility was designed by Connie Ryan, an OJC alumna and architect with HGF Architect, Pueblo.
Jim Rizzuto, president of Otero Junior College, explained that the college had seen an increased need to build a Fitness Center on campus for several years, so when building costs started to come down in price, the time seemed right to build the facility.
“We are fortunate that we did not have to take on any bonded indebtedness to build the facility. Thanks to the college’s cash funds we were able to fully fund the construction of the facility,” said Rizzuto.
Maintenance and upkeep of the Fitness Center will be funded by a student activity fee. According to Jeff Paolucci, vice president of Student Services, for the first time in Otero Junior College’s history, students were asked to vote on a new activity fee in 2010 to help fund the maintenance and upkeep of the college’s new Fitness Center.
“In November of 2010, OJC students voted and approved a $2.00 per credit hour fee to maintain the facility. The increased activity fee went into effect for the 2011-2012 academic year and will continue each year thereafter,” he explained.
“Over the years, OJC has been able to maintain one of the lowest fee schedules in Colorado for community colleges. This was the first time we had ever asked our students to consider a fee increase, and I think by identifying a specific purpose for the increased fees, students were supportive of the project that will benefit them as current students, as well as future students,” said Paolucci.
According to Kurt Long, director of the Fitness Center, use of the facility is currently limited to OJC students, faculty and staff.
“We want to use Spring Semester to analyze facility-use patterns by our students and then begin to make some decisions for next fall about when to offer some health, wellness and fitness courses for the public,” explained Long. “Our long-term goal is to provide college-credit programming that offers the community access to the facility during low-use times,” he said.
The OJC campus community and area community members are invited to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony at 12 p.m. on January 31 at the main entrance to the facility. Tours of the facility will be conducted after the ceremony. In attendance will be representatives from the OJC Associated Student Government, Bassett Construction and Connie Ryan, with HGF Architect, Pueblo.
For more information and photos of the OJC Fitness Center, visit: www.ojc.edu/OJCFitnessCenter.aspx