Patrons first to try Kroc Center

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The doors at the Salvation Army's new Augusta Kroc Center opened at 5 a.m. Monday. By midmorning a handful of first-day patrons were trying out recumbent bicycles, pool lap lanes and a lateral rock-climbing wall.

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Shatara Prince hangs out in the hot tub Monday at the newly opened Kroc Center. For hours and activities, see  Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Shatara Prince hangs out in the hot tub Monday at the newly opened Kroc Center. For hours and activities, see

There wasn't enough time in anyone's day to learn all the 100,000-square-foot athletics, recreation, arts and education complex has to offer. So people got started by sampling.

So far, the aquatic center's water slide made the biggest impression on Theo Bolden, 17, of Augusta.

"I like it. It's creative," he said, though his brother Jacquez, 15, reported it was a little fast.

The 28-foot-high enclosed "tube" water slide begins indoors, goes outside the building, enters a water tower, curves around and re-enters the pool area.

The brothers also played basketball at the Kroc Center's gym.

"There aren't any outdoor courts in our neighborhood. We do have a gym there. But I can't go, because it's summer camp right now and I'm too old," Theo said.

Damien Simpkins of Augusta said he chose to be one of the first Kroc Center members because the Family Y is often crowded and this is closer to home and work.

"I'm very pleased. I'm very satisfied," he said. "I didn't expect it to be this big. From the outside it looks like a nice little community center, but this is actually a very huge facility."

Though the Salvation Army requires its Kroc Centers to be built in lower-income urban areas, its facilities by mandate must be excellent. Walking through the front doors of Augusta's Kroc Center, the impression is, indeed, more country club than community center.

Miniature track lighting brightens artwork in entrance areas and a long narrow fountain bubbles over a single-step waterfall. Neatly folded white towels are stacked in the fitness center and a faint odor of cleanser wafts through the air. Interior architecture incorporates the same red brick and bolted beams of neighboring historic mills, which are visible just across the canal.

Also, Kroc Center programs are required to serve a full range of ages and socioeconomic backgrounds at an affordable price. To showcase that effort the center, in its first few weeks, will offer on-the-hour tours and, to members, free samplings of its classes.

In the fitness center there will be group classes in weight lifting, step, cardio-combat, spinning, yoga, tai chi, Pilates, low-impact workouts and Zumba dance.

The aquatics center will have free drop-in water fitness classes beginning Aug. 8 and swimming classes for all ages starting Aug. 29. There will be music lessons and visual arts, acting and dance classes, GED, babysitting, cooking and senior health and lifestyle classes in the arts and education center.

Recreation offerings will include sports leagues, family nights, day camp and pool-, gym-, arts- or cooking-themed parties.

The scope is ambitious, but the Kroc Center's aim is to provide comprehensive community support.

"We want to reach out to all kinds of people and give them an opportunity to touch on something they've never done before," said Tanika Mason, the center's Arts and Education manager. "A lot of people do not have access to art, unfortunately. With budget cuts, that's something that gets dropped."

Josh McCall, a Kroc Center fitness instructor, said he's happy the emphasis is on helping members. He worked in the past for a commercial fitness center.

"This is going to be different, because it's not about sell, sell, sell. It's to help give people results and to help them have fun," McCall said.

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Riverman1 07/18/11 - 06:46 pm
When private citizens

When private citizens contribute to help the downtrodden, it's a beautiful thing and a gesture no one can find fault with. Private donations have created a world class facility and the private charity will run it much better than government ever could. It makes you proud to be an American when we have charitable people like Joan Kroc and dedicated Salvation Army employees doing such magnificent work. It makes you proud to be an Augustan, too, when the local matching donations were so quickly garnered. This place is going to help lots of people get a start and make life more enjoyable for many more. Man oh man, just when you are about to lose your faith in mankind...

Lori Davis
Lori Davis 07/19/11 - 08:32 am
I'm sure there will be

I'm sure there will be naysayers on here today, but this is a great time to live in Harrisburg! Thanks Joan Kroc!

Just Asking
Just Asking 07/19/11 - 10:06 am
Hope this works out well.

Hope this works out well. I'll head down there to use the facility as soon as my concealed weapons permit is approved.

Crime Reports and Rewards TV
Crime Reports and Rewards TV 07/19/11 - 10:54 am
Hope some of the bad element

Hope some of the bad element doesn't trash this wonderful place.

TK3 07/19/11 - 07:58 pm
I understand this large sum

I understand this large sum of money with strings attached was offered to the S.A. (tax free?) but those strings cost at least $20,000,000 required to be raised in local funds in every area these extravagant cathedral like centers are built.
Those funds (not even counting upkeep) I feel could have been put to better use for the truly homeless and actual poor which is what I, and I think many others, thought the S.A. mission was actually all about, but appears that's changed "to serve a full range of ages and socioeconomic backgrounds at an affordable price."

I suppose public perception will have to change. I wish them luck.

"Hope some of the bad element doesn't trash this wonderful place."-Crime Reports and Rewards TV

Isn't that the same type of thought the Queen had when the starving and homeless peasants stormed the palace gates after they were told to, eat cake.

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