Augusta Kroc Center will open today

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The best party in town is happening today at the Salvation Army's Kroc Center grand opening.

Exterior of The Kroc Center July 13, 2011.The Salvation Army's Kroc Community contains over 100,000 square feet of programming space including a 77,000 sq ft complex located on a 17 acre site in the historic mill community of Harrisburg.  Nestled along the Augusta Canal, the center campus is comprised of one main building designed to complement the nearby Sibley Mill and King Mill and a 10,000 square foot building that will house the First Stop Family Service Center.  In addition, there will be expansive park space and several historic homes and even a historic church renovated for programming on the campus.  John Curry/Staff
John Curry/Staff
Exterior of The Kroc Center July 13, 2011.The Salvation Army's Kroc Community contains over 100,000 square feet of programming space including a 77,000 sq ft complex located on a 17 acre site in the historic mill community of Harrisburg. Nestled along the Augusta Canal, the center campus is comprised of one main building designed to complement the nearby Sibley Mill and King Mill and a 10,000 square foot building that will house the First Stop Family Service Center. In addition, there will be expansive park space and several historic homes and even a historic church renovated for programming on the campus.

A full day of free entertainment will conclude with a performance by New Orleans rock band Cowboy Mouth and a fireworks display.

Leading up to that will be sports, aquatics and arts performances, including a celebrity dodgeball tournament, a motivational speech by Olympic silver medalist swimmer Kristy Kowel, and the feats of Harris III, an illusionist.

"We have a wonderful roster, and we think people will enjoy the day," said the Kroc Center's public relations coordinator, Anthony Esposito.

The Kroc Center is a 100,000-square-foot fitness, recreation, aquatics and arts center in Harrisburg community.

Salvation Army Kroc centers nationwide are funded through private donations and a $1.7 billion bequest from the late Joan Kroc.

Operations are paid for by membership fees and an endowment, which allows the Salvation Army to offer discounted rates to low-income applicants.

The Augusta Kroc Center's opening concludes seven years of planning and fundraising. The day will be a chance to celebrate, but also a time to show off all there is to do at the Kroc Center. In between the hoopla of special events, Kroc Center staffers will demonstrate aquatics, fitness and gymnasium programs offered.

The center has been open on a limited basis for three weeks to those purchasing its first 500 memberships.

The "soft" opening gave staffers a chance to run programs before the center became fully operational. Esposito said the public response so far has exceeded expectations.

"Literally thousands of people have come through for tours. We sold out of our first 500 memberships by Friday of the first week," he said.

Schedule of events

10 A.M.: Salvation Army of Augusta Band, Worship and Performing Arts Center

10 A.M. TO 2 P.M.: Augusta GreenJackets play catch with guests, sign autographs, Kroc Center lawn

11 A.M.: Celebrity dodgeball tournament led by Augusta Commission member Matt Aitken, Austin Rhodes and Helen Blocker-Adams, gymnasium; Salvation Army Capt. Todd Mason and others take fully clothed inaugural ride down Aquatics Center Slide.

NOON TO 1 P.M.: Jazz artist Karen Gordon, Kroc Center lawn

NOON: Pickleball demonstration, gymnasium. Pickleball combines elements of badminton, tennis, table tennis.

1:30 P.M.: Choral music ensemble Creative Impressions, Worship and Performing Arts Center

1 P.M.: Motivational speech by Olympic silver medal swimmer Kristina Kowal, Worship and Performing Arts Center; from 2-4 p.m. and 5-6 p.m., signs autographs, Aquatics Center; 4 p.m., teaches water safety lesson and swims in relay race with local swim team participants

2 P.M.: Futsal demonstration, gymnasium. Futsal is a variation of indoor soccer .

2:30 P.M.: Eryn Eubanks and the Family Fold perform bluegrass, gospel, country and other music, Worship and Performing Arts Center

2:30 TO 4:30 P.M.: Miss South Carolina USA 2011 Courtney Turner signs autographs, party rooms

4:30 P.M.: Master illusionist Harris III, Worship and Performing Arts Center

5 P.M.: Wheelchair basketball game played by Champions Made from Adversity, gymnasium

6 P.M.: Children's musician Tara Scheyer and the Mud Puppy Band, Kroc Center Park

7:30 P.M.: New Orleans rock 'n' roll band Cowboy Mouth, Kroc Center Park

9 P.M.: Fireworks display, Kroc Center Park.

Comments (9) Add comment
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TK3
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TK3 08/06/11 - 08:13 am
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Appears the S.A. in having,

Appears the S.A. in having, so to speak, bit the Kroc apple (or in this case, the McDonald's burger and fries) by accepting the Kroc money with strings, now appears to be going to change what I, and I believe more than a few others, thought their mission and or style was, from services to the poor and homeless, to programs, including athletics, RECREATION, arts and education to serve a full range of ages and socioeconomic backgrounds at (what someone with disposable cash might consider) an affordable price.

I hope the (First Stop Center) is to be a separate government office otherwise impeding or "restricting"-Evaluating potential clients, by S.A. or any other private entity, before-allowing them to proceed on to a government benefits office would very-likely, IMHO, be considered at best, a hindrance and violation of their legal rights.

I hope it all works out in the long run for the S.A. but I think for those they served before, they may have made a mistake.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 08/06/11 - 08:35 am
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TK3, I think you are

TK3, I think you are concerned, but wrong. First off, the Kroc Center will allow and actually encourage the poor to use the facilities. All they require is the poor people allow the Kroc Center to teach them some needed life skills and money management.

I see the First Stop Center as another level that seeks to help the homeless and the poor navigate the agencies. It is not screening people out. If anything it is encouraging them to apply for help from the various agencies. Paperwork with official types can be a daunting task for poor, homeless and emotionally beaten down people. See what I mean?

The Salvation Army is not straying from its mission to help the poor. The Kroc foundation has the same intention. They are certainly not into building centers in poor areas to make money.

daphne3520
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daphne3520 08/06/11 - 10:19 am
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Membership costs preclude all
Unpublished

Membership costs preclude all except the "upper crust," from getting one!

countyman
20234
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countyman 08/06/11 - 10:33 am
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The Kroc Center offers help

The Kroc Center offers help to families who make an certain income..

The regular rates are $5 per day, $30 per month(individual), and $50 per month(family)... Several working class and middle class people/families can afford the memberships..

Riverman1
84889
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Riverman1 08/06/11 - 10:33 am
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Daphene3520, did you even

Daphene3520, did you even read my post? The poor will most certainly be using the facility...by design.

countyman
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countyman 08/06/11 - 11:26 am
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At first some of the regular

At first some of the regular posters on the AC told us soccer moms and upper middle class people wouldn't join the Kroc Center.. They would stick to the YMCA in West Augusta lol(even though there's really no comparison between them)..

Now were hearing only the wealthy, rich, and upper middle class in Augusta will be able to join..

Riverman1
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Riverman1 08/06/11 - 11:40 am
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"Now were hearing only the

"Now were hearing only the wealthy, rich, and upper middle class in Augusta will be able to join.."

That is simply a misunderstanding of the intent of the Kroc Center and how it will work. See my above posts about helping the poor.

ECDanes
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ECDanes 08/06/11 - 03:25 pm
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well whatever you do, don't

well whatever you do, don't wear a t-shirt with the cartoon character "Ziggy" on it or you might get thrown out of the place.

ECDanes
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ECDanes 08/06/11 - 03:26 pm
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just curious, when did it

just curious, when did it become the mission of The Salvation Army to run fancy gyms and aquatic centers for yuppies?

ECDanes
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ECDanes 08/06/11 - 03:28 pm
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A band named "Cowboy Mouth"?

A band named "Cowboy Mouth"? That sounds lewd and not very family appropriate. I can't believe the Kroc Center big wigs allowed such a lewdly named band to perform at their grand opening. (insert sarcasm here)

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