Thousands visit Augusta Kroc Center for grand opening

Michael Holahan/Staff
Clad in his dress uniform, Salvation Army Captain Todd Mason takes the inaugural ride down the 190 foot water slide during Augusta Kroc Center grand opening festivities Saturday afternoon.
  • Follow Metro

Only four hours into Saturday's Salvation Army Kroc Center grand opening, about 2,000 free hot dogs had been served, nearly 100 free massages given, countless pictures taken, and thousands of visitors had been entertained, educated, exercised and inspired.

Back | Next
Players from the Augusta GreenJackets signed autographs and gave away hats during Augusta Kroc Center grand-opening festivities Saturday afternoon. Thousands attended the event.   Michael Holahan/Staff
Michael Holahan/Staff
Players from the Augusta GreenJackets signed autographs and gave away hats during Augusta Kroc Center grand-opening festivities Saturday afternoon. Thousands attended the event.

"The crowd today is a blessing," said Capt. Todd Mason, the administrator of The Salvation Army of Augusta. "We've got people from all over the greater Augusta area."

Seven years in the making, the 100,000-square-foot fitness, recreation, aquatics and arts center in Harrisburg community opened on a limited basis three weeks ago, with 500 memberships selling the first week.

First-comers to the grand opening were treated to a performance by the Salvation Army Band in the Franklynn Hall Arts and Worship Center, which seats 400, stadium-style in front of the large stage. The line of parents and children was long in the community wing, where members of the Augusta GreenJackets baseball team signed autographs, gave out hats and posed for pictures.

Though the atmosphere was cultured and peaceful throughout the center, some good-natured trash talk started up in the gymnasium, where the bleachers quickly filled for a dodgeball game between Team Media and Team Government. Led by Augusta Commission member Matt Aitken and Richmond County sheriff's Capt. Scott Peebles, Team Government consisted of some Augusta and Columbia County commission members, administrators and department directors, and staff members of U.S. Rep. Paul Broun.

Team Media's captains were Austin Rhodes, of WGAC radio, and Helen Blocker-Adams, of HBA Group International. Other members of the team included reporters, a meteorologist and anchor of three television stations, and writers and staffers of The Augusta Chronicle and The Metro Spirit .

Although the game was the best of three rounds, Team Government won in two.

"We're all ecstatic about beating Austin Rhodes, because he beats us up all the time on his show," Aitken said. "That was our motivation for coming."

"Unfortunately, we're amateurs and they're pros at dodging the media," Rhodes countered.

The crowd moved to the aquatics center to watch dodgeball winners take a victory-ride down the Kroc's 28-foot-tall, 190-foot-long water slide after the game.

Mason initiated the water slide thrills by being the first to go down, dressed in full-dress uniform.

"Four years ago, my staff said, 'Will you?' and I said, 'Yes,' " he explained.

Many who entered the aquatics center gaped in awe when they saw the water slide, leisure pool, kids splash pad, lap pool, lazy river and spa.

"I watch my grandkids, so the pool is kind of a godsend for us grandparents," said Jeannine Rich, a Harrisburg resident who was one of the first 500 to join the center.

The center's three gyms total more than 17,000 square feet of workout space and equipment.

"It's got state-of-the-art equipment," Michelle Bovian said. "It will inspire me to work out. They did a beautiful job on the building."

"As a person who has diabetes, it's the perfect set up to get in shape and help lower my blood sugars," said her husband, Scott.

Helen Brunson took advantage of the massage.

"It's like living on clouds," she said of the experience. "I've been coming to the church here for the last three Sundays, and it's really great. They speak the truth, it's backed up by Scripture and they have people give testimonies. It's great."

Program Assistant Wendy Kinley said the church is nondenominational, "open to anyone -- come as you are," and includes Sunday school, child care and a children's ministry.

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 allow the Salvation Army to offer discounted rates to low-income applicants.

Comments (32) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
ECDanes
1
Points
ECDanes 08/06/11 - 07:01 pm
0
0
Just don't wear a Ziggy

Just don't wear a Ziggy t-shirt inside, paint flowers that look like Georgia O'keefe paintings in their art classes or expect to find yoga.. other than that should be fun

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 08/06/11 - 07:06 pm
0
0
THANKS to Mrs. Kroc, the

THANKS to Mrs. Kroc, the Salvation Army, the donations of many generous Augustans and the sweat of numerous work-men and -women for the beautiful new community center.

Iwannakno
1533
Points
Iwannakno 08/06/11 - 08:14 pm
0
0
The Kroc Center is an awesome
Unpublished

The Kroc Center is an awesome thing! Now maybe Augusta will clean Harrisburg up so the decent people living there can enjoy their neighborhood!

ECDanes
1
Points
ECDanes 08/06/11 - 08:17 pm
0
0
Iwannakno... we shall see

Iwannakno... we shall see about that

TK3
562
Points
TK3 08/06/11 - 08:48 pm
0
0
Not sure the S.A. will have

Not sure the S.A. will have many of the same clientele as before show up soon at this new palace size center but I expect many citizens having modest or more resources will, for now anyway, surely take advantage of the center. I do hope none that were served by the S.A. before now feel intimated by the grand new center and thus hesitate to take advantage of it and the S.A. services.

countyman
19982
Points
countyman 08/06/11 - 09:25 pm
0
0
The extra car and foot

The extra car and foot traffic in the area will attract street level developments to Broad street(restaurants, bookstores).. I've never seen the section of Broad street in Harrisburg that busy before. The future of Harrisburg is very bright and the Kroc Center is the main catalyst. Half of the Harrisburg neighborhood is already nice with manicured lawns.. The sketchy side (Eve-15th) has the Kroc Center, First Stop Village, 5 acre park on the canal, First Stop Center, Broad Mill Village, renovated Martha Lester School, Eve Street Row, and the future renovated Sibley Mill.. The neighborhood is also the first opportunity zone in the entire county.

tomcasey
-2
Points
tomcasey 08/06/11 - 10:41 pm
0
0
Being a former Augustan, it

Being a former Augustan, it is nice to hear about the Kroc Center; however, you can't put all your hopes on one development.
To revitalize an area as large as Harrisburg, it will take a formal plan (is there one?), money (private, public or both?) and commitment from leadership (is this really there?). However, are you taking into account the current views of the residents of Harrisburg. Countyman what may be progress for you may conflict with their view of wanting to keep the particular historic charm of their homes and neighborhood. As for increased traffic exactly how will dilapidated Broad Street handle this increased load since there is no easy access to River Watch Parkway or that jab into the heart of Harrisburg (the Calhoun Freeway).

tomcasey
-2
Points
tomcasey 08/06/11 - 10:42 pm
0
0
Iwannakno, what is happening

Iwannakno, what is happening in Harrisburg?

tomcasey
-2
Points
tomcasey 08/06/11 - 10:51 pm
0
0
Why is Countyman's posting

Why is Countyman's posting like a brochure from the welcome wagon being positive to the point of cheerleading while others seem to be less positive to almost a wait and see opinion.

Riverman1
83438
Points
Riverman1 08/06/11 - 11:00 pm
0
0
Maybe Countyman gets paid to

Maybe Countyman gets paid to drive the welcome wagon.

Just My Opinion
5582
Points
Just My Opinion 08/06/11 - 11:11 pm
0
0
River, I think we all have an

River, I think we all have an idea of who Countyman is, and if not, then who he works for. And, to me, that's okay. His postings don't irritate me like they do others...maybe because I don't read all of them. From time to time, he clues us in on some new business coming up around the area that I didn't know about. Anyway...back to the Kroc Center...glad it's here, and one day I'll go down there and see it for myself!

RogerDavis
11
Points
RogerDavis 08/06/11 - 11:26 pm
0
0
Kroc alone won't revitalize

Kroc alone won't revitalize Harrisburg. It will help. But it will take a concerted effort by city leaders and the RCSO along with the Kroc to affect change. We've got one on board (Kroc). What about the other two? Let's just say I'm not holding my breath.
And county....please.....just stop.

RogerDavis
11
Points
RogerDavis 08/06/11 - 11:28 pm
0
0
JMO, agreed. Having ranted,

JMO, agreed. Having ranted, the Kroc Center IS an absolutely wonderful place. And we are incredibly blessed to have it in our city.

countyman
19982
Points
countyman 08/06/11 - 11:49 pm
0
0
Tomcasey.. Maybe the other

Tomcasey.. Maybe the other people don't know about the amount of private investment happening around Harrisburg. The section of Broad street seemed to handle the increase traffic fine(thousands of people attened the grand opening today) without any problems. The Kroc Center is an separate facility away from the other projects.. The Broad Mill Village is six renovated mill houses along Broad street.. The Martha Lester School was purchased and the property could become residential or residential/commercial.. Then there's the First Stop Center(10k sq. ft.), 5 acre park on the canal, First Stop Village(seven renovated homes), and Eve Street Row(five renovated houses)... I'm positive the Sibley Mill will be purchased in the future and become similar to the Enterprise Mill(residential, office, retail,etc)...

I definitely don't work for the city of Augusta either... Nobody is paying me anything and they couldn't afford me anyway..

Riverman1
83438
Points
Riverman1 08/07/11 - 06:14 am
0
0
I generally like positive

I generally like positive information, too. Certainly, not always though when it takes leaps of logic. I do wonder if someone is working for an agency getting money from the county and told to spam these comments during his work hours using computers and internet connections the county indirectly paid for? That wouldn't seem to be right if it is the case and should possibly be looked into as the Chronicle found out Grandma was Richard Roundtree spamming himself.

maandpa
315
Points
maandpa 08/07/11 - 07:34 am
0
0
While the Kroc Center sounds

While the Kroc Center sounds like a state of the art facility and is tempting to join, realistically, I know that it would be a waste of money because I will tire from fighting Washington Road traffic 30 minutes one way to get there and then have to worry about my car getting broken into while working out. Hopefully people living or working in downtown will benefit, but the rest of us will not really benefit when we have work out facilities much closer. Besides, I rarely go downtown, not even for the July 4th celebration. I quit that the year someone let their child urinate uphill from where my family was sitting on the ground with a blanket. Last year I went to a presentation at the amphitheater on the river and was followed by a opportunist wanting to mug us and then I had to help a scared old lady to her car who was also being followed. But hopefully this investment will help the area, at least while it is pretty and new.

maandpa
315
Points
maandpa 08/07/11 - 07:34 am
0
0
While the Kroc Center sounds

While the Kroc Center sounds like a state of the art facility and is tempting to join, realistically, I know that it would be a waste of money because I will tire from fighting Washington Road traffic 30 minutes one way to get there and then have to worry about my car getting broken into while working out. Hopefully people living or working in downtown will benefit, but the rest of us will not really benefit when we have work out facilities much closer. Besides, I rarely go downtown, not even for the July 4th celebration. I quit that the year someone let their child urinate uphill from where my family was sitting on the ground with a blanket. Last year I went to a presentation at the amphitheater on the river and was followed by a opportunist wanting to mug us and then I had to help a scared old lady to her car who was also being followed. But hopefully this investment will help the area, at least while it is pretty and new.

KittyW923
8
Points
KittyW923 08/07/11 - 07:51 am
0
0
Loved the grand opening of

Loved the grand opening of the kroc center ONLY one thing is in the main lobby sat a lady lounging in the chairs with her germie bare feet on the sitting stool. That was so unsanitary and lack of up bringing.

Lori Davis
910
Points
Lori Davis 08/07/11 - 10:13 am
0
0
Slapshot, First, at least we

Slapshot, First, at least we write under our own names. Secondly, we are extremely happy to have Kroc here and we were 2 of the first 500 who bought memberships right away. Our concern is that in the 5 years it took to put this plan together and build it, a greater plan could have been developed to begin to get the neighborhood in order along with this incredible center. That would have made a lot of sense, since it has been said over and over that Kroc can not survive unless Harrisburg survives. Harrisburg is not surviving and the only person buying property right now is a well known slumlord in our midst. The price is certainly right in Harrisburg and none of the big names are biting. I have been on board with everything Kroc for the last 5 years, just ask Derek Dugan. I have followed it from day one. Living in Harrisburg, one realizes the magnitude of the problems here and I resent Countyman adding Crawford Ave. to his list of,"the bad side of Harrisburg." There are beautiful homes, including mine on this street and Crawford Ave. runs straight into the Kroc Center grounds. I also don't think that Platt's funeral home would appreciate being lumped in to Countyman's group as they are on Crawford as well and are huge supporters of the neighborhood cause. Someone on here also asked if there was a comprehensive plan for the area. There is no plan in place except by maybe those who make their plans behind closed doors. Harrisburg has not received one dime of SPLOST money or any other money for that matter. I hope this answers everyone's questions. We are HOPING for the best but will continue to WORK to rid our area of crime drug dealing and prostitution so that it will be a safe place to pass through as all of the new members come into our area to enjoy the Kroc Center. We are asking nothing less out of the rest of our city leaders.

RogerDavis
11
Points
RogerDavis 08/07/11 - 10:43 am
0
0
Slap, you don't have to be

Slap, you don't have to be afraid to call my name out. You know who I am and I'm not afraid to stand by my statements by using my own name. Unlike others here who would rather hide behind
"cutesy" screen names. As far as listening to my wife too much. I also happen to agree with her and if it were up to me she use even stronger arguments and opinions to express our disappointment with how this city runs. I'm proud of the fact that we both have the guts to not be politicians and sugar coat everything and make this town sound like a utopian heaven. You forget we see it everyday in our neighborhood so we may have a bit more intimate view of the apathy so often found when dealing with the various bureaucracies in this town.
Having said that, Glad you bought a Kroc membership yesterday. I've had mine for weeks. And Lori and I, as well as many others are ecstatic about this facility. If you see me at the center engage me. I love spirited discussion where people aren't hiding behind "pseudo-personas".

raul
4810
Points
raul 08/07/11 - 11:44 am
0
0
I'm confused. Who is

I'm confused. Who is slapshot? I don't see a poster with that name?

Riverman1
83438
Points
Riverman1 08/07/11 - 11:48 am
0
0
Slapshot did a cheapshot and

Slapshot did a cheapshot and got sent to the penalty box.

raul
4810
Points
raul 08/07/11 - 11:56 am
0
0
@Riverman1. Ha. Ha. Good one

@Riverman1. Ha. Ha. Good one .

CorporalGripweed
0
Points
CorporalGripweed 08/07/11 - 12:18 pm
0
0
There were two or three posts

There were two or three posts from slappy earlier on this thread. Must have been removed.

ECDanes
1
Points
ECDanes 08/07/11 - 01:23 pm
0
0
One more thing, the first

One more thing, the first thing one must do on their road to recovery is to admit they have a problem. It seems to me that some of our so-called leaders are still in the denial phase. Well Augusta is never going to reach full recovery if it is still in denial. To listen to Deke, countyman and others.. Augusta is already perfect and doesn't need to work on any problems. I've seen many addicts with this mindset in my profession. It's sad really because you know things won't get better for them until they get past the denial stage.

wondersnevercease
9218
Points
wondersnevercease 08/07/11 - 01:52 pm
0
0
""Loved the grand opening of
Unpublished

""Loved the grand opening of the kroc center ONLY one thing is in the main lobby sat a lady lounging in the chairs with her germie bare feet on the sitting stool. That was so unsanitary and lack of up bringing.""".........LOL you should get ready for a lot more of that................

countyman
19982
Points
countyman 08/07/11 - 03:27 pm
0
0
I ride through the Harrisburg

I ride through the Harrisburg neighborhood frequently.. I don't know the exact boundaries between the Summerville and Harrisburg neighborhoods.. The number of dilapidated or vacant homes between Eve and 15th street.. The number greatly outweights the number of homes in need or repair between Eve and Hickman or Eve and Milledge.. I never said there weren't any nice homes located between Eve and 15th streets.

The Kroc Center offers around the clock private security.. The fireworks show took place around 9:30 pm in the heart of Harrisburg. Thousands of people from all over the CSRA attended the grand opening yesterday. The city raised over $20 million during the recession in order to build the Kroc Center..

Mr. Boardman(Enterprise Mill, Heritage Academy, Sutherland Mill, Christ Community Health, SchoolHouse, etc) is behind the Broad Mill Village and Martha Lester school.. The heavyweights have taken notice of the progress occuring in the neighborhoods.

RogerDavis
11
Points
RogerDavis 08/07/11 - 03:35 pm
0
0
And hopefully these same

And hopefully these same "heavyweights" will put pressure on city leaders, namely code enforcement and the RCSO to help us clean up these areas.

RogerDavis
11
Points
RogerDavis 08/07/11 - 03:42 pm
0
0
(continuation of my previous

(continuation of my previous post). That is unless they have a grand plan which allows for the deterioration of this area in order to swoop in and buy low then sell high. I'm a conservative capitalist and I don't begrudge any one making a buck but if this scenario is the plan then I'll call it how I see it. Evil. If indeed their motives are altruistic then they need to step up and call for more action from the RCSO and code enforcement to clean this area up.
Kroc is a great first step but should not be considered the only step.

RogerDavis
11
Points
RogerDavis 08/07/11 - 03:43 pm
0
0
*

*

Back to Top

Top headlines

DaVitte slaying suspect still in Florida

A month after the slaying of 55-year-old Bill DaVitte, suspect Daniel Nelson Robinson, 21, remains in a Jacksonville, Fla., detention facility.
Search Augusta jobs