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Breaking new ground in recreation: YMCA begins $9 million project

Echo Press photos by Celeste Beam During the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Alexandria Area YMCA Wednesday morning, five different groups participated in the traditional shovel throw, including members of the YMCA Legacy gift contributors.1 / 2
Another group that got in on the action included kids from Young People's Place.2 / 2

The sun was shining Wednesday and there wasn't hardly a cloud in the sky.

"This is a positive day," stated Dave Kjos, who was serving as master of ceremonies at the Alexandria Area YMCA groundbreaking ceremony that morning.

Kjos, who is a campaign co-chairman for the YMCA, told the large crowd that gathered at the work site along County Road 82 west of Alexandria, that he was one of the lucky ones who got to be a part of bringing the YMCA here and for planning the groundbreaking event.

He also gave kudos to the chairman of the Alexandria Area YMCA board, Eric Rice, and the other two campaign co-chairs, Vern Anderson and Larry Ortloff.

During the groundbreaking ceremony, Kjos gave praise to people in the community who were instrumental in the YMCA project, from Wally and Betty Karl, the couple who sold the land where the YMCA is being built, to the late Maynard "Bud" Peterson, who donated $1.5 million to the new YMCA in honor of his wife, Sylvia, who died in 2003.

Kjos thanked Tastefully Simple, Bremer Bank, Unicel, Young People's Place, Douglas Machine, Alexandria Extrusion, 3M, Alexandria Clinic, ITW Heartland, Cullen's Home Center and other key contributors.

He said the YMCA was not a dream of one or two people, but that it was a project with well over 1,200 people working on the community goal of making it happen.

"It was a community objective accomplished by the community," he said.

Funding for the project was also talked about at the ceremony. Kjos said that as of Wednesday, $8.1 million was raised, but that $8.9 million was needed. He noted that donations to the Alexandria Area YMCA will be doubly important in the next few weeks. Thanks to the continuing support of its "Legacy" donors, the organization is once again offering a challenge match program that will double the dollar amount people contribute or pledge to the facility.

For the next $245,000 that is raised, the same amount will be matched.

"I am confident we can find those dollars," said Kjos.

Other speakers at the event included Pastor Tracy Weaver from Lake Community Church, who gave the invocation; Alexandria Mayor Dan Ness, who gave a blessing of the project; and Larry Ortloff, who read a letter of support and congratulations for the project from Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen.

During the official breaking of ground, five different groups of people dug in with gold and silver shovels, including the following:

•First shovel - Mayor Ness along with members of the YMCA leadership team, ORB Management and JLG Architects.

•Second shovel - Members of the Lakes Area Recreation Association and Betty and Wayne Karl.

•Third shovel - YMCA Legacy gift contributors.

•Fourth shovel - Representatives from the Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission, Douglas County Hospital and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

•Fifth shovel - Children and staff from Young People's Place.

Highlights of

the YMCA

The facility will include the following:

•Aquatic center, featuring a recreational pool.


•Health and wellness center.

•Indoor walking track.

•Child care center (licensed for 124 children).

•Social lounge.

•Aerobic studio.

•Men's, women's and special needs locker rooms (six of them).

•Office space and conference room.

•Child watch (drop-in child care).

•Outdoor field space.

•Douglas County Hospital services - physical therapy and rehab center.

•Fellowship of Christian Athletes office location.

For more information about the Alexandria Area YMCA or to make a donation, call (320) 763-9621 or visit its website at