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story.lead_photo.caption YMCA of Callaway County Chief Executive Officer Sara McDaniel cuts the ribbon during the organization's open house Friday morning to give the community a glimpse of the facility's expansion and renovation. Photo by Ryan Boland / Fulton Sun.

YMCA of Callaway County officials — led by Chief Executive Officer Sara McDaniel — showed off the facility's expansion and renovation to the public during an open house and ribbon cutting Friday morning.

"For those who haven't been here in a year, it looks a lot different," McDaniel said of the $3 million project. "There was shock and awe and surprise. From the minute (everyone) walked in, it was a different space."

The YMCA launched its capital campaign for the project in 2018 and first broke ground in late December 2019. COVID-19 then forced a halt to construction for about a month in spring 2020, while the facility was also closed to members for two months around that time due to the pandemic.

"As far as we've come in the last year, everyone deserves a round of applause," said Curt Warfield, president of the board of directors, during opening remarks Friday. "The Y couldn't be what it is without its members."

Among the features of the YMCA's expansion — which doubled the size of the facility from 23,000 to 46,000 square feet — are a new fitness room, a multipurpose gym, a new program room, a functional fitness room, a group fitness studio, a teen center/meeting rooms and administrative offices.

"This has been on our radar since I started at the Y (in 2006)," McDaniel said. "It took longer, but we did it right and we went through the right channels. This will positively impact both our members and the community."

McDaniel also emphasized a new aspect for the YMCA's members that started earlier this month — 24/7 access to the fitness room, the multipurpose gym and the functional fitness room.

"We want to give our members the luxury of additional time," McDaniel said. "For shift workers and college students, it's another member benefit that I think will be utilized more on Saturday and Sunday evenings. There's a lot of excitement about that. It's here whenever it fits their schedules."

As the community was receiving its introductory glimpses of the YMCA's upgrades Friday, member Kevin Wineteer was happily utilizing the spacious fitness room.

"I really appreciate it — it's absolutely beautiful," Wineteer said as he stood next to a machine. "The space is great. It's surprising how nice (the facility) is for this size of community."

The 66-year-old Wineteer — who lives south of Millersburg and is retired from the Fulton Reception and Diagnostic Center — has been going to the YMCA for almost a year now. He pointed out he has trimmed about 30 pounds off his frame during that period.

"I was primarily looking to fill in a time gap and stop spending so much time at home," Wineteer said. "I'm trying to come every day. I had a goal of changing my whole lifestyle and this is one of the first steps.

"It's worth the effort and worth the gas."

Wineteer said he would like to see the YMCA add tai chi to its program offerings. Tai chi is an ancient Chinese discipline of meditative movements practiced as a system of exercises.

"I'm interested in new things, too," he said.

Speaking of new, the YMCA wants to continue broadening its footprint with a swimming pool as the next objective.

"A pool is a happy, fun time for family, but it's also super-important for therapy, fitness and teaching life skills," Beth Snyder, vice president of the board of directors, said during remarks Friday. "It's something we need and something that would improve the value of the community. I'm really excited about where we can go."

McDaniel said the next step in the YMCA's capital campaign — specifically with a pool in mind — could be initiated in a couple of months.

"We had success with (the current capital campaign), and we didn't really have a community phase. Everything we did (raising money) was through private meetings," she said. "This next phase will have more of a community presence."

For more information on the YMCA's facility expansion and renovation, memberships, programs and other information, visit ymcaofcallaway.org.

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