MANSON - A new rec center in town has people from all across Manson excited.
After lots of planning and remodeling, portions of the former Manson Northwest-Webster Elementary school now house the Manson Area Community Center.
"Four years ago, when the elementary school was closed down and it moved to Barnum, the school was looking for some potentials for usage," said center director Josh Sturgis. "One of the things came up pretty quickly was a fitness center."
-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Randy Kaiser, president of the Manson Economic Development Corporation, stands in front of the newest road sign in Manson. Nineteenth Avenue was added to Manson this year as the city prepares to build a new housing addition, in response to the development at the Agricultural Industrial Park outside of Fort Dodge.
The second-story wrestling room has been transformed into a free weights room. The former music room is now a "cardio room" complete with treadmills, ellipticals, bikes and weight machines. Tanning beds will be offered in former offices.
The center officially opened on Feb. 1, but 80 members had joined up before that, said Thelma McGough, economic development coordinator. Those members were able to use the center with more limited hours up until the opening day.
Now, the facility will be open from 4 a.m. to 11 p.m., even if no one is there to run it.
"You'll get a keypad number, and you'll come in and access the facility, and then there's cameras located throughout the facility that will monitor who's in here, and what's happening," Sturgis said.
The facility needed upgrades, such as a new boiler, paint and security cameras.
"We're working on the operational part of it too, getting a front desk, getting the software in place, doing classes like yoga, and doing some personal training, boot camps," Sturgis said. "The yoga class has begun, and we offer personal training for clients."
A basketball league and volleyball league are also in the works.
To help get things running, the Manson Economic Development Corporation donated $50,000 to the MAC Center.
Sturgis moved his One Chiropractic office into the old school administrative offices in the building, while the MNW administration moved into Sturgis' old office on Main Street.
He said the facility is a great addition to Manson.
"At nights when I'm up here running the facility, and just looking around you'll see ... there's a group of 20 kids playing basketball, moms and dads working out at night, parents with kids shooting baskets in the gym," said Sturgis. "It's a really positive amenity for the town of Manson."
Manson is also preparing for new housing, said Mayor Dave George, with completion of the Braginton Addition.
"Construction is completed on the addition," said George. "The sanitary sewer is in, there are stubs to each lot to hook up for sanitary sewers and water. The storm sewer is in, the street is poured, the streetlights are in, every lot has underground electricity and gas. It's all ready for building.
"There's been a lot of activity of people looking at them."
The city is offering a $5,000 rebate on the cost of the lot if construction is completed in the first two years, as well as a five-year 100 percent tax abatement.
The 14 new lots, located on 19th Avenue north of the golf course and near the high school, swimming pool and football field, were needed because there were very few lots left to build a new home with water and sewer hookups.
There's a lot of other things going on in town, George said. The Fire Department is in the planning stages for an expansion, so it can accommodate both fire and ambulance service. The city will also dig a new test well on the same block as the public library.
"The MAC Center is the big talk of the town," he said.
Jesse Grossnickle said the MAC Center and new housing district showed that Manson is moving forward.
Grossnickle owns the Shoreside Pub and Grub, which opened June 2012 on Main Street in the former Pizza Ranch building which sat empty for years after a fire.
He hopes the Shoreside will provide a "fun atmosphere" so that the 21- to 26-year-old crowd will have things to do in town.
"It's a fun place for them to hang out so it keeps them off the roads, so they're not drinking and driving," he said.
Grossnickle sold his Humboldt restaurant in 2012 to focus on Manson, his home town.
"Right now Manson is probably as busy as it's ever been," he said. "I think the economic development corporation is doing a fantastic job moving forward."
In the mini-mall down the street, Hillary Lenz took over an existing business. She became the owner of the Fringe Salon and Gifts in August.
"The business was closing, and we live in Manson," she said. "I graduated from here, and we have kids in school here, so my husband and I didn't want to see another business in Manson closing."
The MAC Center was a big step forward for the community, she said. All that really needs to happen to keep moving forward is to keep bringing in new businesses.
"It's a growing community," she said. "All the local businesses too, they support each other. We tell people about the other businesses in town when they come in here, each business recruits for the other ones for their different services."