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Partnership still possible for wellness center

Nathan Dahl, a sophomore biology major from Rising City, Neb., photographs the drawings of the new wellness center at Dakota Wesleyan University following a press conference Thursday morning at the Christen Family Wellness Center in Mitchell. (Sean Ryan/The Daily Republic)

As Dakota Wesleyan University moves ahead with plans to build a new two-story, 90,000-square-foot health and wellness center, discussions continue about involving the city of Mitchell and Avera Queen of Peace Hospital in the project.

On Thursday, DWU announced plans to break ground this fall on a new health and wellness center to be built on the south side of the school’s campus in Mitchell. The school has already raised $10 million for the project. Neither the city nor the hospital have contributed money to the project.

Both the city and hospital have shown interest in building such a facility in recent years and there have even been discussions about forming a three-way partnership between the school, hospital and city. Despite Thursday’s announcement, those discussions are still ongoing, according various officials.

“We continue to have positive discussions with the university and we’re anxious for this to happen,” said Avera Queen of Peace CEO and Regional President Tom Clark in an interview Thursday with The Daily Republic.

Clark declined to go into detail when asked about the discussions between the three entities.

“It’s just too early to talk about,” he said. “We’re excited that DWU at least has the initial funding in place to be able to move ahead with the planning.”

Mayor Ken Tracy said the city will also continue to have discussions with the school and hospital, as the city is still interested in building an indoor swimming pool. DWU’s new facility, as presented Thursday, did not include plans for an indoor pool.

“We will continue to pursue that goal and hopefully we can come up with something in the not-too-distant future,” Tracy said.

It’s possible, if the city pursues its interest in building an indoor pool, that it could be built at either the city’s current Recreation Center or at DWU’s new facility.

“Those are some of the things we’re currently discussing,” Tracy said. “We just think working together with Dakota Wesleyan and Queen of Peace is beneficial to the whole community.”

Tracy said he does not envision DWU’s new facility becoming a competitor for the city’s Recreation Center.

DWU President Amy Novak also acknowledged ongoing discussions with the city and hospital after she announced the school’s plans on Thursday.

“We’ve had very positive conversations with the city and with Avera,” Novak said.

Novak declined to divulge any details of those discussions.