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Groundbreaking on Mitchell aquatic center kicks off $8M project

Frigid temperatures couldn't overcome the warm spirit on display as a years-long Mitchell aquatic center project took a ceremonial first step forward.

Mitchell Mayor Jerry Toomey, far left, speaks before the groundbreaking of the indoor aquatic center on Wednesday at the Mitchell Recreation Center. (Sarah Barclay / Republic)
Mitchell Mayor Jerry Toomey, far left, speaks before the groundbreaking of the indoor aquatic center on Wednesday at the Mitchell Recreation Center. (Sarah Barclay / Republic)

Frigid temperatures couldn't overcome the warm spirit on display as a years-long Mitchell aquatic center project took a ceremonial first step forward.

A few dozen Mitchell residents braved the cold to celebrate the groundbreaking at the site of the city's future $8 million aquatic center at the southwest corner of the Mitchell Recreation Center on Wednesday. City officials, project contractors and representatives of local groups dug the first shovels in the ground to embark on the construction project that is expected to be completed in 2018.

And one of the folks instrumental in the project's approval by Mitchell voters was on hand to commemorate the occasion.

"The Mitchell Aquatic Club is one of the many benefactors of this thing, and so we're so proud," said former aquatic club President Ryan Huber. "This has been going on, for us, since about 2009, so eight years in the waiting and the day has finally come."

The new facility, which will be attached to the Recreation Center, was approved by the City Council in 2014 and later by public vote in 2015 following a referendum sparked by project opposition.

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More than two years after former Mayor Ken Tracy broke a City Council tie to move forward with the project, the city's current mayor kicked off the construction of the center that will include two pools and several other features.

"The long anticipated day has finally arrived," Mayor Jerry Toomey said. "I wish the weather would have been a little more cooperative, but you know, any time we start a project like this it's a good day in Mitchell, isn't it?"

The indoor aquatic center is being built under the guidance of contractor Puetz Corporation and with designer MSH Architects, among other groups. And in a press release issued Wednesday, MSH CEO Robin Miller highlighted several features of the project.

According to Miller, features will include separate recreation and competition pools that will include play structure, small slides, diving boards and a basketball hoop. The project will also include new men's, women's and family locker rooms.

The center will be funded through city funds, a loan repayment, a tax on local hotel room rentals and a $1 million pledge from the Mitchell Aquatic Club, which Huber told The Daily Republic last year would be met without issue.

And with the construction expected to formally kick off soon, Recreation Supervisor Kevin DeVries joked the contractors could use all the help they can get to meet the project's 2018 completion date.

"If anyone else wants to help dig, they need to go about 16 feet deep, so Robin (Miller) needs some help," DeVries said.

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