By MICHAEL RUKAVINA
OBSERVER Assistant News Editor
Since 1980, overeating and lack of physical activity has helped triple the amount of obese children in America to the tune of 12.5 million affected. For adults the numbers are even great with one-third of the nation's adults listed as obese, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Many socioeconomic and economic factors play a major role and increase the risk for someone to fall victim to obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle. One in seven low-income, preschool-aged children is obese, and even states with the lowest prevalence of obesity have counties where many low-income children are obese and at risk for chronic disease.
Often times unhealthy food products are those that are the "bargain" buy when it comes time to check out at the grocery store. And if motivated to become physically active the cost of a gym membership makes it difficult to justify for someone living paycheck to paycheck.
In September, the Dunkirk City School District hopes to play a small role in helping the community to become more active. As part of its school building project, the district will be opening its new state-of-the-art fitness center and weight room.
"Our goal is to run through Community Education a full program for any community members that want to come in and work out," Superintendent Gary Cerne said. "It's going to be a large room with plenty of space for cardio machines, such as treadmills and ellipticals. There will also be an area for weight training benches and free weights those types of apparatus."
The fitness center, which will be located in what used to be the superintendents office and entryway, will become a multi-purpose room of sorts depending on the users needs.
"It's going to be a room that is very busy and that is our goal. We'd like to see that room used all day long and into the evening," Cerne said. "It's going to be a beautiful state-of-the-art facility and our goal is maximum participation."
The center may actually be completed by May 2012 but will be open to the public at the beginning of the next school year. A small fee will be charged to community members for use of the facility, possibly on a two-tier system with residents outside the district paying a little bit more.
"We certainly want to make it very affordable for district residents," Cerne said.
Athletic teams as well as physical education classes will also be able to utilize the facility.
This spring the district hopes to have another one of its highly anticipated projects complete in the new addition to the high school gymnasium.
"It's quit a sight," Cerne said of the gymnasium addition. "Crews put the windows to the lobby in a week ago and the doors will be in soon and it won't be long until they bring in the hardwood."
According to Building and Grounds Superintendent Tim Abbey, one of the first proposals for the gymnasium was to create a suspended track indoors. Instead, a 30-foot extension will be added to the existing gymnasium, allowing the gym to separate via three pull curtains.
A concession stand will be constructed to the right of the gymnasium entrance. A large room made just for wrestling mats and storage will be connected to the gymnasium as well. A large entryway with a trophy wall on the left side will welcome people from the Marauder Drive parking lot. One large set of bleachers will be installed on the left side as well as a new hardwood maple floor. The previous gymnasium floor will actually be recycled and used in the entryway.
"That's a unique piece that was built back into the project from the start," Abbey said.
Outdoors, elementary-age children will relish in the new and improved playgrounds expected in phase III of the building project. The district recently visited the Silver Creek Central School District to review their current playgrounds as its creator will likely be that chosen by Dunkirk.
Superintendent Gary Cerne updated the board of education during a recent meeting on the overall progression of the building project. He added that everything was going 'very well' at School 3, 4 and 5.
"Everything they had scheduled the contractors showed up and got threw. With the exception of the situation at Patrick Development we're getting close to punch list items at most of them," he said. "The main sticking points seem to be the terrazzo grinding cause it hardened up quit hard, it's not our challenge it's the companies challenge; and the other situation is the elevators are ready to go but there is some final work that needs to be done to the sump pits and that's the responsibility of Patrick's."
The 'Patrick Development situation,' according to Cerne, was a lack of manpower to complete the project in a timely manner.
"We're waiting for them to get some manpower back down here to get the job finished," he said. "They've been delayed and they have a lot of projects so they just haven't been able to get back down here."
School 4 and 5 are further along than School 3, Cerne added. According to Building and Grounds Superintendent Tim Abbey, School 4 and 5 are down to terrazzo work and punch list items.
"We're at the 90-95 percent level for both of those schools minus some Patrick issues and the elevators," he said. "At School 3, if you take out the terrazzo, and the finishing guys have been on second shift for some time doing dropped ceilings, I'd say 80 percent, minus terrazzo and case-working and the front entry."
Abbey said the anticipated completion date for School 3 will be sometime after Easter.
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