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Rec center dream will take a team

The Iola Register

ACC President John Masterson plans to take the pulse of countywide support for a new activity center before the college ventures further.

Masterson plans to set up meetings with Allen County commissioners, as well as city councils from surrounding communities, to see if Allen Community College has potential partners in building an all-encompassing rec center.

“I have spoken to several people in the area and their wants and needs are different than ours. People want an indoor swimming pool. They like the idea of a swimming therapy program for the hospital,” Masterson said Wednesday.

“Because we can either do this ourselves, or we can do something potentially much bigger than what we initially planned,” the college will need partnerships to bring it to fruition, he said.

Masterson spoke during a planning committee meeting for the rec center. 

Masterson and Brian Counsil, the school’s vice president of finance and operations, recently met with David Toland, Kansas Secretary of Commerce, to discuss grant opportunities for a recreation center.

Toland was enthusiastic about the opportunities, they said.

Toland said a Community Development Block Grant would fit their needs as would the opportunity for tax credits. The CDBG is in the $400,000-$500,000 range; with the tax credit, $250,000 to $300,000, Masterson said. 

“But he said there were other options if we tie in some other things. Most of these grants have points for different pieces to it. David said if you have something that was a county/city/ college project, that would move us way up on the scale. If we could somehow show that all three would profit economically from the rec center, it would help.”

Masterson used the example of a 300-meter indoor track and how the college would then be able to host track meets, bringing in people from a wide region. 

“The point is, we have to stay creative during this process,” he said. “The more creative we are, the more opportunities it will open up.”

ACC Athletic Director Doug Desmarteau said another possible partner is the Army National Guard.

Desmarteau said National Guard representatives have voiced an interest in partnering with the college in an all-encompassing rec center.

“They want a place where they can do their training and go through drills,” he said. 

Desmarteau said the Guard has mentioned committing several million dollars to the effort. 


Using the new complex as a storm shelter is also a way to attract additional funding. 

“There are FEMA grants out there that will cover 75% of the costs. But if you want a $1 million storm shelter, you still have to come up with $250,000. I can see people in the community getting behind a storm shelter, though,” Masterson said. “If this is going to be big, we need everyone on board. We need everyone in the county to be able to look at it and view it as their own.”



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