On your way to the bank, or McCarville’s or just driving down the main street in Bonesteel lately you may have noticed some activity at the American Legion building. Two local women, Amy Bailey and Stefanie Pistulka have begun a makeover of sorts to turn the building into a fitness center.
“We’ve talked about this for years,” Amy says. Stef adds “We looked at buildings around town trying to find something suitable then someone mentioned the Legion building.” In August she called Ed Jons. Shortly after that phone call the Legion gave the women keys to the building and told them to go for it.
According to records at the county assessor’s office the building was built in 1920. A building this old always begs the question, “Is it worth the effort?” The roof had a couple of leaks that Greg Hausmann and his crew fixed between jobs recently. It also incurred some damage several years ago when the grocery store burned, but that was repaired soon after the fire by the American Legion with help from the Bonesteel Development Corporation. The women have been told the building is sound by contractors who have looked at it and the equipment supplier who gave them an estimate. He was impressed with the sturdiness of the framing under the first-floor room when he toured the basement. The building has brick exterior walls and large open space inside ideal for housing exercise equipment.
Originally constructed as a movie theater, the building has a deep basement in addition to the main floor. Area residents of a certain age may remember “The Picture Show.” Later it served for decades as the home of the Roy Garringer Post 36 of the American Legion. Ultimately, they would like to have equipment and activities on both levels. Stef and Amy have chosen the name Post 36 Fitness in recognition of the history of service to the community represented by the building.
The fitness center will operate as a non-profit. The board includes Sonya Fernau along with Stef and Amy. It will take an estimated $37,000 to get the building ready and equipped. According to Stef they currently have funded about half the budget through personal donations from current and former community members and a $5,000 Sanford Grant. Grant deadlines for 2018 have all passed. They will continue to apply for grants after the first of the year when the applications open again.
When it is complete, the fitness center will be available 24 hours a day with a keypad and pin protected entry lock. They plan to have ellipticals, treadmills, bikes, a rowing machine, and a system of free weights that do not require the user to have a spotter. There will also be a TV available for video and online fitness programs. They also hope to have live classes at times. They plan to renovate the kitchen as a play area for children.
They plan to cover operating costs through memberships. Amy and Stef are in the process of getting approved for the Silver Sneakers program which provides partial or full payment of fitness memberships for Medicare participants. There will be individual and family memberships and costs will be similar to other fitness centers in the area. They have received advice and gotten ideas from Fitness on Main in Burke as well.
“We really need the backing of the community to make this work,” Amy commented. “There is need here for this,” she added. They plan to do as much of the work as possible themselves and have already had offers of help from others. They would welcome more. An opening date has not been set as progress on the project can only move as fast as funding allows. They are grateful for the support they have received so far and would especially like to thank, “Greg Hausmann and his crew for all the work they have done, Al Faatz for offering to help us refinish the floor, Jason Jons for repair of the water line and Ed Jons just for being Ed Jons.”
“We’ve lost a lot in the past few year,” the women both said. “We’d like to get something back.” If you’d like to see preliminary plans for the center you can find drawings on their Facebook page www.facebook.com/post36fitness. You can also see the progress being made in photos on their page.
In an effort to let more light into the building, the entry way to the Legion building is being opened up.