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City of Black Hawk cuts the ribbon on new Employee Wellness Center

BHwellness_ribbon“Our hope and dream for a long time,” says City Clerk

by Patty Unruh

The City of Black Hawk proudly held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its new Employee Wellness Center on Wednesday, July 13. The Center is located at “The Barn” in Mountain City, 470 Gregory Street. About 40 city employees and officials packed the small facility for the event.

There is no definite date set yet for the Center’s official opening, but it may come in two or three weeks. The ribbon cutting was held early in order to accommodate the City Council members, who would not otherwise be available for that activity for the next six weeks.

Before cutting the ribbon, several speakers addressed the guests.

City Clerk Melissa Greiner welcomed them. “This has been our hope and dream for a long time. The wellness program began several years ago, when we were still with Cigna [Health Insurance Company], before we had Kaiser,” she noted. She thanked the mayor and the aldermen for helping the dream become reality and expressed appreciation to Kaiser Permanente for that health company’s help in funding the project.

City Manager Jack Lewis gave a thumbs-up to the Central City Fire Department, who came up with the idea originally. “It’s a great idea, and a great place to work out,” he declared.

Mayor David Spellman advised that The Barn was intended as a temporary location for the next three to five years.

“It’s up to you to determine,” he told the assembly. “If you use it a lot, we’ll build a permanent structure. Extend your life and get healthy, and we’ll build a permanent building!”

Angela Barrett of Kaiser said, “We’re excited to partner with the City and to get involved here. We’re very happy to play a part in making this become a reality.”

After those brief words, the auspicious moment arrived. The mayor, Black Hawk City Council, and the representatives from Kaiser gathered at the red ribbon that was stretched across the entrance to the Center. Everyone had smiles as broad as the ribbon as Mayor Spellman did the honors. Then it was time to enter and examine the exercise equipment, try the healthy snacks, spin the wellness wheel, and enter the raffle for a chance at a special prize.

Fire Chief Don Taylor acknowledged the three members of his department who originally came up with the idea of a wellness center, Bruce Hollenbeck, Quentin Griffin, and Jim Major. Griffin and Major, he said, were certified fitness coordinators who have worked with the department on its fitness program and will now work with city employees. The three presented their idea to Chief Taylor, who brought it to Greiner and Lewis. They in turn thought it was a great idea and took it to the City Council. The concept was approved. The Barn had been vacant since the former tenants, Cholua Brothers Coffee retail store, moved out several months ago, so it seemed appropriate to utilize that space for the Center. Taylor and Greiner did the bulk of the work on the project.

Greiner advised that City employees and their spouses and children over the age of 16 would be able to use the Center. Minors must be accompanied by a parent or other adult. Waivers must be signed. All Gilpin Ambulance Authority personnel are allowed, as the agency partners with Black Hawk Fire and Police Departments.

Each person using the Center will be provided with an electronic key fob to get in. These cards will keep track of how many people use the facility and for how long, for statistical purposes.

During Wednesday’s event, folks helped themselves to bottled water, fresh fruit, packets of natural almonds, and organic granola bars, among other healthy items.

They admired the shining Stair Master, elliptical machine, and treadmill provided for intense workouts. Greiner noted that plans were in place to add additional equipment, including a spin bike and a rowing machine.

Eventually most of the crowd tried out the wellness wheel brought by the Kaiser representatives. Each spin would land on a pertinent health question, which the person could try to answer for a prize. Some of the questions were: “Name one way to improve your physical well-being,” or “According to Gallup’s research, how many hours of social time does the average person need per day to be thriving and reduce stress?” The prizes all went along with the theme of encouraging wellness – water bottles, a measuring cup and spoon for calculating healthy portions, and light-up wristbands to wear while taking that nighttime power walk.

A raffle attracted several takers for some very nice awards, including a $50 REI gift card, $50 Whole Foods gift card, and a $50 Dick’s Sporting Goods gift card. The grand prize was a sturdy bag packed with a blanket, first aid kit, exercise band, strainer, cutting board, flashlight, and more.

The City of Black Hawk employs 96 workers. Those who came to the ribbon cutting enthusiastically commented that they certainly planned to use the facility often, during lunch, after work, or whenever possible.

Executive Administrative Assistant Rebecca Blondo said the City pays $165 per year towards a gym membership at the Gilpin Community Center (GCC) for each employee. The Center will be another facility employees can use in addition to the GCC.

Blondo also reported that the City puts on two wellness events each year. In the spring, employees compete with each other, and in the fall, they compete with casino employees for a traveling wellness trophy.

The Center has been planned as part of Black Hawk’s Gregory Street renovation project, which will realign the position of Gregory Street to include a pedestrian-friendly, retail and hospitality area.

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