USD’s wellness construction on pace; Slagle falls behind

Even though the construction of the University of South Dakota's Wellness Center started almost a year after work on Slagle Hall's renovation began, both buildings are on pace to be completed at almost the same time.

While Slagle's restructuring has lagged, the Wellness Center is still on track to open this winter. However, no events will be planned for Slagle Hall until 2011, according to USD Director of Planning and Construction Cathy Wagner.

"Slagle is coming along, and the updated schedule has it for this year yet with a late fall timeline," Wagner said. "We've made it clear not to plan any activities until 2011 at the soonest."

There is one event scheduled to take place in Slagle Hall on USD's event calender. The USD Fall Choral Showcase is set for Oct. 31, but the USD online calendar does note that the concert will be moved to Vermillion's Trinity Lutheran Church if Slagle is unavailable.

"We are not sure when it will be complete to hold an event there," said Wagner of the construction delays. "I know individuals and groups would've liked to hold events there. They are disappointed now, but when they see it, they will no longer be disappointed."

One of the big reasons for the delay is because USD decided to change the color scheme of Slagle Hall.

Wagner said university officials wanted to go with a more historical, classic look instead of what they decided on earlier.

"We made sure that we did the right thing historically," she said. "What we did is made sure that we brought it back to the gold leafing, and then we introduced more color techniques that will go with the historical look."

Wagner was hesitant to say that she was disappointed with the delays to Slagle's construction.

"You always have the expectations for construction, but you also have to adjust," she said. "That's why we always have contingency plans if problems arise."

But unlike Slagle Hall, the Wellness Center hasn't hit any snags yet.

"The Wellness Center is coming along well, and it's still on schedule for January 2011," Wagner said. "I'm not hearing anything from the contractor, so I am excited."

Wagner added that this summer's rainfall didn't affect the construction even though the building isn't fully enclosed yet, which is one of the next steps in the construction process.

"They are going to try and get the building enclosed in the next month, which will include all the glass," she said.

USD Campus Recreation and Aquatics Director Steve Mayer is preparing for the January 2011 timeline as he orders new equipment for the new intramural activities that the Wellness Center will provide.

"There is a long list of smaller equipment that we need," he said. "We are going to start some new sports like indoor soccer and floor hockey that we've never had the equipment for."

The Wellness Center will allow students to have their own workout facility instead of sharing workout time in the DakotaDome with the USD athletes.

Currently, students are limited to when they can work out in the DakotaDome gym since the weight room is reserved for athletes from 2 to 6 p.m. on weekdays. With the new Wellness Center, students will have expanded workout opportunities.

"The 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. time is a huge workout time, and when we go to the Wellness Center, it will give us 20 hours a week back," Mayer said. "That alone is so much better. Plus we are going to add workout hours for Saturday and Sunday."

Mayer's staff will also move from the DakotaDome to the Wellness Center, and he will also see his staff expand.

"We will be able add a third staffer, and the graduate assistants we have will go up from two to four," he said.

Mayer added that the Wellness Center will be a great addition to USD.

"The students deserve this facility. It's been a long time coming," he said. "We are the last state university in the state to add a Wellness Center for the students."

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