Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

December 13, 2013

Health and fitness: New center will help McDowell


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — McDowell County is on the move. Good things are happening, and the future is looking brighter. In recent years, we’ve seen everything from new schools, restaurants and shopping areas to a new federal prison, a new theater in downtown Welch and the Hatfield-McCoy Trail.

But despite all of these positive developments, the county is still at or near the bottom of many studies when it comes to the well being of county residents. McDowell has been cited as the lowest county in the nation for life expectancy. And the rates of obesity, diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol are among the highest in the United States, recent health studies found.

That’s why the county’s new health and fitness center is so important. It opened just last week, and is already making a positive difference for many families who otherwise had to travel an hour or longer to utilize similar facilities in neighboring counties.

The new fitness center is located on McDowell Street in downtown Welch and is open to the public. The response to the facility to date has been overwhelmingly positive, according to Randal Johnson, executive director of the Council of Southern Mountains.

The new health and fitness center is being operated by the Council of Southern Mountains and has been certified through the Public Employees Insurance Agency and certification through the Silver Sneakers program has been submitted.

A certified nutritionist/dietitian and exercise physiologist/trainer is on staff. Johnson says staff members also will be on duty at all times who are trained in CPR and first aid. The facility also will have a fitness technician to assist patrons with the use of exercise equipment.

“We are so excited and proud of this new fitness center,” Johnson said. “This fitness center is going to be the answer to many people’s prayers.”

Johnson says the new health and fitness center was made possible with the help of many people, including the American Legion Post 8 and its commander Charles Honaker; state representatives of the PEIA, Nidia Henderson, Virginia Manchin and County Clerk Don Hicks, who was instrumental in obtaining exercise equipment for the facility through the McDowell County Commission.

The new fitness center is open Monday through Saturday. It is a welcomed and long overdue facility for McDowell County that should go a long ways in helping to improve the health and well being of county residents. All citizens in the county are urged to consider supporting and using this new health and fitness center.

The Council of Southern Mountains, and all other individuals and entities who helped to make this long-needed facility a reality, are to be applauded for their efforts.