In 2015, a feasibility study was completed for the City Armory on behalf of the City of Hettinger. The goal of the study was to assess the future of the Hettinger Armory.
The survey portion of the study found that a majority of people wanted more recreational opportunities in the town of Hettinger.
“That’s what the Armory has been pushed toward is something for fitness or community activities,” said Hettinger City Council member Suzie Reuther.
Four years later, the city council is acting on the feasibility study’s results and creating a fitness center in the Armory. The council hopes to have the new fitness center operational by September 1st.
The city’s goal of creating a fitness center at the Armory is to have equipment located in an accessible setting. According to Reuther, the current Wellness Center isn’t easy for everyone to access.
“…People that work at the hospital’s fitness center feel like they have so many complaints because nobody can use their equipment because of the stairs,” she said.“[The Armory Fitness Center] should be easy to get access to.”
Other benefits of moving the fitness center to the Armory would be higher ceilings and available showers.
“We will have men’s and a women’s showers that people can use if they want to exercise prior to going to work,” said Reuther. “The center is also going to have a nice atmosphere.”
Reuther also acknowledged that the hospital doesn’t want to run the physical fitness center anymore.
“The hospital wants out,” she said. “They don’t want to be a part of the fitness center anymore. They are helping the city get the equipment and they are giving us that to get us started on some of the things that work.”
Although the hospital is donating their equipment to the Armory fitness center, they are still going to keep some of their equipment to continue their own physical therapy programs.
Reuther continued saying that even though the hospital is donating some of their unneeded equipment, the city is still considering buying their own new workout equipment for the new center.
“There is some equipment that we will have to purchase, but until we can figure out how many of each machine we can actually fit in [the center] to make that work, we aren’t doing any fundraisers in the meantime,” said Reuther.
Reuther said that representatives from both West River Health Services and Hettinger Public School are part of the Armory fitness committee. The committee, comprised of Patty Ness, Ericka Pagel, Darin Seamands, and Suzie Reuther, are in charge of making the fitness center a reality.
So far, the Armory committee has decided to repurpose the Armory’s L-room and the southwest transit room. Their plan is to make space for workout equipment by removing the shared wall that connects the two rooms.
Reuther also mentioned that the city is also working to update the Armory with a key-fob system.
“On the city side of the project, we are tearing down the wall between the L-room and the southwest transit room to have one big room and getting a key-fob system so we can have access [to the Armory] at all hours of the day or night.”
Reuther said the plan is to install the key-fob system on the back door of the Armory on southwest side of the building. Already, the city has ordered the key-fob equipment from T&S security in Bismarck.
Reuther said she is hopeful that, with memberships, the new fitness center will provide a source of income for the Armory.
“We need to generate some form of income to keep the building up, because the Armory does not have any type of separate account, so it all comes out of our general fund,” said Reuther. “So everything that we pay for, whether that be electricity or upkeep, either we have to put aside certain tax dollars to help it or we just take it out of our general fund. We are just trying to build things that make [the Armory] become self-efficient.”
Updating part of the Armory into a workout facility has been on the city’s agenda for a long time. Reuther said that the project would have been completed sooner, but, in the past, the Amory’s inability to meet ADA compliance prevented the project from being eligible for grants.
Now, with the progress made from the Armory Restoration Project, most parts of the Armory meets ADA standards, making the building eligible for grant funds.
Already, the doors and bathrooms have been updated to ADA standards.
“What has changed is that we have gone through the ADA list and we’ve gotten most of those done, except for the front parking,” said Reuther.
According to Reuther, the front of the Armory has too much of a slope leading up to the building, however the city has plans to update the area this summer.
Even with all the logistics, Reuther said that she is looking forward to making the Armory Fitness Center a reality.
“I look forward to helping the community because this is what we have been told that people really would like to see and want.”