“It’s been a really interesting journey and a really positive one,” said YMCA Director Jay McGinnis, about the capital campaign that has led to the groundbreaking of a new aquatic center at the facility in July. “Everything about the project has gone really well.”

At noon on Wednesday, July 5, the public is invited to join McGinnis and Sheridan Mayor Roger Miller as the first phase of the aquatic center construction begins with a groundbreaking ceremony. Light snacks will be served and a short ceremony will begin at 12:10 p.m. Afterwards, attendees will have the opportunity to visit with YMCA staff, as well as staff with local companies Malone, Belton and Able, architects of the projects, and Fletcher Construction, which will take the lead on construction.

According to Don Johnson, vice president of Fletcher Construction, construction on the building will begin in summer 2017 and is expected to be complete by February 2019.

“It’s a big one,” he said about the project. “Most of the people who work for Fletcher Construction are members of the Y and are excited to see it. It will be a big improvement.”

“Working with the YMCA Board and senior staff has involved the examination of many options for the aquatic center over the past several months,” added Tim Belton, principal and project architect at Malone, Belton and Able, who along with Project Manager Jenna Hossfeld Brown helped develop the plans. “This has culminated in an exciting design that will provide a broad range of water activity opportunities for the youngest to the oldest participants.”

The new aquatic facility will include new single point entry, handicapped-accessible locker rooms, family locker rooms, a zero-entry leisure pool, two slides, a water walk, diving board, vortex and more.

The pursuit of a new aquatic center is the most ambitious project the Sheridan County YMCA has pursued in its almost 60-year history and McGinnis said the community has rallied around it to see it succeed.

The public phase of the fundraising effort kicked off on June 9, 2016. In the year since, several hundred donors have contributed to the campaign, with one-third of them first-time donors to the organization.

“I think it demonstrates the strength of the project and interest in the project that the community had and was willing to give to a new swimming pool,” said McGinnis.

“It ranged from one dollar to 4 million,” added Dan Alsup, financial director at the Y, about the range of gifts received. “We even had a couple kids bring in their piggy banks.

The campaign even received support from major donors in Nebraska, Montana and Colorado, who were connected to Sheridan and saw value in the project.

“Obviously, they could have spent their money anyplace but they felt this was a project they were really interested in,” said McGinnis.

The project was also generously supported by the local government as well, with three different mayoral administrations, that of Dave Kinskey, John Heath and Roger Miller, serving in office since the beginning of the campaign in the spring of 2015.

“It’s been fun to work with all three of those gentleman and they’ve all provided ideas and suggestions and supported it all the way through,” said McGinnis. “We would really emphasize that private- public partnership. We could maybe have done one pool but we couldn’t have done two. Hopefully for other groups in other ways, that success could be duplicated.  The city provided the lead gift and it is the only public money in the project.”

McGinnis said because of the location of the new aquatic center, there will be no closures of the main building, allowing regular YMCA programs and services to continue uninterrupted during construction.

 “We are really going to be thrilled to actually see the dirt moved,” said McGinnis. “Then the clock begins to run down to the grand opening in eighteen to twenty months and I get to go down one of the slides!”