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Lake Arthur to open its first gym

The Lake Arthur community will have its first fitness center when a gym opens in its schools on Thursday. (Submitted Photo)

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State grant to school district creates fitness center

One of Chaves County’s smaller towns will have a new fitness center after its school district has utilized a portion of a state grant to create a gym.

Lake Arthur Municipal Schools plans to open the Lake Arthur Community Fitness Center on Thursday after a Tuesday ribbon cutting by the Board of Education, said Superintendent Elisa Begueria.

The gym with its ellipticals, treadmills, weights and cycles is believed to be the first public facility of its kind for the rural town of about 420 people, said Board of Education President Edward Rubio.

“I have lived here since 1975 and this is the first one that I am aware of,” he said.

The fitness center will bring the community together, he said, adding that he and his wife plan to work out at the site.

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“No only that, but I think it is important, especially for adults, to set an example for kids of the importance of staying healthy and staying fit,” Rubio said.

Begueria said the Lake Arthur schools are the “heart of the community” and that the school board and administrators thought a fitness center free to town residents would benefit many who live, study and work there, especially during the coronavirus crisis, when many people are limiting their travel.

The project came about because of state grants the district has received through the Community Schools Program of the New Mexico Department of Education. Rubio thanked the New Mexico Legislature for allocating money for the grant program.

The Lake Arthur district received $45,000 for a planning grant. School leaders decided upon four initiatives to pursue, with one being the fitness center.

Then the district was selected to receive a $150,000 Community Schools Implementation Grant to bring its ideas and plans to fruition.

“There are really good things happening in Lake Arthur through PED and the Community Schools program,” Begueria said. “We knew we could improve not only the lives of our students but the lives of others in Lake Arthur.”

The district paid about $17,000 for equipment, with additional funding being used for staffing and to prepare the room and clean it according to COVID standards.

The center at 700 Broadway St. is slated to be open at first on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 5 to 7 p.m. A teacher will supervise and enforce the crowd-size limits of no more than eight people at a time.

The other three initiatives of the grant that are still being worked on include having a medical doctor from BCA Medical Associates visit the school twice a week to work with students and families, introducing English as a Second Language classes for parents and coordinating with the Loaves and Fishes food bank in Hagerman to provide food for families in the area.

According to information on the state Community Schools Program website, the concept of the program is to improve educational outcomes for students through a “whole child” service concept which recognizes that students as well as those around them often need resources to thrive. The grant can be used to fund academic, social and health services for students, families and community residents.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-625-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.