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Social club to replace youth center

Staff writer

The Marion Youth Center opened its doors to an adult crowd Saturday, showing prospective members of the Swamp Fox Country Club Terry Jones’ vision for his business.

The Marion Advancement Campaign, a nonprofit that owns the youth center, is allowing Jones to use the building on a temporary basis free of charge. The youth center has been inactive for the past several months due to a dearth of volunteers. Jones is a member of the MAC.

Jones purchased a $6,000 golf simulator, which wasn’t yet up and running, but the simulator’s 16-foot projection screen was used for a television as about 15 gathered to watch Kansas State take on Iowa State in football.

Jones was insistent that the renovations to the building be temporary.

“I respect and like the youth center,” he said. “I have made the changes as minimal as possible. We’ve built it to where we can go back to that really quickly. We can be out of here in a day if need be.”

Need may not be, however. Todd Heitschmidt, president of the MAC, said the youth center hasn’t hosted an activity in six to eight months, and if the center doesn’t have volunteers by the end of the year, the MAC will examine the possibility of closing it.

Heitschmidt said other organizations inquired about using the building, but the MAC declined them; the MAC wasn’t looking to lease the building out for a definite period of time. Jones was willing to use the facility temporarily, and with the caveat that he would move out with little notice, should the youth center’s volunteer base replenish.

“He is gonna cover the cost of things we need to have covered,” Heitschmidt said. He added that Jones is paying “a share” of the facility’s utility bills. Should the youth center fold or move to a different location, Jones would like to purchase the building.

The club is taking advantage of the unused facility, but also what has been left inside it. Jones’ facility has inherited two flatscreen televisions, a pingpong table, a pool table, two couches, a dart board, a Playstation 3, an Xbox 360, and a refrigerator, which were donated to the youth center.

Heitschmidt said the items would not be given to Jones if the youth center should fold, though a sale agreement could be reached, the money from which would go toward other youth events.

The club will be operated on a membership basis. Jones said members will have 24-7 access to the facility, which will be unlockable via a fingerprint scanner Jones intends to purchase. Members would have their fingerprints registered to access the facility.

The club is using a bring-your-own philosophy for liquor and food. Heitschmidt said the MAC could not allow Jones to sell liquor.

The only fee members would pay, Jones said, is membership. An annual membership costs $125 for an individual and $175 for a family, with monthly membership available with rates of $15 and $20 for individuals and families respectively.

Jones has plenty of ideas for what the facility could become. He initially looked into purchasing a hunting simulator, but has decided to hold off doing so for now. He wants to use the facility to host golf leagues in the winter. He eventually wants to sell sporting goods as well, namely golf equipment.

Most of all, though, Jones just wanted a place where people could go.

“It’s a community thing,” he said. “It gives people something to do instead of going somewhere else.”

Last modified Sept. 11, 2014

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