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YMCA takes shape - 25,000-pound walls go up

Echo Press photo by Lowell Anderson Workers put up the first walls at the Alexandria Area YMCA Tuesday morning. A 56,000-square-foot facility is being constructed on a 25-acre site on County Road 82 west of Alexandria, across from Tastefully Simple.

It's no longer just the stuff of dreams.

An Alexandria Area YMCA is taking shape.

The first Spancrete walls or panels were put in place this week. By today, Friday, all 91 of them should be standing, according to Jeff Bartholomew, executive director of the Alexandria Area YMCA.

It's not light work. Each panel weighs about 25,000 pounds, Bartholomew said.

Although it's early in the process - construction began April 14 - the project is slightly ahead of schedule, said Bartholomew.

YMCA leaders hope to open the 56,000-square-foot facility in the spring of 2010. It will include a multi-use aquatics center with pool, a gymnasium, multi-purpose room, wellness center, childcare center, locker rooms, lobby, an indoor walking/jogging track and outdoor field space.

The modular design of the facility will allow for future expansion.

Meanwhile, the final fundraising effort, "Complete the Dream," continues to attract pledges and contributions.

More than $8.1 million has been raised, 91 percent of the total goal of $8,885,000.

A $245,000 challenge grant will double all the donations for the next few weeks.

To give to the campaign, call (320) 763-9621 or visit the website,