About 30 Perry Chamber of Commerce members and friends met for coffee and sweet rolls Thursday morning at the monthly Chamber Coffee Time event and caught up with the latest happenings at the endlessly active McCreary Community Building.
After Chamber Executive Director Bob Wilson started the ball rolling around the circle of introductions, giving members a chance to share their latest innovations and accomplishments, it was time for the MCB leadership — Perry Parks and Recreation Director John Anderson and Assistant Director Becky Halling — to brief the members.
Anderson mentioned a number of recent improvements to the building and grounds of the rec center, which opened Sept. 24, 1983, with help from a $650,000 bequest from the estate of Rex and Irma McCreary of Perry.
Topping the infrastructure needs is the replacement of the 33-year-old roof of the MCB, Anderson said. The job will cost upwards of $200,000, he said.
Anderson said a $50,000 donation was received this year to spruce up the MCB’s interior, and the Wiese Foundation increased its annual support from $25,000 to $35,000, with the boost to be used to maintain the connector trail passing through Wiese park.
Halling listed a number of the facility’s summer programs that were drawing to a close, such as the youth soccer program and the theater camp, and she said registration will soon begin for fall activities, including flag football, cheerleading camp, adult volleyball and men’s three-on-three basketball.
Tours were available of the recreation center, built after Rex McCreary, a former president of the Perry State Bank, and his wife set up a series of trusts and foundations that together provided ongoing support for the city of Perry, the Dallas County Hospital, the United Methodist Church and numerous other organizations.
The McCrearys made several stipulations about what their money could be used for when put toward a community center in Perry, including that it offer senior services and daycare services and that the city should match the McCreary’s funds.
That the center was built at all is a testament to the vision and determination of Perry’s civic leaders at that time, such as Mayor George Soumas and local industrialist Lee Wiese. The taxpayers of Perry also played a large part, passing a $1.14 million bond issue for the center in the summer of 1981.
The MCB has sometimes operated at a loss, but the value of the facility as a public asset has made it well worth supporting over the past generation, according to city officials.It is a concrete symbol of the city’s commitment to the health and quality of life of residents of the Perry area.
Efforts toward sustainability have paid dividends at the MCB. A new temperature control system, for example, which permits fine adjustments in different parts of the facility, was installed in 2010 and within three years cut electricity usage and heating and air conditioning costs by one-third, from $110,000 to $70,000 annually.
The recent installation of energy-saving LED lights throughout the facility have added up to further savings in utility costs and enhanced the indoor appearance.
Innovative programming has also been crucial to the MCB’s success, with Tae Kwon Do classes, spin classes, yoga and aerobics catering to the changes in users’ tastes and interests.
Creative collaboration with the Perry Community Schools, the Dallas County Hospital and Perry’s long-term care facilities offer opportunities to share resources and boost revenues at the McCreary center.
Profitability apart, the MCB remains faithful to the McCrearys’ vision in its core programs, such as the Congregate Meals and a variety of aquatic and health-and-wellness classes for senior citizens.