- Golden shovels sat waiting to turn some dirt in a ceremonial groundbreaking at North Central Health Care in Wausau on Monday afternoon. Those shovels were never used because of heavy rain and storms.
It was a fitting start, in the eyes of organizers, after a stormy process to get to this day.
Despite the weather, dozens of people gathered under a tent to celebrate the start of construction on North Central Heath Care's $6 million warm-water therapy pool.
The project to replace the 50-year-old pool goes back into 2017, but NCHC and the Wausau area faced a challenge: the Marathon County Board would pledge $3 million if organizers could raise another $3 million themselves in just six months.
"It felt a little bit like Aaron Rodgers and the Hail Mary in Motown when this happened, you know, just throw it up and see what we can do," NCHC CEO Michael Loy said. "It's the community that really came together to get this done. It's years and years of support."
More than 600 people and groups offered more than $3 million before the March 1, 2019 deadline.
"The County Board saw the value in all of those programs and today is a pleasure to be here to take that first step," Marathon County Deputy Administrator Lance Leonhard said.
The pool is phase-one of a $73 million renovation at North Central Health Care. The more than 50-year-old facility will add a youth psychiatric hospital, a crisis stabilization facility, and a four-story skilled nursing tower.
"It really needed some care and attention," Loy said of the health care facility. "The treatment of the past is no longer conducive to what we need to do today."
Construction on the pool should be done in April 2020, with the new pool lasting at least 30 years. NCHC estimates it serves about 10,000 people each year both in and beyond Marathon County.
Story By: Lane Kimble