As a career nurse, Marilyn Emmert treated patients suffering health complications caused by a lack of exercise. When she and her husband retired, they envisioned a new local community center in Noble County, Ind., where people could walk and exercise.
An initial phone call that teed off fundraising for the new community center landed an unexpected home: a former longtime local golf course clubhouse sitting dormant.
The Augusta Hills Learning, Recreation and Community Center received $12,212 from its local electric cooperative, Noble REMC, for energy efficient systems in a new gymnasium, along with upgrades and renovations to the clubhouse of the Augusta Hills Golf Course. The buildings are part of the new community center in Albion, Ind., that includes a classroom, reception and dining areas, along with a warming kitchen in the former clubhouse. The new gymnasium includes an elevated walking path above the basketball court so that people can walk without getting struck by a basketball or other objects on the court.
“Some of the contractors were from bigger towns, and they were pretty surprised that a community of this size can really do this,” said Bill Emmert, who worked with the fundraising group and helped oversee construction of the community center. “We tried to keep everything as a local as we could. They took a personal interest in seeing it completed.”
An anonymous donor provided the former Augusta Hills clubhouse and a nearby barn to the group fundraising for the new center. Previously, the golf course had been popular – it first opened in 1970 and had been the home course for the Central Noble Junior-Senior High School golf team – before it ultimately closed in 2008 and the course was turned into farmland.
“My dad, who is not a golfer, was disappointed every time he passed by after the golf course closed, because it was an iconic part of the community,” said Kevin Dreibelbis, who works for Noble REMC and serves as president of the Augusta Hills board of directors. “It is nice to see it be used again in a different way that makes it available for the community.”
In fall 2019, Noble REMC employees volunteered for the co-op’s annual Community Day to clean and prepare the old clubhouse for the renovations to turn it into a community center. The clubhouse includes upgraded LED lights, which use significantly less energy than traditional lighting. Augusta Hills also has a geothermal heat pump, which uses the earth’s moderate underground temperatures to heat and cool the building by exchanging heat underground using a refrigerant and a heat exchanger (similar to the way a refrigerator works).
“The way it is put together, the gym is more comfortable,” Emmert said. “We put a lot of insulation in it, which is one thing we worked hard on. We insulated the buildings significantly to keep energy costs down.”
Gymnasium construction and clubhouse renovations began in 2020, and the completed community center opened in spring 2021. Groups including pickleball teams quickly took advantage of the new center, and Augusta Hills sold several hundred family and individual memberships within three months of opening. The community center has even hosted birthday parties for local residents from age 1 to even someone’s 100th birthday.
“The Augusta Hills Learning, Recreation and Community Center is an asset to our community that offers a great place for people to gather for classes, special events, or even just to walk and play sports,” said Ron Raypole, president and CEO of Noble REMC. “We are excited to see the former Augusta Hills Golf Course clubhouse reopen to serve the community, and we are thrilled to have played a role in the new project.”
- Ground source heat pump for new gymnasium featuring a full-size basketball court and elevated walking track
- Interior lighting upgrades throughout new community center, including former golf clubhouse
- Noble REMC
- Power Moves rebates for energy efficiency upgrades that save 43,877 kilowatt-hours annually
- Noble REMC employees volunteered during Community Day to clean former golf clubhouse and prepare it for renovations
- More than $12,200 in Power Moves® rebates for energy efficiency improvements
- Additional savings in long-term energy costs