The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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June 20, 2009

McCort breaks ground on fitness center

The largest school construction project in the Altoona-Johnstown Catholic Diocese – a $3 million fitness center at Bishop McCort – officially got under way with a spate of gold-plated spades Friday.

Groundbreaking on the 14,000-square-foot Bach Wellness Center, the first major construction at the high school in 50 years, was held before a crowd of 150 teachers, students, clergy, alumni and other well-wishers.

The center largely is the doing of McCort alum and retired dentist Dr. Tom Bach of Westmont and his wife, Eileen.

They contributed $1.2 million.

Turning to the couple, Principal Ken Salem said, “Thank you for your leadership and commitment to Catholic education.”

The center will include space for two full-sized basketball courts, a tennis court and two volleyball courts. A running track will circle the space and netting will be suspended from the ceiling for baseball and softball practice during inclement weather.

The weight room will be named for former NFL player Pete Duranko, who also attended McCort. The cardiovascular exercise area will feature treadmills, stationary bikes, steppers and elliptical runners.

Bach did not speak from the podium, but before the ceremony he simply said, “This has flowed very smoothly from Day 1 because of Mr. Salem.

“Our family is proud to have been able to contribute to this project,” he said. “We are thrilled by the fact that this building will promote healthy lifestyles and allow students to enjoy a state-of-the-art recreational facility.”

But others turned the limelight back on the Bachs.

Dan Hummel, chairman of the McCort board of trustees, noted their “remarkable generosity.”

And Student Council President Kathleen Warner quoted the Peace Prayer of St. Francis: “It is in giving that we receive.”

Another $400,000 toward the facility has been raised and the fundraising continues. It will be located in the lower-level parking lot and new parking spaces will be provided elsewhere.

The job includes a brick patio for student activities, a grotto and courtyard.

The structure is slated for completion at the start of the 2010-11 school term.

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