The Knox City Council faced a roomful of concerned women this week at its regular meeting. The women were part of an exercise group that had used the Knox Community Center since 1998 twice a week at no charge, but recently, they were asked to move to the Girl Scout Cabin in order to keep their “no charge” status.
The sessions were conducted by Virginia Wireman-Duncan who read a prepared statement.
“We would like to know who decided to evict us from the community center and why. The exercise
class has met at the community center since Sept. 30, 1998. There has never been a charge for those
attending the classes,” said Wireman-Duncan. “During the 14 years we met we were not charged because we were recognized as a community service for the city of Knox. There are now 55 members; thirty or more attend each class. So they wanted to know, first of all, why we were evicted from it, and second who initiated that we be removed from the community center.”
The situation apparently began with the closure of the New Millennium gym in Knox. When the gym closed, some of those that had been attending classes there wanted to exercise for free at the community center.
Clerk Treasurer Jeff Houston explained the situation the city was in with the requests.
“We did reach a point where we were getting a lot of requests for exercise times. A lot of the people who requested said, ‘You got a group in there not paying, why should we?’”
Wireman-Duncan’s group pointed out that most of those people who requested space and time for free were going to charge for the activity.
“Why can’t we be grandfathered in?” several of them asked. “After all, we bring a lot of people into downtown Knox who would never come here!”
The mayor, who had been accosted by several of the members while attempting to enjoy his morning coffee and doughnut at Fingerhut Bakery, good-naturedly said that he would look for a solution if they would let him have his treats in peace and quiet.
“I’ve got $32 dollars my wife gave me for my budget; just leave me alone when I go to the doughnut shop,” the mayor laughed.
On a more serious note, he said the council would discuss the situation and have an answer to the group’s request at the next city council meeting.
Currently, the group is exercising at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church at no cost.