With the cut of the ribbon, the Dexter community took a big step forward in establishing a permanent home for the Dexter Senior Center and creating a Multigenerational Community Center.

Dexter Community Schools welcomed the community to a ceremonial ribbon cutting held on the morning of May 20, just outside of the Dexter Wellness Center on Baker Road. In attendance, along with DCS staff and community members, were Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, Senator Sue Shink, Representative Jennifer Conlin and Representative Carrie Rheingans, all of whom played a big part in securing the funding for the project.

DCS recently completed the purchase of the Dexter Wellness Center from the 5 Healthy Towns Foundation using funds provided to the school district in 2023 as part of an $8.5 million state appropriation along with an $850,000 federal Community Project Funding Grant championed by Congresswoman Dingell.

DCS said the purchase of the “Wellness Center is part of a larger project that will provide a permanent home for the Dexter Senior Center, creating a Multigenerational Community Center that will serve the entire community.”

In its announcement, DCS said the funding “was secured by the diligent collaboration of Congresswoman Dingell, Senator Shink, Representative Conlin, and Representative Rheingans.”

The Dexter Senior Center has also secured additional funding of $750,000 from Washtenaw County to build and furnish a permanent home for the Dexter Senior Center, which will be adjacent to the Wellness Center. The Senior Center hopes to break ground this summer, pending final approval of plans from the city of Dexter.

In opening the comments, DCS Superintendent Chris Timmis thanked everyone involved for getting this done and keeping this center as an important community asset. Dingell described this project as an example of the community coming together while Shink noted how important it will be for seniors in the community to have their own center. Mara Greatorex, a community member, school board member and member of the wellness center team, said this is such an awesome collaboration and it’s for the community.

“Today is a win-win,” Dingell said.

“This project represents a true collaboration of the Wellness Center, Senior Center, DCS District Staff, Michigan lawmakers, and the City of Dexter. It underscores the fact that Dexter truly is a community school district,” Timmis said in the announcement about the ribbon cutting. “The seniors deserve a functional and modern facility and the community will continue to enjoy all the benefits that the Wellness Center has offered residents.”

Giving the view of the Wellness Center, which was put up for sale last year, 5 Healthy Towns CEO Steve Petty said in the DCS announcement, “This is a wonderful accomplishment for our community…When 5 Healthy Towns made the decision to list the facility for sale in early 2023, we could only hope for an outcome that preserved the center as a place of wellness and social connection. Dexter Community Schools have impressed upon us their desire to continue to see the center thrive and we are delighted to support those efforts.”

As part of the purchase agreement, Dexter Senior Center will have a temporary home inside the Wellness Center, occupying space formerly leased to ATI Physical Therapy until the new Senior Center is constructed. Construction on the new 9,000+ square foot Dexter Senior Center is expected to begin by summer thanks to the collaboration between DCS, A.R. Brouwer, and Dexter Senior Center. During the transition phase, activities of the Senior Center will take place in the former ATI space, and the center’s Conference Room for occasional classes and workshops.

While ownership of the center is transferred to DCS, the operating agreement between Dexter School District and 5 Healthy Towns preserves the existing management model until at least March 31, 2025. There will be no change to membership or operating policies or practices during this time and Dexter Wellness Center members continue to enjoy the reciprocal benefits of using the Foundation’s other centers in Chelsea and Stockbridge.

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