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Our community can enjoy several free activities at a local recreational center.

The J.I. Stipe Center offers a gymnasium used for basketball, volleyball, and a sport rapidly growing in popularity nationwide — pickleball.

There is no cost for seniors to participate in the daily activities at workouts — plus, it's open at various time during the week for "whatever you want to do," McAlester Community Services Director Doug Basinger told us.

“Everything we do here is free,” Basinger said. “We don’t charge anything.”

The Stipe Center was first built in the 1970s as the Multi-Purpose Center of McAlester before being named after Jacob Irvin Stipe, the father of the late former Oklahoma State Sen. Gene Stipe.

Today, the facility offers recreational activities and circuit training with local fitness instructor Zella Kincaid.

A room above the basketball court has medicine balls, dumbbells, and punching bags for the course — and Kincaid posts videos throughout the week on how to correctly complete each workout station.

She is also a master Taekwondo instructor and offers free classes for adults 18 and older at the center on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3 p.m. with hopes of offering a children class in the future.

The Stipe Center reopened in May its senior center for in-person activities, which includes a free hot lunch for area seniors 60 and older and a place for seniors to meet.

The center opens at 8 a.m. for seniors Monday through Friday except for city holidays.

Lunch is served for the seniors at 11:30 a.m. each day the center is open and serves approximately 4,000 seniors each month.

The center also features a free exercise program for seniors on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9 to 11 a.m.

Anyone who wants to host birthday parties, family gatherings or free community events can do so.

The site can also be rented for other activities. To rent the conference room inside the center, it is $50 for three hours, $65 for four hours, and another $10 for ever hour after that.

The gym is $50 an hour and $300 for all day.

Basinger said the rates have to be paid in advance.

We applaud city workers and staff running the J.I. Stipe Center because it is an important part of our community.

More information is available by calling the office at 918-421-4922 and a scheduled of events is available on the McAlester Parks and Recreation Facebook page.

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