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Osage Nation opens Fairfax Wellness Center

Photo caption: Osage Nation Fitness Center Director Hank Powell speaks at the Jan. 30 ribbon cutting and open house for the newly build Fairfax Wellness Center. BENNY POLACCA/Osage News

FAIRFAX, Okla. – Osages and community members here in this western Osage County town celebrated the opening of the new Osage Nation Wellness Center on Jan. 30 to provide a healthy outlet for fitness and strength training to the public.

Despite the cold morning temperatures, residents and tribal government officials visited the 4,600 square-foot Fairfax Wellness Center where new fitness, free weights and cardio equipment awaited use by the community. The newly built center replaces an older leased fitness center, which was deemed small and crowded, according to residents and tribal officials.

Hank Powell, director of the Nation’s fitness centers, said the Fairfax facility “provides an outlet to physical wellness and we do it through fitness. This new facility will reignite the drive to be healthy and be well. We watched it happen at Hominy (who also received a new ON Wellness Center in 2018), it’s turned it around completely with triple the number of people who come in, hopefully, that will happen here.”

Powell and other fitness center employees welcomed nearly 20 people to the Jan. 30 celebration with a ribbon cutting and open house. The event also included remarks from attending ON officials.

The $1 million Fairfax Wellness Center project started in May 2018 with funding coming from an $800,000 federal grant and $250,000 in matching funds from the Nation. TriArch Architects designed the wellness center and Builders Unlimited, Inc. was the construction company.   

According to an ON news release, the wellness center includes “services and equipment including cardio equipment, strength training equipment, free weights, medicine balls, jump ropes and more. Specialized training is available offering one-on-one personal training, small group training, strength, weight loss, ABLE bodies balance and JrFit adolescent training.”

Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear applauded the various entities and tribal officials who worked to apply for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant offered through its Indian Community Development Block Grant Program. “Our grants team went after it and they can’t do it alone, so they reached out and the Congress responded, and everybody worked together at that early stage. I’m so glad we said: ‘look here at this community of Grayhorse and Fairfax – Osage Nation wants to invest because there’s a future here’,” Standing Bear said.

Standing Bear also referred to the broadband internet project in the works for the Grayhorse Village and Fairfax because “it’s going to change things, all the small towns in our communities so we can build around that.” In a later statement, Standing Bear added: “Along with the (wellness center) there will be health counseling rooms for information and guidance to confront health problems people may have, including diabetes, heart disease and other health-related issues.”

Congressman and Second Speaker Joe Tillman said he’s happy Fairfax is getting a new wellness center and applauded the staff including Powell, who he’s worked with while using the Pawhuska Fitness Center.

“They’ll be able to provide individual workouts, they’ll monitor from the youth to the middle-aged to the elderly and there’s different programs for everyone,” Tillman said.

The Fairfax Wellness Center is located at 255 N. 1st St. next to the Osage Language Department’s Fairfax site.

For more information on the three ON Fitness Centers, visit the Nation’s website at:


Benny Polacca

Original Publish Date: 2019-03-07 00:00:00


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Benny Polacca
Benny Polacca started at the Osage News in 2009 as a reporter and has covered various stories and events impacting the Osage Nation and Osage people. Polacca is part of the News team awarded the Native American Journalist Association’s Elias Boudinot Free Press Award in 2014 and other NAJA Media Awards and SPJ Oklahoma Pro Chapter awards for news coverage and photography. Polacca is an Arizona State University graduate and participated in the former American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota. He previously worked at The Forum newspaper covering the Fargo, N.D. region as the weeknight reporter.

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