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Palmer College Invests in Fitness Center

Palmer College of Chiropractic honored a local donor this morning during a ribbon cutting for its new fitness center. The former Alumni Auditorium has been renovated, and is now called the Richard Bittner Athletic and Recreation Center.

James O'Connor, Vice Chancellor of Marketing and Communication, says Bittner is a philanthropist and for many years has served Palmer College as an attorney and with financial contributions. Palmer College spent $10 million on the renovation, plus another $3 million on improving the north side of the campus in Davenport.

Credit Mike Poletto / WVIK News
One of the two Japanese lanterns in Palmer's Clinic Garden

That includes the "clinic garden" which features two fountains, Japanese lanterns, statues of oxen, and other items the Palmer family collected overseas and brought back to the Quad Cities.

Previous version

A place where fans used to bang their heads to rock 'n' roll, now features a bounce wall, gymnasium, and a track. Over the last year, Palmer Auditorium in Davenport has been gutted and transformed into Palmer College of Chiropractic's R. Richard Bittner Athletic and Recreation Center.

Credit Michelle O'Neill / WVIK News
James O'Connor, Vice Chancellor of Marketing and Communication for Palmer College of Chiropractic

James O'Connor, Vice Chancellor, says it was built on Brady Street in 1970 for commencement and other ceremonies.

The college hosted many concerts in the auditorium featuring bands such as Blue Oyster Cult, Nirvana, Goo Goo Dolls, and Bush.

But O'Connor says Palmer officials felt it was time to provide students and employees with a state-of-the-art fitness center since health is so important to their professions.

The 46,000 square foot recreation center also includes cardio equipment, weight rooms, an outdoor fitness area, and space for spinning, aerobics, kick-boxing, and other programs.

O'Connor says the $10 million renovation features many windows and light fixtures that adjust automatically to the natural light.

The building is connected to the internet with an app for users to keep track of their exercise activities.

Credit Michelle O'Neill / WVIK News
The bounce wall

Part of a wall in one area is metal and framed, with a rack next to it filled with various medicine balls in different sizes and weights. It's a bounce wall that's reinforced with concrete. A rugby sled sits nearby.

Palmer College spent another $3 million on landscaping and renovating the Clinic Garden which feature art and objects collected by the Palmer family.

The chiropractic college will hold a dedication and ribbon cutting on Monday.

Officially, Michelle's title for 28 years was WVIK News Editor. She did everything there is to do in the newsroom and whatever was needed around the radio station. She also served as Acting News Director from September 2023 - January 2024.