CLAYSBURG – Sheetz employees and their family members soon will have a facility to help improve their health and lifestyle.

Sheetz Inc. plans to begin construction of the $3.5 million Sheetz Health and Wellness Center in the spring at the Sheetz Distribution Center in the Walter Business Park in Greenfield Township.

Plans call for the nearly 10,000-square-foot facility to open in September or October, said Bill Young, Sheetz director of compensation, benefits and risk.

“With escalating health care costs, we were looking for a way we could provide a program for our employees that could help control health care costs,” Young said. “Wellness is evolving. It seems like the right thing for us to do. Our goal is to create a culture of ‘Shwellness.'”

The facility will include a wellness center, fitness center and conference center.

The wellness center in the middle of the building will be about 2,200 square feet and will provide high-quality primary care, health assessments, lifestyle coaching and disease management services.

Sheetz employees will have wellness screenings done and can be treated for injuries sustained on the job at the distribution center or nearby Sheetz Bros. Kitchen, Young said.

The 4,300-square-foot fitness center will include treadmills, bikes, cardio equipment, free weights and more.

The 2,900-square-foot conference center will include two rooms and be able to accommodate about 100 people.

The project is designed for Sheetz employees – there are about 1,500 employees between the distribution center and Sheetz Bros. Kitchen – and their dependents.

“People can stop before or after work or on their lunch break and be able to use the facility. We may offer yoga and Zumba classes. We need to figure out what employees are looking for, and we can offer these services,” Young said.

The conference rooms could be used for meetings for groups like Weight Watchers and education classes for healthy eating.

The facility will be a LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building with a geothermal heating system.

“We were going to build it green. We felt it was best to build it LEED-certified,” Young said. “Green and wellness go together.”

Sheetz has entered into an agreement with Colchester, Vt.,-based Marathon Health Inc. to serve as the on-site medical services provider.

Marathon Health CEO Jerry Ford said his company is excited about the opportunity to work with Sheetz.

“Sheetz understands that maintaining the status quo in the health care delivery system is no longer viable. Companies need to be proactive and create a culture where associates want to get healthy if the cost trends are going to bend. We are in business to do just that,” Ford said in a statement. “We are ecstatic to have a company as well regarded as Sheetz on board who shares that vision with us.”

Young said members of the Sheetz family have been supportive of the project, which has been in the works for a couple of years.

“I truly believe you have to get people accountable for their lifestyles and provide the tools and resources to help them to do that. We sell the wellness initiative as a big part of our business over the next few years,” Young said. “We are excited about it. We believe it will be great for our employees and give us another way to help control health care costs.”

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.