By Marjorie Woodfin

Pilot staff writer

GOLD BEACH - Some people may say a silk purse can't be made out of a sow's ear, but John and Hazel Rush believe anything is possible with enough patience, planning, hard work, willing helpers, and vision.

With the opening of the Gold Rush Center in Gold Beach they have proven that their confidence in fulfilling dreams is not misplaced.

The old elementary school on Ellensburg Avenue has been transformed into a center dedicated to health and art, with the ribbon cutting Saturday, Sept. 27.

Enthusiasm and excitement was running high for business owners, employees, and visitors as they toured the art galleries, and other businesses incorporated in the center.

Entering through the main lobby located in the rear of the building, visitors are greeted by a lovely metal sculpture of two playing children.

Dr. Rush noted how appropriate the art is because he believes it denotes the celebration of the building's 50 years as a school educating 2,000 children a year. Hazel Rush explained that it was in their personal collection of art and she couldn't remember where the piece was purchased nor the name of the artist, but when they started the center, it seemed a perfect piece to welcome visitors.

The invitation to the grand opening included promises of fun, food and prizes, free gifts, scavenger hunt for the kids, live demonstrations and much more. The day lived up to its promise.

Businesses housed in the center include Gold Beach Fitness Center, Circuit Workout, Cardio Room, and the Dance Studio, all owned by Rafael Torrez and his wife Bernice. Rafael has been in Gold Beech nine years and Bernice's family came to Curry County 1914.

They explained that the fitness center and weight room will be available to card carrying members 24 hours a day. During daytime hours personal trainers will be on the premises. The Fitness Center includes locker rooms, showers, and two computers to record individual diets and training schedules.

During the tour personal trainer Joyce Mathis was on duty greeting visitors, and a woman was teaching belly dancing in the dance studio.

Huw Greathead's Space Scape offers martial arts for all ages.

Gymnast Keith Kirkpatrick was busy in his Gymnastics by Design studio helping young gymnasts go through their paces on floor and bars. Kirkpatrick has been working with young gymnasts for 33 years. Hazel said, andquot;We are so fortunate to have him. He is so great with the children.andquot;

At the Radiant Health Spa owner Heather Eller greeted guests and explained the many services offered including, massage, Shiatsu, body wraps, Zi scrubs, skin services, Botox, and photorejuvenation.

Eller said she has only been in Curry County for three months and is just getting settled into her new business.

andquot;We're still waiting on product and I have additional staff coming from Ashland,andquot; Eller said. andquot;We will also be offering chemical peels, hot stone massage and acupuncture.andquot;

The Gold Beach Chamber of Commerce, ATandamp;T, and South Coast Independent Living Services, all have offices in the center.

A Curry County Economic andamp; Community Development office is housed in the center, and director Susan Brown was passing out brochures about the upcoming Curry County Retail Products Store.

andquot;Curry County is quality, and we want to implement a countywide strategy to promote our local products, businesses and our economy,andquot; Brown explained.

At Moose Creek Bath and Body, a retail boutique and observational formulary lab, owner-formulator Alice Hammermeister displayed her wide array of potions from which she produces non-toxic soaps and lotions, specialized for each individual client. She offers organics, custom blends, and classes, plus essential and fragrance oils to mix up just the right treatment for each clients skin and taste.

The real estate specialists of United Country Rogue Coast Realty appeared to be having a whale of a good time entertaining visitors and talking about opportunities in Curry County.

And then there are the galleries.

In the front ground floor area facing Ellensburg Avenue the Biscuit Photographic Art Gallery shares space with Biscuit West Beverage Bar, serving healthy snacks and drinks, in keeping with the health and art theme of the center. It is called Biscuit West because it is an addition to Biscuit Gallery and Gold Beach Books across the highway.

Other galleries in the center include the Gold Rush Gallery, the Breezeway Gallery, the Ramp Gallery, and the River Walk Gallery; all will be showing regional art on a rotating basis. The center itself is a gallery of art with its river rock streams and decor

Both John and Hazel Rush agreed that it has been an adventure getting the center ready to open, sharing ideas, labor, and joy with all tenants.

andquot;It's become one big family,andquot; Hazel said. andquot;Everyone pitched in to get the work done in time for the opening.andquot;

Dr. Rush explained that their vision for the center is to help bring additional health services and culture to Curry County, just as construction of the Rush Surgery Center in Brookings has helped to attract more doctors.

But, the dream lingers on; with one-third of the building walled off, waiting to be changed into the largest live theater in the county plus a McMenamins, an English pub-type bar.