It's never too late to live out your childhood dreams.
That's the motto for two of Grove's newest residents, Greg and Patti Combow.
The couple, who recently relocated from Wichita, Kansas, are spending the first days of 2015 remodeling and renovating the skating rink in Grove.
It's something Greg Combow admits, he's wanted to do since he was a young man stationed at Fort Hood, Texas.
"It's always been a dream to open one, but we wanted to raise our kids first," Combow said.
Setting the stage
Their story begins when his wife "rolled" into Combow's life in that Texas roller rink.
Combow was working for the owner of the local skating center as the DJ. Patti Combow loved skating. When her family moved to the area, her dad talked to the owner about hiring her to work in the snack bar.
"We liked working together," Patti Combow recalled. "I was foolish, 19, and told him I liked him.
"Thirty-three years later, we're still married."
When Combow finished his time in the military, the couple moved to Wichita, where he worked as a simulator technician for FlightSafety for 25 years. He retired from that position at the end of January.
An accident at the facility, when a low-flying plane crashed into the FlightSafety International building, at Mid-Continent Airport in October, along with the death of a close family member caused both Greg and Patti to reevaluate life, and to consider living out their dream to open a rink.
The Combows admit both incidents made them reconsider the timetable on living out their dreams.
"We're both Christians, and we did a lot of praying," Patti Combow said. "We believe God directed us. We believe he is leading us to this."
Landing in Grove
The couple found themselves considering purchasing the roller skating rink in Grove for a variety of reasons.
For one thing, the location meant they would be close to family - and grandchildren - still living in the Wichita area.
For another, both admit, this opportunity gave them a chance to live in a beautiful location, on Grand Lake.
"When we came down the hill, and saw the lake, we were sold," Patti Combow said. "Then we came into the skating rink and we were impressed with how it looked."
The fact that the facility was in good shape, and would only require some "elbow grease" and "cosmetic upgrades" including new carpet, fresh paint and a resealed rink floor, was an additional benefit.
"Our dream was to have this place, and be able to run it," Combow said. "We're not expecting to be rich, but we want to provide a lot of variety and become part of [the kids] families."
The roller rink, built in the 1980s, had been closed for numerous years. Most people, according to things the Combows have gleaned, remember it in its heyday, operating in the mid 2000s.
They plan to call the business Rocket Skating Plus. Early days will focus on bringing skating back to the rink. Other plans call for adding a full snack bar, a game room, party room and well, other things that could be included in the "plus."
if all goes well, with the help of family and friends, the 12,000 square-foot facility will be open for business by early March.
One son, Dereck, has spent time in the last few weeks, creating custom artwork on the walls outside of the 8,812 square-foot rink floor.
The couple plan to open the business on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays for open skate times. At least one skating session a month will feature Christian music, while another will cater towards area homeschooling families.
For now, in the early days, on Monday through Thursday, the rink will be open for private parties.
Patti Combow is using the rink's newly created Facebook page (http://bit.ly/rollerskatingplus) to ask potential clients questions about their business.
Questions posted in recent days have included everything from what length should skating sessions be made, to what types of items should be stocked in the snack bark.
The couple have also used the page to post photos from their renovation progress as well as use it to ask questions about the history of the facility.
Future plans may include hiring employees for the business, but the Combows admit, they are still playing that by ear.
"We want it to be fun, but be safe, where people can have their kids come," Combow said. "We are open to suggestions, for what people want to do."
Combow anticipates the rink will primarily feature American Top 40 music, but again, knows that it will depend upon what rink customers request. He does expect to pull out some country, as well as some older music from the 1980s and 1990s - anything that is considered to be a "good skating song." He does anticipate keeping the music limited to radio edits or family-friendly cuts.
Combow said skating becomes a mix of music and action, as music can often encourage participants to react to various songs. Ultimately, the couple want the facility to be family friendly.
As Combow examines all 450 pairs of skates to get them ready to roll, Patti Combow is making plans to fill the snack bar with everything from hot dogs, nachos, candy and more.
For more information, persons interested may contact the Combows at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their Facebook page by searching for "Rocket-Skating-Plus."