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Pool, ‘soul’ of community, should be fixed

My Opinion
Dr. Bob Walsh, Guest Writer

I am not sure how to begin. Tragic, awful, heartbreaking. Disappointed, discouraged, disgusted. Angry, irate, livid. Yes, I think that is it; all of those fit.
I heard there is a discussion to close up the South Harrison pool. What an incredible mistake that would be! What a slap in the face that would be to the people in South Harrison, including many of the leaders that are no longer with us that were instrumental in the park development.
Let me provide some history from my point of view.
I moved here in 1975 from Chicago, bought the ‘old Timberlake residence’ just down the road from Chester Klinstiver. Maybe because I was tall, maybe because I was a teacher, maybe because it was obvious I had a loud booming voice, not sure even now, but Tom Cunningham, the young new director of the Harrison County Parks, asked me to be the street announcer for the Fourth of July Festival parade coming up in a few weeks. I would stand in the four-way, in front of Barnes General Store (now gone), The Farmers State Bank (new owner) and Elizabeth Auto Parts (still here). From that vantage point, I would announce the parade arrivals of the local sports teams, antique cars, church summer camps and, of course, local politicians. The parade was used to draw people into our festival, which was to raise the money needed to buy land for a park in southern Harrison County.
Remember, these were the days long before ‘the boat’ money or ‘the foundation’ money was available. This was just a small community, a grassroots organization, trying to make a better community.
This grassroots organization was called the South Harrison Recreation Club with members including Tom Cunningham, Ray Hammond, Marcell Schoen, Bob Stults, Caroline Hedden, Olivia Merk, Billy Tuell, Gary Gardner, Bob Crosier and many, many others. Over the years, they raised over $23,000 for this land purchase.
Now, here is where it gets interesting.
Carolyn Haas offered to sell her 220 acres to the club for only $55,000! This was a great bargain even back in 1978 ‘ a deal not to be passed up ‘ but the club had less than half the money needed, so what did they do? The club board members pledged their OWN money to back the loan. The rest, as they, say is history. The land was bought. The park was created that included a beautiful 25-meter pool. Then park board member Blaine Wiseman noted this ‘pride of accomplishment’ saying ‘the most unique thing about this park system is the effort expended by the local participants’ to get this done. (H.O. Jones, The Corydon Democrat, Aug. 15, 1975).
Fast forward to the ’90s. I am still tall, still a teacher, still loud but now with two young daughters. I was asked to be president of the local swim team.
Knowing my strengths and, more importantly, knowing my weaknesses, I asked to coach the team instead. And with the help of Dr. Stephen Stemm, Sarah Becker and others, we coached the swim team for the next seven years, averaging about 100 swimmers each year from age 5 to age 18.
I mention this because I want you to know that I used the ‘hidden gem’ ‘ the pool at the park ‘ many, many times.
Fast forward to 2015, 40 years since the parade and, yep, still tall, still teaching and still loud but now with two grandchildren, one of whom has been on the swim team; the other is too young. I do NOT want them to be without this wonderful facility!
This pool, and this park, was established in a large part by the local community for the people of this community. Others, of course, are invited, but it is for our community.
This pool is part of the soul of this part of the county, like our new library.
So, if the pool has a leak in it, fix it!
If the pool has a bad leak in it, then fix it!
If the pool has an unfixable leak in it, then fix it because we all know there really is no such thing.
Editor’s note: Dr. Bob Walsh resides in the Elizabeth area.