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2 swimming sites may open for Labor Day

2 swimming sites may open for Labor Day
2 swimming sites may open for Labor Day
Harrison County Parks Dept. board members and attendees of last Wednesday's meeting examine progress made at South Harrison Park's pool. Larry Shickles, parks superintendent, said the pool will open one way or another this year, though it might just be for Labor Day weekend. Photo by J.C. Lyell

Swimming facilities at both Buffalo Trace and South Harrison parks could soon open after some major maintenance issues caused delays this summer, but it might be just for Labor Day weekend. The holiday is traditionally the last day that the county’s public swimming facilities operate before closing as lifeguards go back to school and the parks prepare for colder months.
Harrison County Parks Dept. Supt. Larry Shickles said at a parks board meeting last Wednesday evening that, after all the money and work put into getting the facilities ready, the board is determined to open them as soon as they can, even if it’s just for the one end-of-summer holiday event.
‘There’s days when you think, ‘This will be open tomorrow,’ and some days when you find problem after problem,’ he said.
At South Harrison Park near Elizabeth, the pool and pool deck are undergoing renovations to address leaks and structural concerns that led to the board’s decision to close the pool early last year. Shickles said the roughly 25-year-old roof on the poolhouse will also soon be replaced, and a new storage structure is being built to house pool chemicals and the South Harrison swim team’s practice equipment.
Shickles said maintenance workers noted while repairs were underway that there were live shorts in the electrical wiring beneath the pool deck that needed fixing.
‘We were eating a ton on electricity with that,’ he added.
When the electrical faults were discovered, it was already too late to cancel work on the new roof or to scale back other projects, Shickles said, so repairs at South Harrison will likely go over budget. However, he said the parks department shouldn’t have to ask the county council for more money because of leftover funds from a few under-budget projects.
‘At this point, we’re trying to live with what we’ve got,’ Shickles said.
With that in mind, he said the pool will be opening one way or another this year, complete with new deck furniture and large ‘umbrella trees’ for shade.
Shickles said facilities at Buffalo Trace Lake east of Palmyra will also open this year, but it’s possible that the beach-front area at the lake won’t be ready for swimming in time for Labor Day. If that’s the case, he said the park will still likely host an event for the holiday.
At the park, new buildings have gone up to replace the beach house and boat house that were deemed unsafe and demolished earlier this year. Shickles said a new floating boat dock, tethered to land by a walkway, is scheduled to be installed this week, and the beach rest rooms are being renovated.
The parks department also received some news about the upcoming Pal Wow Family Fun Festival, which is scheduled to take place at the park Sept. 27 to 29.
Shickles said he was recently notified by the Indiana Dept. of Homeland Security that the event will need to be state-regulated this year due to its attendance.
‘The electrical system up there is never going to pass for what they (at the Dept. of Homeland Security) want,’ Shickles said to the board.
Electrical lines and transformers at the park are in the process of being upgraded but won’t be completed by the time of the festival. Shickles said even if they were to finish early, the system won’t have the capacity needed for the event.
He asked board members to consider possible options before their next meeting, set for Wednesday, Aug. 28, at 7 p.m. at the Harrison County Government Center in Corydon, and to come back ready to decide if the department is willing to cover a partial cost of generators (about $1,700 each to rent) for the Pal Wow committee, since the festival is about a month away.
In other business, Shickles said installation teams with Portative Technologies are finishing up work on the infrastructure required to provide Wi-Fi for campers at Buffalo Trace. He said the internet service will roll out in the next few weeks, initially to be offered just for campers in order to avoid overloading the system. After seeing how that works, Shickles said the board may decide to open access to all park visitors.
‘Don’t you know when you go camping you don’t need the internet?’ board member Scott Fluhr quipped to Shickles.
Installation of internet services at South Harrison Park is also underway, though it’s in an earlier stage than at Buffalo Trace. Shickles said Mainstream Fiber Networks, which has recently brought internet service to many rural areas of the county, asked for a large, up-front payment and a seven-year contract to go with it for installation, leading the board to, instead, choose Portative Technologies for the project.
With recent maintenance taking a toll during what is typically the parks’ busiest season, Shickles said he was pleasantly surprised with how many Harrison County residents have claimed their Super Passes. He said 800 passes have been claimed this year, and estimated that the number would have been at about 2,000 if not for the closures.
Also, the board recognized the application of Elizabeth resident Alex Wiseman for the open position on the board that was created Maegan DeVore resigned earlier this month.