The weather is finally starting to warm up, and there is good news about the White Salmon swimming pool: It won't be much longer before the pool -- which has been undergoing major repairs and renovations -- is ready to open.
The official date for the pool to open has been set for Monday, June 16.
"We finished painting the pool as of Monday," said White Salmon Mayor David Poucher. "They've been working their tails off."
The major repairs to the pool include fixing a serious leak in the pool (it was leaking as much as 30,000 gallons a day in the summer), pouring fresh concrete for the pool deck, and adding new sealant. In other enhancements, an ADA-accessible entry to the pool house was built, and a new salt chlorination system was installed.
"We will put a new roof on the pool building next week," added Tom Smith, field manager of the White Salmon Public Works Department. The building houses the offices, showers, and changing rooms for those using the pool.
Funds for the pool improvements came from the Klickitat County Economic Development Authority, which provided a grant for $27,400, and citizen donations to a pool fund set up at Riverview Community Bank in White Salmon.
Smith pointed out that the unusually wet spring has made it more difficult to complete some of the projects -- such as painting the pool -- that are much easier to tackle in warm and sunny conditions.
"This weather," Smith commented. "It has not been a really good spring."
In addition to being a city employee, Smith is a member of the Oddfellows Goodwill Lodge No. 188 in White Salmon. Last week, the Oddfellows agreed to make a large donation to support the pool.
"The Goodwill Lodge members agreed to pay for the solar panels," Smith told members of the White Salmon City Council during the council's June 4 meeting.
The solar panels will be used to heat the pool.
Smith pointed out that the Goodwill Lodge members have long supported the pool, and the vote on the solar panels was unanimous.
"Bam, that saved the city $9,000-$10,000 just like that," said a grateful Mayor Poucher.
"We made the decision on Tuesday night (June 3)," Smith said. "We had been talking about donating for the pool for quite awhile. We donated $1,000 a few weeks ago, and I got to thinking about the solar panels and how beneficial that would be for the pool, so I made a presentation to the members. We agreed to pay up to $10,000 for the solar panels."
Smith noted that one of the missions of the local Oddfellows Goodwill Lodge is to support the community, and the White Salmon area's 20 members saw help for the pool as a natural avenue.
"We try," Smith explained. "Most of our money is earned in the community, and we're trying to put it back into the community."
According to Smith, the solar panels have already been ordered. They are expected to be installed sometime in June, after the pool opens.
Ruth Winner, one of the volunteers helping to organize efforts to upgrade the pool, explained that high school students and others have put in time to improve the pool.
"Volunteers are working to beautify the entry to the pool. They are removing debris, old leaves, and weeds; pruning tree branches, and all that sort of stuff," said Winner.
Winner added that the area around the entrance to the pool building will also be landscaped, with driftwood, drought-resistant grasses, and bark chips.
According to Winner, who serves as secretary for the city's pool committee -- chaired by White Salmon City Council member Bob Landgren -- the current balance of the pool fund is now over $35,000. The pool fund was built through individual contributions from area citizens.
Poucher said he was very grateful for the impressive support from the bank fund, the Oddfellows Goodwill Lodge, and others in the area for donating their time and cash to help repair the pool.
"The community has just been awesome in coming up and helping us," Poucher said. "So many people donated time and money and the mural was painted by Columbia High School students. This is very definitely a community pool."