Area residents participate in Senior Swimnastics at the American Legion Post 62 in Craig. The American Legion has decided to close the post pool March 1, unless $15,000 can be raised in donations and pledges to meet expenses.

Photo by Brian Smith

Area residents participate in Senior Swimnastics at the American Legion Post 62 in Craig. The American Legion has decided to close the post pool March 1, unless $15,000 can be raised in donations and pledges to meet expenses.

American Legion Post 62 to close swimming pool March 1

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Pull quote:

“It’s just such a good cause. Our society doesn’t exercise enough, and to have a place that encourages exercise is great.”

—Bob Johnson, American Legion Post 62 member, on donating money to the post’s swimming pool

Mel Shockley said he doesn’t want to close the swimming pool at American Legion Post 62 in Craig, but financial circumstances are forcing his hand.

“I’ve gotten used to all the smiling faces,” the post commander said of local residents who use the pool.

Barring an unforeseen influx of revenue, the American Legion will close the pool March 1 as a cost-cutting measure. The pool could remain closed indefinitely.

The cost of maintaining the swimming pool — which serves community members during year-round programs like open swimming sessions, Senior Swimnastics and more¬ — has overrun the post’s budget, Shockley said.

“The Legion’s finances are in good shape,” he said. “But, they won’t be if we keep running this pool.”

Shockley estimates the American Legion loses $10,000 a year operating the swimming pool. In January, he began seeking contributions from the community to keep it open.

Shockley set a $15,000 goal in contributions, and thus far, the American Legion has received pledges and donations totaling $1,960.

Most of the donations have been from individuals, which Shockley said was surprising.

“I sent out letters to the coal companies and the power plant asking for help,” he said. “You know what I got?”

Shockley, answering his own question, put his hands together in the shape of a zero.

“It makes me sad,” he said.

American Legion member Bob Johnson said he pledged $250 to keep the pool open.

“It’s just such a good cause,” Johnson said. “Our society doesn’t exercise enough, and to have a place that encourages exercise is great.”

Johnson said it’s not too late for area businesses to donate.

“I would like to see some of the big businesses in town do their best,” he said. “I know it’s been tough times. I think things are getting a little easier now.”

In January, Shockley said he planned to drain the pool, sell the equipment, and have it filled in if funds were not raised.

After a recent board meeting, however, the American Legion has opted to simply drain the water and leave the pool and its equipment standing.

Shockley said a grant writer is currently trying to raise money.

The bulk of any money raised would go toward paying off outstanding debt the American Legion incurred from last year’s purchase of the post building.

If, however, the grant writer can secure additional funds for the pool, it will be reopened, Shockely said.

“Let’s wait and see what happens,” he said. “If it sits here empty for six months, it sits here empty for six months. But, if we get the money to open it up, we will.”

Ben McCanna can be reached at 875-1793 or bmccanna@craigdailypress.com.

Comments

als362 3 years, 9 months ago

I would recommend to Mr. Shockely, that the fees to use the pool be raised so they will cover the costs. Then the pool can be left open. Seems like a very simple solution to this problem.

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wellwell 3 years, 9 months ago

Mr Shockely, als362 may have a point. Does the Senior Swimnastics pay a fee as a group? Is there a fee to swim as an individual? What is the normal number of users per daily?Could the pool be advertised to increase its use?

If you could figure the amount that the VFW is able/willing to subsidize; subtract that from the cost to operate; divide that by the daily use per period you could figure a fee per period. Fees may need to be raised or number of users increase to keep the fees down. Of course this is only the first thoughts of action.

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Jon Pfeifer 3 years, 9 months ago

This is a non-profit organization. They are providing a service based on their mission... they are not operating the pool because it is a good business idea. The problem with simply raising fees is that it would become too expensive to use the pool for the few individuals that use it. Thus, they wouldn't be fulfilling their mission in that regard. If this were a business, it would simply close up shop. However, because they have a mission that the pool helps them to fulfill, they are willing operate a losing business venture to support that mission, and are seeking donations so that the pool can continue to run. That's how the nonprofit sector works and I think that's great. Unfortunately, I'm in the "small child" stage of life, so this pool doesn't help me out much and I'm not the target audience for the Foreign Legion. I wish them the best, but won't be much help myself.

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als362 3 years, 9 months ago

Everything that a non-profit organization does must be based on good business decisions. If they do not operate in that manner then any "mission" they might have will ultimately be defeated because the organization will not be able to afford to meet that commitment. Just as they cannot meet their commitment or "mission" now by having to close the pool. If there are a few people that cannot afford to pay their own way and use the pool at fees that allow it to stay open, then these people need to find a sponsor that will pay their pool fees for them. The non-profit sector cannot survive by unless they can remain financially stable, and able to pay the bills they incur from the services they provide. If the costs they incur are not paid by someone, the organization wil ultimately fail, and no services will be rendered then. Raise the fees, and keep the pool open. It is the only smart move to make.

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daisymay 3 years, 9 months ago

Non-profit or not this pool is old and expensive to maintain. They people who use it do pay quite a bit to do so. If the prices would be raised then many of them would not be able to afford it. Without them they would just be right back to where they are now. It’s very sad to see it go; the people who use it really relay on it to keep active and healthy. I hope this town will someday realize what an amazing resource a rec center is to a town.

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als362 3 years, 9 months ago

If people can't afford to pay enough to keep one small pool open, how do you think they will be able to keep an entire rec center in the black?

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daisymay 3 years, 9 months ago

This pool was used by a small group of people, a rec center would be used by many more. It is also the kind of thing that brings people to the town.

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als362 3 years, 9 months ago

So if more people that use a rec center are not willing to pay all the costs necessary to keep it open and in the black, then it will go in debt and be closed quicker than this small pool.
Also, I cannot think of one person that I know that would come to Craig to use a rec center. People come to Craig to hunt, snow mobile go off roading, fish and get a job in the energy market.

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daisymay 3 years, 9 months ago

A rec center would have more to offer than just a pool. Many people from Craig, Steamboat and the surrounding areas drive to Meeker to use their Rec center, so yes many people would drive to Craig if we had one.

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als362 3 years, 9 months ago

Yes it would have more than just a pool. More things that people don't want to pay the full cost for the use of. So it will go broke faster yet.
If you think that a rec center is such a money making deal, then you, daisymay, should build one yourself. Then when it goes flat busted, only you will be hurt, not all the taxpayers.

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justthefacts 3 years, 9 months ago

Fact: Swimming pools cost lots and lots and lots of money.

Fact: Craig is landlocked, No pools needed.

Fact: Before the school board cuts educational programs, and teachers, the pool at the High School needs to go!!!!! ( New Basketball Court?)

Fact: No pool, no swim teams, Huge money savings for the school district.

Fact: 25 kids ( or less) out of a school population of 2500 are on swim team.

Question: At what cost to the District and Community????

Fact: The High School pool has been a money pit for 25 years and requires major repairs NOW!!!!

Fact: The County Commissioners are smarter than given credit for sometimes.

Fact: The Commissioners duped the Legion into thinking that they were recieving somthing for nothing.

Fact: The Legion well ?????

Just treading The Facts

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