NEW HAVEN — Though it is still months away, a group of Bend Area residents is already working to ensure families have a fun (and free) summer.
Members of the New Haven Pool Committee, including Alice Humphreys, Cathy Zerkle, Lisa Crump, Lisa Honaker, Phyllis Arthur, and Becky Benson, are gearing up to distribute letters seeking donations to provide free admission to the municipal pool for the second year. They are working closely with City Manager Matt Shell, who was also recently named recreation director for the town.
Prior to the 2018 swim season, there had been discussions within the town administration to possibly close the pool. The average attendance at the time was 14 people per day, even though the admission rate had been dropped as low as $2.
Last year, however, the pool committee was formed and the ladies sought donations. They received enough that free admission was offered to everyone for the entire season, and with no admission came larger crowds. The average attendance for last year was 65 per day, sometimes with as many as 100.
With success, however, comes added costs, the committee members learned.
According to Shell, the American Red Cross standards are to have two lifeguards on duty for 10 or more swimmers, and three on duty if the swimmers raise to 50 or above.
Arthur said due to the increased numbers, the total salary cost for the pool’s seven lifeguards doubled last year. The committee is attempting to raise enough money in donations, $10,000, to cover the salaries.
A grant from the Robert and Louise Claflin Foundation has already been confirmed that will provide paint for the pool, as well as the purchase of chemicals for the season, Arthur said.
The New Haven pool is the only public swimming pool remaining in both Mason and Meigs counties. Point Pleasant, Middleport and Syracuse all formerly had pools that have since been closed.
Shell said the New Haven pool will open on Memorial Day and stay open seven days a week until school starts, including the week of the Mason County Fair, when it was previously closed. Once students return to school, the pool will be open on weekends until Labor Day. The facility will also be available to rent for private parties by contacting the city building on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Other changes, in addition to free admission, were made last year at the pool and will remain in effect this year, Shell said. Concession choices will be fewer, cutting the costs, but those attending will be able to bring their own food and drinks. He added coolers are subject to inspection, and no glass containers are allowed.
Arthur said she is hoping businesses, organizations and even individuals will donate to the effort this year as generously as last. She said in 2018, one local family donated $800, and a former Bend Area resident, who now lives in Florida, sent in $500. Other donations came from businesses, civic clubs, churches and more. Arthur emphasized no donation is too small.
This year, Shell said he wants to make sure donors are recognized. Plans are to place a large sign or banner located at the pool.
Anyone wanting to donate can contact the town hall at 304-882-3203. Donations can be mailed to the Town of New Haven, P.O. Box 217, New Haven, WV 25265, or placed in the drop box at the city building. Anyone mailing or placing a donation in the drop box should mark it “for swimming pool.”
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at email@example.com.