Reflections: Pool in Cardington to celebrate 55th anniversary

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This summer, I will begin a series of columns honoring Cardington businesses celebrating milestone anniversaries of 50 years or more. Each column will attempt to encapsulate the business’ lifespan from its founding to the present day.

Richard Nixon was elected to the White House. The United States Supreme Court decided the case of Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District over students’ rights to freedom of speech. Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower passed away in Marchm and Mickey Mantle retired from Major League Baseball. The year: 1969. While the globe recovered from the chaos from 1968, the village of Cardington was brimming with excitement.

In the preceding years, members of the local community took it upon themselves to raise funds for the construction of a public swimming pool for the town’s children. Over $14,000 was raised through donations and membership purchases before Cardington Community Recreation, Inc. submitted an application for an FHA loan of $62,000 in 1968 to make their plans a reality.

The entity purchased 1.1 acres from the Cardington-Lincoln Local School District for the planned facility. The original plans altered from a 75-by-75 pool to one with the dimensions of 85 feet by 35 feet in addition to a pool for small children and wading, locker rooms, restrooms, and a pop shack. Each year, the Cardington Volunteer Fire Department cleans and fills the pool during the spring in anticipation for the coming season. The first filling came from water out of the Whetstone Creek, and it took over 180,000 gallons to fill the pool up.

Currently, the pool is governed by the Cardington-Lincoln Joint Recreation Board. Current members are President Scott Lester representing the village; Treasurer Tommy Garrison appointed to the sole at-large position; Secretary Mike Ongalibang representing Cardington-Lincoln Local Schools; Committee members Keith Newsome representing the town and Ashley Robinson appointed by the school district. In addition to the pool, the recreation board oversees the adjoining basketball courts and soccer fields located on West Williams Street in Cardington along with the youth soccer and wrestling programs.

The original swimming pool board was Co-Chairmen Robert W. Akron and Dale Carsner representing the American Legion Post #97 of Cardington; Treasurer Joyce Landon for Alpha Jeune Club; Jackie Winchell for the Morrow County Swim Club; Ann Goodman-Heimlich for the Ladies Auxiliary of the Cardington American Legion; Donna Keil representing the Mother’s Study Club; Superintendent George Nash; and Paul Drake, attorney.

The original set of lifeguards for the pool were Dennis Roach, Beth McCutchen, Donita Baker, Frank Davis, Rita Squires, and Jill Brandes, who served as the chief lifeguard. Wayne Bergdoll was the first pool manager. Today, Lori Vance is the pool manager, and she has held that post for over a decade. The current lifeguard features many current and recently graduated students of Cardington-Lincoln High School.

The recreation board receives its funding from three-tenths of one mill from the school district’s property valuation.

On Saturday, June 15, the pool will celebrate its 55th anniversary on the exact day it opened in 1969. All former lifeguards, pool managers, and pool or recreation board members will be admitted free into the event. Attendees will receive $1 off the regular admission rate, and hotdogs will be set at a special price of 55 cents.

A ceremony will take place at noon prior to swimming beginning for the day. Cake will be provided for those in attendance.

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