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New life breathed into Fulda pool

justine wettschreck/Daily Globe Board member Linda Lund adds another coat of paint to the reception/concession area at the Fulda Swimming Pool. She and others are volunteering their time to refurbish the facility, but the Fulda School District is seeking financial help in making all of the repairs.

FULDA -- The Aquasize group in Fulda hasn't been able to meet since January, but most of the members are getting quite the workout these days by scrubbing, cleaning and painting. Some are even making their husbands help.

The women are part of a group of volunteers who are cleaning up the building that houses the Fulda School District pool, scrubbing and painting benches, walls, counters and the reception area.

The Fulda swimming pool was closed in January after the boiler and heat exchanger stopped working. A warranty on the boilers helped with part of the replacement costs, but the rest of the money had to come from the school coffers. Once the water was drained, it was determined the pool needed sandblasting and repainting. In some places, the pool tank had eight layers of paint.

"We held a couple of public meetings and formed a pool committee," Fulda School Superintendent/Principal Luther Onken said. "We had numerous meetings and decided to go forward with repairs."

The district also paid to take care of the sandblasting and painting and hired a company to paint the walls of the inside of the pool building, but with so many repairs still needed, the committee sent out a letter requesting donations to help refurbish an area that hasn't been upgraded for quite some time.

"We did a feasibility study, but the cost came in rather high," Onken explained. "So now we're taking it in bits and pieces, trying to keep operational."

The school added a handicapped-accessible lift, which has already been installed, and it was hoped the pool would be open by July 1, but that seems a little unattainable now due to complications with the water.

"The iron level is too high," explained community education coordinator/pool manager Jessica Mitchell. "Water availability is also a bit of a problem."

The city of Fulda will donate the water to fill the pool, but with use of water at a high because of farming and the recent Fulda Wood Duck Festival, it might take a bit of time yet before levels are adequate enough.

In the meantime, volunteers are hard at work taking care of chores and minor repairs around the facility. A Valspar Paint grant for 68 gallons of paint gave them plenty to work with.

"You should never let a building get this run-down," said volunteer Daryl Ommen as he carefully applied paint to a locker room wall. "It should be updated more often."

On a ladder beside Ommen, Jon Sturn ran a paintbrush over another section of the wall. Programs such as a community pool need people who are willing to be part of things, he stated.

Both grinned a bit sheepishly when asked why they had volunteered their time to paint and scrub.

"Our wives," they admitted.

Both women are part of the Aquasize class that wanted their pool back.

The Fulda pool was constructed in 1978 and opened in 1979. Before the doors had to be closed in January, the pool was used for swimming lessons, Aquasize classes, life guard training, water safety training, therapy and open swimming.

"It was a public facility used for social gathering and fun," Onken added. "We consider it a community service."

There was once exercise equipment in a small area off the side of the pool, but eventually it was decided to remove those pieces. That area will now be used as a gathering space, perfect for those who want to throw a pool party or chat while watching others play in the water.

With so many things needing repair in the facility, the fundraising goal is for $50,000. That would help pay for new pool blankets, doors, depth markers, skimmer wires, baskets and equalizers.

Donations made to the project are tax-deductible, and donation checks can be written out to the Fulda School District, with the word "pool" in the memo line. Donations can be sent to Fulda High School, 410 North College Ave., Fulda, 56131.

Questions can be directed to Onken's office, (507)425-2514, and anyone interested in volunteering time or resources can call the same number. According to the volunteers working Tuesday at the facility, the next work session is scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon Friday.