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The Press Box For April 25

By Staff | Apr 25, 2018

It’s hard to see things grow old.

I’ve been here 58 years, and I’ve grown to love this town. Yet, it is growing old.

Some of the buildings are boarded up. Some of the former homes are torn down, while some are in such despair they are falling down. All of my teachers are retired. Some are buried.

The old stores where we hung out are gone; the old movie house is gone, long outdated by the newer theaters which give you eight choices and theater seats, just a few miles away. The only visitors to the drive-in theater are tumbleweeds and rodents.

Memories of first dates and junior/senior proms are weather-worn by the endless years of rain. High school sweethearts are divorced. A cheerleader died of an aneurysm. Our fastest halfback is buried only a few plots from my own mother.

I wish I could make it all new again. I wish I could blow the dust off the streets. I wish I could walk through the once-familiar neighborhood and wave at familiar faces and pet the familiar dogs. I wish I could hit one more home run in the Little League park. I wish I could walk down Main Street and call out to the merchants that have retired, or are gone, and open the doors that have been boarded up. I wish I could make everything new, but I can’t.

I would love to go back and see that beautiful brick Main Street with all the little stores. And hear the siren sound at curfew time. There are lots of things I would like to do, but there are even more I would like to see our town leaders do.

I wish I could go into Martin Lemasters’ grocery store and get a bologna sandwich, a 6 ounce bottle of coke, and a nickel bag of Mister Bee potato chips. I wish I could walk over to Gross’s with Sam the crossing guard making sure I made it safely.

I would love to get a cup of coffee and a bowl of Mitchell’s homemade vegetable soup, or a snack from Matzi’s. And take some coupons to Doak’s IGA to exchange for some spending change. Just one more time at the old Labor Day celebration at the high school, as they shoot the man out of the cannon. I wish I could go trick or treating like we used to and then ice skate up at the old tennis court behind the high school. I want to set on Garret’s steps for a couple hours or more.

However we still have a park, a beautiful park with ball fields, play areas, and a swimming pool; we still have a great library.

Just for clarification, I have been informed Paden City pool is going to be opening this year and will be safe for the children of the community to enjoy. Now, last week’s article was condemning the city of Paden City for failing to provide the Park and Pool Commission the funds to open and maintain the city pool, and for the lack of upkeep to the park in general. Paden City has a gem of a park, one of the best laying pieces of ground in the entire Valley.

Rarely does it flood, but when it does, it is usually moderate. However, the park recently took on some water which left behind quite a bit of mud and debris. That will need taken care of. It can’t be put back into the river, so some of it will need to be disposed of.

There is a fine group of volunteers in the community who are also community-minded, and one of their priorities is the swimming pool. They are known as the “Friends of the Pool.” They have been involved with the upkeep of the pool for the past few years, and although the rumor had been the pool would not open for lack of funds and maintenance, the Friends of the Pool have assured me it will open and be safe.

They have been actively seeking funding in many different ways. A quilt raffle was held; candy bars sales have been ongoing, and they have received many donations. However, help is still needed. They are a non-profit government entity and have their own checking account that is used for nothing but operating the swimming pool.

Cost-cutting measures have been put into place, which includes volunteer labor in preparing the pool for opening day, and then ongoing maintenance to keep it in a safe condition throughout the season

They now use all volunteer supervisors, while maintaining a staff of paid workers – including life guards who they paid to get certified. This is quite the accomplishment for a small group of volunteers, but it shows what can get done when the going gets tough.

Good people step up to the plate every time. It has always been that way in Paden City and always will be. These people are not affiliated with the Park and Pool; however, they have been given the blessing of the Park and Pool Commission, which was as good move.

It gave the Park and Pool Commission a way for the Pool to survive. A couple years ago, it was announced the pool would not open. The Park and Pool voted to shut it down for lack of lifeguards, and obvious funding reasons. After hearing of this, a group of concerned citizens gathered at the Library to take on the issue.

That was the beginning of the “Friends of the Pool.” Since that time, they have managed to stay active, and to my understanding, it has been a year-round movement toward opening the Pool during the swimming season.

Support for the swimming pool is an ongoing need, and donations and contributions can be given at the Paden City Library. I believe volunteers are also needed; if interested, sign up at the Library. There will come a time when those now running the ship will have to step down and new faces will be needed.

The Pool will be open this season due to the Friends of PC Pool and the Park and Pool Commission. They will operate the pool Monday through Saturday, 1-5 p.m. There will be free swims throughout the season when anyone can swim, free of charge. Last year there were ten free swims (provided by area businesses, churches, individuals, and organizations). The Friends of Paden City Pool fully expect to offer that many again this summer. Swim parties are available in the evenings for birthday parties, etc. DJs volunteered there twice last summer, once for a night swim, which was a huge success.

The pool needs work; no one is denying that point. But according to Friends of the Pool, they have had – and will continue to have – the pool inspected for safety. The sliding boards are inspected each year per state regulations. The life guards are Red Cross certified (paid for by the Friends of PC Pool), which ensures safety of swimmers. The life guards and swimmers are well supervised by volunteer managers who enforce the safety rules of the pool and support the life guards enforcing those rules.

The Friends of PC Pool and its supporters care deeply about operating a pool in the hottest months of the year for area children. They epitomize volunteerism and interest in children’s safety and drug prevention. The Friends of PC Pool group was chartered on that premise. The community kids deserve to have a pool open, just as the kids in neighboring communities have. And thanks to the Friends of PC Pool, they will have that same summer fun. The concession area and the shower rooms were repaired and painted pre-season 2016. The floor and walls of the pool were painted pre-season 2017. The bike rack and the flagpole were painted. Flowers were planted. All this was accomplished with volunteers. It was like any other community pool with one notable exception: It has been accomplished with volunteers and donations and fundraisers.

The pool will be open this year when the school year is ended, and it will operate with certified lifeguards and with managers who are there for additional safety.

My hope is for the pool to always be there for the children of Paden City. I hope there will always be nice playground equipment with improvements throughout the park always being made. My biggest fear is the Park and Pool Commission will continue to struggle for lack of funds and eventually the whole place will be under volunteers.

Paden City needs to step up and properly fund the Park and Pool Commission. With a mere budget of $9,000 they may be lucky to keep the grass cut. eparsons@tylerstarnews.com