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FRIES — After losing millions of gallons of water and thousands of dollars in expenses, the Fries Recreation Department has decided to raise funds to build a new pool.
The rec department board held a meeting in April to notify the public how bad the situation was.
Board member Tom Guy said that in the past five years the 60-year-old pool cost the town $15,125.17 and more than 3.1 million gallons of water.
“We are constantly losing money by repairing the pool,” Guy told The Gazette last week. “We need a new one.”
Unsure if the pool would be opened this season, board members were fortunate enough to receive a donation from Guynn Furniture and Vaughan-Guynn Funeral Home after holding the meeting to help get it ready for the summer.
Now the recreation board has decided it needs to begin raising about $150,000 for a new pool.
Guy said that Fries resident Faye Cochran — formerly the Galax voter registrar — has agreed to volunteer her time to send out letters asking for donations.
“She knows a lot of people,” said Guy. “Hopefully this will get enough enthusiasm in the community, both young and old, to get enough money by the end of this swimming season to have enough money to purchase a new pool.”
Cochran’s letter informs recipients about the age and condition of the existing pool.
“I don’t know the normal life expectancy of a concrete pool, but Fries’ pool has seen its best days,” the letter says. “The pool has been in a deteriorating state for more than 15 years. Cracks in the walls and floor have made it almost impossible at times to maintain a safe level of water for swimmers.”
Guy said he doesn’t know where to begin with fundraisers, but hopes the community of Fries and Carroll and Grayson will jump on board.
“Faye is willing to donate her time,” said Guy. “The board challenges other people in the community to do the same. For this thing to work, it’s got to be the entire community — I’m talking about all the people in and around Grayson and Carroll.”
The board plans to send out letters to businesses in the Twin Counties to ask for donations or sponsorship of fund-raisers.
“We are going to contact the pastors of the local churches ... our politicians,” said Guy. “This is a major undertaking.”
While exact costs to demolish and rebuild a new pool are unknown, the estimate tops $150,000.
“It will take time to get it done,” he said. “It’s going to take a great effort by everyone... but we can do it if we all put all our effort into it.”
The board hopes to hold bake sales, car washes, yard sales and other fund-raisers.
“We need help from the community,” said Guy. “People to give us ideas on what to do, how to do and people to help us do it.”
The board plans to incorporate local schools this August in efforts to raise more money.
“Another thing we are looking into is matching grants,” Guy said. “There is funding out there for recreation that just requires us to match the money.”
He added that if a matching grant of $1 or $50,000 was found. it would help.
“No donation is too small,” he said. “If a first grader wants to donate a dime, we are appreciative for all donations.”
The board plans to place a large cardboard thermometer at the ballpark and the pool to track progress of funds as they are raised.
“People want to see progress. Seeing that thermometer rise gets people excited about the project.”
The new pool the board hopes to build should be more appealing to the area’s elders as well.
The current pool requires everyone to climb out on a 4-foot ladder, but the new one would allow a gradual walk into the pool — allowing elders an easier trip in and out.
Guy hopes to raise enough money to include a heater so the pool can open earlier and remain open later into the season.
“That would help the older population in the area as well,” Guy said. “Before school opens or after it closes, the elders can go to the pool.”
The pool will be accessible to the handicapped.
“We understand that this is an ambitious undertaking, but feel it is our only option other than closing the pool permanently,” Cochran’s letter said.
“Some might suggest the latter option as best, but the recreation board totally disagrees. It is obvious to the board that if Fries doesn’t maintain a pool for the young people then the river will be their place of recreation to escape the summer heat. We all know the dangers of the river and I do not need to elaborate.”
“From a distance, it’s a beautiful pool,” Guy said. “However, the pool is in dire need of an overhaul. This is a serious problem. The pool is crumbling away.”
The problem lies deep in the foundation. So while cracks can be caulked and stuffed with putty, once 800,000 pounds of pressure is placed on the concrete, it simply crumbles.
The department has averaged $3,500 a year in repairs just to get the pool to hold enough water for swimming.
After the April meeting, the community was adamant that a new pool needed to stay in the current location.
In that same meeting, rough estimates showed that about 4,000 Grayson residents and 3,000 Carroll residents used the pool during a five-year period. The number included a small number of Fries and Galax residents.
Anyone interested in making a tax deductible donation or offering advice about a fund-raiser or helping with a fund-raiser may contact Town Clerk Jill Hill at
(276) 744-2231 or email@example.com
Donations can be mailed. Make checks payable to:
Fries Recreation Center
c/o Jill Hill, P.O. Box 329,
Fries, Va. 24330.