PAXTON, Ill. (WCIA) – When it gets hot outside, people flock to the pool. That’s why there’s a small group of passionate neighbors hoping to save their public pool.
The “Save the Paxton Pool” committee held a big fundraiser Sunday.
“…learning how to swim, then joining a swim team as soon as I could… I had my first job at the concession stand. I brought my two first babies there for swim lessons,” committee member Tessa Pilcher said.
It’s memories like these that inspired the Save the Paxton Pool committee.
“It’s just encouraging to keep that going for the next generation. So that’s our hope, and that’s why I’m passionate,” she said.
Several years ago, the 57-year-old pool closed for the season and never opened back up. That’s when a handful of community members stepped in.
“Unfortunately, 2020 hit and made some financial strains and some things that needed to be done with the pool when it didn’t open. So that committee had fizzled out as far as that effort went,” Paxton Park District Commissioner Craig Kief said.
But, he said things have changed. The committee has hosted several events to bring families out, kick off summer and raise money.
“The new rekindled Save the Paxton Pool committee, I would say has a lot more volunteers involved at this point. And there’s a lot of passion behind it,” Kief said.
The pool, equipment, and poolhouse all needed repairs.
“Painting, getting new stalls, hopefully doing something with the floor to make it a little bit more safe,” Pilcher said.
…And more. The park district just couldn’t cover those costs. But this group was dedicated to saving the pool, and they say it’s the perfect time.
“Especially after COVID, we just need some joy in in the world. And it brought us a lot of joy, back in the day,” she said.
And clearly, she’s not the only one who feels that way.
“I feel coming together as a community and building up the things that we lost during COVID is really going to help the community,” Miss Ford County Fair Queen 2021 Jolee Hastings said.
Luckily, the committee’s hard work has paid off. Pilcher said she’s excited the pool will be open this summer.
“That’s what I’m most looking forward to is opening the doors and seeing smiling faces just enjoying the pool like I used to when I was a kid,” she said.
Kief said local businesses have also stepped up to help with repairs, and everybody involved is grateful. But they’ll need to come up with a long-term plan to keep the pool running in the years ahead.