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Citizen effort on way to save community pool program

Just six months ago, the Holland community pool program appeared to be doomed.

The School Board pulled its funding for 2005-06 and operating deficits topped more than $10,000. Officials blamed waning interest for turning the program into a budget casualty.

That was before a grass-roots committee made up of parents, student lifeguards and high school Principal Jim Biryla mapped out a plan to rescue the community swimming program.

Following an outcry from residents to the School Board last March, Superintendent Garry Stone and trustees agreed to grant the pool committee $2,000 in "seed money" to get the group started. However, there was a catch: the program had to become self-supporting or face extinction.

During a meeting of the School Board Monday night, Biryla reported the committee is well on its way toward its goal -- raising more money in the first week of the school year than during all of last year.

"We're halfway to our annual goal in one week's time," the principal said. "The pool is becoming what it was meant to be -- a community-visited and utilized facility."

Through the sale of pool passes, registration fees for weekly water aerobic classes and learn-to-swim lessons, the committee has collected $3,300, or about half of the $7,000 it needs to cover perating costs. A children's birthday party held last week under the new Friday night group rental program was among the new features added this year.
Records show revenue from the community pool totaled about $2,000 for each of the previous two fiscal years, when the program operated at a loss.

The pool is in Holland Middle School, on Route 16 at Partridge Road. To join the program, call 537-8213.

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