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The Wauneta Swimming Pool: Summer’s cooling off spot for local kids for the past 50 years PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 30 June 2011 22:22

Over 200 local youngsters posed for the photo above leading up to Wauneta’s October 1958 vote to approve a bond issue for the construction of a swimming pool in Wauneta. Above, children in the front row hold signs reading “234 REASONS WHY WAUNETA NEEDS A SWIMMING POOL.”  The bond issue passed by a 6-1 margin. Construction on the pool was finished by June 1961, with the first Red Cross swimming lessons started in Wauneta on June 26, 1961. Later that summer Wauneta’s swimming pool and new park were dedicated by Nebraska Gov. Frank Morrison with a large crowd on hand for the dedication ceremony.  Fast forward 50 years — swimming lessons are now in full swing at the Wauneta swimming pool, thanks to the hard work of those decades ago. (Wauneta Breeze Archival Photos)

 

By Tina Kitt

The Wauneta Breeze

It’s hard to imagine summertime in Wauneta without the swimming pool. For anyone born past 1960, it’s practically an unthinkable prospect.

For five decades now, since its construction in 1961,Wauneta’s Municipal Swimming Pool has offered youngsters a safe place to cool off during Nebraska’s blazing summers.

More importantly, however, is the fact that literally thousands of youngsters have learned to swim at the Wauneta pool since more than 300 signed up for Red Cross swimming lessons the first summer they were offered here in 1961.

But the swimming pool didn’t just magically appear overnight. It took decades of discussion and years of fundraising — along with a ballot measure to approve a $40,000 bond issue — before the dream of community leaders became a reality.

 

Pool project leads to relocation of Wauneta Park

Prior to the move to where Wauneta’s park is located today, it was situated on the east side the school football field along the river, with the football field sitting on property owned by the Village of Wauneta rather than the school.

With an ambitious effort once again afoot to have a swimming pool built in Wauneta, and no optimal available site to locate a swimming pool at the existing park, it was decided that a new park should be built where the swimming pool and a tennis court would be included.

The addition of a modern swimming pool, it was noted, would put Wauneta in step with the neighboring communities of Palisade and Imperial.

State law had changed in Nebraska by the late 1950s, no longer requiring that a municipal pool be paid for by donations.

Local officials gather to finalize plans for Wauneta’s new park and swimming pool during a 1960 meeting including, from left, Village Utilities Superintendent Walter Fox, Utility Board Chairman Cliff Shackelford, Village Board Chairman Ed Sinner, Swimming Pool Committee member D.C. Harvey, and Park Development Committee Chairman Russ Bodeman.

 

Instead, the change in state law allowed voters to approve the issuance of general obligation bonds to fund the project.

In October 1958, the town voted overwhelmingly to approve a $40,000 bond measure, allowing Wauneta to move forward with the pool project.

“Jubilant swimming pool enthusiasts announced the outcome of the election by sounding the village fire whistle late Monday evening following the official ballot count” reads an account from the Oct. 9, 1958 issue of the Breeze.

Nearly three years later, in June 1961, town leaders saw the project through to completion with the pool opening on June 17, 1961, just a few days later than had been announced. Cost of admission was 10 cents for grade school kids, 25 cents for high school students and adults. Season passes were $3 and $4. Swimming lessons offered free of charge.

Fund-raising for Wauneta’s new park and swimming pool was a community effort. Above, members of the Mrs. Jaycees present $65.35 raised from a 1960 play to Russ Bodeman. Members taking part in the presentation include, from left, June Skelton, Glendene DeHart, Marge Burham, Myra Grimm, Mary Johnston, Carol Maddux, Sharon Walgren, Alicia Smith and Joyce Einspahr.

 

The former park land was sold to the school district for $7,500, with that money used to help purchase land for the new park located along Highway 6.

The final cost of the pool was $50,000, with donations from across the area covering the extra expense.

Later that summer, on July 25, 1961, Gov. Frank Morrison was the guest of honor at a ceremony held to dedicate Wauneta’s new 20-acre park and swimming pool.

Numerous upgrades and repairs have been made at the pool over the years, with Wauneta justified in taking pride in all the pool and park have to offer.

Just as Wauneta’s first water slide was a big hit with the kids, its replacement, installed earlier this month, has offered hours of fun. Above, kids and lifeguards stop for a quick snapshot prior to the start of the 10:30 session of swimming lessons Monday morning. Those on hand for the 2011 photo include, seated at  front, lifeguards Hayden Pollmann and Chris Bartels. Standing from left, Colby Taylor, Evan Humphrey, lifeguard Tyler Crowell, Kyle Holmberg, Cody Holmes, Alicia Holmberg, Allen Ramirez, lifeguards Emma Skelton, Jenae Bischoff and Jonee Maris, Zoey and Tucker Boos, Justus Layman, Pool Manager Keri Sutherland and Wyatt Haas.