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Pools may not open this year

Staff writers

One of Marion County’s four pools is closing for the summer before ever having the chance to open, and others are in questionable territory.

Hillsboro city councilmen on Tuesday decided, albeit begrudgingly, to keep the city’s pool closed for the summer.

“I for one would like to just say, hey, this nightmare is over and just go back to the way things were before,” mayor Lou Thurston said.

Peabody remains undecided about opening its pool, but significant work is needed if it is to open. No lifeguards are hired, and the pool’s surface needs repair.

Marion is planning for a June 8 reopening, but that date is subject to change.

Florence is planning to open its pool as soon as regulations allow.

Hillsboro councilmen cited public safety, liability, and not having enough staff as reasons to keep Hillsboro’s pool closed.

Councilman Josh Boehm said the city didn’t have capacity to keep cleaning at required levels, and that the city could be held liable if someone caught COVID-19 at the pool.

Making a choice collectively viewed as a necessary evil did not make facing the situation’s reality any easier for Thurston.

“I just don’t know what to say,” he said. “We did what we had to do. We’ll never know if we would have had a problem. That’s the chance we have to take.”

In Florence, councilman Matt Williams said the pool could offer valuable activities if it opens.

“It’s always important to give a safe place for people to socialize a bit, especially coming out of COVID-19,” he said. “If the state feels it’s safe enough to do so, I feel it’s Florence’s obligation to provide that if we can.”

Such availability would be good for residents, lifeguard Michaela Regnier said.

“People will really want to be getting out of the house, and the pool will be a good way to get out of the house,” she said.

Entering her fourth year as a lifeguard, Regnier has worked at Marion and Florence pools but prefers the more familiar feel at Florence.

“I just like an outdoor pool better, and I know more people in Florence,” she said. “At Marion there are people who come from out of town, so you don’t really know who they are.”

Issues have arisen trying to reintroduce other recreation programs like summer baseball. Some families already have summer plans.

“It threw a wrench into our vacations in July,” Marion mother Amanda Dameron said. “We planned for baseball to start in June.”

Ten-year-old ballplayer Kael Dameron knows this year will be different but being able to play is important to him.

Little League practices are scheduled to start June 8 in Marion, with games beginning June 29. But those dates aren’t set in stone, according to Margot Yates, the city’s parks and rec director.

Marion plans to limit interpersonal exposure by closing practices to all but team members and coaches and possibly removing bleachers at games.

When practices start June in Hillsboro the plan is to make coaches carry hand sanitizer, and no catchers will be used for Blastball, T-Ball, or pitching machines, according to Doug Sisk, Hillsboro rec director.

In addition to keeping open their options open for Little League baseball and softball, officials have been trying to preserve Cottonwood Valley League baseball and softball.

CVL practices also are scheduled to start June 8, and games June 30, but players will be encouraged to supply their own batting helmets. Each team will receive two catchers’ helmets so none have to be shared.

Last modified May 28, 2020

 

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