Rusk pool lengthens season

by Cristin Parker

Despite getting a late start this year, the city of Rusk’s public swimming pool’s 2019 summer season is going, well, swimmingly.

So much so, city and pool officials have decided to lengthen the pool’s schedule this summer.

“We’ve had a pretty good year,” pool manager Lori Nielson said. “Attendance has been slow but steady – I think people may have been under the impression we didn’t open after having to move our opening date back so many times.”

The pool was slated to open on Memorial Day weekend, but due to mechanical issues, didn’t open to the public until June 8.

“We got it repaired as quickly as we could, but it was just one thing after another there for a while,” City Manager Jim Dunaway said.

Since things are holding up, this summer’s schedule is being extended through Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 2 and will stay open on the weekends, as attendance allows.

“We’re excited to extend this season,” Nielson said. “After school starts, we’ll be open on the weekends through the end of September, as long as we have enough community interest.

“I think this’ll be the first time in at least 10 years, that I know of, that we’ve decided to extend the season. So please, come out and enjoy a swim!”

The current Rusk public swimming pool, located on Euclid Street, was established and built by the Rusk Lions Club in 1955. Club members at the time held a fund drive and raised $25,000 to build the Rusk Lions Recreation Park.

In March of 1955 members of the Lions Club broke ground on the facility, after approving a plan for the swimming pool from Wisenbaker, Fix and Associates in Tyler.

“As president of the Rusk Lions Club, I want to thank each member of the Finance Committee, other members of the Lions Club and individuals and business firms, who have in any way contributed to the success of this finance drive,” Burnell Stovall is quoted in the March 17, 1955, issue of The Cherokeean. “Present plans call for a swimming pool which will be the pride of this area and will be ready to use this summer.”

Club members in May 2006 turned the pool over to the city of Rusk, which has been operating and maintaining the facility since.

“We’re glad we’re able to provide this facility to our community,” Public Works Director Neill Holcomb said.

Dunaway said thanks to the Rusk Economic Development Corporation’s generous gift of $45,000, the city will be able to do extensive work on the pool’s filtration system over the winter months, to make sure the facility will be up and running on schedule.

“We’re happy to be able to help maintain the pool, so our community has somewhere to go to cool off in the summer,” REDCO Executive Director Bob Goldsberry said.

The pool will continue to have a full staff, including lifeguards certified in CPR and concession clerks.

“This has been a great first job,” Meg Kovacs, a lifeguard. “With the classes we had to take, I feel very qualified – we got certified in CPR from the Red Cross. It’s a big responsibility and thankfully we’ve not had any problems. Everyone’s been having a great time!”

Publishers note: The staff was previously advised that a pool existed in Rusk prior to the current pool which was constructed following fundraising efforts by the Lions Club. Despite speaking with city officials and combing through back issues of the Rusk Cherokean, the only pool mentioned was in Dialville. If any of our readers has information or details on the location of a pool in Rusk prior to 1955, we would love to speak to you.