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Aquatic Center celebrates five years

Posted on Wednesday, June 20, 2012 at 8:56 am

A young swimmer enjoys time in the water.

Five years ago, the Vandalia community’s vision became a reality with the opening of the Vandalia Family Aquatic Center at Tri-County Park.
To commemorate the five year benchmark, an anniversary celebration is being held on Tuesday, June 26. During the day that lasts from 12:30-6:45 p.m., there will be special events along with drawings, prizes, and “lots of fun in the sun.”
In case of rain, the celebration will be held the next day the center is open.
“It’s definitely a great thing for the community to celebrate,” said City Administrator Alan Winders.
“…I believe that the facility is fulfilling the vision of what is there. It’s usable by all members of the community regardless of age or ability, it draws people from other communities, and it gives people a recreational asset right here.”
Since 2007, residents in the Vandalia area have enjoyed the features and services of the Vandalia Area Aquatics Center.
The $1.5 million project was paid for with some of the $350,000 Jordan-Waters Fund and extension of the half cent sales tax.
In spite of being utilized more than any likely projections when it opened, the facility remains in great shape.
“Everything is still looking good,” said Assistant City Administrator Debbie Hopke while referencing inspections done annually at the beginning and ending of each season.
Both Hopke and Winders attribute the high standards of maintenance to those working at the center along with the effort of city employees.
“Giving the cost of that asset and its visibility not only to our community but to other communities, we want it to look right,” Winders said.

Each year the number of employees have increased. It started at just six and this season staffs 18-20, with many returning to the center each year.
Hopke added that when a lifeguard staff leaders sign on, they tend to stay and are a “tremendous asset.”
“A lot is expected of them as a high standard has been established based on the center we have,” Winders said.
Current plans at the facility include adding another shade structure in time for next season.
Two programs each year continue to grow in numbers at the center.
The Aquacise group’s numbers have continued to increase each summer with meetings two times a week complete with a mix of younger and older adults.
Several women like Helen Thompson have helped the longevity and success of the program. For more information on Aquacise, call Hopke at 594-6186.
“Those folks run the program,” Winders said. “There organizers have done an outstanding job of making sure that the facility is utilized by a group of folks that really can use it.”
For the past couple of years, there have been two sessions of swimming lessons held at the center. Currently, there are close to just 10 spots available in the upcoming second session scheduled for July 9-12.
Four lessons will be given from 9:45-11 a.m., Monday-Thursday at a cost of $25. There is a minimum age of 3 and a limit of 30 students.
Payment must be made in advance by Thursday, June 28 to the Aquatic Center as registration forms are available there or at City Hall. For more information, call 594-2540.
Regarding concessions, the center continues to offer a family oriented selection and tries to attempts to meet demands for items.