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"This pool will serve the Hastings community now and for generations to come.  Children will have the opportunity to learn to swim, which I believe, is one of the most important life skills you can teach a child." Jody Hoch

YMCA staff, board, fundraisers, members, and Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce representatives gathered at the Hastings Family YMCA pool to celebrate the nonprofit’s 135 years in town and recent completion of its $450,000 renovation project Friday afternoon at the 16th Street location.

Improvements touted at the dedication by Troy Stickels, YMCA director, included things he said most people probably wouldn’t notice but we’re vitally needed nonetheless. The upgrades to the YMCA’s pool and locker rooms included installation of a digital message/scoreboard that hangs poolside, repairs to stop extensive water leakage, and the addition of state-of-the-art water monitoring and air and water filtration systems. 

“It is a big day!” Stickels told those gathered at poolside. “We started this pool project over two years ago. Most of it is in that back room and upstairs, the stuff behind the scenes that keeps the pool clean, the chlorine where it’s supposed to be and the air moving and clean.

“This pool is one of the most important things we have in this community. I know that I learned to swim here as a little kid. We’re one of the oldest Ys in the state of Nebraska, and we are blessed to have a lot of stuff for the community to do. We always say we’re the only charity that serves infants to 92-year-olds and we’re happy to do that.”

Afterward, Stickels reflected on the event, the project and the impact he expects it will continue to have on the community for decades to come.

“We just wanted to give everyone an opportunity to come out and just see the pool and more to understand how important it is for the community to have this pool,” he said. “There are YMCAs in Nebraska that have closed their pools because they’re just too expensive to fix, and we’re glad that we didn’t have to do that.”

Dr. Larry Baker, a local swim coach who co-chaired the fundraising project with YMCA board member Judy Hoch, said the fundraising efforts and subsequent equipment purchases took more than two years to complete.

Most funds were raised in a little more than one year, with much of the completion effort spent on identifying and coordinating the necessary repairs and upgrades.

“We’re in good shape,” Baker said. “The chemical and air quality systems were probably the main things that cost the most money, but we were losing 3-4 inches of water a day in the pool as far as leakage. Being able to go in and resurface that was something that needed to be done. Everybody seems to be happy with what we did, and we’re proud of it.”

Hoch reiterated the importance of having a community pool for all to enjoy. As one who has adult relatives who are unable to swim, she believes it is imperative for young people to have a place where they can learn to swim and thus alleviate any fear of drowning.

“It’s a very good day for the YMCA,” she said. “This gives Hastings one of the finest pools in at least central Nebraska. The pool was old and needed a huge facelift, as did the locker rooms. We hope people will continue to come back and see the new and how we’ve made the entire Y experience much more pleasant.”

Source: John Huthmacher, Hastings Tribune - August 13th 2016