Spokane Valley’s spiffed-up swimming pools attracted more users and generated more revenue this summer than last, despite a shorter season.
Snow makeup days kept schools in session longer this summer and shaved about two weeks off the pool season. Even so, pool attendance increased by more than 9,000 visits, with revenue up more than $10,000.
“The new features we put in this year seem to have generated more excitement and more attendance,” Parks Director Mike Stone said. “All of the pools operated smoothly, and the new features all performed very well.”
Except for thunderstorms that closed pools at least temporarily on a handful of days, Stone said, “We had, in essence, no problems this year.”
Much of the increased use was at the Park Road Pool, where a 27-foot-tall waterslide was installed. Pool visits doubled from last summer.
Use also increased substantially at Valley Mission Pool.
As part of the $2.75 million project that gave the Park Road Pool its slide, Valley Mission Pool got a “zero-depth” wading pool that slopes down like a beach. The rest of Valley Mission Park received a face-lift, including a new picnic shelter.
Stone said the smallest increase in use was at the Terrace View Pool, where a new “lazy river” attraction was installed. However, Terrace View is by far the city’s most popular pool.
Inmates’ gardening helps needy
Hidden behind the buildings of the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office in Sandpoint is a sight one wouldn’t expect on jail grounds: a beautiful garden.
Tended from spring until the fall freeze by inmates at the Bonner County Jail, the garden supplies area food banks and senior centers. But it does more than feed the county’s less fortunate; it feeds the spirits of those responsible for its success.
Sgt. Bob Van Buren, who oversees the Inmate Labor Program, said working in the garden has a positive effect on the men’s attitudes.
“Once they’re out here a bit they take ownership,” Van Buren said. “They take a lot of pride in it.”
The garden, started in the 1990s, used to supplement the jail kitchen.
The program waned, but was started up again, and has continued to grow over the past few years. The garden includes beets, zucchini, squash, pumpkins, potatoes, turnips, tomatoes and corn, which are distributed to food banks throughout the county.
Some of the men have never gardened and learn from one another.
“They learn a lot of responsibility,” said Van Buren, whose role is purely supervisory. “They make all the decisions and are very polite.”
As of late August, they had harvested more than 4,600 pounds of produce and expect to exceed last year’s 7,566 pounds.
“It’s great for the community, and it is good for us,” said inmate Robert Kraly, who has worked in the garden for two months. “It gives us a feeling of accomplishment watching it grow.”