Hurricane City Council considers extending pool season

Hurricane City Council, Hurricane, Utah, Jan. 7, 2016 | Photo by Reuben Wadsworth, St. George News

HURRICANE – For the past few months, the Hurricane Swim Committee, comprising parents of high school swimmers, Hurricane City Pool manager Katie Demille, and others, has been touting the idea of purchasing a pool tarp to help warm the city pool to keep it open longer so that the Hurricane High School swimmers can utilize it more and not have to drive to the Washington Community Center early in the morning for their practice times.

Jesse Kochel, Hurricane Swim Committee chair, said a few swimmers have quit the team because of the early and late practices.

Hurricane Swim Committee Chair Jesse Kochel discusses the acquisition of a tarp to warm the pool for extended use by Hurricane High School swimmers, Hurricane City Offices, Hurricane, Utah, Jan. 5, 2017 | Photo by Reuben Wadsworth
Hurricane Swim Committee chair Jesse Kochel discusses the acquisition of a tarp to warm the pool for extended use by Hurricane High School swimmers, Hurricane City Offices, Hurricane, Utah, Jan. 5, 2017 | Photo by Reuben Wadsworth

Kochel and his wife, Audra, came to the meeting recommending the purchase of a pool tarp for just under $25,000. The tarp would include reels and casters, enabling it to be easily moved. It would also come with a seven-year warranty. Kochel recommended the city pay for a third of the tarp, RAP tax funds pay for another third and the remainder be covered by private donations.

Kochel explained that in addition to more use by the high school swimmers, the new tarp would also extend the pool’s season.

City Manager Clark Fawcett expressed some skepticism of Kochel’s proposal.

“I’m not sure how the kids will handle it in the winter temperatures,” he said.

Kochel responded by explaining that Cedar High School swimmers used to practice in an outdoor pool in colder temperatures and did just fine. It wasn’t the swimmers who were cold, he said, but rather the coach. Councilman Kevin Thomas said that having space heaters and robes available for swimmers not in the pool would help as well.

Kochel said Hurricane High School Principal Jody Rich and Athletic Director Chris Homer are both in favor of the plan to utilize the tarp to benefit the local swimmers, adding that they’d also like to see Hurricane High School with its own swim coach. Currently, there is one coach for Hurricane and two other high school teams who have to practice at the Washington City Community Center. With its own pool, Kochel said, the Hurricane High swim team could have its own coach.

It’s a great facility but underutilized,” Kochel said of the Hurricane City Pool. “The swimmers kind of feel they’re pushed off to the side.”

DeMille said the tarp could extend the pool’s season to mid-October and could cut pool heating costs by 44 percent. Additionally, the pool could open in early May instead of late May as it does currently. DeMille said she thinks city residents would utilize the pool if its season was extended.

Mayor John Bramall said it makes sense to get the tarp as soon as possible for savings on heating and keeping the pool cleaner.

Fawcett said his major concerns are that he feels committing to the tarp would be akin to writing a blank check and that it’s too soon to make a decision to help fund the tarp because the city’s RAP tax grant process has not even begun yet. Making an immediate decision would give the indication that the pool is the most important use of RAP tax funds, he said.

Councilwoman Pam Humphries suggested that the council wait until the next budget year to decide on the tarp funding, but Fawcett and Larson said if it’s going to be done, it should be done soon.

Thomas voiced his discouragement that residents can only use the pool approximately three months out of the year and said that city residents would benefit from the season extension, motioning to support the financing of the tarp. However, his motion was not seconded.

Ultimately, the council motioned its support of the tarp but did not approve funding yet. Part of the motion was that Fawcett would look at the budget and see where the money could come from and that Bryce King, Hurricane recreation director, would research other outdoor pools that have extended their seasons in a similar way, with the Dixie State University pool being the major focus. The council decided to delay a motion and further discussion on the tarp issue until Fawcett and King report their findings in two weeks.

Hurricane Mountain Bike Festival support

Over the Edge Sports owner and Hurricane Mountain Bike Festival organizer, D.J. Morisette, presented the status of the festival and sought the city’s support in marketing the event.

This year has been excellent already for the festival, she said, as there are 100 participant preregistrations compared to just two at this point last year, something which the festival has achieved while cutting their marketing budget in half.

Morisette asked the city for $1,500 in marketing; last year she asked for $3,000.

Police Chief Lynn Excell asked Morisette if the festival would include a beer garden again this year. When she responded in the affirmative, he said she would need to hire licensed security officers and have two policeman on hand.

Morisette asked if this was a new requirement. Excell said it wasn’t but that in the past they’ve slipped under the radar but that they can’t this year.

We’ve got to treat everyone the same,” Excell said, explaining that the Retro Rock Festival, the only other event in Hurricane like the mountain bike festival that serves alcohol had to meet the same requirement.

Excell said he would do what he could to help Morisette meet the requirement, including providing a list of reputable security companies. Morisette assured Excell and the council that they’ve never had problems with the beer garden in the past and don’t expect any this year.

The council unanimously supported pledging $1,500 from the city’s contingency fund for marketing and waiving the beer licensing fee, saying it is a well-run event that provides the city good exposure. Council members Larson and Thomas said they are glad the amount pledged is less this year and hope the festival will be self-sufficient in the near future and not have to ask the city for money anymore.

Morisette said she felt the future of the festival looks bright, and it most likely would be more self-sufficient soon.

In addition to her presentation about the festival, Morisette said that AmeriCorps volunteers recently constructed 5 more miles of new mountain biking trails in the Quail Creek Reservoir area to put the current total at 19 miles. The goal is to complete a loop around the reservoir. Morisette said they will have meetings with the BLM and Red Cliffs Desert Reserve soon to discuss that future trail since part of it will run through land under the jurisdiction of both entities.

Pioneer Legacy Pageant support

Merrill Osmond and his son Justin were in attendance to gain support for the Pioneer Legacy Pioneer Pageant they’re putting together for July 24, 2017, at Legend Solar Stadium on the campus of Dixie State University. The pageant is a musical and fireworks production that will be free to the public.

Justin Osmond said one of the missions of the production is to help children – the pageant’s main participants – understand why the state celebrates Pioneer Day.

Merrill (left) and Justin (right) Osmond, take the podium to gain the Hurricane City Council's support of their upcoming Pioneer Day Pageant, Hurricane City Offices, Hurricane, Utah, Jan. 5, 2017 | Photo by Reuben Wadsworth
L-R at podium: Merrill and Justin Osmond request the Hurricane City Council’s support of their upcoming Pioneer Day Pageant, Hurricane City Offices, Hurricane, Utah, Jan. 5, 2017 | Photo by Reuben Wadsworth

“We’re excited to bring it down here to Washington County,” Justin Osmond said, noting that they plan on adding stories about the Dixie pioneers into the program and hope it becomes a staple for years to come.

The Osmonds, who are the organizer’s of Provo’s “Stadium of Fire” event, say that the pageant will have the same feel and will be nondenominational.

The council didn’t make a formal motion of support but did pledge future support, saying that it approved $3,500 to go towards the production last year, but the program didn’t happen. Both Fawcett and Bramall said they think the money is still available.

More information about the pageant can be found through its website.

Other items

Bramall noted that the city is mourning the death of Steven Cox from the city’s Water Department, who was killed in an accident on Jan. 3 and would have received his 20 year service award at the meeting.

Councilwoman Cheryl Reeve, in correspondence before the meeting, said that Copper Rock area adjacent to Sky Ranch has requested to be annexed into Hurricane City.

“We accepted their petition, but that does not mean we will annex them,” she said. “I believe it will require a public hearing and much discussion of the advantages and disadvantages for the good of the city.”

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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  • partyhatbull January 6, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    It would be great if Hurricane wasn’t the cheapest city in Utah and had a REAL rec center with an indoor pool.

    • .... January 6, 2017 at 2:26 pm

      LOL ! the cheapest city in Utah is pretty much the way it is.

      • Real Life January 7, 2017 at 6:15 am

        How many names do you have now? Job. Loom into it.

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