Residents of Kettle Falls will see a levy on November’s ballot to support funding for the community pool’s annual operating costs. The Upper Columbia Pool District, city council, Friends of the Pool, and Mayor John Ridlington have facilitated plans to get the Kettle Falls’ pool open and operating.
Plans to reopen the pool were elevated when someone donated $1 million to the city for renovations. The generous donor wishes to remain anonymous.
“I had a nice discussion with him,” Kettle Falls Mayor John Ridlington said. “His only real comment was he’s been very fortunate in his life, and he wants to give back. And he wants to remain anonymous, which I respect. It’s great. He isn’t looking for any glory himself.”
The donation received will cover the cost of redoing the pool. These updates include a modern filtration system, water features, 25-meter lap lanes, and a zero-entry with a shallow pool.
In February 2021, when plans began to revisit the pool, Ridlington received inspiration after visiting the pools in Twisp and Tonasket. Ridlington says that between Twisp and Tonasket, the pool would cost about $70,000-75,000 a year to run and maintain, which is where the levy comes in.
“Tonasket just built a new pool, and we liked the design a lot,” Ridlington said. “They were most helpful. We actually have the plans, and both towns gave us the cost of running what they’re doing, the lifeguard salary, the whole works What people don’t realize is you don’t build a lifeguard overnight. I don’t think Lifeguards get enough credit for what the training is and what they do. They just don’t hang around the pool and look cool. There’s a whole lot of responsibility there.”
One of Ridlington’s main goals for the pool would be to offer swimming lessons. While Lake Roosevelt is obviously an option for swimmers, it’s not exactly in walking distance for those who live in town, and it’s cold in the spring. Ridlington notes other positive points of reopening the pool would be lifeguard job opportunities for young adult jobs and rentals for events.
“The main objective to me is swimming lessons for kids and giving the young adults something to do. It’s part of the kind of community we want to live in,” Ridlington said.
For those who cannot vote and live outside the city, the pool is accepting donations to run and maintain. Friends of the Pool is working towards 501(C)(3) non-profit status, which would allow funding for future projects such as a new bathhouse, lifeguards, and pool managers.
The Kettle Falls Pool opened in the 1960s with help from the Lion’s Club. Ridlington was fire chief in 2012 when the city was struggling to fund the pool, so he helped organize fundraisers to keep the pool open, but it eventually had to close. In 2018, efforts were made to reopen the pool, but several costly issues and a lack of support halted the progress. Ridlington is hopeful the community will see the pool’s benefits and vote yes on the levy in November.
“We’re looking for that supermajority which is 60 percent +1. I’m very optimistic we’re going to get there,” Ridlington said.