By Joe Wiercinski
Herald Staff Writer
Buhl Community Recreation Center will be reopening its swimming pool with a colorful splash on Labor Day weekend.
That’s because the pool and the natatorium enclosing it have been cleaned, scraped and repainted.
State prison inmates did much of the work that Buhl Rec staff couldn’t do on their own and they scraped and painted at no cost to the non-profit community center, said Tony Rogers, executive director.
“We have a maintenance director and one part-time guy who just wouldn’t be able to handle a huge undertaking like painting the pool,” he said. “We reached out to the state Department of Corrections because they have painting crews they make available to non-profit organizations.”
The department’s Community Work Program assembles teams of inmates for public service jobs such as painting as well as picking up litter and cleaning up after storms.
Buhl Rec staffers spent several days draining the 135,000-gallon pool. They power-washed it before the crew of painters from the State Correctional Institution in Findley Township began scraping the walls of the natatorium and pool that were last painted six years ago.
“We’re talking about $17,000 worth of work,” Rogers said. “It was very useful because we try to keep our membership fees at a reasonable cost to the community we serve.”
The painting crew was made up most days of eight or nine young men who were monitored by two guards as they worked.
“We felt that it was safe and a resource that was a great asset not only for our members,” Rogers said. “I witnessed these guys working and they were happy to do the work they were doing. They had all earned the opportunity to spend the day outside of being incarcerated and giving back to the community.”
Rogers said the painting crew expected to finish its work today.