dive in ribbon cutting

Board of Commissioners Chair Martha Hicks cuts the ceremonial ribbon opening the new county pool on May 25, as County Manager Phillip Barrier, Avery Parks and Recreation Director Robbie Willis, Willis’ son River Willis and Avery Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Melynda Pepple express approval. The facility opened 39 years to the day after the county’s original pool opened in 1980.

NEWLAND — The county’s new pool facility, “The Dive-In,” across the street from the Rock Gym and Newland Elementary School, officially opened to the public on May 25 after a ribbon cutting ceremony featuring a crowd of conspicuously lei’d poolgoers.

The program featured comments from county commissioners who approved the project, county officials and U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, noting the pride in the project and the benefits they hope it will bring the county’s children.

During Commissioner Woodie Young’s comments, he noted his father was on the board when the old pool facility was opened on May 25, 1980.

“This is a very special day in my family, because today, on May the 25th, 39 years later, we’re opening the new pool,” Young said. “It means a lot, but I would like to thank the taxpayers of Avery County for making this possible.”

After the comments, the crowd made its way over to the ribbon, tied between the pair of childrens’ water features at the sloping mouth of the pool. Lifeguards and officials waded into the shallow layer of water to cut the ribbon, conspicuously blue and aquatic themed compared to the typical bright red ribbon seen at similar ceremonies.

Refreshments were laid out in the auxiliary room attached to the pool house for attendees, and families began to filter in as the pool became officially open.

The more than $3 million project features a pool house with male and female locker rooms, a family restrooms and rapid swimsuit dryers. The exterior area and the pool itself features a “zero” entry into the heated pool, slides, water features for children and a diving board. The pool’s maximum depth is 10 feet.

The parking lot and drainage areas around the pool are the product of a more-than-$180,000 matching grant and are intended to alleviate storm drainage issues in that area of Newland, as well as limit the impact of runoff on trout in local streams. More than 200 people came out to enjoy the pool during its official first day open to the publicday.

The facility was designed by architecture firm Boomerang Design and built by contractor Garanco.

County Manager Philip Barrier highlighted the number of public projects the county has managed to complete and has in the works in recent years, including the Cooperative Extension’s new office at Heritage Park, the pool facility, the upcoming Avery County High School construction and renovation project and the planned community center at Heritage Park.

The pool will be open on its regular schedule beginning June 5, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 2 to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Children six and under swim for $3, while all others swim for $4. There are also different passes for those interested in making the pool a regular destination.

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