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Benson citizens group continues to advocate for school pool

Benson School Board members voted nearly one year ago to close the indoor pool at the end of the 2015-2016 school year rather than invest in new lighting for it. A group of citizens in Benson is still hoping to persuade the Benson School Board that the school’s indoor swimming pool is too valuable an asset to lose. (Tribune file photo)

BENSON — A group of citizens in Benson is hoping to persuade the Benson School Board that the school's indoor swimming pool is too valuable an asset to lose.

Board members voted nearly one year ago to close the indoor pool at the end of the 2015-2016 school year rather than invest in new lighting for it.

A school board-appointed task force recently examined what to do with the pool as part of its overall look at the school's facilities needs. The task force made no recommendation one way or the other on what to do, according to Superintendent Dennis Laumeyer.

School board members have discussed a number of options, including converting the pool space to classroom or other space.

It would be costly to convert the pool space for classroom usage, according to Jill Stevens, a member of the facilities task force and member of the citizens group working to save the school. She was among members of the group who attended the Benson School Board's meeting in March to urge board members to look at keeping the pool.

Eric Ose was also among those who addressed board members. He said the group stands ready to provide leadership to help with fundraising and winning community support for saving the pool.

He said Benson School Board members have expressed concerns that people have brought community needs to them, but no one is willing to take the next step and go it alone. Ose said the pool group is willing to do so if given the opportunity.

Stevens said the swimming pool is a valuable asset that should be utilized by the school for physical education, water safety, competitive swimming and other programming for students. It's also an important asset for the community as well, she said.

She said the citizens would like the opportunity to work with the school to promote pool usage.

Ose is among those in the community who now commute to Morris to take advantage of an indoor pool. He said many communities that offer indoor pools do so in some sort of partnership. He would like to see these and other possibilities discussed in Benson to maintain the pool.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

(320) 214-4335
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