Friend approves pool bond and sales tax, hope to have a new pool by 2021
FRIEND - The city of Friend voted overwhelmingly in favor of a $3 million bond to fund a new public swimming pool. They also voted strongly in favor of a half-percent sales tax increase to pay off that bond.
Friend residents had to cast their votes by Friday, Nov. 8. The votes were tallied four days later, and 73% (307-116) voted in favor of the pool bond. Meanwhile, nearly 72% (305-120) voted in favor of the sales tax increase.
Friend's current pool first opened in 1936. While it's served the community well through the years, Friend Pool Committee member Kristen Milton said it's time to start anew.
"It's just not very energy efficient and anymore and is deteriorating quickly," she said.
In March 2018, a "pool committee" was formed in Friend. It's a group of five people that gathered information and looked closely at the idea of a new pool. That idea will now become a reality.
The old pool will be used in the summer of 2020, and may close a couple weeks early to allow demolition to begin. With Hebron making plans for a new pool, and with Fairbury just opening a new one of their own this past Memorial Day, Milton says there's always a need to keep up with surrounding communities.
"We need to be able to draw more families here and enhance our community," Milton said. "Make them want to shop here, go to school here and live here."
The Friend City Council voted 4-0 Wednesday to back Mayor Judith Knoke’s decision to dismiss the city utility superintendent, Patrick Gates, and city clerk, Debbie Gilmer.
A state auditor’s report says Friend had been paying hundreds of thousands of dollars more for items that routinely were sold for far less to other Nebraska communities.
The city attorney says more than $1 million was wasted. It remains unclear if this action will affect the timeline of the new pool's completion.
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