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‘Cannonball!’ Rufty-Holmes Senior Center dedicates renovated pool annex

SALISBURY — Feel the tropical warmth of 88 degrees. Imagine moving gently in a heated pool of 86 degrees. The pain in your hip has gone. Your arthritis has taken a holiday.

Those kinds of thoughts came easily to mind Wednesday morning as a slew of people — board members, city and county officials and Chamber of Commerce representatives — gathered for the dedication of a renovated pool annex at Rufty-Holmes Senior Center.

A cannonball dive, of sorts, christened the refurbished pool.

No, it wasn’t board Chairwoman Cindy Hart or Rowan County Commissioner Craig Pierce tucking their legs into their chests and jumping in with a big splash.

The “cannonballs” were colored plastic balls the participants tossed into the water after the cutting of a red ribbon at one end of the pool.

“We are just so thankful for all the support we’ve received to get this pool back open,” Hart said. “A lot of people really rely on this pool. Now it looks better than ever.”

The $93,000 project, which ended up taking about 11 months, had its challenges. Hart said the senior center’s patrons have shown a lot of patience.

Executive Director Nan Buehrer said the project required three contractors, and a major component — the dehumidifier — took 21 weeks to be delivered.

Last March, the pool annex was closed when the dehumidifier and water heater failed. The board decided then to do a complete audit of the facility and determine what it needed.

By July, the renovation was ready to move forward.

The refurbished annex now has a new dehumidifier, water heater, doors and door frames. The senior center drained the pool and junked the saltwater system in favor of a bromine version.

Installed in 2010, the saltwater system corroded much of the annex’s metal components.

Behind a curtain within the annex, a spa and hot tub area also had been leaking 4 inches of water a day. That was filled in, and it now provides storage for pool equipment, so the pool area itself is not so crowded.

New banners, plants and chairs give the pool area more personality, Buehrer said. The locker room has new doors.

The pool is 4 feet deep and provides good therapy and exercise for seniors with arthritis and those looking to flex joints such as knees and hips. Buehrer said the center hopes to offer a 7:15 a.m. water aerobics class in the heated pool, and instructors will be leading other classes.

The senior center aims to obtain the necessary Health Department inspection and permitting this week and have the pool annex open as early as next week.

“This will make my day when we can see” people using the pool again, Buehrer said.

The pool annex was originally added to the senior center in 1998.

Half of the funding for the pool annex came from the Rowan County Board of Commissioners. The county had committed to funding half of the project up to $50,000.

The J.F. Hurley Foundation, whose gift made the original annex possible, was the biggest private donor for the renovation.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.

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