Briarcliff Pool

Briarcliff Pool at Rainier Jr./Sr. High School.

The Rainier Jr./Sr. High School (RJSHS) swim team is now able to practice in the Briarcliff Pool, located at RJSHS, thanks to funding efforts from Friends of Rainier Pool (FORP).

The temporary re-opening was thanks in part to a few fundraisers, as well as a few upcoming fundraisers, according to Kari Hollander, FORP President.

Those fundraisers were a dinner auction, held Oct. 26 at the RJSHS Commons, which brought in approximately $4,300, according to Hollander, as well as a Chili Cookoff fundraiser that the group held on Nov. 10 at Ol’ Pastime Tavern in Rainier, which brought in $1,002.

Hollander had previously said re-opening the pool for the swim team to use from November to February would cost approximately $45,000. Additional fundraisers are on the way to close the funding gap, including a “Swim with Santa” event and a Christmas Bazaar, which will take place 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Dec. 15 at the pool.

Attendees can pay $15 for an all-inclusive package which will include an open swim, a special holiday cookie, a hot chocolate or apple cider, popcorn and a photo of Santa to take home with them.

People can also pay $5 for open swim only and purchase other items a la carte.

The bazaar, which will take place at the same time and in the same vicinity of the pool, will include crafters, vendors of all kinds and a baked goods table run by the Rainier Swim team, according to Hollander.

Potential vendors interested in being included will need to pay a fee of $25 for a space, and donate an item for the raffle, Hollander said.

Hollander said she is hoping the event will raise funds in the range of $2,000 to $3,000.

The temporary opening of the pool is one way the FORP advocacy group has been successful in raising funds to open the pool on what it is aiming to be a more permanent basis, according to Hollander.

The pool, which has been furloughed all school year, has been under the operation of the Rainier School District (RSD) for years. Ongoing budget shortfalls have led the district to make cuts, including operating the pool, as RSD Superintendent, Michael Carter has previously said.

Operation costs for the pool run around $180,000, as Hollander has previously said. Those funds pay for the pool manager, several lifeguards, electricity and gas to heat and run the pool, as well as basic maintenance, according to Hollander.

Hollander said at the Oct. 23 RSD board meeting, FORP presented and asked the RSD board of directors to open the pool for the RJSHS swim team, promising to reimburse the district for electrical costs and chlorine.

“Everyone, the staff is donating their time, and that’s the biggest expense for running the pool,” Hollander said. “The board agreed to move forward with that at the October meeting and the school district started heating it up in November in time for the Nov. 18 swim season to begin.”

In addition to the fundraisers, FORP is selling limited-edition cadette charms, at $40 apiece. All of these fundraisers will enable the group to pay RSD back for operation costs of the pool.

Currently, the school district and FORP are working together to finalize the agreement with RSD to allow FORP to take over operation of the pool. Hollander said she hopes to have the agreement in place by the beginning of 2020.

“The agreement will give us the ability to talk to larger companies and donors as well as do some larger fundraising, and open up a membership drive,” Hollander said. “Until that agreement is finalized we don’t feel comfortable asking people to give large donations.”

Hollander said she plans on taking the pool’s future step by step.

“If we could open it tomorrow we would, but that isn’t the reality,” Hollander said. “The next big goal would be to have it open for the summer, for summer swim lessons, and that’s all dependent on finalizing the agreement with the school district.”

Vendors interested in signing up for the holiday bazaar can email friendsofrainierpool@gmail.com or call 503-369-5539.

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