By Reggie Ellis @Reggie_SGN
FARMERSVILLE – Plans to build Farmersville’s first public pool remain on track to open the facility by the start of the 2019-20 school year.
Farmersville Unified Superintendent Randy DeGraw said the Department of the State Architect (DSA) – which provides design and construction oversight for public schools and various other state-owned and leased facilities – approved plans for the Farmersville Aquatic Center late last month. The Farmersville Unified School District (FUSD) board held a special meeting last night to discuss one final design issue before going to bid for construction. While the meeting happened after press time, DeGraw said he expects the district to go out to bid for construction later this month or early next month.
“We hope to break ground this fall,” DeGraw said.
Construction of the pool on the Farmersville High School campus is tentatively slated for completion by August 2019, according to a timeline presented by Integrated Designs by SOMAM, Inc. last June. The board selected the Fresno architectural firm in April 2017.
The high school pool has been on the minds of Farmersville residents since 2002 when the Meek family donated $1 million following a settlement in the tragic crash that killed the former police and fire chief, 56-year-old Garry Meek, and his 13-year-old granddaughter, Amy Lynn Meek.
The Meek case was chosen as one of the first of the 150 lawsuits filed against Ford Motor Co. and Firestone regarding the recall of defective tires. The Meek family was very hesitant when it came to settlement offers, but settled for an undisclosed amount just as they were preparing their opening statements, according to the archives of The Exeter Sun.
On Nov. 12, 2013, the school board established a Special Reserve Fund and transferred the money out of the General Fund and into the new special fund. The money is actually being held with the Tulare County Treasurer’s Office where it has been growing due to interest and other donations. The account for the Jim Wiley Pool has grown to more than $1.4 million.
The remaining $5.1 million of the pool project will be paid for by a $6 million certificate of participation (COP), or loan, to be paid back with $1.5 million in Career and Technical Education funds that would be reimbursed by the State for Farmersville’s Vocational Education Building at the high school. The building, which includes four labs for building trades and ag technology as well as a classroom and a fabrication shop, was built with funds from Measure A, a $4.8 million bond approved by Farmersville voters in November 2014.