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FUSD signs agreement 17 years after $1 million donation for pool

FUSD signs agreement 17 years after $1 million donation for pool

@TheSunGazette

FARMERSVILLE – There was never a question of whether or not the funds donated by the Meek family nearly 17 years ago would go to help build a pool at Farmersville High School. But there was still a question of what the funds would pay for in the process of building a pool.

That question was finally answered last month when the Farmersville Unified School District board approved a donation letter from the Meek family. The May 28 vote clarified the funds could be used to pay for direct construction costs, ongoing maintenance costs after the pool is built, or to pay back the loan used to fund construction.

The trustees had to take up the item after district staff reviewed minutes from the Aug. 13, 2002 school board meeting when the Meek family donated $1 million toward the building of a pool. The minutes only state that the donation “is specifically for the construction of a pool.” When the district’s Chief Business Officer Jason Kaff was unable to find any donation agreement providing more specific instructions, he reached out the Meek family. The Meeks reached out to their attorney for the original documentation only to find that all of their documents on the donation had been destroyed, as most document retention policies only require to keep records for five to seven years.

The current agreement was signed by Roseanne Meek on May 6 and Superintendent Randy DeGraw following the board’s decision on May 29. It also reiterated the pool will be named after Jim A. Wiley, a Farmersville native who pastored the Calvary Worship Center in Farmersville and Visalia for 42 years. Wiley was a tireless servant for Farmersville volunteering in several community-based organizations and co-founding the Farmersville Ministerial Association, created to reach the less fortunate and encourage the fellowship of local pastors, police departments, schools and the city. Wiley passed away on Feb. 6, just a few months after the groundbreaking ceremony for the aquatic center that will bear his name.

The Meek family’s donation was part of a settlement with Firestone tires and Ford Motor Company after Garry Meek, 56, and daughter Amy Lynn Meek, 13, were killed in an automobile accident. In 2000 the family was on vacation in Wyoming when a tire blew on the former police and fire chief’s Ford Explorer causing it to roll over. Wiley traveled out to where the family was in Wyoming in order to best console the grieving family.

It was later determined faulty tread on the Firestone tires on the Ford Explorer separated which caused the accident. The Meek family later sued Ford and Firestone. Their case was heard by the Los Angeles Superior Court. The family settled for an undisclosed amount.

Garry was an original member of the Farmersville swimming pool committee in 1971. He along with other community members pioneered the idea of proving a safe place for kids to swim and learn to swim during the summers to keep them out of dangerous canals and irrigation ditches.

On Nov. 12, 2013 the school board established a Special Reserve Fund and transferred the money out to the General Fun 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.

In 2018, the pool project was expanded into an aquatics center, with Olympic-sized swimming pool, wading pool and deck, locker rooms, equipment building, and a 150-stall parking lot at a cost of $6.5 million.

With the $1.4 million fund, Farmersville Unified will fund the remaining $5.1 million of the aquatics center with a $6 million certificate of participation (COP), or loan. A portion of that will 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.

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