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Panther Valley pool has another suitor

  • 20130201-134133-pic-499557455.jpg
    CHRIS PARKER/TIMES NEWS J. Christopher West, left, superintendent of Pyramid Sports Performance Center, Lehighton; Joseph Trimmel, center, and Rick Caffrey, both of Caffrey-Trimmel LLC, listen as the Panther Valley School Board's Building and Grounds Committee discusses the district's pool Thursday. Caffrey-Trimmel LLC may contract to lease the now-closed pool.
Published February 01. 2013 05:04PM

Another wave of hope splashed into the Panther Valley School District swimming pool saga on Thursday when principals of a local education/sports firm attended a Building and Grounds Committee meeting to learn more about the pool situation, and to meet in executive session with school officials about possibly leasing the facility.

Rick Caffrey, Joe Trimmel and J. Christopher West, all of Pyramid Sports Performance Center, Lehighton, attended the committee meeting.

Caffrey and Trimmel are the president and vice-president, respectively, of Caffrey-Trimmel LLC,which is the parent company of Pyramid, Educare of PA, and Behavioral Health Associates. West is superintendent of Pyramid, and director of its baseball/softball academy.

Also at the meeting were members of a group that formed in hopes of continuing to keep the pool, located in the high school, open to the public.

One member of that group, Mary Lou Harvan, presented the committee with checks from various people to use to buy chemicals needed to keep the water clean.

The committee did not accept the checks, and plans to ask school board solicitor Robert T. Yurchak for his advice on the matter.

Before the meeting, West and Caffrey spoke with the TIMES NEWS.

"We were told about the potential of the pool being closed, there were possibilities of programs being run, or that the district might have an interest in potentially leasing, or maybe not leasing the pool," West said. "With Caffrey-Trimmel LLC, we run Pyramid Sports Performance Center, and this is something we may have an interest in, depending on what information they provide to us."

Caffrey said he hoped company officials would learn the answers to any questions they might have..

"We're looking at the possibility of leasing the swimming pool from the Panther Valley school District," he said. "We're not sure at this time if it's a feasible or not, but, hopefully, we'll know a lot better after this meeting."

The pool closed in May 2011 by the school board in light of steep state funding cuts, was opened in Jan. 2012 by a company called Water Wellness. The company opened the pool to the public under a one-year, $69,500 contract with the school district, to provide swimming lessons, aquatic therapy and other pool activities.

However, Water Wellness failed to make its monthly payments to the district, and the pool was closed at the end of December.

The school board in January agreed to take legal action against Water Wellness to recoup the $37,000 it owes the district.

Meanwhile, the group of people interested in keeping the pool open asked the school board to at least maintain the pool until the group could get a business plan together and study whether it would be possible to raise enough money to maintain it.

That proposal has yet to be accepted or rejected by the school board.

At the committee meeting Thursday, board President Jeff Markovich said that reopening the pool may require board action, since it was the board that had voted to close it. Further, he said, money to maintain the pool is not included in the 2013-14 budget.

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