EAST LIVERPOOL - What started as a somewhat contentious meeting between Mayor Jim Swoger and an official of the Columbia Gas Co. ended with a donation for the municipal swimming pool.
In October, Swoger met with Shane Cartmill, Columbia Gas external affairs specialist, and other company representatives to discuss the company's on-going projects in town which have resulted in street excavations, and Cartmill admitted the talks had become a little heated at times.
As an aside, Swoger began telling them about the J. Burchfield Cartwright Municipal Pool at Thompson Park, its history, importance to the community and his own battles to keep the facility open for area children every year, with the limited funding the city provides.
Swoger and his wife, Amy, have taken on the pool as their own pet project, spending a considerable amount from their own pockets to make sure it opens each year.
The mayor has often pointed out that, to many city children who come from modest homes where summer vacations are rare, "This IS their Cedar Point."
But it was the mayor's tale of what the pool meant to him as a youngster that touched Cartmill, who said Swoger related how he would hope to find a lawn to cut every day to try and raise 50 cents, which would allow him to pay the 23-cent admission to the pool and buy a hot dog.
"I went back and told my supervisor, 'I really want to do something for this community.' I asked for $500 and they brought back a check for $1,000," Cartmill said last week while presenting the check to Swoger.
"They said it was such a touching story," Cartmill said. "We could tell it means a lot to you, and it meant a lot to us," he told Swoger.
"Thinking back to my own childhood, I couldn't imagine growing up without the swimming pool in my hometown. There are great memories to be made by children, their families, their friends and the great people in East Liverpool," he continued.
Columbia Gas of Ohio, a NiSource company, was pleased to offer the contribution, with Cartmill saying, "Doing so helps Columbia achieve its goal of supporting and enriching the quality of life in our community by addressing critical needs and enhancing community resources."
The check was actually given to Marc Hoffrichter, representing the East Liverpool-Fawcett Community Foundation, who said the donation will be earmarked for the Thompson Park Pool Division.
Swoger said, "The driving force is married to me," referring to his wife, also pointing out that, when a season pass is purchased and used every day of the summer, the price of admission remains 23 cents per day.