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 Sunset Park Pool Closed by County

July 2, 2008 - A high bacteria count and other concerns led county health officials to close the swimming pool at Knightstown's Sunset Park briefly late last week.

Paul Gona, the Henry County Health Department 's director of environmental health, said a water sample taken June 17 showed a level of bacteria about 25 percent higher than state law allows. Based on observations he made at the pool last Thursday, he said this was not surprising.

"The pool is in very poor shape as far as its condition and maintenance," Gona told The Banner on Friday morning. "There was a lot of organic matter laying at the bottom of the pool and there was actually dirt in the drainage gutters - a significant accumulation - and a sort of moldy algae-type of growth on the sides of the pool."

Gona also said Knightstown, for the second year in a row, had not obtained the $25 permit the county requires for the park to operate its public pool. Additionally, daily inspection records were not available for review when he was there Thursday.

"With no records, the condition of the pool, no permit and a bad bacterial sample, it was at that point we determined that a hazard to human health existed," Gona said. "We ordered the pool closed until we could get some remediation of some of those factors."

Gona returned to the pool the next day for a more thorough inspection, and despite giving unsatisfactory ratings to 18 of 40 items, he allowed the pool to reopen Friday afternoon. He told The Banner Tuesday morning that this decision was based on the improved condition of the pool and the results of a follow-up test that showed the level of bacteria in the water had dropped and was only about one percent above what the state allows.

The inspection report included nine recommendations from Gona: (1) update signs at pool to comply with state law; (2) provide easy access to shallow pool for lifeguards; (3) repair and resurface walls and floors in shower rooms; (4) provide hot water for shower rooms; (5) fill pool to gutter levels; (6) add another lifeguard chair; (7) provide free drinking water; (8) install depth markings on pool walls; and (9) keep spectators out of pool perimeter.

"It was good because it brought some things to light that we need to deal with," Bruce Brown, the pool's manager and vice president of Knightstown's park board, said Monday of the pool's brief closure and inspection. "It's just going to help us in the long run."

Brown said he has already raised the water level and ordered a new $650 automatic sweeper for the pool bottom. He also said he had changed the way he maintains his daily inspection records and that he would soon begin work installing a hot water heater and plumbing for the pool's shower rooms.


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