The town of St. Helens is located directly on the banks of the Columbia River. However picturesque, the swift currents of the Columbia present many safety challenges for the town of St. Helens and the greater region. These safety challenges make it essential that children learn how to swim at a young age. As the only public swimming pool in the region, the Eisenschmidt Pool has been an invaluable community resource since the 1930s by teaching generations of children how to swim.
For the past 20 years, Anne Scholz, has served as the pool manager and is proud of the work they do. “We have tons of aerobic classes, but our main focus is teaching kids how to swim, we probably have 250 kids a day here learning how to swim,” said Scholz. “It’s so important to know how to swim when living near the Columbia River.”
Scholz and her team try to keep rates as low as possible, so they do most of the pool maintenance themselves. “We make things last and do everything we can to avoid shutting down the pool for regularly scheduled maintenance,” said Scholz.
Last year the pool’s boiler started malfunctioning and required constant maintenance. Scholz attempted to fix it herself using a variety of tactics, “I had to put a camera on it,” said Scholz. “I was driving back in at night, I had to seriously babysit it.” That’s when Scholz decided it was time to explore options for a new, upgraded boiler. Scholz had heard about Energy Trust of Oregon in the past and decided to reach out to see if the boiler upgrade was eligible for cash incentives. Energy Trust conducted a study and concluded that the boiler was eligible for a cash incentive and with the energy cost savings the new boiler could pay for itself within two years.
Even with the incentive, the boiler was a significant capital investment for the public pool. Eisenschmidt has served the community for over eighty years and local residents were ready to rally in its support. “We did a GoFundMe and took donations at the counter until we had raised $35,000 from the community,” said Scholz. “People are very generous around here. People love the pool, and they want to keep it going.”
“I never in a million years thought we would be able to afford a new boiler and we did it,” she said. The upgrade has made maintenance easier and far less frequent for Scholz, as well as dramatically reducing energy usage by 24,400 therms annually. Scholz now has more time to focus on the pool’s mission of providing affordable swimming programs to the St. Helen’s community.
“It might not be a brand-new pool, but we love it and we love the community,” said Scholz.