Wave of the Future campaign leaders are Merrick, Osterhaus

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From left are Wave of the Future Campaign Cabinet co-chairs Dr. Bob Merrick and Dr. Jim Osterhaus, who will be leading the education and advocacy efforts for the new pool. (Photo submitted)

By Molly Moser

“When we moved to Guttenberg over three decades ago, Guttenberg Municipal Pool was a well-functioning institution. My kids and I were regular visitors there. Both boys learned to swim there and I have trained at the pool for several swimming events,” said Dr. Jim Osterhaus, a Guttenberg businessman who’s been named co-chair of the Wave of the Future campaign cabinet. 

Osterhaus served on the city recreation board for several years and helped with the administration of the pool, so had no hesitation when asked to co-chair the campaign. “With Dr. Bob Merrick co-chairing and a very thorough Campaign Committee spear-heading the effort, it seemed right to lend whatever help and support I could give,” Osterhaus told The Press.

When Merrick and his wife, Karen, arrived in Guttenberg in 1970, Guttenberg didn’t have a pool. “Children were bused to other towns for swimming lessons or learned in the Mississippi,” said Merrick. “I recall Pat Nederheiser asking Karen to help with a committee attempting to build the first pool in 1971. This seemed to me a hopeless cause as the committee faced a history of multiple failed attempts. However, with generous support of the citizens of this area and help from the city, they succeeded.”

Merrick agreed to co-chair the Campaign Committee because he wanted to give back some of the kindness he’s received during his years in Guttenberg. “I am impressed with the organization and planning of the pool committee,” he told The Press. “These people are capable of doing this!”

The campaign cabinet will serve as educators and advocates for the Wave of the Future, conducting informational meetings in homes, at businesses and for social groups about the need for a new pool in Guttenberg. For more information or to set up a presentation from the group, contact Wave of the Future co-chair Bec Knudtson at 252-1519. 

“I love being on the river, but it's a horrible place for children to learn to swim and nothing is more dangerous than someone (especially a child) on the river that doesn’t know how to swim,” Merrick noted.     

“Given our close relationship and proximity to the Mississippi River, having a pool in Guttenberg has the obvious benefit of providing area children the necessary skill of being able to swim,” added Osterhaus. “In addition, the pool provides area residents of all ages the simple opportunity to enjoy swimming in a very safe environment. Children can reap the health benefits of swimming versus TV or video games. Adults can also participate in the health benefits with lap swimming and aerobic, low impact water activities.”

The campaign co-chairs emphasized the attractiveness of a swimming pool as a community feature for both long-term and potential residents. “Rural communities need to put their best foot forward and present enhanced leisure opportunities,” said Osterhaus.

Merrick agreed. “I feel quality of life is one of the few advantages rural areas have when competing with urban areas for economic growth.  A swimming pool is an important component of the quality of life picture. Young families need a safe place for kids to hang out and learn to swim, grandchildren like to visit grandparents that live in a place with a pool with slides, and we all like swimming laps or just enjoying a warm summer day lying in the shade where we can jump in the water to cool off.”

Readers will find more information regarding plans for the new pool in next week's issue of The Press. 

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