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Oberlin OKs pool; write-in bids fall short

By ABBY BELDEN

abelden@dailynews.net

OBERLIN -- Come summer 2014, the residents of Oberlin will have a new pool to cool off in.

The results of the special question, posed on Decatur County's ballot Tuesday, asked residents if Oberlin should impose a 1.5-percent sales tax beginning April 1 to build a swimming pool, which would bring the sales tax to 8.8 percent.

There were 567 people in favor, while 311 opposed the $2.15 million swimming pool project.

Steve Zodrow, administrative assistant for the city of Oberlin, said the sales tax could generate approximately $200,000 to $230,000, which will be used to pay off a bond over 20 years.

Once approved by the state, the tax will begin to be collected April 1.

Construction of the pool is expected to begin after the close of the 2013 swimming season.

The new pool will replace a pool built in the 1950s, which hasn't been significantly upgraded since the 1970s.

The new pool will feature a zero-depth entry and a shallow zone with benches.

He said the pool also will include a deep end and be the appropriate length for swim meets, something the existing pool cannot accommodate.

The plans also include a new bathhouse, a slide and low diving board.

Zodrow said the pool committee worked with the consulting firm, Larkin Aquatics, for the design and also put together promotional material on the referendum.

Shayla Williby, one of the seven members of the committee, said the group visited meetings and contacted service organizations and groups to speak about the project.

"I think as far as the committee goes, what surprised us so much is that even though we are in difficult economic times, is that we have been given so much support from the community," she said. "I am talking little kids ... to our very elderly, who have wanted to help be a part of this project."

The committee now plans to discuss other fundraising opportunities for the project.

In other northwest Kansas election news:

* Sherman County Sheriff Kevin Butts lost his write-in campaign to win another term as sheriff.

Butts was defeated by Burton Pianalto in the Aug. 7 Republican primary. With Tuesday's polls closed and the write-ins counted, Pianalto won the seat by a margin of 1,572 to 958.

* A write-in bid by incumbent Cheyenne County Commissioner Andy Biekman also fell short. Challenger Brett Poling and Biekman each collected 179 votes in the Republican Primary, and Poling advanced to the general election on a coin flip. Tuesday's results show Poling collected 372 votes, while Biekman received 217.

* In Gove County, voters were asked a special question of whether liquor by the drink should be allowed in places where at least 30 percent of gross receipts from the sale of food for consumption is available. There were 855 voters in favor, while 439 opposed it.

* A similar question was presented to Phillips County voters, although Phillips County is not requiring the 30-percent food requirement. The question passed 1,305 to 1,045.

* The city of Norton also will be building a new pool. By a narrow 666 to 594 vote, Norton County voters agreed to impose a 0.75-percent sales tax beginning April 1 to build a new pool and pay for operating costs.

* Graham County residents made changes to the way the school district selects board of education representatives. By a vote of 781-378, voters changed the policy to elect school board members from member districts to at-large.