ELLIS — Residents and the City of Ellis have taken steps at chipping away at the cost of replacing its old swimming pool closed before the end of summer due to continual water leaks.

The pool was closed at the end of July due to losing about 30,000 gallons of water every few days and closures to clean algae.

Plans were already in the works for a new pool, however, which got a boost with a $1 million Community Development Block Grant from the Kansas Department of Commerce.

That still left about $850,000 needed toward the estimated $1.85 million for the new pool.

While the city has set aside that amount, other grants, donations and fundraisers like Friday night’s soup supper have helped reduce the amount of city funds that will be needed.

“Right now, we’re roughly $480,000 short,” said City Clerk and member of the city’s swimming pool committee Amy Burton.

All 500 tickets for a gun raffle were sold out by noon Friday, Burton said. Prizes were a Henry Golden Boy .22 Mag Rifle, Mossberg 500 12-guage shotgun and XForce Blade Crossbow.

Other raffle prizes that night donated by Ellis and Hays businesses included restaurant gift certificates, tools and Pampered Chef items.

Private donations to the city’s Fill the Pool project total about $54,000, Burton said.

“That’s incredible for a small town,” Burton said.

Grants from the Ellis Community Foundation, Ellis Community Thrift Shop, Midwest Energy and Walmart Community Foundation have helped add the grant total to more than $1.3 million.

Having a pool adds to the quality of life in Ellis, Burton said.

“We have great schools, a great community. When we closed our pool, that was devastating,” she said.

In addition to recreation, being able to offer water safety and swimming lessons could be life-saving with Big Creek running through the town, she said.

The city will seek bids on the pool construction soon, Burton said. That process should take about a month. Construction is expected to take about six to eight months, so the city is hopeful the new pool could open late in the summer. The plans include installing infrastructure for future additions to the pool such as water-park type features or shade structures.