There are good reasons for voting ‘yes’ on bond issue

To the editor:

For some time now Mr. John Wilkens has been bad-mouthing Wayland Schools administration. I don’t know why he is so angry, but he is wrong!

In his last diatribe, he proclaimed that “a pool is not needed.” OK, taking that logic forward, why do we need a football field? After all the boys play on grass and there is a big front lawn. We don’t need no stinkin gym. Basketball games can be played on the courts in the City Park. Of course, they might to share with the tennis teams.

Between middle and high school, boys and girls, we’ve got 10 basketball teams. But then there are lots of outdoor hoops at the middle school and Pine Street. The wrestling team can take over a classroom, shove desks aside, put a mat down, and have at it. Throw down some rugs and they can practice in the hallways.

When I was a kid, we threw down some board in the field and played work-up all day. I’m sure our baseball and softball teams can find a vacant cow pasture.

Unfortunately for our swim teams, Gun Lake can be damn cold in December and January.

OK, let’s stop being ridiculous. If you believe, as I do, that athletics is part of a well-rounded education, then we need to provide for that activity with equivalent personnel, equipment and infrastructure that we do for the academic, the arts and the club programs for our students.

We have a swim program. Age-group swim for our younger kids to learn their strokes and compete against surrounding communities. Middle school boys’ and girls’ teams compete against other area schools. And of course, the high school boys and girls swim and dive teams that compete for O-K Gold Conference honors, with the ultimate goal for reaching regional and state competition.

But Wayland does NOT have a LEGAL pool. Forget that it’s falling apart; it is not legal when it’s OK. It is too shallow for swimmers to start their events by diving off the boards from the pool deck.

Wayland cannot host state competition because eight lanes are required, and we only have six. That is why you’ve heard that to correctly fix the old pool, you have to tear it out, excavate deeper and wider, put in all new plumbing, and then build a pool. But you can’t go wider because that outside wall is already up to the football stadium.

Our kids who swim freestyle, breast stroke and butterfly events must start in the water. They grab the edge of the pool and kick off upon the starting gun. They’re pushing through water right at the beginning rather that flying through the air as they do at other schools. This obviously hurts their times, and individual times are what gets an athlete to state competition. Obviously, other schools do not like to come to Wayland.

There is another negative aspect to the Wayland pool. Typically, it is hot and humid on the pool deck.  That is fine for the contestants, but parents and other fans, who are fully dressed, can be miserable in that environment, especially in warm weather.

I’ve had two granddaughters come up through the Wayland swim programs and I’ve attended many events throughout west and mid-Michigan. Wayland, the old Grandville High School and Muskegon High School are some of the places that are absolute hell in hot weather.

Instead, go watch at swim meet at Byron Center’s fairly new natatorium with comfortable seating, a great view, low humidity, and 72-degree air to experience what modern air-makeup systems can do.

My youngest granddaughter swam at Wayland, age group through her senior year. She had to put up with that terrible starting position for eight years.  She also was on the track team through high school, but there she got to perform on our new track and field facilities, funded by a past bond issue.

Orchestra was another passion and she had to practice in those crowded and noisy conditions for many years. But then she got to perform in our beautiful new Fine Arts Center, also funded by a past bond issue.

I’ll also mention that her grades were great; that she just finished college, and is going back into education. This fall she will be going back into the classroom as a teacher.

I think I can safely state that she benefited from a well-rounded education from Wayland Union schools.

If Mr. Wilkens had his selfish way, this beautiful young lady would have missed a significant part of her school experience.

Please vote yes on the bond issue May 2.

— Tom Andrews


  • All is true Dave. I have noticed over several years that kids participating in sports have better grades and seldom are in trouble. I also noticed kids who were dropped off at the door did not do as well as kids whose Parents participated . Mr. Wilkens wears blinders and just does not care. He was most likely one who dropped off at the door so sad! If my buddy Burrell says yes, it must be right!

  • Thank you Mr. Andrews for your letter of support. We agree completely. We will be sharing this on our facebook page.

  • Mr. Andrews,

    I am curious, how do the young men/women in Wayland participate in hockey? I am very certainly that the school does not provide ice……….though that might be coming soon………How about sharing a pool with a neighboring district? My point is there is a difference between wants and needs.

    I wonder if those angry folks from Dorr you wrote about will be out in force to vote on the millage…..We can only hope!


    • Wayland needs to address its neglected, dilapidated pool. We are incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity for an updated public pool facility along with numerous other infrastructure needs for no increased millage rate.

  • Hello David, all.

    Please allow me to insert my 2 cents as a swimming pool professional who has been in the pool industry since 1987. Not only did I grow up in the industry but, as a child, we also had a swimming pool.

    I am an expert witness in the Commonwealth of Virginia and have provided expert opinions against a national swimming pool company twice, for the same plaintiff of which, both times because of my opinions, they settled with the plaintiffs whom I gave expert opinions for. Why mention this? To say I am an expert, goes undisputed. This is why I choose to voice my opinion now. Because I know better and simply cannot let this go without my opinion…

    My former employer was involved with the Federal VGB Act. They were on the wrong side of it as many other companies, manufacturers etc. were. Everyone was sued. This was at no fault of theirs in my opinion as they did not build the pool that precipitated the VGB law. They only serviced it, along with other local swimming pool companies. Nobody realized back then how important the issues that the VGB Act presented were. There was scant research and evidence from manufactures of pool products pertaining these issues prior to the VGB.

    Why is this important and why do I mention this? After the law was passed, there were public pools in DC that had to shutter their pools because they could not afford to perform the necessary upgrades to be VGB compliant. DC was certainly not unique as far too many public and community pools across our nation had to do the same because they could not afford the upgrades as well. I know this because with the help of my professional peers and coworkers, I gave a lot of the DC and surrounding area public and community pools their estimates for this and similar work.

    How does this relate to our pool in Wayland? It was noticed by all of us higher level pool professionals along with national swimming pool publications that around 2010, there started to be an increase in drownings pertaining our children. Why is this? The answer is rather simple. The young children that had access to a public or community pool and attended swim classes to learn how to swim, were more safe around bodies of water growing up. Those areas where these pools shuttered, started seeing increases in drownings because they had no safe place to learn how to swim. Not everyone can afford a swimming pool to learn how to swim so the obvious answer is swim classes in public and community pools. With the absence of these pools or our pool, do we really want the drowning of a single child, who could have learned how to swim in our pool, on our conscious because we could not afford to replace our pool?

    I realize that I may have just inserted myself and my company into a hotbed political issue and that is fine. I want to make it perfectly clear that I am simply looking at the safety aspect of this issue and nothing else. I was fully trained by my former employer that safety around swimming pools, spas and bodies of water is paramount. I routinely let my customers know when I feel they have a safety issue and want to do something to their pool that is counterintuitive to their safety and for others. There is no grandfather clause that replaces being safe. Period.

    I realize that some may think I am writing this post because as a pool professional, I stand to make money off of the replacement of our pool. That will not be true either and here is why. The company that replaces our pool will also be the ones to service it. They will have their own contractors and suppliers for the chemicals etc. It is almost 100% likely that because of this, my company and certainly myself will never make a dime off of a new pool for us. If by some chance I were given the opportunity to provide any service or supply, I would only do so at a rate so close to cost that the only reason I would do this would be to help ensure that our pool remains safe and the costs would be manageable for our community. So again, my motive here is for the safety of our young prospective swimmers.

    Our children are our most precious treasure and it is because of this, I support replacing our pool.

    Thank you to those that are reading this for your time and thank you David, for the opportunity to voice my opinion.


    Jamie Lynn Huff

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