Janet M Kelly
There was a time when government worked and a District 14 State Senator helped a District 12 community get a new pool, not because it would get her votes, but because it was the right thing to do.
Rose Ann Vuich was a California State Senator for decades, and was the first woman elected to that position in California State history. Many in Kingsburg recognize her name, maybe from seeing the Route 41 and Route 180 exchange named for her, or the Dinuba Park named in her honor. But few in Kingsburg realize the connection between Kingsburg and Senator Vuich… a town not even in her own district. What? A politician put people ahead of politics? Here is the story.
Jerry Nagata, a long-time Kingsburg resident, owned a pharmacy in Dinuba. He was a member of the Dinuba Kiwanis Club which had established kids as the club’s priority. State Senator Rosanne Vuich, a Conservative Democrat and first female State Senator in California, was invited to speak at a Kiwanis meeting. The topic of her speech was how she had gotten funding to refurbish Dinuba High School’s swimming pool. Jerry was impressed. At that time, the Kingsburg High School pool had been condemned and his children were swimming with the Dinuba Aqua-Emps Swim Club as the Kingsburg Seawolves Swim Club had been temporarily disbanded… no local pool. Jerry and his family had been active in both Kingsburg Seawolves and Kingsburg High School swimming. He and other Kingsburg residents knew there was a need for a pool in Kingsburg, but funding such a huge project would be difficult. Perhaps Senator Vuich could help.
Rose Ann’s brother was a customer at Jerry’s pharmacy. Through him, Jerry arranged to meet Senator Vuich at a Dinuba Aqua-Emps swim-meet. He asked her about potential funding for a pool in Kingsburg. She said she would look into it. She didn’t mention that Kingsburg was not in her district.
Within a week, Senator Vuich contacted Jerry through her assistant. She had decided to help. He was tasked with finding out how much money was needed.
Jerry was on the Kings River Elementary School Board with Tom Marshall, whose children also swam with The Dinuba Aqua-Emps due to the Kingsburg pool closure. Tom was equally invested in getting a pool for Kingsburg. He was an active Seawolves parent as well. Jerry told Tom about Senator Vuich’s potential help. Tom said, “Let’s go for it.” Together they brainstormed the funding needed to build a state-of-the-art pool complex in Kingsburg.
Tom phoned Sam Crandell, long time Kingsburg High School teacher and swim coach. Tom said, “You want a new pool? We will get one for you.”
Sam, Jerry, and Tom met with Senator Vuich’s representative and worked out the required negotiations. They worked with the Kingsburg Pool Committee consisting of Corliss Logan, Ellie Dodd, Judy Souza, John Wright, Steve Safarjian, Tom Marshall, Jerry Nagata and Sam Crandell. Senator Vuich worked on major funding. The pool committee worked on the pool design and construction plan, which depended on the amount of funding Senator Vuich could procure. The entire community responded with donations. In order to qualify for funds, the pool had to be on Kingsburg City property. The City of Kingsburg and the Kingsburg High School worked out an arrangement where the pool complex would remain on city property, a kind of island in the middle of Kingsburg High School.
Through negations, Senator Vuich was able to secure $400,000.00 and Sam Crandell Pool Complex became a reality. What is most impressive is that a politician put people above politics and did the right thing… getting funding for a town not in her district and helping a group of people who would not be her voters.
Thank you to Jerry Nagata and Tom Marshall for bringing this story to Kingsburg Time’s attention.