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TREMONT - The people of Tremont may see the community pool reopened next year because grants and donations to pay for repairs continue to arrive.

The community recently received a $400,000 state grant for the $1.2 million project. At the other end of the donation scale, a $1,000 gift came because a fifth-grader asked for donations to the pool fund in lieu of birthday presents.

That grant comes in addition to $400,000 contributed by the Tremont Park District and Tremont Betterment Fund and the $80,000 already raised from individuals donating at fund-raisers or directly to the Tremont Pool fund, Friends of the Tremont Pool representative Erin Burnham said.

The grant was needed to keep the fund-raising momentum going. The money must be raised by next month.

"I think the momentum really got going at our chicken dinner, when we raised $22,000 in one night," said Burnham. "We just needed something to keep that spirit alive, and that grant is what we needed."

The $1.2 million price tag to fix the pool includes installing a new liner and filter system, a new concession stand that also will be used for the adjacent baseball diamond, a new bathhouse and a new concrete deck.

The group hopes to have the pool reopen by summer 2007.

The Tremont Park District, which operates the pool, has set a fund-raising deadline of March 31. If money isn't raised in time, the pool could be demolished.

While Burnham said she is optimistic the money will be raised in time, she said the plan can be adjusted to fit the money on hand.

"We first needed to make sure that people wanted it, and after getting so many donations right off the bat, it's obvious that people do want it," said Burnham. "It's been really neat to see the support coming from so many different people. It would have been discouraging not to get the grant and have to slow the whole process down."

Recent funding from the community came from the Jan. 6 chili supper in which 275 people were served and contributed around $4,600 through chili sales, raffles, auctions and other donations.

Nathalie Kieswetter, a fifth-grader at Tremont Grade School, asked her friends to donate to the pool instead of giving her gifts to celebrate her Jan. 4 birthday. Her backyard birthday party with 75 Tremont 5th graders raised $1,000.

For her effort, the fifth-grade class will be commended on a plaque to be installed at the new pool.

"I just want the pool back, I was on the swim team there, and since both my parents work it isn't easy for them to drive me somewhere else like East Peoria," said Kieswetter, adding that her mother taught swim lessons and was a lifeguard at the pool. "I'd just rather have the pool back than any presents."

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