The Stivers Aquatic Center in Barbourville has closed.  The Stivers Center Board of Directors, which controls and manages the center, made the decision to close the facility Friday afternoon. When asked about the closing, neither Judge Executive J.M. Hall or Barbourville City Mayor David Thompson were aware on Friday that the Stivers board had decided to close the facility.   “It’s been used by a lot of folks, but it’s had its struggles,” Thompson said.

Friday evening, a statement was released from Stivers Center Board Chairman Randell Young:

“On Friday, Feb. 16, the board reluctantly voted to temporarily close the Stivers Aquatic and Wellness Center, due to a staffing difficulty.

“The goal of the Stivers Center has always been to provide a safe and supervised atmosphere. In light of the recent staffing issue, we feel it is best to suspend our activities, putting our members and our community first.

“We apologize for the inconvenience during this time of transition. Members can rest assured that their membership will be fully honored upon reopening, with credit for the time lost. We are very excited about the coming transformation of the Center. We expect promising things upon the horizon.”

Several weeks ago, Union College announced it’s intention to purchase the Center, and upgrade the facility, subject to final approval of a loan from the US Department of Agriculture. (USDA).  Union College President Marcia Hawkins says  Clay McKnight from the USDA told her the money was already “set aside” and the loan closing would be very soon.
All four parties involved in developing the Center; Union College, KCEOC, the City of Barbourville, and Knox County Fiscal Court,  supported Union’s proposal.  KCEOC  Board Chairman Greg Helton continued to express his support for that transition, saying,  “I want people to use the Center even more than they use it now. I think it is a great thing for our community.”
Neither Hawkins or Helton could not confirm what, if any, impact the Stiver’s Center board decision to close the facility before Union took control would make.  Both were hopeful things would continue on as planned.  “We have a team ready to go as soon as we close on the loan.” Hawkins said.
We look forward to sharing more news in the near future with The Mountain Advocate and its readers.
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