By JAY NOLAN
Union College is trying to buy the Stivers Aquatic and Wellness Center. The college was one of the founding partners, along with the city, county and KCEOC, who collaborated and formed an entity named Knox Partners to bring the facility to Barbourville. The multi-million dollar, one of a kind facility includes an Olympic size pool, diving platforms, and other fitness and exercise equipment. It serves thousands of people every year. For the past several years regional and statewide swimming tournaments have been hosted at the center. Currently the Stivers Center Board, a committee appointed by Knox Partners, manages the complex.
Union has set a public meeting for 6 p.m. on January 3, 2017 to present their plan to the community and also give people a chance to comment. (The official public notice is located on page A6 of this newspaper.)
The County is supporting Union’s attempted purchase. “Union probably is the only organization with the resources and ability to run it,” said Knox County Judge Executive J.M. Hall. “President Hawkins has been working to put together a plan and arrange financing,” Hall added.
The city of Babourville also endorses Union’s efforts. “Myself and the council fully support this. This project means more to me than most people know. But this is not something the city or county should run. This was the plan from the start, that Union would end up owning the facility,” Mayor David Thompson commented.
The Mayor also recognized the other partners, specifically KCEOC’s Paul Dole and his wife Dee. “If it was not for Paul Dole and KCEOC, we would have never been able to keep the doors open,” Thompson said.
The mayor noted that the facility “still has to be open to serve the public” even if Union is successful in buying the center, due to the way some of the funding for the purchase was structured.