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Back in 2004, in a close vote, Madras area voters decided to build a swimming center. But it wasn’t until last night’s vote that the community fully embraced the Madras Aquatic Center.

Voters Tuesday pushed the pool and recreation program’s operational funding from the original, microscopic 25 cents per $1,000 to 65 cents per $1,000 — adding 40 cents more per year for the next five years.

This was validation. On Tuesday night, voters lifted the burden of poverty off the necks of the MAC, rendered to the past the embarrassment of having to borrow money to make it through the year. It’s basic, but now the pool will be able to remain open year-round. This five-year levy will give the MAC a capacity to establish an important (if not glamorous) contingency fund. Before, a major infrastructure issue could have devastated the center. The additional funding will also allow the MAC’s out-of-pool recreation element to get its Nikes firmly on the ground, then take off.

On the heels of last year’s school bond, there’s little doubt the Madras area (509-J school district boundary) is bullish on the future of Madras.

As happy as the MAC supporters were, those behind the Culver school bond went to bed Tuesday deflated. The $9.75 million bond to rebuild aging school building and heating system infrastructure — and to pay off the debt of a 2008 land purchase — went down to defeat.

Superintendent Stefanie Garber said some sort of levy amount will likely be back at voters in the fall. You have to appreciate that spunk. School backers can take hope in that this effort failed by just 6 percent, compared to the shellacking a $14.5 million bond did in November 2011. But that one also included a large athletic complex that was struck from this effort.

Culver district voters historically have been quick to address their school needs. For some reason, maybe for several reasons, it isn’t happening now.

Certainly including payment for the controversial land purchase is dogging the effort to fix crumbling, outdated, infrastructure. But a changing electorate may have as much to do with the recent negative results. I don’t have hard figures on this, but maybe there’s a growing percentage of district voters without kids in schools, or that never went to Culver schools themselves. Maybe there’s a disconnect, a higher percentage of district voters that live far from the town, rarely even drive through Culver.

The economy continues to improve and property values are increasing. That may be the most important fact the Culver district has in its favor as it moves forward in addressing its difficult school issues.

- Tony Ahern

Contract Publishing

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