Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



Restroom repairs are in planning stage; operations and policy work are ongoing.

STEELE HAUGEN/MADRAS PIONEER - Karson Hartman competes in the backstroke in the White Buffalo Classic at the Madras Aquatic Center Jan. 11.In July, the Madras Aquatic Center Recreation District Board approved a partnership with the Bean Foundation, which among other things, meant the foundation hiring consultant Courtney Snead to evaluate the district's administrative systems.

"There were well-meaning people along the way who tried to put policy in place, but they never put procedures in place," Snead said.

In some situations, that can be OK, she said, because staff often knows what procedures to follow.

But the district has had nine directors in 13 years.

"So that makes it hard to create sustainable policies and procedures," she said.

When someone is new, they're just trying to learn the job and make sure things are operating smoothly, so some administrative tasks wind up on the back burner.

Restroom project

One of the problems that has gotten in the way is structural damage in the restrooms. The district sued the contractor that originally designed the restrooms because the plasterboard behind the tiles was crumbling, and the metal reinforcements were rusting.

Board President Jinnell Lewis has been on the subcommittee to deal with the problem since she started with the board.

The board settled with the contractor on the advice of its attorney. Then it posted a request for proposals, but no one applied to do the job.

One contractor from Prineville said he would bid, but he wanted to work off of someone else's architectural drawings.

Lewis looked for an architect but couldn't find one to do the work within the district's limited budget.

She reached out to Madras Public Works Director Jeff Hurd, who found an architect who would produce drawings at a reasonable price.

To do the work, the district will need a loan. The county has promised to lend up to $250,000, so the district is hoping that it will cover the cost.

It's nearly ready to seek bids again, Lewis said.

The board is also trying to figure out a good structure for the swim team. Most teams hire their own coaches, but the MAC started out providing one. Lewis said the board is now working with parents — and she is one — to figure out what's best.

The board has been working on adding more fun, too. It will reveal a mascot this month, complete with a costume.

And it is expanding basketball and volleyball aquatic leagues.

Handling operations

Along with the practical work that's continuing, the board is getting a handle on its operations.

In September, Snead gave the board four pages of recommendations in the areas of human resources, fiscal management and "miscellaneous," along with a list of specific tasks and who should do them. They included everything from interviewing potential hires to documenting partnerships that have financial interests, such as Central Oregon Community College, the St. Charles Foundation and the Bean Foundation.

Snead is now staying on to help implement those recommendations, as well as to help the board adopt a new strategic plan and make sure the 2020 budget aligns with the plan.

Her work includes helping prepare for an audit, as well as creating a financial management policy and a policy manual that's under review with the state now.

Snead said the district has had a rough few years.

"I personally see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it's really close," she said.

The current strategic plan was adopted in 2017.

"We have a really great opportunity here to do a reset with the board and the staff and the community," she said.

Snead praised office manager Trudy Haugen.

"I'm supporting her," Snead said. "She understands the importance of following regulations and doing things based on best practice and state law. She's a huge asset to the organization."

In addition to the meeting in Culver, the district is having meetings with a variety of groups, including city and county government, business, nonprofit and tribal leaders.

So far, the top priority "was the MAC being focused on healthy lifestyles for all ages," Snead said, "which I thought was really neat."

That fits well with the vision the board set in 2017 — "to be the hub of a vibrant and healthy community."

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The board is also sending out surveys to everyone on the district's mailing list, and paper surveys are available at the MAC, as well.

"We're trying to get a mix and a really broad swath of the community," Snead said.

Lewis agreed. She said the board wants the plan to be the community's plan, not just the board's.

On Feb. 18, Snead will present the district's draft goals at the MAC, and patrons can weigh in.

"That way we're testing it to see if it makes sense with the community before we bring it to the full board," Snead said.

"I think the board of directors is excited about setting a stage for the future," Snead said. "Of course, the Bean Foundation and its mission to support our communities in Jefferson County, it's a really nice marriage to try and create a real viable and well-run organization."

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