It’s back to the drawing board, again, for the Madras Aquatic Center.

A few months after the high of voters approving a significant increase in operational funding, the MAC board of directors is having to replace its executive director and its pool manager — the two leading employees of the district.

After about a year on the job, Carolyn Harvey has informed the board that she no longer cared to work for them, claiming a lack of direction from the board. Effort was made to convince her to stay on, but Harvey did not want to.

At the same time, the board was showing the exit door to its pool operations manager, Bobby DeRoest. The popular DeRoest, an employee of the MAC since it opened, resigned in the face of being fired. He admitted to taking a gas reimbursement that he wasn’t entitled to.

The episode is sad, to say the least. DeRoest is an engaging guy who has essentially been the face of the MAC since it opened. He’s an excellent water sports coach and instructor. He’s also, in my book, a stand-up individual for admitting what he did and owning up to it. Others would have hidden behind the executive session “resignation” and let the rumors fly.

Conversely, I can’t blame the board for its decision on DeRoest. I’m not privy to the executive session details and maybe they had no choice but to let DeRoest go. I’m not going to challenge a board of volunteers who are hardline when it comes to financial impropriety. Being otherwise is a slippery slope. But, maybe they could have just harshly reprimanded DeRoest, changed his status at the pool, and allowed him to stay and contribute where his significant talents would allow.

Apparently DeRoest will remain as the high school swim coach, under the employ of the school district, and he plans to be a private contractor and provide coaching and instruction at the pool.

As for the MAC, it is again faced with the challenge to reorganize and somewhat reinvent itself — just as it did early on when its first lead executive was let go and DeRoest was promoted; just as it did in 2010 when the recession gutted tax revenue and a monthlong pool closure was enacted; then again when it added an outside-the-pool recreation element; and yet again last year when it hired Harvey and went for the additional operating funds.

Madras has one of the nicest aquatic centers in the state; voters have come forth with adequate operating funds. The biggest, yet most basic challenge remains: the people charged with operating it need to figure out how to do so properly and effectively. The volunteer board — consisting of dedicated, smart people determined to right the ship — has its hands full. But the task is theirs.

Fantastic show

How great was the 2013 Airshow of the Cascades? The event is in an arc upward. Attendance was up 15 to 20 percent. That’s a significant bounce for a show that’s been around for a decade or so, when most other community events are on their downward slide, if they’re still in existence at all.

With the Erickson museum tying down in Madras next summer, hopefully just in time to coincide with the 2014 event, the Airshow of the Cascades is poised for even bigger things. The all-volunteer board has done an excellent job building the show, keeping it fresh, pulling in local organizations as vendors, and generally managing all elements of this behemoth.

I can’t wait to see how the show evolves over the next few years. Congratulations, organizers and volunteers.

Horrible storm

It was just a few minutes of torrential rain, powerful winds, repeated lightning downstrikes and crashing thunder — but it left destruction and heartbreak in its wake. It was the most crop-destructive local storm longtime farmers have seen in their lifetimes.

On farmland throughout the county — but primarily in the Agency Plains and Gateway regions — the storm caused substantial damage, throwing irrigation systems about like they were made of tin foil. Maybe the most financially damaging was the impact the storm had on the high-value seed crops. Many of these crops — which I’m told cost upwards of $2,000 to $3,000 an acre to farm — were completely destroyed. Hundreds of acres of such crops were growing on the Agency Plains, and until Sunday, a banner year was in the works. In a few short minutes, the opposite became true.

While crop insurance might be helpful to some, it won’t come close to covering losses. The damage will be devastating to many local farmers and their families, and will have a domino economic impact to the county.

Of course the electrocution of Bret Hemenway put the various property and crop damages in perspective. Just a tragic Sunday afternoon.

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