Waterfront: May 2007 - Pools For Schools; Road Trip!

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Pools For Schools

Australian company funds primary school pools.

Ever been to a high-school basketball game with a commercial logo painted onto the floor. Privatepublic partnerships are becoming more common in the United States as schools struggle to pay for extracurricular activities, and it seems they aren't the only ones. Six schools on the outskirts of Melbourne, the Victorian state capital, have recently held talks to consider a similar partnership, which would involve a company called Social Infrastructure Partners building and maintaining heated indoor pools on school grounds.

As part of the agreement, students would use the pools during school hours, and the company would recoup its investment through private use of the pools outside school time.

"This is a new approach where we have been able to work across a number of different school sites," said education minister Jacinta Allan to Australian newspaper The Age . "This is the green light to these school communities, to go to the next stage and have discussions about the construction of a pool on these school sites."

The pools will cost around $2.4 million (U.S.) with plans for 15 to 215 to be built eventually across Victoria. Said David Mullaly, managing director of Social Infrastructure Partners, "There is a huge social positive to what we are doing here. Our idea is that all the kids who go through our facilities will be able to swim 100 meters competently and under a variety of strokes."

Road Trip!

Hit the "hot tub capital" of Ohio.

The name Hocking Hills, Ohio — a local vacation destination for people who live in the Columbus area — doesn't naturally conjure up images of hot tubs, but Hocking Hills State park and the nearby town of Logan are actually known as the "hot tub capital of Ohio."

According to Randie Adam, executive director of the Hocking Hills Tourism Association, the area was first given that designation in an advertising campaign by one of the local lodging operators, and it stuck.

"One cabin company, The Old Man's Cave Chalets, did a big advertising push featuring their hot tubs, and it kind of mimicked cabin-type getaways that you would have in ski country out West," she says. "So they decided to start featuring their hot tubs, and quite successfully. And now there are 200 different lodging operators in the area. Not every one of them has hot tubs, but probably 90 percent do."

The area, which attracts 2.5 million tourists per year, according to Adam, is home to the state park, scattered over six locations in the county, as well as the small town of Logan, population 6,000. Visitors will find much to do besides soaking in the spa, says Adam, but it's an essential part of the scene. "The state parks are big; there are caves and waterfalls at most of them, and there are also lots of craft and antique places to shop. But you can't be in business if you don't have a hot tub."

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