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What happened to that missing pool money?


   By Tony Ahern
   Publisher
   We heard about it during the pool campaign and we're hearing about it now: what happened to the pool money from a couple decades ago that mysteriously disappeared?
   I first started hearing about it back in 2002, during the ill-fated parks and recreation district effort (which included a pool). People used the disappearing funds as a reason to be against the 2004 pool campaign, that there was some sort of conscious effort to hide this interest-fed pile of money sitting in someone's bank account.
   It's a mystery how the disappearance of funds years ago had anything to do with the campaign for a pool today. The people involved with the MAC effort had nothing to do with 1970s project and the missing money. Withholding support because of funds raised for a different pool effort 20-plus years later, headed by totally different people, makes no sense. It's like refusing to contribute to youth sports because someone stole Little League money.
   However, it is a mystery: What did happen to that money years ago earmarked for a pool?
   Motivated by hearing of this "missing pool money" issue, Pioneer editor Susan Matheny years ago did a story noting that the Jaycees raised a few hundred dollars for a pool effort that never went anywhere. Those funds were eventually donated to the city of Madras to purchase Christmas decorations, according to Susan's memory.
   Maybe that's the money people are concerned about.
   It would be nice to solve this mystery. If the Jaycees-Christmas lights saga isn't the full story, someone please step forward and explain what is. It isn't just those against the pool who want to know -- everyone wants to know.
   Even with the cloud of the missing money, the majority of the district's voters supported the pool plan.
   Or did they. Some people aren't so sure. Nearly three months after the vote, the cry is out: Recount.
   Those against the pool contend that since the vote was relatively close -- a 2 percent margin, 86 votes -- that a recount is in order. Other conspiracists think that since the county's vote-counting machine went down and a replacement had to be brought in from Bend on election night that there was, well, a conspiracy.
   Unfortunately for recount backers, it's too late. There's a deadline to file a recount request, and for this election it was Dec. 7. All complaints should go to the Secretary of State's office in Salem.
   As for the vote-counting machine, County Clerk Kathy Marston said she has "100 percent confidence" it was accurate. The program chip that was in the machine that faltered on election night was put in the replacement machine, and it was certified twice after the election.
   But you'll never be able to convince the conspiracy theorists. They know those darned Jaycees had something to do with it.