Mara Kirby Garcia, co-owner of Kinney Bros & Keele True Value Hardware in Ontario helped coordinate a paint donation for renovation work at the Ontario Aquatics Center recently. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell)

ONTARIO – Ask and you shall receive.

The old adage rang true for members of the Ontario Recreation District pool committee recently when they sought help to buy paint for renovating the shuttered aquatics center in downtown Ontario.

Refurbishing the mothballed facility was a centerpiece of future plans for the new district. Voters created the independent district in 2018 and about $325,000 was set aside to repair the center.

The tax rate for the district is 55 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. The boundaries of the district are the same as the Ontario School District.

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The aquatics center, which includes an indoor pool and locker rooms, opened in 1981. The city closed it in September 2013, citing a lack of money.

While final plans for a large-scale renovation project are still in the preliminary stage, the district’s pool committee began to seek paint bids to prepare for work on the front desk, locker rooms and entry.

That’s where Ontario’s Kinney Bros & Keele True Value Hardware stepped in.

Pool committee member Lisa Reeser was put in charge of finding bids for the paint. She contacted Kinney Bros co-owner Mara Kirby Garcia.

“I knew Mara and Kinney and Keele are large supporters in the community and I know her on a personal level, so they were the first on my list to get a quote from,” said Reeser.

Kirby Garcia said when she met with Reeser she decided to reach out to the True Value Company.

Kirby Garcia said she soon discovered that company operates several community outreach programs and proved willing to donate $1,000 worth of paint.

“And they told Mara about a grant we can apply for that could potentially provide $750 more in paint and supplies,” said Reeser.

Kirby Garcia said that when the renovation project is ready, the paint will be mixed at Kinney Bros & Keele True Value Hardware.

“They can use it for whatever they want,” said Kirby Garcia.

Kirby Garcia said her effort to get corporate help was just part of Kinney Bros & Keele’s commitment to Ontario.

“I’ve grown up believing in giving back to the community,” said Kirby Garcia.

The donation is “a huge deal for us,” said Reeser.

“It will be enough to cover the entire inside area we are looking at. It’s businesses and community members like them that are going to further the progress on getting the aquatic center reopened and we are so appreciative of people like them because it is a major undertaking,” said Reeser.

A plan for the aquatics center renovation is still in progress, said Andrew Maeda, recreation district director.

Maeda said rec district officials plan to meet soon with engineers and designers.

“They will kind of give us a general understanding of what we want to get done first,” said Maeda. “We don’t have any good estimates (on costs) but we are going to keep what we have to keep and remove what has to come down.”

Maeda said painting inside the facility will begin once a final design plan is approved.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell: pat@malheurenterprise.com or 541-473-3377.

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