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Hamblen County community keeps pool open after state announced it would close

Tennessee leaders said the Panther Creek State Park swimming pool would close in December 2021, along with pools at 11 different state parks.

HAMBLEN COUNTY, Tenn. — A public pool that serves a community of around 65,000 people will stay open after state leaders announced in December that it was set to close for good.

After learning that the Panther Creek State Park pool would close, they rallied. Many community leaders called it the biggest and most affordable pool in the area, bringing out families searching for a way to stay cool in the hot, summer weather.

They called the announcement from Tennessee State Parks that it would close "shocking." The mayor of Hamblen County also said the announcement took him by surprise, and he said the community was not given a chance to give input on the decision to close the pool.

On Sunday, they learned it would stay open after months of fighting to keep it open. A delegation was able to get funding for the pool after a petition collected around 2,500 signatures to keep it open.

There was also a protest scheduled for July 9 to demonstrate against the closure. Organizers said that event will instead be a celebration.

"We have miles and miles of lake access in this area, not just at Panter Creek State Park, but when you're disabled or have physical limitations, you don’t have the access that a pool provides with handrails and steps, not to mention lifeguards on duty and just the visibility and the safety is a factor," said Laura McCoy, an advocate who worked to keep the pool open.

Proceeds from the celebration will go to the Friends of Panther Creek Park, which works to improve the park, according to organizers. T-shirts to commemorate the pool staying open will be available.

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