Members #039;flip#039; for Sta-Tan Pool

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Friends Rhonda Giger and Drema Wilder, both Ironton mothers with three children each, floated lazily on foam noodles by the lifeguard stand of the Sta-Tan Pool in Ironton.

This is Giger's first year as a member of the more than 40-year-old swim club, and to say that she has been pleased so far would be an understatement.

"I love it, I think it's absolutely wonderful," Giger said. "You don't have to worry about the kids being around a bunch of roughnecks or drugs, it's great."

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With the Mitch Morgan Municipal Pool staying closed this year, Sta-Tan, at 2105 N. Fifth St. in Ironton, has become the hot spot for staying cool this summer.

It was Wilder who convinced Giger to become a member. Wilder been coming to the pool since she was a teen, and is now passing the fun on to her little ones.

"It hasn't changed a bit," Wilder said. "It still has the same owners and it is just as much fun as when I was a teenager. Now I get to bring my kids and watch them have fun."

Staton agrees that not much has changed over the years at the Sta-Tan Swim Club. The pool's concession stand even serves up hot dogs with the same chili recipe they used in 1961.

Even the people are the same. Kathy Cunningham, who manages the pool for her mother (and pool owner) Pearl Staton, says that many of the customers have been members for decades, some since the club's opening in 1961.

She does not even need to use membership cards at the pool; she knows all her more than 200-member families by sight.

The one thing that has had to change over the years has been membership fee. The pool staff reluctantly increase fees this year to make up for some big ticket items purchased last season.

A single person can expect to pay $220 for a year-long membership, a two-parent, two-child family will pay $340. The pool is offering a special student membership of $150 for youth ages 14 to 18 as a result of the municipal pool closure to make sure those teens still have a place to hang out.

Giger thinks the pool's membership fees are completely justified.

"It's absolutely worth the money," Giger said. "That membership has been worth its weight in gold."

Though it is not uncommon for parents like Giger and Wilder to line the water and watch their children in the shallower parts of the pool, the youth rule the pool.

After impressing the crowds with a few high-dive flips, 15-year-old Brandon McBride started chatting up a group of friends.

McBride has been coming to the pool for years to cool off, but also just because it is the place to be.

"All my friends are here, it's just, I don't know, the hang out," McBride said. "Oh, and I really like the high dive."

Staton, who named the pool after a play on her last name, said she has enjoyed watching her young members grow up over the years. Just do not expect to see her sharing in the fun with them.

"Oh, no," said Staton with a slightly guilty laugh. "I've never been able to swim."