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'Hey, mon, it's cold out there'

Monday, February 19, 2007

(Photo)
Passers-by can see the fruits of labor as the Bacon Aquatics Center/Gillette Park nears completion in Cherokee. Photo by John Cook.
Sub-zero temperatures don't stop this crew

As the Bacon Aquatics Center and Gillette Park construction project inches to completion during this current spell of nasty winter weather producing frigid temperatures and frequent snowfalls, two hardy men completed the Aquatic Center's water slides recently.

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With one man working inside and one outside, a two-man crew labored in sub-zero weather recently assembling the water slides at Bacon Aquatic Center in Cherokee. Photo by John Cook.
Working day and night over a long weekend in sub-zero temperatures, biting winds, and snows, the two-man crew employed by "Splashtacular" of Fairway, Kan., completed their portion of the project by successfully bolting the large slide complex together Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, January 26-29, according to project organizers.

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Bolting and sealing the tubular slide in frigid temperatures at Bacon Aquatic Center in Cherokee was a four-day job for a hardy, two-man crew recently. Photo by John Cook.
Grundman-Hicks Construction Company is the general contractor for the Cherokee project that included dismantling the 50-year-old municipal swimming pool and bath house, and constructing the new Bacon Aquatics Center and bath house/concessions facility, and making vast improvements in infrastructure and esthetics in Gillette Park that surrounds the Aquatics Center. The former concrete tennis courts also were removed from Gillette Park.

Remarkably, the two men who completed the water slides project came to Cherokee from just finishing a similar job in Jamaica, where, company officials said, the temperatures were in the 80s with daily bright sunshine.

According to John Cook, the Cherokee attorney who, along with retired Dr. Robert Martin, co-chaired the local committee and spearheaded the successful fund-drive that brought the Aquatics Center project to fruition, the two-man Splashtacular crew went above and beyond the call of duty to complete the slides and keep the complex project running ahead of schedule.

With one man working on the inside of the slides and tubes, and the other on the outside, the crew fastened hundreds of bolts and other fastners to secure the slides and joints to the framing. And, although there was supplemental heat piped into the tubing, the men would be forced at times to jump in their vehicle, or inch next to the heater in the tubular slide to thaw out their "frozen" fingers.

The Chronicle Times contacted both Grundman-Hicks, which subbed out the water slides project, and Splashtacular, the subcontractor for the job, and neither knew the two men's names. In explaining, a spokesman for Splashtacular, said they have many similar jobs going on across the country and have several crews from various locales and could not identify the two courageous workers in Cherokee.

More hardy workers also poured the footings for the Centennial Shelter at the west end of Gillette Park that Friday. The footings were then covered and heated until the concrete set a few days later.

All in all, the project remains ahead of schedule since it began, according to Cook, and it's the great work ethic of the contractors and subcontractors working in all weather conditions keeping it that way.

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The spiffy new water slides, one enclosed and one open, have been completed and now await the happy squeals of joyful swimmers this summer at the Bacon Aquatic Center in Cherokee. Photo by John Cook. [Click to enlarge]
The $3.2 million project is expected to be completed and ready for the 2007 summer season.



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