Mount Sterling Park District kicks off campaign to finish fundraising for city pool

Joel Oliver pool

Proposed updates to the Joel Oliver Memorial Pool include a splash pad with water features, an easy entry beach walk-in addition to the kiddie pool, new pumps and liner, and repairs to the plumbing. | Addi Zanger

MOUNT STERLING, Ill. — After receiving a $400,000 grant from the state, the Mount Sterling Park District has been making waves in an attempt to raise enough money to give its current pool much needed upgrades. 

The state grant was through the Open Space Land Acquisition and Development program, administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. OSLAD grants can provide up to one-half of a project’s funds.

The other half is up to the community. 

Thankfully, this isn’t swimming pool manager Nichole Miller’s first rodeo. At age 8, she was a part of the fundraising for the original construction of the Joel Oliver Memorial Pool. 

“I took my bucket and knocked on doors asking for donations,” Miller says. 

More than 30 years later, Miller is essentially doing that again. This time, she’s raising money to pay for pool improvements for the children of Mount Sterling — including her 6-year-old daughter. 

The updates to the pool include a splash pad with water features, an easy entry beach walk-in addition to the kiddie pool, new pumps and liner, and repairs to the plumbing. The Park District also plans to make the pool ADA compatible by adding a lift, making it more accessible to people with disabilities. 

Chris Kassing, president of the Park Board, says the lift is an important addition.

“Everyone should be able to enjoy the water, no matter their mobility,” he said.

Miller and Kassing agree the pool improvements will help strengthen the community’s pride in their small town. People will have a direct impact on the construction of the pool through their fundraising. 

After fundraising for the original pool at age 8, Miller says, “It was pretty cool to see I fundraised for it. Now it was there.”

The Mount Sterling Park District hopes more people can have that same feeling by raising money for the pool updates. 

With several successful avenues already pursued, the fundraising has moved on to a campaign that’s another blast from the past. The slogan “Buy a block, build a pool” was used to encourage the donations that built the original pool. People in Mount Sterling who want to support the pool improvements can buy a personalized brick tile.

“It gives the people a sense of ownership over the pool,” Kassing said. 

The Tracy Family Foundation has vowed to match up to $150,000 in any donations provided before July 15.

Anyone who wants to support the fundraising project should contact Kassing or Miller, follow the Joel Oliver Memorial Pool on Facebook or go to

Addi Zanger, a 2023 Quincy Notre Dame graduate, is serving as an intern for Muddy River News during the summer. She plans to study journalism at the University of Missouri in the fall.

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