Vernon town pool a frequent recipient of lightning strikes


VERNON -- From time to time, Seth Deyo has heard grumblings when the pending arrival of bad weather forces closure of the Vernon town pool.

But he says the latest lightning-related incident at the Pond Road facility -- a July 7 strike that has led to repair costs of up to $2,000 -- is further evidence that no one should be anywhere near the water when storms approach.

"We have been hit three times this year already," said Deyo, the town’s recreation director. "That reinforces the fact that, if we hear thunder or see lightning, we immediately remove everybody from the pool."

Deyo said he has been with the town for 14 years, and he has lost three pool-system motors to lightning strikes during that time. He said the recreational area has lightning rods, but "sometimes, lightning just does what it wants to do."

The pool usually sees two or three lightning strikes over an entire season, Deyo said, so a tally of three before the end of July is a relatively high number. The latest happened on Monday, July 7, when an afternoon strike fried the pool motor and shut down the facility.

Deyo had a backup motor on hand, and it was installed the following day with assistance from the town highway department and from King’s Electric Inc. The pool reopened July 9.

"There was some additional work with the pump that we needed to finish up," Deyo said. "That happened last Thursday afternoon."

In all, "it was a minimal closure of the pool," he added.

The department’s insurance policy has a $1,000 deductible per incident. So on Monday night, Deyo sought and received Selectboard permission to pay that deductible from an emergency repairs and replacement budget line item.

Any remaining costs -- from $500 to $1,000 more, according to Deyo’s estimates -- will be covered by insurance.

It is a relatively small hiccup in what is an important summer for the future of Vernon Recreation Department.

With the pending closure of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, the town has made deep cuts in municipal expenses.

Recreation sustained some cuts in Vernon’s fiscal year 2015 budget, which took effect July 1. But Selectboard members also said they wanted to preserve as much of the department’s offerings as possible, reasoning that strong recreational facilities and programs can help attract potential residents.

The expectation, however, is that the department will bring in more revenue in order to balance its expenditures. And on a sunny Tuesday morning, a few hours before the pool was set to open, Deyo said he has seen encouraging turnout this summer.

"We’ve been busy throughout," he said. "We did a fair amount of marketing this year ... and we’re seeing that pay off, as we’re seeing more people using the pool."

In particular, Deyo said, sales of nonresident pool passes are up. Also, there have been more than 100 kids involved in every swimming-lesson session, and the recreation department’s day-camp program has been full every week.

"It’s still early to say what the final numbers will be, but the initial signs are positive," Deyo said.

On Monday, Selectboard Chairwoman Patty O’Donnell had praise for the department’s work this year. She also lauded the department’s role in hosting and organizing last month’s town picnic.

"The summer is going really smoothly. I’m hearing great reports from everybody," O’Donnell said. "Busy is good -- that’s what we want. That’s what we were hoping for."

More information on the department’s offerings, events and schedules -- as well as information about Vernon Preschool, which falls under the recreation department’s supervision -- is available online at


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