Jack Black on board for pool, spray park fundraiser

Projects combine efforts to facilitate completion

TONASKET – The Tonasket Water Ranch spray park should be completed this summer.

Rebuilding the Tonasket City Swimming pool is likely to take several years at multiple times the cost.

The committees working to make the two projects a reality combined forces in an effort to facilitate the completion of both, and that has helped to bring on board actor Jack Black, who is participating in a fundraiser to bring in the money that is hoped to complete the spray park and jump start the pool effort.

10401961_703033823090847_9053100060185327530_nBlack has strong family ties to the area, and his stepmother Linda Black has been the driving force to get the Tonasket Water Ranch built in order to give area children some summertime water recreation sooner rather than later.

But it was Karen Stangland, whose leadership of the community swimming pool community has given it focus and direction, that discovered the fundraising opportunity that both hope will bear fruit.

“I was watching junk TV one night and saw this Omaze thing,” Stangland said. “I saw how much George Clooney made for a ‘date with George Clooney’ – I called Linda and thought it might be something to get Jack involved with if he was willing.”

Jack Black will be starring in an upcoming movie based on R.L. Stine’s “Goosebumps” book series.

“Once he started looking at it and talked to the Goosebumps people, they took an interest,” Linda Black said. “That’s when it moved forward.”

Purchasing entries at the website http://www.omaze.com/jackblack in a variety of dollar amounts sends funds to the spray park and pool projects. The winner (and a friend) will be flown to Atlanta, Georgia, housed in four-star hotel, and be Jack Black’s guest on the “Goosebumps” movie set.

“He kind of asked what he needed to do,” Linda Black said. “I just told him to treat them like he does his dad and I. When we go down, we hang out in his trailer. He goes to the makeup place. Roz, his hair designer, has been with him since he was 19 or 20, is someone we think of as a family member. So when they get to meet Roz, that’s a really personal thing.

“Plus the eating is great, with assistant directors running around feeding you.”

The contest runs through June 23.

Black and Stangland are hoping the money brought in through the fundraiser are enough to get the ball rolling more quickly for the swimming pool project.

“On July 9, we begin digging (the spray park) no matter what,” Black said, noting that there is still work being done by the city to upgrade the lift station at Chief Tonasket Park, part of which will be paid by the spray park project. “We’re starting then regardless of where that’s at.”

“Hopefully this Omaze thing will give us a jump start.” Stangland said. “When people realize how expensive the pool will be, they’re pretty shocked. Then they are hesitant to donate, say, $25,000. But it cost us 20k just to get an engineering design.

“When my dad died he talked to Mayor (Patrick) Plumb about the pool. … He gave money for the pool and there were a few other fundraisers earmarked for the pool. I wanted to respect that and get the ball rolling, make it happen. But it is a long project.”

The water ranch will end up costing about $250,000 with minimal maintenance costs. The pool is estimated to be about $1.5 million to build plus another $40-50,000 a year to maintain.

“If we don’t come close to raising about $1 million, we can’t even apply for grants until 2016,” Stangland said. “We will have to keep raising money however we can and then apply for matching grants.

“We’ve supported the water ranch, but a lot of the communication around town … if you had fundraising for both at the same time it might be a nightmare. We might be butting heads all around town. So we backed off a bit and decided to work on this together.”

If it seems like it will be years before a pool can be built, with grants not even available to be applied for for another two years … well, it is. Which is why Black has been working for the past two years to get the spray park built, both to serve as a “bridge” to the pool at a fraction of the cost as well as provide a new recreational opportunity in Tonasket.

And, she notes, it’s already provided some benefits. Thanks to a Community Foundation grant, new signage is popping up – a the new Tonasket welcome sign at the north end of town, built by Kurt Haskin, as well as signage for Chief Tonasket Park that will highlight all of the park’s activities (and make it much easier for visitors to find).

“We just need people to come together for projects that benefit the community,” Stangland said. “It all goes hand in hand. People want good schools, good doctors, good recreation for their kids. It all keeps the community vibrant.”