Longfellow, A Fish Out of Water

Belle Fourche News


Meg English

Lifeguards Micah Jones, Maddy Howard, and BFRC director Jody Westberg with 

 Longfellow, the whale. Beacon Photo

    Longfellow, the iconic whale slide at the Belle Fourche Recreation Center swimming pool is a fish out of water. Not literally, of course because whales are not fish, and Longfellow is only a fabrication of a whale. In a figurative sense, Longfellow and the many rec center patrons are like fish out of the water. We miss the pool and look forward to the reopening. 

   There’s good news according to Jody Westberg, who is the new director for the Rec Center. Although Jody has only been on board for a month and has spent the last 27 years as a marine biologist at SeaWorld in San Diego, she understands how much the pool means to people in the area. People tell her about the pool. She knows that we like the water warm, and that serious swimmers, senior citizens, and families from miles around rely on the facility for recreation, therapy, exercise, and swimming instruction. 

   The good news is that the contractors are under contract with the city of Belle Fourche to have the work completed by June 28. There are plans to resume swimming lessons adult swim and family swim schedules in July. 

   The pool that was originally built in 1991 will have a new lining. There will be a brand-new hot tub with a safe, user-friendly deck. The new flooring on the pool deck is slip resistant and much safer. There will be new depth markers, rings (not in the lap lane). The locker rooms have been repainted and there are fresh newly painted lockers. New mirrors are in place, and broken shower equipment has either been replaced or repaired. 

   The twelve lifeguards on staff have been busy repainting and doing various other restorative chores. To fulfill their certification requirements, both the Sturgis and Deadwood Recreation Centers have offered use of their pools to the lifeguards while our pool remains closed. 

   Although the reopening date is still a little tenuous, as it takes 5-7 days to flush, fill and heat the water when the work is completed, it appears that the project is on the home stretch.

   Jody Westberg has remained calm through the days of remodel. She understands that the contractors have been absent from the job because they have other projects to complete too. Jody is as eager as the community to reopen. She is well acquainted with Belle Fourche as she grew up in Whitewood and has family here. It was family that lured her back to Belle Fourche and the new job as director of the Belle Fourche Recreation Center. SeaWorld and San Diego are worlds away, but she is confident that she made the right choice to return. A degree in marine biology is welcome and useful anywhere.