Today's blog post continues this week's feature of Manning, Iowa. Jodi Ramsey is sharing about the new outdoor aquatic expansion project and why she and her family love their town!

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It seems only fitting for a community whose slogan is “it’s refreshing” to embrace the idea of adding an outdoor aquatic center to its already well-developed indoor aquatic facility, and as one who loves the sun, summer, and soaking it all up by the water, I feel compelled to help lead the fundraising efforts. I should also be honest, though, and share that my motivation to support this outdoor aquatic center campaign also stems from watching my husband the past 8 years assemble, disassemble, and manage our own little above-ground, 5,000-gallon pool. I tell him he’s the cutest pool boy I know, but my silly compliments only get an eye-roll and a huffy response of “we’re not doing this next year.”

My husband Eric and I are both graduates of the Manning school district (now the IKM-Manning district), and after living in the Des Moines area for about 8 years after college, we returned to Manning with our growing family in 2007. I was five months pregnant with our fourth child when we moved back that summer so the pool was not at the top of my list of favorite places to hang out. However, the following summer I was ready to be back in the sun and in the water, but with four kids 5 years old and younger, the public pool in town presented a challenge that I struggled to take on by myself. That year we put up our first small backyard pool, and we have continued putting up a pool every year since (even though the threats of it always being the “last year” continue). My family loves our town’s indoor pool during the off-season, but outside in the water is where we like to be in the summer.

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The vision and movement for the outdoor aquatic expansion (inspired by Manning native and city operations manager John Ohde) isn’t surprising if you’ve been around Manning for any length of time. Our progressive town continues to achieve the unthinkable for one its size with its Main Street development and revitalization projects, growing businesses, expanding trail system, and updated healthcare, emergency services, and childcare facilities (just to name a few). It’s this energy and resulting opportunities that brought Eric and me back to our hometown that we love. We now have five children growing up in Manning and in the IKM-Manning school district, and we are confident that there isn’t a better place for them. I am hopeful that several of them will get to experience splashing in the fountains at the outdoor, zero-level entry pool and slipping down the large slides before they graduate. And if history repeats itself, maybe a couple of them will realize how “refreshing” Manning truly is and return here to raise their families as well.

I’m taking the plunge on this Hillside splash fundraising project as I believe there’s a need for this outdoor aquatic facility, and I feel it will help encourage other families to call Manning home in the near future and for generations to come.

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