The Columbus Aquatic Center is supposed to be a showpiece, not a sore spot. It still can be what it was always supposed to be, even after a rocky start.
Maybe the city finally found its horse after a couple of years of straining to move the cart without one.
Parks and Recreation Director James Worsley, whose department has kept the swim center in operation since the Consolidated Government sent an independent (and woefully incompetent) contractor packing last year, told Columbus Council that a 15-member task force has been formed to fix the problems and set a course for the future. The group has already met twice, and will meet weekly at the center.
The challenges have been well documented. The city's budget for the Aquatic Center funds Parks and Rec operation of the facility for only about two-thirds of what is supposed to be its full 89 hours a week.
Despite those troubles, the center's prospects got a huge boost with the recent announcement that the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics will hold both men's and women's swimming and diving national championships here for the next two years. This year's event will be March 2-5.
The task force seems a well-chosen mix of coaches and athletic directors, marketing people, financial people, recreation people, regular pool users and others. They will focus, Worsley told the council, on generating revenue for and by the Aquatic Center through corporate sponsorships, marketing and other fund-raising ideas.
For now, as Councilor Gary Allen rightly noted, the focus should be on the NAIA competition: "This is a big deal." It is indeed, and there can be no more important first step in turning the fortunes of the Columbus Aquatic Center around than by hosting this national event successfully and well.
Making a case
The announcement that suspects have been charged in the savage murders of a grandmother, a teenager and a 10-year-old child doesn't erase this community's shock and horror. Nor can it take away the pain, as if anything ever really will, of the murdered family's loved ones and friends. But it does provide a measure of somber satisfaction that the case is moving forward, after grim days of uncertainty.
Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren said there is a "very strong possibility" that other arrests in the case might be made; it's possible, by the time you are reading this, that they already have been. Boren said police believe they have considerable physical evidence, as well as what they believe is the murder weapon.
Arrests do not, needless to say, close the case. Suspects are presumed innocent unless and until convicted in a court of law. Let justice take its rightful course, wherever that might lead.