By Karen Hutchinson-Talaski

Staff writer

HERMISTON — The Hermiston Family Aquatic Center is the recipient of a pair of awards.

The center received the 2006 Oregon Recreation and Parks Association Design award at the 2006 ORPA awards banquet in September. On top of that, in the November/December 2006 issue of Aquatics International magazine, the aquatic center was named best public sector waterpark. Both awards are judged by aquatic professionals.

According to Rin-rin Yu of Aquatics International, entries are received from municipalities and other aquatic centers. A panel of judges go over the entries and determine who best exemplifies what an aquatic center should be — reaching everyone, young and old.

"We're very excited about it," said Parks and Recreation Director Ivan Anderholm. "It is a reflection on the quality of the facility."

The recognition, says Anderholm, is not just for the design of the facility but for the programming as well.

"It's recognizing we utilize it," Anderholm said. "We knew that going in to it. It reinforces that you've done something well."

The 2006 season was financially better than the previous two years despite the fact that about 7,000 less people came to the facility. Part of the reason, says aquatics manager Bryan Brogan, had to do with the protracted construction project on Elm Street by the Oregon Department of Transportation.

"We had a good year," Brogan said. "The low attendance was related to the construction. The swimming people were late (due to the construction delays) and the public swim side just turned around."

The summer also got off to a slow start due to the cooler weather in June. Prices were increased to bring them up to market range, which helped with revenues, despite the lower attendance, Brogan said.

"It was pretty good over last year," he said.

Next year, patrons can expect more scuba and snorkeling lessons for kids and teens, as well as the possibility of at least one swim meet.

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