The Saratoga Sun -

Hanna rec center gets new direction

New director Vivian Gonzales looks to revitalize, upgrade recreation center and its use


Mike Armstrong

Vivian Gonzales, former town clerk for Hanna is now the acting Hanna Recreation and Park Director.

The Hanna Recreation Center was in flux for several months when Jerry Leturgey resigned as director. Several candidates were considered over the months, but none were the right fit for the job.

The olympic size pool was closed during this time, because no one at the center had a pool operator certificate and lifeguard credentials. This was disappointing to many seniors who did water aerobics in the morning, children that did water birthdays and members who did laps.

Gonzales heard the disappointment from members who would come into the town hall.

"I took it upon myself to approach the mayor about possibly switching over to the position at the recreation center," said Gonzales.

Tony Poulos, mayor of Hanna, was extremely supportive of Gonzales for the job.

"He had every faith in me. He knew the work I did in the town hall and he gave me the permission to take the leap," said Gonzales.

She cared the Recreation Board stayed together. The board usually has five persons, but currently has four. Two members were related to Gonzales and had to resign due to nepotism laws.

"Both are family and had no problem with leaving to help me get the job," said Gonzales.

No family can be related to the director because the board is involved with salary of employees.

Gonzales was raised in Hanna and her children are the fifth generation to live in the town. She did move to Colorado after graduating, but came back when her sons were seven and eleven, so they would have the small town living experience. Since the move, two more children have been added to the family

"My children are my life," said Gonzales. "I found myself at the rec center volunteering for all sorts of programs that were offered for kids whether it was girl scouts or Utah Jazz."

She didn't want to see the center die-not only due to her past involvement as a volunteer-but also because recent investments on the roof, carpeting and paint job.

As Gonzales got licensed, the center took advantage of the time to get the pool drained and cleaned.

"The pool is the crown jewel of the rec center and when it was opened back up December 1, people were ecstatic," said Gonzales.

She acknowledged before the pool reopened, the recreation center was slow. People still came to play racquetball, work out in the weight and aerobic rooms, use the gym for basketball courts and use the sauna, but once the pool was back, the recreation center has stayed busy.

Gonzales would like to extend the hours for the summer. Budget has to be considered, but opening on Saturday and expanding Friday night hours is a goal if financially possible.

"The water birthday parties are extremely popular already and there would probably be more with the expanded hours," said Gonzales.

She says people are understanding about the budget and the hours.

The Hanna Recreation Center is run by the Hanna Parks and Recreation Board, where Gonzales is director of the center and secretary of the Board.

Gonzales is also on the Wyoming Community Gas Board. Over the years that board has contributed what is now $15,000. Gonzales plans to use those funds for a gazebo outside the recreation center.

Gonzales has also worked on a grant from Carbon County School District 2 Recreation Board for maintenance and King Coal Days.

"I have tons of ideas; just come back to this place in six months and this place is going to look different," said Gonzales. "I know this building has potential to hold events and have activities all the time."

The center already has amenities not available until Gonzales took over. The weight room now provides towels and antibacterial wipes and the pool now has goggles, flippers and water wings easily accessible to patrons at no cost.

Gonzales says the price is inexpensive in comparison to any recreation center nearby. Memberships vary in price for singles, families, seniors and senior couples.

Sandy Combs, maintenance engineer for town buildings in Hanna, and Dale Martin, a publics works employee, are both credited with helping Gonzales in many ways with the building.

"Those two are my right hands," said Gonzales.

Being an activist when working with the different boards is essential to promoting the recreation center. She mentions Stacy Crimmins of the Saratoga Chamber of Commerce as a role model.

"Stacy she is a really good coordinator of events and that is what I want to be," said Gonzales. "I want to get the word out the Hanna rec center is a place to pay attention to, the way Stacy did with Saratoga."

Mike Armstrong

Vivian Gonzales, top left, works to get the many facilities at the Hanna Recreation Center up and running.

Recently students from HEM middle and high school used the pool. Gonzales would like to offer use of the pool to other schools in the district also.

The hot tub in the recreation center was closed last summer and Gonzales has been looking into ways to getting it working again.

"I want members to know all is not lost with the hot tub since I know many people used it often," she said.

The problem is pipes were set in a cement foundation and it is difficult to work on says Gonzales. She wants to get an expert plumber to investigate.

Wyoming Business Council has grants through the American Disability Act to help make it handicap accessible, but she will have to wait until next year before applying.

"Stuff is going on, juices are flowing, I want to get the word out the rec center is open for business," Gonzales said.


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