Scott Gross: Karns Lions Club needs new members

Beth KinnaneOur Town Neighbors

It’s been a challenging 18 months for Lions Clubs across the community, and that is no different for the Karns chapter. Scott Gross recently assumed the role of president and is trying to, cautiously, get things back up and running for the club-owned Karns Community Pool.

The pool has been undergoing very expensive and much needed renovations this year after being closed last summer due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Once work started in late spring, though, it has been a process of start and stop, start and stop, primarily due to supply chain issues also caused by the pandemic.

Scott Gross

“As much as we were wanting to have it open this summer, it is unlikely to happen, except for a few possible limited dates,” Gross said.

The repairs have been made, the bonding is set, all that is left ahead of filling the pool is getting it plastered. But that has to wait until ALL the needed plaster is on hand.

“It’s not a job you can do in parts,” Gross said. “Once you start, you have to go until you’re done. We can’t use what we have and then be waiting weeks for the rest of it to show up.”

It’s also imperative that the job is completed during warm weather, and the pool is at least halfway full of water before cold weather sets in, Gross explained. The repairs and plastering are warm weather jobs, and the pool cannot be left empty during cold and, usually, wet weather.

“Many people don’t understand that you can’t leave a pool empty over the winter,” he said. “The ground will get saturated, and without the weight of water in it, the pool can literally come right up out of the ground.”

The things people don’t understand weigh on Gross. There were some frustrations last summer with the closure of the Karns Community Park along with the pool due to Covid.

Seriously, the pool needed repairs.

“I think sometimes people forget that we’re a private service organization providing this park and pool to the community,” he said. “It isn’t owned by the county,” though the county does have a long-term lease on the ballfields, and the Karns Community Club has a long-term lease on the building there. “Any liability is on us.

“We have to raise funds for everything we do, and we weren’t able to do that much last year,” Gross said. “We had a shrimp boil back in June, we did it for two days, and had a wonderful response from the community. So hopefully we’ll be getting back on track.”

Gross is a bit of an anomaly for a Lions Club member, not to mention president. He isn’t retired, is not yet 50, still has kids in school and a day job. He works as a lineman for Comcast. He is also Karns born and raised, graduating from the high school in 1994. His first job was at the pool, so it’s also a labor of love for him to oversee its return to glory, even if it is taking longer than anticipated.

“My first job was working the concession stand here, as soon as I was old enough to work,” he said. “I basically lived here during the summer. I spent three summers as a life-guard here” before moving out of Knoxville for a time to work elsewhere.

Gross explained that the costs of the pool repairs are in the ballpark of $150,000, and the club would appreciate any and all donations to help with that. Once open, pool admission fees are not enough to cover that – “we generally break even on operations costs” – and other fund raising is supposed to go for the Lions Club’s charter service projects, their vision care assistance and Christmas food basket programs along with funding some scholarships.

Gross would also welcome new members, especially those younger and physically able to take on the maintenance tasks of the pool and the park.

“This club has been maintaining this park and pool and serving the community for over 50 years,” Gross said. “It’s the place where a lot of kids have their first jobs, where families can gather and be together, for youth to have a safe place to have fun. We want to keep it that way.”

To donate, join or find out more about the Karns Lions Club go here or here.

Beth Kinnane is the community news editor for

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