17 goldfish add color, life to rejuvenated commons pond at public building in Greensburg

Jennifer Stultz
Pratt Tribune
Gurgling waterfalls and pleasant flowers greet visitors to one of Kiowa County's community buildings on S. Main in Greensburg.

Kristi Cooper, Kiowa County Clerk and newly-appointed Kiowa County Maintenance Director in Greensburg, can add a new skill to her list of accomplishments - fountain pond restoration. Cooper was recently responsible for completely cleaning and rejuvenating the goldfish pond on the western front of the Kiowa County City Building.

"Kristi and her team did such a wonderful job of revamping our commons pond," said Jeanie Finch, Kiowa County Clerk's Office. "I hope others come by to see the changes. They are just wonderful."

For Cooper, who moved to the maintenance directorship in June, the commons pond became a main priority when she took the job promotion.

"It had just not been a priority for some time," she said. "The plants were mostly dead, the pond was full of sludge and trash, it just really needed some help."

Cooper said she had never built or fixed a fountain pond before in her life, but with some online help she tackled the job head-on.

"At first, I actually thought about eliminating the pond and putting in a patio there," Cooper said. "I knew it was going to be a lot of work to get it back up to par and then maintain it. A patio would have been much easier, but after talking to people about it, they really wanted a nice pond there. The waterfall is so relaxing, kids love to come look at the fish, it just had the potential to be a blessing to the community, so with a little common sense and after watching a bunch of Youtube videos we just got busy."

Cooper said her first task was to take out the invasive fish species that had somehow gotten into the commons pond and taken over. She and her team removed several grass carp and perch that had eaten all the pond lilies and original goldfish.

"That was quite an adventure," Cooper said.

The next task was to drain the pond so it could be cleaned, also not an easy task.

"We removed 8 inches of sludge and yuck from the bottom of the pond," Cooper said. "It was definitely a challenge to get that out of there. We just figured out what to do as we went along."

Cooper said that along with removed sludge and trash items, she did salvage $3.32 that had been tossed in. She hopes that in the future people won't be so quick to try to feed the new fish or tosh in their change for good luck.

"We planted all new foliage, put in clean rocks and placed 17 fancy goldfish in the commons pond," she said. "We do not want anyone to come feed the fish, in fact, that is hazardous to the longevity of the fish and just creates a mess."

Cooper said she and her staff members at Kiowa County Maintenance are more than up to the challenge of daily maintaining the revamped commons pond and keeping it nice for patrons.

"We just ask that others are respectful of what we have done and come by to look and listen and enjoy the site, but please stay off the rocks and don't feed the fish," she said.

Since the pond has been completed, Cooper said several people have asked her if she would work on their own backyard ponds.

"I'm not for hire on this," she said. "This was quite a job, and while I enjoyed helping bring it back to life, this is not going to be my life's work. I have other things to take care of."

Cooper said she and her team have also recovered and rejuvenated the gazebo area at the Kiowa County Courthouse. Bringing beauty and cleanliness back to public spaces is certainly something she has made a priority for Greensburg.