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Palestine ponders pool

September 4, 2012
By KATIE SCHWENDEMAN - Staff Writer ( , Morning Journal News

EAST PALESTINE What was a hub of activity is now dormant, drained of its water and locked to the outside world.

On Aug. 21, the gates were closed to the public pool at village park. They will remain closed until next year; although just how long they will be closed is yet to be decided by council.

Councilman Don Elzer wants the pool to stay open longer as part of his recommendation to increase revenue by emphasizing the village's already existing assets.

Park Manager Jerry Coblentz said the only reason the pool closed when it did this year is because the lifeguards on duty went back to college. The local schools weren't in session until last week.

In a detailed report given to council members and village administration, Pool Manager Dot Herbert said the pool is typically open until Aug. 26, but was closed a week earlier because of the lack of lifeguards after they went back to school.

"Every year there are questions about when the pool opens and closes. Imbedded in the collective memory of the community is the idea that the pool opens Memorial Day weekend and closes Labor Day weekend-period. In fact, we open the day after school closes and aim to close the day before school opens," she wrote.

Elzer said if the pool was the only one open in the area in September it would make money since it would draw people from other communities who did not have a public pool available.

According to Herbert's report, the average attendance at the pool in May and June was 204. The overall average for May through August was 170 people per day. Total attendance for all four months was 14,287. The pool brought in more than $76,000 this year.

Herbert said in the report that attendance was down by 1,000 from last year, although average daily attendance was the same. She also said that despite "exceptional business" in June and July less money came in overall as a result of fewer open days and poor weather in August.

Revenue goes toward paying the salaries of seasonal workers and the daily expenses of running the summer program.

Coblentz said if the pool stayed open through September and drew a lot of people there is a chance some would be turned away depending on how many lifeguards are available.

He explained that the pool can only admit as many people as there are lifeguards for, and believed there would be fewer lifeguards in September since school is in session.

Councilwoman Endia Wisser then suggested the pool open earlier instead, but Elzer said there is a greater chance of poor weather in the spring months than in late summer.

Coblentz agreed staying open later would be more beneficial than opening earlier.

Discussion then turned to how to encourage more people to become lifeguards. Wisser suggested park employees speak with high school counselors to get more students interested and Elzer suggested the village find ways to help lifeguards pay for certification.

Elzer noted that certification is roughly $280 and can be difficult for some people to pay up front. The certification is good for two years. Lifeguards are paid minimum wage.

Herbert suggested in her report that council consider creating an aquatics director position that could be full or part-time. The director would be responsible for supervising the lifeguards and provide in-house training.

"If done in-house, expenses could be reduced to the price of course materials and registration with the American Red Cross," she said.

Also included in the report was a recommendation that council consider offering prospective lifeguards an interest-free loan for course fees that would be repaid through deductions on their paycheck during the summer.

"Melissa McCartney has been very generous in the past with regard to making the lifeguard courses more manageable, but the reality is, should she become unavailable for any reason, we will be hard put to have enough life guards to keep the pool open," Herbert wrote.

McCartney teaches a water safety course in the village.

Herbert also suggested in the report that council consider a daily reduced rate for seniors and military service members. Identification for the military rate would be necessary if approved.

Although compiled by Herbert, the report was also the work of Coblentz and Terri Ward.

Council did not act on any of the suggestions last week.



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