BECKLEY, WV (LOOTPRESS) – During a Council Meeting on Monday, a deal was discussed which could remedy the longstanding issue of lack of a sufficient number of lifeguards in Beckley.
The proposed arrangement entails the City of Beckley working with a private company to supplement the number of lifeguards on hand to operate the city’s pools.
Estimated to cost $130,000, Beckley Mayor Rob Rappold pointed out the “very favorable cost” of such a deal, stating that it would amount to similar expense as is normally paid by the city to train and pay lifeguards each year.
Rappold discussed the funding of city swimming pools each year, revealing that the city often takes a financial loss in keeping these public activities operational, commenting,
“I would like to emphasize that the City of Beckley is not in the swimming pool business to make a profit. It’s to serve the citizens of Beckley, and we’ll do that as long as we can afford to do so. But this program has the potential to break even.”
Parks and Recreation Director for the city, Leslie Baker, has been working alongside Rappold in working past the issue of understaffing regarding lifeguard recruitment, which has been an ongoing issue.
Efforts statewide are being made to counteract these issues, with many areas – as Raleigh County already has – increasing lifeguard wages to $12 an hour and covering the costs of training and certification.
The Fayette County Commission recently discussed this idea in a recent meeting, opting to approve the coverage of certification and training, but opting to revisit the wage issue in the future.
The number of qualified, on-duty lifeguards required for a public pool to become and remain operational correlates directly with the number of swimmers which can be accommodated by the pool in question.
While the Black Knight pool – which accommodates about 100 swimmers – was able to attain enough lifeguards for the pool to be functional during the 2021 season, the significantly more sizable New River Pool – which can accommodate hundreds of swimmers – has remained closed for the past two seasons due to lack of adequate staffing.
More information on upcoming meetings and events for the City Beckley can be found here.