Remember when the city of Portsmouth couldn’t find anyone in town to cut the grass at Greenlawn Cemetery? What you may also not have known is that the McKinley Pool had to be closed two days a week because the city could not find enough lifeguards.
The topic came up at Monday’s Portsmouth City Council meeting when Mayor Jim Kalb cited an email from Scioto Christian Ministries regarding the operating hours of the pool.
“They asked if there is anything Scioto Christian Ministries can do to facilitate this endeavor,” Kalb said.
“We budgeted for five lifeguards and a pool manager, which is typical,” Portsmouth City Manager Derek K. Allen said. “That allowed for operation seven days a week.”
That being said, Allen noted the city only received three applicants for lifeguard positions.
“You may not have known but there was talk earlier this summer as to whether we were going to open the pool because we couldn’t find anybody who wanted to be a lifeguard,” Allen said. “We ended up getting three applicants. We hired all three and in order for them to have days off the pool had to be closed two days a week which is unfortunate in the hot summer.”
Allen said, in addition to no one wanting to be a lifeguard, there is the pay.
“We pay minimum wage,” Allen said. ‘If we raise that wage in order to try to attract people to be lifeguards we then would be paying lifeguards summer help more than we pay three of our employees – two in Sanitation, one at the (Greenlawn) Cemetery. That’s something we struggle with.”
“At one point I thought Community Action (of Scioto County) was paying for the lifeguards,” Second Ward Council representative Jo Ann Aeh said.
Kalb said he would communicate with SCM to see if some of their members would pay for training someone or volunteer to be lifeguards.
“I think next spring we need to do an article that gets out there and tells the public that we need lifeguards,” Allen said. “For the pool to be open seven days a week we need people to apply to be lifeguards.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.