The Times 

Lack of lifeguards could result in pool closure

Council directs City to move forward with motions of opening Waitsburg pool


WAITSBURG—Waitsburg city council members wasted no time in responding to news that a lack of lifeguards could result in the City of Waitsburg being unable to open the City Pool this summer. Council member K.C. Kuykendall and Student Representative Leena Baker were texting potential lifeguard candidates from the council table, even as discussion was taking place.

At the May 15 city council meeting, City Administrator Randy Hinchliffe informed the council that the city has received only one certified lifeguard applicant to date. Hinchliffe said they have received one application for office manager and there are possibly one or two individuals who are willing to take a certification class should one open up.

Hinchliffe said that at least four, but preferably five, lifeguards are needed to open the pool for the season. He said the pool could open for day swim only with three lifeguards, assuming no one is ill or will be gone for vacations or sports practices or camps.

“We had to close numerous times last year because of camps and sports practices,” he said.

At this point the timeline poses a significant challenge.

“We’re about a month out from opening the pool and it takes Jim (Lynch) about three weeks to get the pool ready on a good year,” he said.

He said Assistant Clerk Kelly Steinhoff is working with the YMCA to see about fast-tracking another certification class, should they receive enough applicants. However, it is a month-long course, and there would not be time for applicants to retake the course, should they fail. Hinchliffe said there is money to pay for the certification course if the city receives applicants.

Hinchliffe attributed the lack of applicants to a variety of reasons including the fact that the Dayton pool is closed so less kids are becoming certified and kids prefer to work in Walla Walla or Prescott.

“If we reopen the ad and accept applications, we delay opening at least two weeks or a month. If it’s a month, we’re halfway into the season,” he said. “We’ve tried to recruit more this year than we ever have.”

He said the City has placed ads and news briefs in the paper, blurbs were posted on the school website, they sent info to the school, and it’s been posted on Facebook.

Hinchliffe said the City struggled with manpower to keep the pool open last year and usage continues to decline each year.

“We thought that with Dayton closed last year we would have an influx and we didn’t,” he said.

“We need this pool open. My vote is we queue up Jim to do the normal start-up while you continue to see if you can fill the spots,” said council member K.C. Kuykendall.

“We need to at least go through the motions of opening the pool and see where we end up at. If we don’t get any takers in a two- or three-week span, then you, unfortunately, close the pool. But at least we’ll go through the motions of starting the process,” said Mayor Marty Dunn.

Lifeguard candidates must pass a certification test to qualify for hire. Contact City Hall with any questions (509) 337-6371.


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