It#8217;s hot. The pool#8217;s cool, but it#8217;s closed

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 9, 2008

FRANKLIN—The week’s weather outlook is calling for temperatures consistently reaching the mid- to upper-90s, and the one place kids go to beat the heat is closed.

The city pool was supposed to be open by now, but a severe lack of certified lifeguards has kept the chain-link fence on Armory Drive locked.

Normally, according to Frank Davis, director of the Franklin Parks & Recreation Department, the pool staff would consist of a pool manager, “three or four” lifeguards on duty and a gate attendant during one of the busier days at the pool.

To date, however, only one applicant has applied for a lifeguard’s job and there has yet to be a qualified pool manager candidate.

“I check every day [with City Hall] to see if anybody’s applied,” Davis said.

Davis said there are some potential lifeguards in the area but “they have to be recertified.”

To try to encourage more applicants, the wage paid to lifeguards has been raised from the initial rate of $7 per hour to $9 per hour, “to see if we could make it more appealing,” Davis said. Ads have appeared in The Tidewater News and on the city cable television channel.

Still, only a few takers have applied.

It used to be that a lifeguard’s job appealed to high school students off for the summer, or college students home on break.

“Years ago” that might have been true, Davis said. “But now, maybe the summers are hotter, you’re out in the sun all day. It’s just rough.”

Chris Brooks is in charge of hiring lifeguards and setting up the lifeguard classes at the James L. Camp Jr. YMCA in Franklin.

He said his He said he has “sort of” had problems getting lifeguards for this summer, and said the problem could be due to past employees moving out of town, as well as stricter life-guarding certification requirements.

Brooks also said that people aren’t signing up in general for the classes.

At the Y, Brooks said he’s got 12 lifeguards to schedule. Normally he has 20. He said that 12 is about the minimum needed to operate a full pool schedule.

Brooks said he has not raised wages to attract new applicants, but he does advertise at the YMCA, The Tidewater News and has a sign-up list of people he calls when the certification classes are getting ready to start.

For swimmers at the Franklin pool, however, “we do have hope to open” this summer, Davis said.

Activity at the city’s pool has been remarkably consistent the last three years. In 2005, 3,463 admissions were sold; In 2006 there were, 3,328 and last year there were 3,329.

Of getting the gates open and the pool in use this year, Davis said: “We do have hope.”