Lack of pool workers could delay opening

Deb Hill
News-Argus Managing Editor
Friday, April 23, 2021
Article Image Alt Text

Parks and Recreation Director Jim Daniels points to the splash park, part of the Lewistown Aquatic Center. Daniels is working to get the Center open for the summer, which means hiring up to 40 staff.
Photo by Deb Hill

Jim Daniels is a little bit worried. Usually by this time of the spring, plans to open the Lewistown pool are well underway. This year there’s a glitch: not enough staff.
“We need between 25 and 40 people to operate the pool,” Daniels said.
As of Wednesday, he had six.
The pool is part of the Lewistown Aquatic Complex, which also includes the slides, splash park and snack bar. Running the operation requires lifeguards, concession workers, cashiers, a pool manager and an assistant manager. Most years, those positions are filled by high school or college students.
Normally Daniels said there would already be 25 or 30 people hired. He is not sure why the number of applicants is down so much this year.
“Last year it was hard to find workers and we blamed it on COVID,” he said. “I know other places are struggling to find workers; it’s not just us.”
With a goal to open the entire operation this summer, Daniels said the Complex can see as many as 550-600 people at a time.

“We need to have seven lifeguards on duty at any time,” he said. “We want to have swim lessons this year; last year we didn’t have them because we didn’t have enough guards. I’m already getting a lot of calls from people asking if we will be offering lessons.”
Another group that is impatient to start using the pool is the Lewistown Sea Lions swim team.
“We are scheduled to host the Eastern A divisional swim meet here in July; that’s 400-500 swimmers. It’s a big shot in the arm for the community,” Daniels said, adding, “I just think this pool is very important to this community. I want to go full bore.”
Daniels said he will start getting the pool ready to open around May 3. There is cleaning to be done first, and he plans to get the water heating up the week prior to Memorial Day. Once the facility opens, it operates from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week. Daniels said he would like to see the pool stay open into September, but usually his student-workers must go back to school, ending the season even though the weather is still warm.
But all of that is dependent on having enough pool workers—at a bare minimum, Daniels said he must have 20. Daniels said he has advertised on the radio, in the News-Argus, with posters at the high school and on the pool website. He said he is not opposed to hiring workers older than high school or college age; in fact, he encourages anyone who is interested to let him know.
Daniels can be reached at the Civic Center, 535-3045 or on his cell phone, 366-2320.



Do you think Montana is ready to move on to the next phase of the governor's re-opening plan?