EDITORIAL: Throw the city a lifeline

Apr. 27—The city of McAlester is looking for more than a few good people with swimming skills to serve as lifeguards for this summer season.

At stake is whether the city will have enough qualified lifeguards to open the two pools it hopes to open for this summer season — the Jeff Lee Pool and the Chadick Park Wading Pool.

City of McAlester Community Services Director Doug Basinger said earlier this week that only two individuals had applied to work as lifeguards. For opening the pools — especially the full-sized Jeff Lee pool — many more applications are needed.

Basinger said the city of McAlester needs to hire at least 24 lifeguards to make opening the Jeff Lee Pool for the summer feasible.

He said he knows that sounds like a lot of lifeguards, but it's important to remember they all won't be watching the pool at the same time and some will be working different shifts. The city also has to make arrangements for things such as sick days, younger lifeguards attending sports or cheerleading camps, or going on vacation with their parents.

To help with the lifeguard-hiring process, the city is hosting an informational meeting set for 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 30, at the J.I. Stipe Recreational Center at 801 N. Ninth St.

Potential lifeguards do not have to be pre-certified to apply, Basinger said. They do have to be at least 16 and know how to swim.

The city of McAlester will help with the certification process and will even pay for the certifications, — which can cost up to $150 per person — city officials said.

Even with the need, Basinger noted there's the possibility not everyone who applies will be hired. That's because of some requirements in the certification process and that's why he's hoping more than 24 potential applicants will attend the informational meeting.

Basinger told city councilors earlier this week the city had the funds to open the Jeff Lee swimming pool and Chadick Park wading pool, but he said the lifeguard situation is the deciding factor.

McAlester Mayor John Browne said nobody at the city wants to see the Jeff Lee Pool stay closed for the summer.

City Manager David Andren said while the city does want to see the pool open, safety must be the city's top priority and if enough lifeguards can't be found, the city will have no choice but to keep the pool closed.

Even if aquatic activities aren't part of your individual skill set, you can help by passing the word about the April 30 informational meeting for potential lifeguards to anyone you know who might be interested.

So help out by throwing the city of McAlester a lifeline, if you will.

Help spread the word about the Tuesday informational meeting for lifeguards. Those who do so may be helping local residents and visitors have a happier — and wetter — summer.