June 2, 2020
By: Dwayne Page
The Smithville Municipal Swimming Pool may open soon but with some restrictions due to COVID 19.
During Monday night’s regular monthly meeting, the Aldermen voted 3 to 2 to open the pool once leak repairs are completed and the pool is refilled and treated with chemicals. No specific date has been set but the targeted opening is around June 15.
Aldermen Gayla Hendrix, Shawn Jacobs, and Brandon Cox voted in favor of opening the pool. Aldermen Donnie Crook and Danny Washer voted against it.
The pool usually opens on Memorial Day weekend but the city has kept it closed this year due to COVID 19 restrictions. Attracting enough certified lifeguards has also been a problem.
Pool manager Jeania Cawthorn has been seeking lifeguards for months and continues to do so. Due to the size of the pool, the city must have at least 4 certified lifeguards on duty per shift (2 shifts per day) in order to operate. With 8 certified lifeguards now in place, the pool could open but only on weekends, Friday through Sunday. Cawthorn informed the mayor and aldermen Monday night that up to 4 more potential lifeguards will be available if they complete their certification class in McMinnville this week. At least 15 lifeguards total are needed to keep the pool open 7 days a week.
The other issue keeping the pool closed is a leak problem, which is a yearly concern due to structural defects. Public Works Director Kevin Robinson said repairs are set to begin today (Tuesday) but he isn’t sure how long it will take to complete the work.
“This pool was built in 1974 and it wasn’t constructed very good especially in the corners. We found one corner leaking last year and we injected (repaired) it but over time it has become a problem again with the pool settling every year. The whole corner of the pool is torn out. When we went in there a big chunk came out of it (corner of the pool). Whether it takes a week or two weeks to repair it I don’t know,” said Robinson.
When the pool opens, social distancing guidelines will be observed and no more than 50 people at a time will be allowed in the pool area. Before being admitted, patrons must fill out a form and someone will take their temperature. Anyone age 17 and younger must have a parent or guardian with them to sign the form. Children younger than age 13 must remain in the company of a parent or guardian while at the pool.
The pool will have no chairs, picnic tables, or umbrellas this year. Anyone who wants a chair will have to bring their own. The diving board will be open but the slides will be closed. Patrons may wear masks if they wish but the lifeguards and pool staff will not be wearing masks. Rails and other surfaces will be kept sanitized and 6 foot social distancing will be practiced as much as possible. Pool restrooms will be open and concessions will be available at the pro shop.
Once the pool opens, plans are to keep it open at least part of each week from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. based upon the number of available lifeguards until school re-opens. Admission to the pool will remain at $2.00 per person.
Anyone who would like to become a certified lifeguard and work at the pool may sign up for the class in McMinnville which starts Wednesday, June 3.
“You must pay a fee of $150 up front and pass the test. The city will then reimburse your cost,” said Cawthorn.
“I would like to have at least 6 or 7 more lifeguards at the pool this year. Normally I have about 25 and I usually need that many because some have to quit early due to summer camps, vacations, and other jobs. The year since we may not be open as long I may not need as many lifeguards,” Cawthorn continued.
Report Card Day will not be observed in its usual form this year but Cawthorn said something similar may be held as a special Back to School celebration.
Swimming lessons, which are normally offered the first two weeks of the pool season, will not be available this year but water aerobic classes are planned this summer although there may be limits on enrollment due to the availability of lifeguards. Before the pool opens to the public, Cawthorn wants to set aside an hour for people of any age with disabilities to have access to the pool.
Contact Jeania at the Pro-shop at 615-597-6648 for more information or follow on facebook for the latest updates on the pool and golf course at Smithville Golf Course and Swimming Pool.