by Dennis Dalman
The two wading pools in Sartell will be staffed by certified lifeguards from the St. Cloud Area Young Men’s Christian Association.
At its Feb. 24 city council meeting, members voted unanimously to sign a one-year contract with the YMCA to provide a lifeguard at each of the city’s two kiddie pools – the one in Watab Park, the other in the Celebration neighborhood area.
It will cost the city an estimated $1,800 more than what the city usually pays on an annual basis to staff, maintain the pools, repairs and equipment costs – an amount of about $28,000. Wages for the lifeguards, as they were for previous lifeguards, are estimated at about $17,000.
Sartell City Administrator Mary Degiovanni told the council she is convinced the city will come out ahead in expenses, largely because the city’s public-works staff will not have to do hiring of college-student lifeguards or spend time on scheduling and management issues. That will free up the staff for other summer work they must do, she noted. The YMCA contract is for a fixed amount of cost. The only thing that could change is if there are some hot, busy days when a second lifeguard is needed. But, as Degiovanni noted, in previous years the city had to hire extra lifeguards on days like that, anyway. Last year, in fact, some YMCA lifeguards helped out in Sartell after college-student lifeguards had to quit their jobs to go back to school.
The pools will be open from 11:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Monday through Sunday from May 26 through Labor Day, Sept. 1.
The YMCA contract requires Sartell to provide a defibrillation machine at each pool, and so the city has decided to use the two AEDs currently housed at each of the city’s two water plants.
In making the decision to enter into the contract, council members Steve Hennes and Amy Braig-Lindstrom called it a good partnership. Member David Peterson said a one-year contract is well worth a try to see how it works. He also said the city has required more and more summer tasks of the public-works department in recent years, and the YMCA contract should help free up city staff time. Member Sarah Jane Nicoll said she is concerned about spending an estimated $1,800 above what the city normally spends, and she said she is also concerned that amount could get much higher when the YMCA decides a second lifeguard is required. Still, Nicoll decided to vote in favor of the contract, anyway, deciding the pluses are worth trying it for one year.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.