Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

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February 18, 2014

Lots to do for park’s full season

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — When this year’s Memorial Day weekend rolls around in May it represents the start of the first ever full swim season for the new water park in Pauls Valley.

Until then it’s a busier then normal time for Jennifer Samford, PV’s director of recreation, who is pulling double duty by searching for both a new aquatics supervisor and as many lifeguards as she can find.

Still, Samford stresses no matter what happens with those searches the water park will be open for the season starting on May 24.

The only real question is will there be enough lifeguards when that time comes.

“Our task is to recruit and train enough lifeguards to open the new season,” Samford said.

“We’re going to need approximately 50 certified lifeguards,” she said. “I have access to 20 lifeguards who work at the Bosa Center or worked at the water park last summer.

“The question is where will we find the other 30, who will then need to be trained.

“Right now there’s not nearly enough to open the park and stay open for the entire season.”

Adding to whole situation are the city’s questions over the impact of the Affordable Health Care Act on “seasonal” employees, which is the category where lifeguards would normally be placed.

In the past those employees would be considered part-time even if they actually worked full-time hours.

Although many of the answers are not yet known, Samford said the city is taking the position the health care act will require any municipality to offer health benefits to employees working more than 30 hours a week, even those classified as seasonal.

That means any lifeguards at the park will be limited to the number of hours they can work.

It’s this reality that could make it more difficult to recruit enough people to fill the lifeguarding needs of the park during the quickly approaching pool season.

“The city of Pauls Valley, any municipality with seasonal employees, can’t afford to offer those benefits,” Samford added.

As for the search for an “army” of lifeguards, Samford is encouraging anyone interested to call or drop by the Reynolds Recreation Center in PV’s Wacker Park and fill out an application.

The goal now is to create a list of people interested in lifeguarding. From that list a number of certification classes will be scheduled to offer them the needed training.

According to Samford, there are around 30 hours of training in American Red Cross classes required for the certification needed to be a lifeguard.

“It includes a combination of classroom and in-water skills for the certification, and there will be testing.”

Those who complete the training will be certified in lifeguarding, CPR and first aid.

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