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Lifeguard Shortage Keeps Local Pools Closed

With summer in full swing, St. Joseph residents have a limited choice of where to go to stay cool.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) A lifeguard shortage forced the City of St. Joseph to close Hyde and Krug park pools for the summer.

"We just haven't been able to get enough lifeguards to open all three pools and we're not alone in this.  There's other communities in the area, actually nationwide, that are having the same issues that we are trying to get enough staff," said Superintendent of Parks Jeff Atkins.

The last time the YMCA held a lifeguard course they started with 22 people but the end result wasn't promising.

"After it was all said and done there was only a short handful that even passed and received the certifications and only two of those sought employment with the city," said Atkins.

No matter how many people receive certifications, it's not guaranteed that they'll stay in St. Joseph.

"We're competing with Country Club, with Moila, with the "Y", with Savannah, Atchison, everybody around us are needing lifeguards just as bad as we are.  So these kids are coming from surrounding areas to get their certifications here and then they go back home and go to work," said Atkins.

Reactions from the public show signs of simple competition at work.

"The last couple of years it hasn't been real busy.  I don't know about Hyde pool because I drive by Krug pool but there's not been a lot of people there since the water park opened," said St. Joseph resident Tracie Loehnig.

There's still some time before a final decision is made on the fate of the pools.

"It's just funding availability.  I know that they will go out for public comment to get input from the citizens to see which direction they'd like to go.  But, it won't be an overnight decision, it won't be a closed decision by any means.  It will be plenty of time for public to input," said Atkins.

The city is determining what to do about the staff shortage and will meet later this month to discuss the future of the pools.   
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