Archive for Thursday, June 14, 2007

Keeping Busy

Eudora Aquatic Center’s lifeguard crew stays busy during construction

June 14, 2007

What does one do with 10 lifeguards and no pool?

Eudora Parks and Recreation Director Tammy Hodges came up with an answer: a little bit of everything.

The city's lifeguard crew spread out across the city last week taking care of random jobs that carried them from City Hall to the city's ball fields.

Normally, the lifeguard crew would be vigilantly perched above the water, but because the aquatic center still is being built, Hodges found work for them elsewhere.

"We had this planned for a couple months now in case the construction got to the point that we were going to be late," Hodges said. "If it was going into a July opening, we had to find jobs for the lifeguards because we didn't want to lose them to other pools."

It's all about versatility for lifeguard Karen Spence.

The fact she's able to do spot jobs for the city proves her versatility for her future career, Spence said.

"I think it's fun," she said.

Pool manager Jessica Gracia found ways to make the most the situation.

"It really gives me the opportunity to get to know the guards," Gracia said.

Voters approved a $3.8 million bond issue to pay for the construction of a new pool and recreation center last August. Spring rains pushed the pool's opening from June to early July. The city plans a grand-opening celebration for the Fourth of July weekend.

"We're anxious to get in the pool," Gracia said.

When finished, the pool will contain a water slide, lazy river and a zero-depth entry point in addition to a general swimming area.

Despite the fact the opening is weeks away, Friday's endeavor was a pleasant change for lifeguard Brittney Graff. With Mariah Webb, Graff slathered bright orange and yellow paint on a fire hydrant on the corner of 12th and Birch streets.

It was the best job yet because it allows her to spend time outside, Graff said. But she said she also was ready to start her duties at the pool.

"I just like water and the kids," Graff said. "It's fun to play with the kids."

After finishing the hydrants, the group will start tackling downtown Eudora. The crew will repaint parking lines, the shelter at CPA Park and beautify downtown for the upcoming sesquicentennial celebration.

"They're really going to be focusing on getting downtown looking nice," Hodges said.

The lifeguards could start training in the pool by the end of June depending on construction and the weather, Gracia said.

When the group starts, it will be in a completely different format than the two-lifeguard set-up established at the old pool.

In the new format, the guards will be posted at all the water elements at the pool, Gracia said.

"It's going to be a huge change," Gracia said.

It's a change that can't come soon enough for Hodges.

"They'll appreciate their job more when they could finally put their foot in the pool," she said.

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