Macon-Bibb pools face lifeguard shortage

A swimmer takes a leap off the diving board at East Macon Park Pool in 2011.
A swimmer takes a leap off the diving board at East Macon Park Pool in 2011.

Some of Macon’s public pools will open in time for Memorial Day weekend, but the hours at most of them will be limited.

That’s because the Macon-Bibb County Recreation Department has a shortage of qualified lifeguards, said Dale “Doc” Dougherty, the department’s director.

“People aren’t applying for the job,” he said.

The department needs to hire eight or more qualified lifeguards to keep all five of the working pools open six days a week, Macon-Bibb County spokesman Chris Floore said in a news release. The pools are closed on Sundays.

The East Macon Community Center, Booker T. Washington Community Center and Memorial Gym pools will open this Saturday. The pools will be closed on Memorial Day, then begin their normal summer schedule Tuesday. The pools at the Frank Johnson and Bloomfield community centers will open next Wednesday.

In the past few years, the city’s pools have faced a variety of issues as workers tried to get them ready for summer.

Dougherty said the Memorial and Booker T. Washington pools are facing some pump problems, but they should be ready to open by this weekend.

This year, five of the six pools are ready to go. The lone exception is the pool at Freedom Park, which will remain closed for a fourth straight year because it needs a major overhaul.

Dougherty said the department has received three quotes to replace the pool, all of which are at least $700,000. It costs about $25,000 to run each of the city’s pools for the season, but they only generate about $2,000 in revenue.

Dougherty has put out the call to hire lifeguards for the open positions.

Lifeguard candidates must be at least 15 years old and able to pass the American Red Cross swim test. If a lifeguard candidate isn’t certified, the recreation department will pay for certification as long as the candidate works at one of the pools for the summer.

Lifeguards would make $10.03 an hour. For questions about the lifeguard positions and training, contact the recreation department at 478-751-9280. To apply for the position, go to www.maconbibb.us and click on the “Employment” tab, or stop by the Human Resources Department at 682 Cherry St., Suite 400, to fill out an application.

The Human Resources Department is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.