Atkinson pool staffs up and will open this month

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HENDERSON, Ky. (WEHT) – A tri-state pool is making its comeback after first, a pandemic shutdown. Then, a struggle to find lifeguards.

The city of Henderson made some important changes to make a splash this summer by raising the 8.50 hourly pay rate and lowering the 16-year-old age requirement, they started seeing applicant numbers climb.

Atkinson pool almost wasn’t able to open again this year, but the Henderson Parks Director said once they changed the job description last month, the applicants more than tripled.

“The city commission was good enough to raise the pay again for a second time this year to $10 per hour for the starting pay for lifeguard. So a combination of the raise and starting pay and the lowering of the minimum age really helped us get a lot of applications,” said Trace Stevens.

“Thrilled that we got as many as we did, but it was it was it was scary for the well the first part of the year,” said Mark Simmons, Henderson Aquatics Director.

They lowered the age requirement to fifteen, those fifteen-year-olds made up a majority of Monday’s trainees.

“Fifteen is the minimum age for for the American Red Cross. And if they say that it’s that they feel it’s okay for someone to become a lifeguard then it’s it’s okay. I have no problem with it at all. I can train train them to be lifeguards,” said Simmons.

“We had to do a twelve laps, swim, freestyle and breaststroke and whatever stroke you want to do, and then pick up and swim with bricks, so far,” said Sam Couch, a lifeguard trainee.

16-year-old couch says he realizes the job is a big responsibility but felt compelled to step up and help out.

“To help out the community. I mean, it’s some small gesture that can help a community and you get paid for it. So it’s a win, win.”

“It’s a weight off my shoulders, it was really troubling that we weren’t going to be able to open this, especially since we felt like we did everything that we possibly could to get those guards, we just did not have the staff. And we weren’t going to open that pool in an unsafe condition. We weren’t going to try to run it understaffed,” said Stevens.

Lifeguard training costs will be covered for those who work through the end of the summer season.

While Atkinson pool couldn’t open in time for Memorial Day weekend, it will open by the end of June.

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