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Paynesville Press - May 22, 2002

City hires four lifeguards for Veteran's Memorial Park

By Michael Jacobson

The city of Paynesville has hired four lifeguards to supervise the beach at Veteran's Memorial Park this summer.

Last year, for the first time in 50 years, the city did not provide lifeguards at a public beach on Lake Koronis. Discipline and safety were such a concern last year at the beach that the raft was removed midway through the summer.

The city did not hire lifeguards last year because it had had such a hard time finding any in previous years. This year, the city received a total of eight applicants. It hired four, including one who has worked previously for the city as a lifeguard.

Hours at Veteran's Memorial Park (still commonly known as Van's Beach) will be the same as two years ago: from 1 to 7 p.m. daily. From Mondays to Thursdays, only one lifeguard will be on duty per day, while over the weekend, from Fridays to Sundays, two lifeguards will patrol the beach.

The lifeguards will each be working between 15 and 20 hours per week.

The city has offered to pay for certification costs for its lifeguards, but is paying the same wages as before, when it couldn't find enough lifeguards, said city employee Chris Lundeen, who will schedule the lifeguards this summer.

She credits having lots of interest in lifeguarding to people who want to work on the beach by the lake for the summer. "I think it's just the luck of the draw," she said of the renewed interest in lifeguarding.

The rafts and docks will be put out again at the beach, but Lundeen and city administrator Steve Helget stressed the need for the public to help keep the beach safe. Having lifeguards will not be enough to keep the docks and raft from being used unsafely, they said.

"The problem is (the equipment) is not abused during the day when the lifeguards are there," explained Lundeen.

Everyone needs to obey the rules at the beach, and parents can also help by not thinking they can use the lifeguards as babysitters. Young swimmers especially need adult supervision as well as on-duty lifeguards.

"We want to keep the beach safe, but we want the public to help, too," said Lundeen. "It makes their job a lot easier."

Anyone seeing unsafe or illegal practices at the beach should call the police immediately.

Lifeguards will be on duty starting in the middle of June and lasting until the middle or late August.

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