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Lifeguard shortage could keep area pools closed


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    ROELAND PARK, Kansas (KCTV) — Memorial Day marks the unofficial start to summer with cookouts, family gatherings, and outdoor pools opening.

But many outdoor pools may not open this year, because of problems finding staff.

Roeland Park just finished up renovation of a new pool. In 2019, the city approved $1.5 million worth of updates. There’s a new splash zone, speedy slides and plenty of shade.

But like many cities in the area, the pool will start its season with limited hours because of a widespread shortage of lifeguards.

“Hiring this year has been my most difficult ever,” said Tony Nichols, Parks Superintendent. The city needs about 10 more people.

And he’s not alone. Overland park had to close three pools and is still trying to find and train lifeguards.

“We’re still hiring and running lifeguard classes,” said Renee Reis, with the city of Overland Park. “Ideally, we’d like to have about 20 more people.”

We checked around–Kansas City is still looking to hire 50 more lifeguards; Shawnee has 20 opening.

The cities are interviewing candidates daily. And some are even increasing pay to attract more people. Roeland Park Mayor Mike Kelly says it’s a great first job.

“I did it for six years. Some of my favorite memories are at the Leawood Aquatic Center,” said Kelly.

To get the pools fully open to summer fun, they’ll need more help from people willing to dip their toes into a new job.

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