City officials said the decision was recently made to keep the Fort Scott Aquatic Center open during certain hours after Aug. 13.
City Manager Dave Martin said the pool will remain open during its normal hours (1 to 8 p.m. daily) until Monday, Aug. 13, which is the Monday before the first day of school. It will then be open from 1 to 5 p.m. through Friday, Aug. 17, and from 1 to 6 p.m. on weekends after that date through Sept. 3, which is Labor Day.
"I'm very proud of the way the pool has run this year," Martin said.
Originally, Martin said there was no set closing date for the pool, but he recently met with staff to determine when it would shut down for the season. The biggest obstacle was figuring out how to keep personnel at the pool the week before school starts, when the lifeguards, many of whom are students, begin athletic practices and other school priorities, Martin said.
"When the (Community Health and Wellness) committee was going after the half-cent sales tax last year, we told them (citizens) we would try to stay open longer," Martin said. "All of that hinges on having the workforce."
Following meetings with lifeguards and other pool staff, an agreement was made to staff the pool on certain hours the week before school begins and on weekends even after the start of school as a "commitment to meet taxpayers' desires," Martin said.
Martin said he wanted to commend all of the pool staff, many of whom have been working long hours during this summer's heat wave. Other than the two managers, there are four support staff members who work in the concessions and admissions buildings.
"They do a great job," he said.
Most of the 24 lifeguards on staff are high school or college students earning minimum wage.
A 10-year, half-cent sales tax that went into effect last July funded construction of the pool and an expansion of Buck Run Community Center.
Chasity Ware, of Mound City, has been pool manager since June. Stacy Sinn is the assistant manager. Ware replaced Tom Davis, who started the summer season as pool manager but reportedly resigned his position at the time due to health concerns.
"Tom Davis had to take a lesser role," Martin said. "Chasity comes to us with a lot of experience."
Ware said she enjoys her job because she "loves to be around high school kids.
"We have such a great group of lifeguards," she said.
Ware said many of the lifeguards have had to juggle work with camps and vacations with their families this summer, and for some, it's not a part-time job, but a full-time, 40 hour a week job.
Ware said the first season at the new pool has been good, with the number of incidents diminishing as the summer goes on. At the start of the season, there were four to six "near drownings" per week, but since early July, there have been maybe a total of four, which Ware said she attributes to people becoming more comfortable and used to the facility.
"This is a trial-and-error year; a transition from the old pool to the new pool," she said. "We're working out all the kinks with rules and changes during the season and lifeguard rotation to try to better suit the patrons. For the most part, we have really worked them all out."
Ware said the attendance rate this year is far higher than past years.
"Next year, we'll have massive rules established that will stick all year long," she said. "We want to get a good, clean start for next year."
Martin said discussions will take place in the near future about plans for next year's pool season. He said discussion will center around "lessons learned" this year and possible changes that may be made next year, such as a revision of evening hours.
"We have not had a lot of people from 5 to 8 in the evenings," he said. "We'll look at that next year and evaluate our hours."
Martin added people have been pleased with the pool's opening time of 1 p.m. this year.
Ware said hours may be changed next year to accommodate more pool parties and there may be more adult and family time set aside during evenings at the pool.
Martin said the new pool definitely "makes more money than our previous pool."
He said various engineers who have visited the new pool have been "impressed with the pool layout and how it works."
Martin said financials concerning the pool won't be known until they are complete at a later date.