Lifeguard shortage in Coulee Region

Local News

LA CROSSE/HOLMEN, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Public pools are back open for business in the Coulee Region, but a shortage in workers may lead to some early closures.

First News at Nine’s Alex Loroff learns about the methods being used to attract young people to the lifeguard stand.

Public pools in the Coulee Region are facing staffing shortages to begin the summer season.

The City of La Crosse opened its three pools last weekend, but more help is needed in order to keep them open.

“To manage three pools we need to have upwards of 75 total aquatic staff and we’re just not there, we need more bodies,” said Jared Flick, La Crosse Parks & Recreation facility supervisor.

Flick says current staff are working overtime to make up the shortage.

“Right now we have a lot of our staff that are working seven days a week and their working eight, nine, ten hour days,” said Flick.

Holmen Parks and Recreation is experiencing similar issues staffing the Holmen Aquatic Center, with some lifeguards this year being trained completely from scratch to help out.”

“We only had a handful of people in their young twenties,” said Mike Brogan, Holmen Parks & Recreation director. “It’s probably the most 15-year-olds we’ve ever had working, you missed a year of new staff, you lost two years of past staff through aging out.”

Brogan says the Aquatic Center was about 12 guards short before it opened, but a mandate from village officials is helping fill out the ranks.

“The Village of Holmen Board ended up doing some salary raises so we were able to take the starting guards up to $11 an hour,” Brogan said.

The City of La Crosse was also able to raise starting pay thanks to a financial gift from Friends of La Crosse Pools and Aquatics.

More assistance is needed, so the FLPA and the city are raising money to offset the cost of becoming a lifeguard.

“What we want to do is just be able to fundraise to be able to match those expectations and release those burdens from our staff,” said Flick.

The FLPA initially donated twenty thousand dollars for the pay raises and want to match that amount with other donations by the end of July.

In La Crosse, Alex Loroff, First News at Nine.

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