Wilson Aquatic Center in Shenandoah

Wilson Aquatic Center in Shenandoah

(Shenandoah) -- Recent comments regarding staffing at Shenandoah's Wilson Aquatics Center have drawn the ire of the facility's management.

During the public comment portion of Tuesday's Shenandoah City Council Meeting, Aquatics Director Gabby Sparks responded to questions asked by council members at the previous meeting regarding the number of managers and assistant managers employed at the pool. Sparks says the "scuttle" over staffing issues aired at the June 8th meeting has caused turmoil at the pool. She says some of her staff members have been contacted numerous times--including by council members.

"It makes for a very upsetting workplace," said Sparks. "We had lifeguards wondering if they were going to lose their jobs. We had management wondering if they were saying the wrong thing, walking on eggshells, not knowing. We had councilmen show up down at the pool during work hours, and had to take the manager away to talk for an hour and a half. That was very inappropriate, considering all the stuff we had going on."

Currently, four managers or assistant managers work under Sparks at the pool. She says research indicates the management numbers are consistent with other area pools.

"I did spend a couple of days researching other swimming pools around the area," said Sparks, "talking about how many managers, or what they label their management as. All of the other pools around us are labeling managers as either assistant managers or managers, or they have a head guard that is also an assistant manager."

Saying she and her staff were "blindsided" by the comments, Sparks questioned why council members didn't talk to her, Park and Recreation Director Chad Tiemeyer or Shenandoah's Park and Recreation Board first.

"My question was, is there something that we need to talk about to put this aside, so that we're not going to be walking on eggshells the rest of the summer, or is this a done deal?" she asked.

Shenandoah Mayor Dick Hunt told Sparks there's no question that she reports to Tiemeyer, who then reports to the park board. Thus, the mayor says Sparks shouldn't have to answer to anyone else. Hunt also sent this message to the council.

"I hope none of you are micromanaging here," said Hunt, "because we've got people in places to run these things, and we're going to let them run it. That's the way I feel about it."

Councilman Kim Swank says issues regarding the pool were discussed at a recent marathon park and rec board meeting. Swank--the council's representative to the board--says the pool staff, Tiemeyer and the board do a good job--and should be allowed to do it.

"I know it's gotten a little out of hand," said Swank, "and I know there's a lot of fear and a lot of tensions. That meeting the other night, gosh, it was about two hours, talking about one subject. I don't think we need to go through all that. It was just terrible."

Council members also told lifeguards on hand that they need to follow the chain of command in asking for a raise. As they did earlier this month, the council unanimously approved the rates and salaries for the pool's staff.

In other business Tuesday night, the council...

---approved the sale of city-owned property at 316 Lake Street to Trevor Unruh for $750.

---approved an application for financial assistance with the USDA to finance new fire truck equipment, and set a public information on the application for July 13th at 6 p.m.

---approved public benefit status for the July 3rd Star Spangled Shenandoah Vendor Fair, and the use of Priest Park for the event.

---approved rates and salaries for full-time and part-time city employees for the 2022 fiscal year beginning July 1st.

---approved the rate of $21.40 per hour for Shenandoah Police Officer Andrew Cameron.

---appointed Jamie Fowler to a three-year term to the the city's tree board, replacing Amy Zollars.

Council members also approved a theater management agreement between the city and Main Street Theatres for the Legacy 3 Theatre, which reopens Friday. The council and members of the Shenandoah Chamber and Industry's Board of Directors toured the renovated theater prior to the regular meeting. And, the council approved the report on Shenandoah's Citywide Cleanup Days held last month, as well as a check for the event's expenses. More on those developments in future news stories.

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