People for parks

Estherville’s parks, cemetery and street crews are running short of workers

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Estherville’s parks crew is short of people. After taking on the eternal task of maintaining Oak Hill Cemetery, the parks maintenance crew is scrambling even after hiring dedicated cemetery help for the summer. There is currently a role available for someone to mow, cut weeds and otherwise maintain the cemetery, probably through October. City maintenance director Roger Hash said, “Leaves will be a huge issue.”
Parks maintenance staff has put 130 labor hours into Oak Hill. Hash thanked Gary Myers for welding a stand that allows park staff to park tractors on it.”
A local college student is painting the building on the cemetery property for a service project. The Estherville Parks & Rec board is also looking forward to the new municipal pool’s opening in June, 2022, and staffing with lifeguards, admissions clerks, and monitors for the slide.
City administrator Penny Clayton said, “Wages have gone up since we started planning for the operation of the pool, and $8.50 or $9.00 per hour isn’t going to cut it.”
The city is seeking a pool manager to work in the summer, and noted the last year the former pool operated, there were 16 staff members. While details are still in the works, 2022 pool staff will likely be hired early in the year and the city will pay for guards to take the lifeguard class, which Tony Nath will offer at the Regional Wellness Center in a couple of group sessions.
“We’d hire them pending completion of their certification, then have an agreement with them that they would work so many shifts for us in consideration for the class scholarship, or pay back a portion of the cost,” Clayton said.
Lifeguards in Iowa, according to the Department of Health, must be at least 15 years old, swim 300 yards continuously using the breast or front crawl, complete a timed event within one minute, 40 seconds, and surface dive to a depth of seven to 10 feet to retrieve a 10 pound object, then return to surface and swim 20 yards on their back to return to a ladder or steps. The certification includes a 26.5-hour lifeguarding certification, and a first aid and CPR/AED certification.
The board also considered the price of family and season passes. The price had not gone up in several years at the former pool, and the new pool will offer more amenities. There is a balance, Clayton said, in keeping the price affordable for local families while having the price of admission contribute to keeping the pool close to breaking even financially. For each recent year the former pool operated, 75 to 100 families purchased season passes.
The board also granted permission for Emmet County 4-H to place hay bales in Library Square during 4-H week in October,
Equipment will arrive in the first full week of October for the new Ninja park, planned for the site of the former pool. The parks staff has ordered Mommy and me double swings for the Ninja park as well as Thoreson and Lincoln parks.
Lincoln Park gained a friend when Mike Bruett volunteered to repair the damage vandals had committed on the park’s shelter.
Clayton said Bruett donated labor and materials to fix the shelter. The city is seeking to place VPN cameras at additional locations, including Lincoln Park.
There is a committee seeking to build a campground in Estherville. The idea has been brewing for several years, and the new committee has been charged with seeking the best spot in the city with an open mind and no attachment to previous suggested locations.
Perry Russell of Estherville American Legion approached the city about new posts for the flags in Library Square. Russell had previously spoken to county supervisors about in-ground posts in Courthouse Square. The aging, basic posts currently in use have caused some of the flags to lean, and have presented additional issues with displaying hundreds of flags each Memorial Day in the square. Russell had a prototype made of a metal post holder with a cap and wings that would hold the flag more securely, and could still be left in the ground. The cost of each is around $17. Volunteers would be able to find each holder with a metal detector and move the dirt above them to place each flag.
The American Legion also discussed rules for Veterans Park with the city. Clayton said, “We need to balance the dedication and intent of the Legion and VFW with this park while remembering that it is a city park.”
The rules would make it clear who is eligible to have a brick in the park: veterans, police officers, and firefighters, while setting out process for issues. One example is, if a veteran has a brick in the park, and it’s later discovered they were dishonorably discharged, their brick would be removed.
The next meeting of the Estherville Parks & Rec board will be Monday, Oct. 11 at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers of city hall.

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