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Friday, Aug. 22, 2014

Salem city council dives into swimming pool repair issue

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

(Photo)
The Salem City Pool opened the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, as it always does, but not without a city council debate over a popular pool accessory.

At the May 26 Salem City Council meeting, Public Works Director Bill Worsham told members a crew had been working to bring the pool on line on May 28.

But Worsham asked for the council's input on whether a broken diving board should be replaced.

"It was broken last summer and the summer before," Worsham said. "It's becoming a regular occurrence."

Worsham noted a new diving board would cost about $1,000 and the city could save money on its pool insurance, if it decided to take away the liability a diving board poses.

"When the pool inspector came here, he said more towns are getting away from diving boards because of insurance purposes," said Worsham.

Worsham estimated the city could cut its pool insurance premium by $500 to $800 by eliminating the board.

Corbyn Arnold and Wesley Griggs, two new pool lifeguards, spoke in favor of keeping a diving board at the pool.

"Word will quickly get out if there's not a diving board," said Arnold. "Teens will say 'Let's go to Thayer or the steel bridge' and usage at the pool will drop."

Griggs agreed saying that, without a diving board or other entertainment, older kids will stop coming.

Council members were puzzled why diving boards keep getting broken at the pool, since there are lifeguards on duty to keep order.

Worsham explained the culprits are teens who climb over or under fences to swim at night.

"The boards are broke after hours," said Worsham. "A bunch of big ole boys get on it at once and bounce until it breaks."

Worsham reminded the council the pool "doesn't make a nickel to start with" and diving boards and insurance drive up the cost to operate it.

Council members appeared to be leaning toward eliminating diving until Councilman Ted York spoke up.

York said a pool is not much fun without a diving board.

"I hate to penalize the little kids," said York. "I think we should try it one more year."

Other council members unanimously agreed.

Police Chief Al Roork told the council his department will step up late night patrols at the pool and "if we catch anyone who is not supposed to be there, we will arrest them."

In his report, Roork noted that his officers made six DWI arrests in May. Roork added a new trend was for DWI arrests to be made for drug use instead of alcohol use.

"One of the reasons we are seeing more arrests for DWI Drugs is, our officers are knowledgeable on how to detect drivers who are under the influence of drugs."

In other business, Mayor Gary Clayton said Salem's sales tax income was five percent ahead of what was collected at this time last year, an indication people are more willing to spend.

"Things may be getting better," said Clayton, who added, "We're seeing quite a bit of activity around town," as far as new businesses opening up or planning to open.

Fire Chief Nick Blanton told the council that County Emergency Management Director Darrell Zimmer had gone to a meeting in Jonesboro to investigate what type of grant money might be available for area fire departments.

Zimmer has offered to help Blanton apply for five or six grants the Salem department may qualify for.

Blanton said he was continuing to get bids on a Gator, a four wheeled vehicle which could be used to reach brush and forest fires, and he is continuing to look for ways to fund the purchase.

City government is also getting a bid on the cost of placing signs at the front and back of city hall and the fire department.

The discussion on that issue began in April, when Public Works Director Worsham mentioned that several people new to the community had asked him where city hall was located.

Signs were part of the project to build city hall years ago but money apparently ran short before they could be purchased.

The purchase of signs is expected to be discussed again at the June council meeting.

That meeting is scheduled for June 23 at 7 p.m. at City Hall.



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