by RICHARD KERNS
Tribune Staff?Writer

KEYSER — The city of Keyser's public pool will remain open this weekend and next, concluding its 2010 season on Labor Day, Sept. 6.
Mayor William “Sonny” Rhodes said the city had considered shuttering the pool for good this week with the resumption of school, as lifeguard staffing became a problem. However, Pool Manager Antonio Rascon was able to line up adequate staffing for the next two weekends.
Weekend hours are noon to 6 p.m. The pool remains closed during the week.
“Our problem was trying to get enough lifeguards, but we got it taken care of,” said Mayor Rhodes.
In announcing the final weekend openings, Rhodes looked back on a successful year at the pool, where attendance — and revenue — were up due to the hot weather and the growing popularity of private evening pool parties.
The pool was available for private parties every evening except Thursday nights —which were reserved for special
family-night admission. The cost of the rental was $100, which included lifeguard staffing. Those renting the facility could bring their own food and non-alcoholic drinks, making for a popular summer-evening activity for groups, organizations and families.
“We had a great year, especially on the rentals,” the mayor said. “There wasn't a day went by hardly when we didn't have a rental. We had a waiting list.”
With the season winding down, Rhodes again praised the work of Rascon, in his first year as pool manager. Director of Inter-Mural Sports at Potomac State College, Rascon worked well with the young lifeguard staff, the mayor noted.
“He's been just great,” Rhodes said.
The mayor also noted ongoing support from the business community. When Rhodes visited Criterion, Inc. in the Keyser Industrial Park to buy some new umbrellas and stands for the pool's tables, the owner of the business donated 10 brightly-colored lounge chairs, to go with other furniture he'd donated in years past.
Rhodes became involved in management of the pool two years ago, when he was elected to the City Council and given supervisory responsibility for the facility. He kept that duty after being elected mayor last year.
It's still a learning process, though. The mayor said he only realized late this summer that the staff in years past had kept the lounge chairs in storage, charging a rental fee for their use. Rhodes ended that policy.
“I said get 'em out of there. Let people use them,” he said.
Finances remain a challenge for the pool, which is subsidized by city government, as most public pools are. Looking ahead to next year, the rental fee may be increased, and a new outdoor shower installed to cut down on abuse of pool-house showers, which were sometimes opened up wide and left to run, with the city paying for the wasted hot water.
“We learned some lessons this year,” the mayor said. “We'll make it better next year.”