Keyser swimming pool: Here's what's new and what they have planned

Liz Beavers
Mineral Daily News-Tribune
Parks and Recreation commissioner Ron Metcalf sits atop the new lifeguard chair, while Save the Keyser Pool Committee members Missy Cummings and Lynn Robinson keep their feet on the ground. In the background is the new water slide which will make it's debut when the John R. Shelton Swimming Pool opens Saturday.

KEYSER - Although it was a cool afternoon and an increasingly cloudy sky was threatening rain, seven teens were in the chilly water at the John R. Shelton Swimming Pool Wednesday, taking the last leg of their training for the summer.

Around the freshly painted pool, recently refurbished deck furniture is neatly arranged, along with some brand new wooden picnic tables and benches. At the deep end of the pool sits a  brand new lifeguard chair, and in place of one of the diving boards …. a 9 1/2-foot-tall water slide.

The atmosphere around the pool is one of excitement and anticipation for the Saturday opening date, and newly-appointed Keyser City Council member and Parks and Recreation commissioner Ron Metcalf believes the pool patrons will be happy with the new additions.

Head lifeguard Keegan Robinson, Griffin Paugh, Jasmine Robinson, (back) shift supervisor Cole Jordan, Shawn Heeter, Cameron Simpson, Sydney Taylor, Lily Tucker and Maddie Harvey will be the lifeguard team keeping the John R. Shelton Swimming  Pool safe throughout the summer.

“The City of Keyser Parks and Recreation purchased the new lifeguard chair and the slide,” he told the News Tribune, explaining that the slide alone cost approximately $4,200. “I felt the pool needed an attraction, and I think the slide will help bring people in,” he said.

“This is the first slide in the history of the Keyser pool, which was built in 1955.”

Describing Save the Keyser Pool Committee members Lynn Robinson and Missy Cummings  as “a family that works together,” Metcalf said they have been coming up with ideas and working together to help improve things at the pool, and it’s all been done with the community in mind.

And, of course, with an eye on safety for those coming to the pool to find a safe way to cool off on those hot summer days.

They have set up the schedule so that four lifeguards will be on duty at a time, with one of them stationed at the slide at all times. Youngsters have to be at least 40 inches high to tackle the slide.

Jasmine Robinson gives a little wave as she tries out the new water slide at the John R. Shelton Swimming Pool. The pool opens Saturday, June 5, at noon and it's Free Swim Day all day.

“We want to make it fun and safe for the kids,” he said.

Of course, COVID-19 restrictions had to come into play as well. Last year the pool remained closed due to the pandemic, and Metcalf said the Mineral County Health Department gave them the go-ahead to open this summer.

They are, however, taking certain precautions. Now, instead of entering the pool by the narrow hallway past the concession stand, patrons will go through the dressing rooms - girls on the girls’ side and boys on the boys’ side.

Long lines for concessions will be eliminated by having people come into the building one at a time to order their food.

Furniture and other surfaces will be wiped down regularly to help keep the area as clean as possible.

“I’d like to thank the Mineral County Health Department for their support; they really came to the table for the City of Keyser,” Metcalf said, explaining that they also researched the various codes the city would need to follow for the new slide.

Metcalf says getting the pool ready for Saturday’s noon opening has really been a group effort, from the mayor and members of city council to the city supervisors and workers.

“I want to especially thank Jim Hannas and Teddy Nester and (city administrator) Jeff Broadwater,” he said. “Lastly, I want to thank the city of Keyser, everyone in the community, for what they have done to help raise money.”

For Robinson and Cummings, the quest to raise funds for the pool has been ongoing for the past eight years. A certain amount of the funds raised have come from concessions, and they are especially happy to announce this year they have added hamburgers to what would seem like an extensive menu for a small city pool. From burgers and dogs to fries, nachos, chicken tenders and Fox’s Pizza, a hungry youngster - or a parent or grandparent watching their kids splash in the pool - would be hard-pressed to not find something to satisfy their hunger pains.

Even as they work the concessions at the pool, though, the Save the Keyser Pool Committee  continues their other fund raisers, and are currently selling tickets for $10 to win a gift basket with $500 worth of certificates and gift cards. The winner will be drawn at the city’s Fourth of July celebration.

The Save the Keyser Pool Committee has also been soliciting donations from area businesses to once again be able to offer Dollar Days for the children, and were so successful this year that they will be offering Dollar Days twice a week - on Monday and Wednesday.

On those days, the first 100 children under the age of 18 will be admitted for free, and anyone over 18, or anyone after the first 100, will only pay a dollar.

On Saturday for the grand re-opening, however, everyone’s admission will be free.

“As usual, we will have various activities going on throughout the day, including music by DJ Mike Dub V Smith, and a local broadcast from Logan Mills at 94.1QZK,” Cummings said. “Pool noodles will be passed out to patrons while supplies last, and there just may be some surprises as well,” she added.

According to Cummings, opening day is being dedicated to Joe and Mandi Shoemaker of the Oriole’s Club, Kirk Kesner and his crew from Fox’s Pizza, and Jim Kauffman and his employees at Criterion for all of their support and donations to the pool.

They and Metcalf also once again thanked the carpentry students at the Mineral County Tech Center for the wooden furniture they built for the pool and the city’s other parks.

Indeed, he says, it took many different factions of the community to get things rolling for the pool to reopen this year.

As a result, Metcalf hopes everyone will take advantage of the perfect weather that is forecast for Saturday and come out and check out what the pool has to offer.

“It’s been a tough year. People want to get back to some normalcy,” he said. “What we’ve tried to do here is something to better the community.

“Small changes are better than no change at all.”

Liz Beavers is managing editor of the Mineral Daily News Tribune and can be reached at lbeavers@newstribune.info