Former commissioner brings pool complaints to city

Liz Beavers
Mineral Daily News-Tribune
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KEYSER - The former parks and recreation commissioner for the City of Keyser says people are still coming to him with questions about the parks and pool, and he brought those concerns to the Keyser City Council this week.

“I’ve received numerous phone calls from pool-goers. Most know I’m no longer involved, but they still come to me,” William Zacot said Wednesday, sharing that he had been approached with concerns about the re-entry policy at the John R. Shelton Swimming Pool, as well as an alleged incident in which a lifeguard used inappropriate language.

“One person was told they couldn’t bring their cooler in to the pool,” he said, adding that he had checked with the current CDC guidelines on safe pool operation as the pandemic comes closer to an end.

“There’s nothing in there that says they can’t take their personal cooler in,” he said, noting that families often bring their own drinks to the pool to save money.

“I personally was told I couldn’t even take a Pepsi in there,” Zacot said. (I was told) “I had to throw it away and get a Pepsi from in there. I paid my $2 and I walked right in with my Pepsi. I mean, if they want to call the cops for me taking a Pepsi in, so be it.”

In addition, Zacot said he had heard complaints that people who left the pool were not allowed back in unless they paid again.

In the past, he pointed out, those who left the pool for whatever reason were given a wristband or a stamp so they could re-enter without paying a second admission.

“Everybody knows the tight financial situation that families are in right now due to COVID and it’s rough enough for them just to get the kids out there,” Zacot said.

He said the apparent changes in policy are frustrating pool patrons and will hurt pool attendance.

“I’ve heard from 13 people now that they’re going to Piedmont because they can’t bring their own food in and they can’t get back in,” he said.

As for the complaint against the lifeguard, Zacot claimed that he was told one of the lifeguards stationed by the new water slide had told someone to “sit down on his a$$ to go down the slide or he would be benched.”

Current parks and recreation commissioner Ron Metcalf told Zacot the complaints are being addressed.

“We’re telling people now they can bring their own coolers in. It would have saved a lot of trouble if you’d just gone through me,” he told Zacot. “Coolers are allowed, but they will be checked,” he said. “We can’t have any alcohol or glass bottles.

“We totally understand the situation with the economic impact.”

Metcalf also said the no re-entry policy had been adopted due to COVID restrictions.

“Once you leave the pool, you can’t go back,” he said. “We weren’t charging them to get back in.”

Zacot said, however, that restriction was part of the old CDC guidelines. “The restrictions have all been lifted on that kind of thing,” he said.

“COVID-19 was a big hit. Here’s a big learning curve to opening the pool,” Metcalf said.

Metcalf also told Zacot he was “looking into” the alleged incident with the lifeguard.

“In regard to the slide situation, it was my understanding that the person … was going down the slide on his belly. That’s against the rules. They went to the person who was going down on their stomach, which is an unsafe thing to do on the water slide, and they continued to do it. That’s why they got benched.

“I wasn’t there during that time,” Metcalf continued. “If you guys want to let me know what really happened, then we can address it,” he said.

“Regardless, they shouldn’t be saying ‘sit your a$$ down,’” council member Jennifer Junkins said.

“I agree with that,” Metcalf said. “But there are rules with the slide. Again… first week, we’ve never had a water slide before. We’re just getting through the kinks. It’s a learning process for everyone.

“But we’re not going to tolerate unsafe conditions,” he said.

“Nor foul language from patrons or staff,” mayor Damon Tillman added.

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