Hastings Aquacourt closes early due to staffing shortages

Local4 News at Five Sunday
Published: Aug. 7, 2022 at 9:27 PM CDT
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - The Hastings Aquacourt closed early for the first time due to a staffing shortages that has plagued their ability to be fully operational this summer.

“The only factor was staffing. We have a lot of lifeguards that went back to college, they went back to high school, sports started last week and then we also had a couple guards get sick. Which has been something that we’ve dealt with all year, but it just gets even more critical when we’re this low staffed,” said Jennifer Boeve, Administration and Concessions Manager at Hastings Aquacourt.

Boeve added they were short staffed in every position. All summer long, just like most of the country, lifeguards have been in short supply. Most of Aquacourt’s lifeguards are below the age of 18, restricting the amount of hours they can work to help keep them from closing parts of the aquatics.

With the majority of lifeguards being underage, the lifeguards that are left have worked all-day shifts the past few days.

“We really tried to make it to August 14th, that was what we trying to make. However we did a survey of staff and asked them when their last days were, we looked at their availability and we had that many staff that couldn’t work pass August 7th,” said Boeve.

The shortage had also caused the wave pool and a local favorite, the lazy river, to have restrictions and sometimes closed for the day; leaving locals disgruntled. Boeve said some people even canceled their memberships because of the closures.

“It has really been a problem this year,” she noted. “Towards the end of the year we always do have to close the lazy river or the wave pool and we just alternate days but this year is the first time we had to do it in June and July that I can remember.”

Boeve said one of the main reasons for the lifeguard shortage has been pay; and with low wages, typically comes a shorter amount of time a person will stay in a demanding position.

“The public can give them [lifeguard] a lot more patience and realize lifeguards deal with a lot,” she said. “From people yelling at them to misbehaving kids. It’s a lot to deal with and then we have to convince them want to come work.”

A major help in motivation will be the one dollar raise lifeguards are expected to have next year.

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