County pool opening delayed until mid-June to meet new safety rules

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By Dave Taylor

The opening of Carroll County’s swimming pool will be delayed by about a month as work gets underway to bring the facility in line with new federal safety guidelines.

At the May 12 Carroll County Fiscal Court meeting, judge executive Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson said the pool will be allowed to open for the summer season. Unlike previous years, the swimming pool at Robert Westrick Memorial Park will not open on Memorial Day weekend.

Tomlinson said he recently met with a state inspector regarding the pool. “He said if we’re going to open the pool this year we have to make changes,” Tomlinson said. “In all honesty I believe it’ll be more like the middle of June before we get it open.”

The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, signed into federal law in 2007, imposes mandatory federal requirements for suction entrapment avoidance. Public pools and spas that were found not in compliance by December 19, 2008, may not open until compliant.

The judge-executive said the county has the option of not opening the pool this year to allow more time for repairs to be completed. “It’s not the best option because a lot of people use that pool,” he said.

Before the pool can open, the contractor effecting repairs, the health department, state department of health and Tomlinson on behalf of fiscal court have to sign off that all conditions itemized by the inspector have been met.

“What makes our situation more difficult is the age of our pool, Tomlinson said. The facility “is about 30 years old.”

Tomlinson said the Louisville firm Custom Pool Contractors Inc. will be making the improvements to the pool at a cost of $15,252. “It will involve some demolition,” he said, some excavation and some refuse to be hauled away.

The baby pool will not be included in the current updat ing process and will not open this year, Tomlinson said. Improvements will be studied and considered for a later time.

The goals of the act, according to the CPSC, are to enhance the safety of public and private pools and spas, to encourage the use of layers of protection -- including drain and pool covers, door alarms, isolation fencing around pools and self-closing latching gates; reduce the incidents of child drownings; reduce the number of suction entrapment incidents, injuries and deaths; and to educate the public on the need for constant supervision of children in and around the water.

Child drownings involving children under the age of five average 283 each year, according to the CPSC official Web site.    

GIS Mapping System

Randy Tharp, supervisor of the county’s dispatch center and Carrollton fire chief, told fiscal court that the city and county’s 911 Geographical Information System will be ready for re-audit by June first. The Commercial Mobile Radio Service board notified Tharp in October that the system had failed and gave the county 90 days to come up with a plan to make the required changes.

A GIS integrates hardware, software and data for capturing, managing, analyzing and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information.

According to a report in the Jan. 21 issue of The News-Democrat, the county failed one of three components tested, incorrectly plotting the location of cell-phone calls to 911 made from random locations. The system must be correct 90 percent of the time to pass; the Carroll County system was correct only 30 percent of the time.

The audits are mandated by cell-phone companies that help fund the system. The county must pass a second audit or risk losing the funding. Mapping-system software used by the county to locate cell-phone calls made to 911 was cited as inadequate. The software has since been updated.

“We should be done with the mapping project by June first,” Tharp said. “If we lose that certification, we lose that funding.”

Tharp encouraged the court to consider replacement of the current system, stating he believes the state will mandate replacement in the next few years anyway.

He said the county has $63,000 in grant monies on hand to replace telephone switch gear routers. The expected cost of the replacement is $96,000, he said. The grant money must be used by December or returned.

Fiscal court agreed to move forward by advertising the 911 upgrade for bids.