July 10, 2024 |

Photo – Saratoga Town Hall – Bigfoot99 file photo

Despite the objections of one town council member, the Saratoga governing body hired a new pool manager who lacks current lifeguard certifications.

The outdoor pool in Saratoga has been understaffed since opening at the beginning of June this year. One of the biggest complaints made by town employees and residents is the lack of a pool manager to oversee the teenage lifeguards.

On June 26th, the Saratoga town council held a special meeting specifically to hire a pool manager. Public Works Director Emery Penner, and a team of three others, created an interview board to meet with the two job applicants: Sandy Beffa and former pool manager Whisper Bunch. After questioning the candidates, Penner said the interview board recommended hiring Sandy Beffa as the new pool manager.

Councilwoman Kathy Beck asked if Beffa possesses lifeguard qualifications. Penner said no, but she was certified in the past and could easily become certified again. Councilwoman Beck then asked how long Beffa will serve as the pool manager. Penner said she plans to leave town in early August.

Councilwoman Beck questioned the wisdom of hiring a pool manager without lifeguard certifications. She said at least two qualified lifeguards are needed in the event of an emergency.

Councilwoman Beck also pointed out the fact that Beffa is planning to leave town in early August. Public Works Director Penner admitted that the pool is unlikely to remain open after Beffa leaves.

At the meeting, Mayor Chuck Davis noted that the town was actively seeking a new recreation director.

If a person was hired for that position, Mayor Davis said they could fill in as pool manager. Councilwoman Beck said by hiring Beffa, the town is guaranteeing that the pool will close in early August if they fail to find a new rec director.

Saratoga’s previous recreation director, Kim Hemenway resigned in May, citing the low pay and lack of staff. At the same time, Pool Manager Whisper Bunch also tendered her resignation. No reason was given for Bunch’s departure.

Mayor Davis said Beffa is willing to get recertified as a lifeguard, but she can’t find a place to take the necessary classes.

Councilwoman Beck said by hiring Beffa, the town is purposely choosing the less qualified of the two candidates. Beck accused her fellow council members of purposely failing to reconsider former Pool Manager Whisper Bunch for the job.

The reason Bunch resigned her position as pool manager is not publicly known, only being discussed by the town council during closed-door executive sessions.

Councilwoman Beck said Bunch still receives support from residents. The councilwoman said she should have been chosen over Beffa to manage the pool.

Councilwoman Beck continued to accuse her fellow council members of holding a grudge against Bunch. Mayor Davis reminded Beck that she is legally unable to divulge anything discussed during an executive session.

Beck encouraged her fellow council members to be more transparent about the incident that led to Bunch’s resignation. Councilman Jerry Fluty said Bunch was disrespectful to town hall staff, but the councilman was unable to elaborate further. Beck said the accusation is unproven.

Councilman Fluty said he is unable to refute Beck’s claims because the matter is covered under executive session. Councilwoman Beck accused the council of judging Bunch over accusations made by one former employee. Fluty said more than one person has accused Bunch of improper conduct.

Councilwoman Beck encouraged her fellow council members to give Bunch another chance at the job.

Despite the protests of Councilwoman Beck, the Saratoga town council unanimously voted to hire Sandy Beffa as pool manager.

Attendees at the June 26th special meeting said closing the pool in early August will limit the time residents can swim and do water aerobics.

Previous articleMedicine Bow Officials Discuss Where To Place Historic Mural
Next articleAlbany County Sheriff’s Office Treating “John Doe” Case As Homicide