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City looks to increase staffs before opening facilities further

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With Chaves County now in the low-risk Green Level of the state’s COVID-19 risk assessment system, city facilities such as the zoo, library, museum and recreation centers will be able to expand their capacities, but for now won’t be expanding hours or services.

Before that can happen, those facilities need to hire and train adequate staff, city officials said Thursday.

“We can increase the capacity of visitors to the facilities, but expanding the hours where we’re not open right now, that’s where we need that staffing,” Juanita Jennings, public affairs director for the city, said.

The capacities of city facilities were able to increase with Wednesday’s move to the Green Level. Recreational facilities are at 25% of maximum indoor occupancy and 50% of outdoor spaces.

The Recreation and Aquatic Center, 1402 W. College Boulevard, is the one exception. The lap pool opened for recreational swimming on Saturdays and Sundays, and the recreation side will now also open on the weekends. Hours and other information can be found on the Roswell Parks and Recreation Facebook page.

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For now, the Roswell Public Library will not expand to weekend hours, and the Spring River Zoo will remain open to the public Friday through Sunday. The Adult Recreation Center’s billiard room, cardio room and hospitality room are open, but classes and room rentals will not yet resume.

The city is currently hiring lifeguards for the aquatic center and several positions in the library. Todd Wildermuth, public information officer for the city, said those positions will need to be filled and trained so the city can open the outdoor pool this summer or expand hours and services at the library.

Job listings can be found on the city’s webpage under the Employment menu, Wildermuth said.

“Our goal is to get these people on board and hired so that we have ample staffing levels, and then we can look at expanding those hours once we have enough staff to accommodate the hours,” Jennings said.

The recreation and aquatic center will have certification classes on several weekends through the beginning of May to help fill 30 lifeguard positions, Wildermuth said.

“For the zoo, we’re looking at a more strategic plan of how we’re going to reopen that now with guest services,” Jennings said.

The zoo is open Friday through Sunday, with private tours available on Thursdays. Hours and ticket information are available on the city website.

“We’ve got to fill those positions because we still need to open the concession stand and hopefully the carousel and train and things like that,” Jennings said.

She said, however, getting qualified applicants has been difficult with federal COVID-19 relief packages offering boosts in unemployment benefits.

“Staffing has been tough for us, finding people who want to work,” she said.

The city is preparing its next fiscal year budget with the goal of having all facilities operating at pre-pandemic hours and levels of service, Jennings said. The fiscal year starts July 1.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.

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