By Cheryl Splain, KnoxPages.com Reporter
MOUNT VERNON — Changes at Hiawatha Water Park for 2017 will increase safety and relieve some stress on water park personnel.
Jerry Clinger, the city's recreation director and assistant director for the water park, told council members about the changes on Monday.
The city runs two park programs:
*Tot Lots, a two-week program for 3- to 5-year-olds. Between 10 and 15 preschoolers are usually enrolled. The program runs from 10 a.m. to noon with two staffers.
*Elementary Park Program, a 10-week program for students kindergarten through fifth grade. Slightly more than 200 usually register; about 135 show up each day. The program runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Four employees staff the elementary program. In past years, staffers took the children to the water park from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Clinger said that it was very difficult for the four staffers to keep track of 135 children among all of the other park visitors.
This year, the time for swimming lessons has been moved earlier in the day. Children from the elementary program will go to the water park from 10:30 a.m. to noon. They will be the only ones swimming in the leisure pool during that time. When the water park opens to the public at noon, the park program children will move to the park. Clinger said the change will add one hour a day to the cost of providing lifeguards.
The fees for both programs will increase from $30 for the first child and $20 for each additional child to $50 and $35, respectively. Clinger said that parents must pay at least half of the cost by the first day of attendance; the remaining amount can be paid over the next few weeks. The fees cover the cost of two of the six employees.