BARRE — The city’s 70-year-old swimming pool is still empty and while filling it won’t be a problem, finding lifeguards already has Recreation Director Stephanie Quaranta holding her breath.
It hasn’t felt like it lately but summer is coming and when the pool opens on June 24 it isn’t yet clear what the swimming season will look like.
Everything from the pool’s hours of operation and its availability on weekends to whether the deep end will have to be off limits at times hinge on Quaranta’s ability to find and hire certified lifeguards in less than three weeks.
The good news?
Pool Director Jade Law is returning and Quaranta said Wednesday she expects to promote lifeguard Zach Millette to the assistant director’s position.
The bad news?
As it stands now, Law and Millette don’t have a staff to direct.
Quaranta said that will change.
Quaranta said she expects to hire one promising new lifeguard — Emily-Grace Spaulding — and is hoping to lure one of last year’s guards — Grace Paterson — back at least on a limited basis. Both, she said, have the requisite certifications, though Spaulding will have to miss two weeks out of an eight-week season and Paterson will be working three days a week in Essex over the summer.
A third prospect called to inquire about a lifeguard job Wednesday morning, and while he doesn’t have the requisite certification, Quaranta said there is still time address that. But not much.
“It’s getting down to the wire,” she said.
An American Red Cross lifeguard certification course is scheduled later this month at Anderson Pool in Waterbury. The five-day course starts on June 18 — a Tuesday — runs through Saturday, June 22 and will cost Waterbury residents $250 and others $275.
Quaranta is offering to reimburse those who take and pass the course provided they work the whole summer at the pool in Barre. She could use the help.
Quaranta is in the market for six lifeguards — not counting Law and Millette — and is prepared to open the season with a shorthanded staff that will force her to rethink the schedule.
“The goal is to provide as many open hours as possible,” said Quaranta, a veteran city department head who expects she’ll have to pinch hit as a lifeguard more than usual this summer.
Quaranta is a certified lifeguard and has helped man the pool in the past.
In order to safely operate the pool at least two and preferably three of the four lifeguard chairs need to be filled. On busier hot days, Quaranta said, four lifeguards need to be on duty.
That’s why Quaranta is expecting she’ll have to modify the pool’s hours — at least to start the season — and may have to make the deep end off limits on days when the pool is too crowded to safely operate short-staffed.
“I’ll know more in two weeks,” she said.
Though swimming lessons aren’t an issue, general swimming is and Quaranta said her priority will be to open the pool on weekdays from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. and possibly include an early evening session as has been the case in the past.
That isn’t a given based on where things now stand and weekend hours are even less certain.
Based on past pool usage, Quaranta said opening on Saturday and Sunday was hardest to justify and her strong preference would be to address the weekday need. The pool serves a summer meals site for children and she said maintaining that weekday accommodation is important.
Quaranta has occasionally scrambled to recruit lifeguards in the past, but she said it has been more of a challenge this year. Recent outreach to area high schools — Spaulding, U-32 and Williamstown among them — haven’t produced the hoped-for response and Quaranta said she is hoping once school lets out for the summer her phone wills start ringing.
“I’ve got my fingers crossed,” she said.
Quaranta’s hunt for lifeguards comes even as a city crew readies to make limited repairs needed to open the pool one final season before work on a long-anticipated upgrade begins.
The project, which was approved by voters more than a year ago, will change the configuration of the pool, replace its subsurface and substandard mechanical and potentially add a new splash pad.
The project is now being designed and is expected to be put out to bid in time for work to start later this year and be finished some time next summer.
Quaranta said uncertainty about the timing of the project cost her at least one former lifeguard who opted to take a job at the Northfield pool instead. However, she said she is hoping the lure of working at a refurbished pool that will include a new beach-level entry will be a draw for lifeguards in the future.
Those interested in inquiring about working as a lifeguard this summer are urged to contact Quaranta at 476-0257 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BARRE TOWN — Local officials have expressed interest in entering into a public/private partnership for stormwater projects.
At its regular meeting Tuesday night, the Select Board heard from Town Manager Carl Rogers. Rogers told the board the Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission (CVRPC) reached out to the town Friday to see if it would be interested in being selected for a stormwater project where public and private entities would work together.
Pam DeAndrea, a senior planner at CVRPC, sent out an email Friday to area towns talking about the project. DeAndrea said CVRPC has been subcontracted by Watershed Consulting Associates (WCA), out of Burlington, to conduct outreach to local communities to see if they would be willing to participate. She said the project is part of the state’s effort to reduce runoff entering Lake Champlain and WCA has been hired by the Department of Environmental Conservation to head it up.
DeAndrea said the focus of the project is impervious surfaces that are 3 acres or larger that were built before 2002, when the state changed its stormwater development requirements for projects of that size.
WCA selected 45 towns that meet the criteria for the project, including having the larger, older impervious surfaces and documented water quality concerns. Of those 45 towns, 12 are in Washington County and include Barre City, Montpelier and Berlin.
DeAndrea said in her email WCA wants to narrow the list down to 10 towns and a total of about 10 to 15 sites. The company would then work with the municipalities and property owners to develop partnerships to come up with a plan to address stormwater issues at those sites. WCA will also provide preliminary design work for the proposed projects.
Rogers told the board Tuesday the regional planning commission needed an answer by Wednesday if the town is interested in the project. He said the list is expected to be reduced June 12.
Rogers said if Barre Town is picked, town staff would sit down with people from WCA and the regional planning commission later this month to figure what sites would best be served by a public/private partnership.
He said after the list of sites is compiled, the town would have a chance to say if it wants to move forward or not.
“A public/private partnership could have many different forms,” Rogers said.
He said the town could decide to build and maintain a facility to address stormwater at a certain site, with the property owner agreeing to give the town some money to build it. Or he said the town could send some of its stormwater into a treatment facility built by the property owner and the property owner would be compensated for it.
Board members said they didn’t see any downside from expressing interest at this point since the project is in its preliminary stages and they wouldn’t be locked into anything by doing so. They voted unanimously to express interest in the project.
PROCTOR — From Brooklyn to Europe to honor his country: Jess E. Moger, bravely fought as a member of the “A” Troop, 28th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Group in World War II, and charted every stretch of his journey.
And June Tess Wilson, co-owner of the Proctor Marble Company and daughter of Moger’s best friend MT SGT USMC WWII Robert T Hagan, kept his notes, articles, passports and pictures carefully preserved in a binder in her home.
“Jesse was like an uncle to me,” Wilson said.
“It’s like a living diary,” added her husband, Brent Wilson.
Born in 1918, Moger’s dream began in Brooklyn, where he loved flying as a child, and even convinced the pilot of a Stearman biplane to fly him and his friend around the statue of liberty at night.
After enlisting on March 21, 1941, he took an air cadet test at a local college in Philadelphia on June 10, 1942, where he passed with a score of 93, but he failed the visual test due to “visual acuity,” so he went on to become a radio operator, and was transferred into the 6th Cavalry in the mechanical education group.
“We went all the way to Berlin,” Moger wrote.
It was during Moger’s stop in Alexandria, Virginia, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and after bribing the mail man to bring them beer and some snacks to console the group.
“The next day, war was declared,” Moger wrote.
Moger made is home safely to his family for Christmas leave, before departing first to Pennsylvania, where the 104th cavalry were stationed to guard coal stores, trucks and airplanes headed for Europe, and trains in Pittsburgh from Jeeps, rowboats, on foot and by plane.
The cavalry was comprised half of horse troops and half mechanized, Moger documented.
He made $30 a month serving in 1941 and part of 1942, according to his documents.
After training in the states, Moger spent two years — from 1943 to 1945 — in Europe beginning in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where he continued radio and recon training before heading to Bristol, England on an LST (Landing Ship, Tank)
“It was a rough trip,” Moger wrote. “Large waves and a strong wind ... unloaded our M8 car and gear — no knowing where — just followed the car in front.”
Moger said he spent his June 6 sending confusing messages to the Germans using a “powerful British radio,” and a month later on July 9 after going to church the night before, E-boats and planes guided the LST 347 to Utah Beach.
It was on July 25, 1944, that all hell broke lose, and with “A” Troop on guard in the Falaise Gap, a narrow strip of German-held territory running from Falaise to Mortain, close to the German 7th Army, until they were relieved the next day by the 83rd division.
“The radio messages were so loud, they rattled my ears,” Moger wrote.
The army swept on through France until it reached Metz where they ran out of gasoline, but Moger said the Germans were already on retreat.
“Troop ‘A’ entered a restaurant, and broke up a promotion party of SS officers,” Moger wrote. “20 plates, some with food still on them. An SS souvenir beside each plate ... waitress said they ran out the back door as we came in.”
The troops headed to Nancy for “rest and rehab,” where Roman Catholic nuns washed their clothing and their wounds, and one sewed a German fur-coat into his sleeping bag.
“Lot’s of wine, singing songs, dancing ... the band would not play ‘Roll Out the Barrel,’ that was a German favorite,” Moger said.
News came that they would be returning to Metz in late October, where many GI’s had lost their lives to retake the city after the Germans had recouped.
Christmas that year was spent in Habay-la-Neuve, Belgium, where Moger and his friends sought refuge in a small house owned by an older couple named Phillip and Michelle, who offered the men stew, bread and brandy.
Christmas day the men headed out to Vies Que Ville where they engaged in a vicious firefight, when Moger was alerted that someone had come looking for him.
Philip, then in his seventies, rode his bike into the fray looking for Moger to deliver letters Moger had written to his wife and left on their mantle the evening before, and was given a ride home in one of the troop’s jeeps later that afternoon, Moger wrote.
The men weakened the Siegfried Line during the fight for Galgenberg Hill on February 24 after attempts to distract the Germans with broadcasts from their Psychological Warfare team the night before, and went on to capture nine towns and destroy 312 pillboxes — concrete German guard posts or bunkers with firearms holes — and went on to fight on the west Bank of the Prum River between Waxweiler and Mauel.
Moger goes on to tell about the spoils of war and the recouped German supplies that began to make themselves available as the Third Army moved across formerly German-occupied territory, and began donning long, white German fur coats and packing bottles of champagne, liqueurs and parachutes into their sleeping bags.
“We emptied our five-gallon water can and filled it with cognac,” Moger wrote in September of 1944, before the army reached Liverchamps and Wiltz. “I sent a ‘chute and perfume to my mom!”
Moger’s group freed 300 allied soldiers in a hospital camp at Stadtroda, and after collecting several townspeople and the Burgermeister in Ohrdruf, headed to the city’s Nazi Concentration camp in the city of Ohrdruf, where the SS guards had hurriedly executed many of the prisoners before the camp was invaded by allied troops.
“A naked man, skin and bones, smiling with arms outstretched — like sticks — came to greet me,” Moger wrote. “I gently patted him on his back — said ‘all’s well, okay.’ We were given special snacks to give them, I left the chocolate with their nurse to give them later.”
Captured German materials allowed for the GI’s to create a portable field shower-unit with hot water, and after successfully crossing the Rhine river — a feat the Germans had tried to hamper by attempting to demolish the bridge — and surviving several battles, a party was overheard on the BBC radio in early May: the war was over.
“We still had some cognac in our water can, when a Stuka dive bomber came in very low, turned and landed,” Moger wrote. “A young pilot, no uniform, got out ... he was laughing while talking.”
“The representative of the German high command signed the unconditional surrender of all German land, sea and air forces and simultaneously to the Soviet High Command at 070141 B May 1945 under which all forces will cease,” the message reads.
And so, the forces were sent to Berlin, soon to head back home, but not before Moger was promoted to Staff Sgt and given a well-deserved day off each week.
“The Russians made life exciting,” Moger wrote of his subsequent service with his new Russian translator Paul and his new Jeep. “We were worried and concerned every time we shot at one — about being court marshaled or starting a war.”
The 6th cavalry received a presidential citation from Dwight D. Eisenhauer, “Chief of Staff” and Edward F. Witsell, “Major General, the Adjutant General,” for their valiant efforts in January 1945, and once returning home, moved to Florida, where he lived to be 97 alongside his best friend Hagan, who served in the Pacific while Moger fought in Europe.
“In these times, it is impossible to gauge how deep cynical positions can be maintained in order to support the continued profit of the elites.”
In the news
Sen. Bernie Sanders renews his target on Walmart, calling for fairer wages for Americans. A2
Much to talk about in Talk of the Town. A3
Delegates devoted to preservation meet in Montpelier to discuss projects — and the future. A7
The Art of Movement
Dance 32 presents a family-friendly evening of creative student choreography. By donation, 7-8 p.m. U-32 Middle & High School, 930 Gallison Hill Road, East Montpelier, email@example.com, 802-229-0321.