By ANGIE CARNATHAN
For many people, the best way to escape the dog days of summer is to jump in the nearest pool. Until recently that wasn’t always an option for some Starkville citizens. However, the Starkville Parks and Recreation Department along with the Starkville Disability Commission says the water is fine, so come on in.
A new chair lift has been installed at the Moncrief Park pool to help those with disabilities, injuries or limited use of motion enjoy a break from the hot summer and utilize the pool for therapy. Beth Ann Ellzey said the lift provides “affordable and accessible physical therapy.” She has used water for most of her life to enjoy the feeling of weightlessness and gain upper body strength.
Kenneth Gordon, parks and recreation maintenance director, installed the lift himself and says he is excited about the opportunities this will bring to the people of Starkville. The lifeguards at Moncrief Park have been trained to use the new chair lift and assist those with special needs to get in and out of the pool. The guards work in teams of two, with one guard standing by the pool to operate the lift while the other guard is in the pool to assist from the water. If needed, a transfer board is also available.
Ellzey offered to demonstrate the chair in use and said she felt very comfortable and safe both entering and exiting the water. Ellzey was also on hand to help educate the lifeguards and answer any questions they might have regarding the individual needs of different disabilities.
Tiffany Hamlin, chair of the Starkville Commission on Disability, said she was thrilled when Matthew Rhy of the Starkville Parks and Recreation Department contacted the commission to discuss purchasing the lift.
“I was really impressed the need was noticed,” Hamlin said. “We want the public to know the pool is here for everyone, and we want everyone to have the opportunity to enjoy it.”
The Moncrief Park pool is open Monday through Saturday from 1-5 p.m. and Sunday from 2-4 p.m. for regular swim. Family swim times are Monday through Thursday and Sunday evenings from 5:15-7 p.m. Regular swim is for anyone eight years of age or older. During family swim, one adult must be present to accompany every eight children. Pool passes cost $1 daily for children 12 and under, $2 daily for 13 and older, and summer passes can be purchased for $35 for an individual and $50 for a family. The family pass covers up to eight people.
Two handicapped parking spaces are available at the pool, and the pool itself is accessible to those in manual and motorized wheel chairs. People interested in using the lift should notify life guards upon arrival for assistance.