Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Time for AMI cities, county to hire more lifeguards

 
Lifeguards apportioned along the 7-mile span of Anna Maria Island are long overdue.
The tragic drowning of Dushay Nelson underlines that need.
That only the Manatee County beaches --- Manatee Beach and Coquina Beach --- have had lifeguards while AMI's three municipalities have not may have worked all these years.
But the time is past.
As Anna Maria Commissioner Gene Aubry  has suggested, it would behoove the three cities to sit down with county officials and determine whether they can produce a plan that works for all.
Naturally, it will cost money.
Yet when it means being able to save one person, such as the unfortunate Winter Haven 14-year-old who drowned last Saturday, does anyone dare put a price tag on a life?
It's amazing that our beaches, the big draw in our county's multi-million dollar tourism industry, have been safeguarded so long for so little expense.
Manatee's annual marine rescue budget?
Just $652,000.
A decade ago that department had a staff of 17.
It is now just 11.
Given the economic impact of our beautiful beaches, one would think there would be sufficient resources on hand to help maintain the safety of the thousands of people who enjoy them daily.
AMI's elected leaders and Manatee County should grasp that and find a solution.
The status quo won't do.

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