City commissioners in Clewiston have approved Sky Family YMCA’s taking over operation of the city Recreation Department’s summer camp programs for children ages 5-12. The item had been postponed from the City Commission’s meeting March 19 when Commissioner Kristine Petersen asked for a comparison of fees and whether the YMCA camp program was at the same level previously provided by the city.
After more discussion at their meeting Monday night, April 2, the commissioners approved the move unanimously. Mayor Mali Gardner had stated at the previous meeeting that she thought the Venice-based Sky Valley Y’s program would be more affordable and said they provide similar programs in Moore Haven, LaBelle and for Hendry County’s East Rec and West Rec centers.
In response to other questions on March 19, Public Works Director Sean Sheffler had said the YMCA would provide training and background checks for workers, also handling payroll, while the programs would take place at the Clewiston Youth Center and use of the city’s pool would be available, with city-employed lifeguards. At Monday’s meeting, City Manager Al Perry said, “Instead of running two three-week programs, they (the Sky Family Y) will run eight one-week programs, so you can go to all eight, or you can go to the first one and the fifth one … so you can plan it a little better around your vacation.” He said the city would continue all operations of the pool, as normal, and already had hired lifeguards for the summer to put them at full staff.
Commissioner Petersen, while noting that Good Wheels provides transportation, wondered aloud whether there was any limit on distances it would travel. Mr. Perry said he knew that Good Wheels goes everywhere in Hendry County but wasn’t sure and would check.
Mayor Gardner said: “I know they also travel to Moore Haven, and their field trips, I know for sure that from Moore Haven they’ve gone over to Fort Myers. I think one of the good things about the YMCA program is that they are affiliated with the United Way … that public-private resource that we do not have access to. To me, it is a structured program from what I can see. Hopefully with it being one-week sessions, they can increase enrollment, which has been declining over the past several years.” She asked the city finance chief to speak about whether the new arrangement would save the city money.
“It does take up our staff time when we are reconciling registrations,” Finance Director Shari Howell said. “I don’t really see any huge cost savings … but it looks like it’s going to be the same kind of program and, basically, we will just not have to deal with the day-to-day (stuff) … or payroll.”
Commissioner Julio Rodriguez then said, “Mayor, I think we should try it.” She asked, “Is that a motion?” and he said yes. It passed after a few more questions were raised and then answered by Mr. Perry, and with no further comments by commissioners or any opposition.
In other actions, the commission declared April as “Water Conservation Month” and also “Donate Life Month” to encourage residents both to try to conserve water during this usually particularly dry month and to sign up on the organ and tissue donor registry when renewing their Florida driver’s license or through the website DonateLifeFlorida.org.
Later in the meeting, commissioners also heard from Libby Pigman, the South Florida Water Management District’s regional representative who works in the Okeechobee County office.
“I’ve been doing Leadership Hendry this year so I’m getting to know the community a whole lot better, but I’m here tonight because April is Water Conservation Month and I saw on your consent agenda that you passed a proclamation … and I appreciate that.
“I wanted to just bring to everybody’s attention that we do have year-round watering rules in place throughout the district. The rules for Hendry County are if you live at an address that ends in an odd number, your watering days are Monday, Wednesday and Saturday; if it’s an even number, it’s Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. And there is no watering during the hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.”
Mayor Gardner welcomed her and said, “I’m glad you’re part of Hendry/Glades Leadership; it’s a great program.” Ms. Pigman answered, “I’ve enjoyed it. Last week I went on a spring regulatory tour with the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, and we went to Duda, to U.S. Sugar, to Southern Gardens, so I’ve really got to see a lot of Hendry County.”