Tuesday, 23 June 2020
Written by Earl Vaughan Jr.
There was a time when the position of lake attendant at Hope Mills Lake was seasonal, but with the popularity of the lake since its return, the need for someone to be on duty more frequently has increased.
That’s why the town is seeking to add at least two part-time lake attendants as soon as possible to try and keep things in order at the popular recreational area.
Lamarco Morrison, who heads the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Department, said he’s currently having to assign full-time staffers who have other jobs to handle the lake attendant’s role.
“We definitely have to have someone there on the weekends to make sure they are adhering to the rules,’’ Morrison said.
Those rules have gotten more complicated because of the COVID-19 virus pandemic, with lake attendants having to step in and enforce social distancing restrictions.
The basic responsibilities of the lake attendant are fairly routine Morrison said. They monitor the lake and its park to make sure town ordinances are being observed, like no one fishing in the designated swimming area, making sure trash is picked up and making sure the restrooms at the lake are clean.
The lake attendant is not required to do any grounds care like mowing or weeding. They do need to check on things like making sure dogs are on leashes and that no one parks a vehicle at the boat ramp except to put a boat in the water and then leave.
Other rules that need to be enforced are no smoking and no weapons.
The main COVID-19 rule that is a problem with lake visitors is limiting all groups to a maximum of 25. That is also the limit imposed on the number of people that can be in the swimming area at one time.
While the wearing of masks is encouraged in the park, Morrison said it is not a rule.
There are no limits on how many cars can be parked in the lake parking lot, but Morrison said the lake attendant does enforce the 25-person rule when people are outside of their vehicles. If they decide to buy food at the nearby Big T’s food stand, they cannot congregate to eat it there in large groups and must either leave or eat in their cars.
Park staff is no longer putting up a barricade at the parking lot at day’s end. Typical summer hours for the park are from dawn to dusk, with the park usually shutting down each day around 10 p.m. There is an attendant on duty from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. They work in two shifts of no more than six to six-and-a-half hours per day. State and federal laws limit how much the part-time attendants can work both weekly and annually without receiving benefits.
The attendants are not authorized to assess penalties for violating park rules. Their instructions are to tell someone one time if they are in violation of park rules. If the person ignores the warning and continues the violation, the attendants are not to confront the person violating the rules, but instead contact local law enforcement to handle the problem.
Unfortunately, Morrison said that has happened on numerous occasions.
To apply for the lake attendant position, go to Town Hall on Rockfish Road during normal business hours.
You can also follow this link to the application online: www.townofhopemills.com/jobs.aspx.
Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Written by Earl Vaughan Jr.
Few things are more important in the world we currently live in than being able to articulate individual wants and needs. It’s in times like these that the job of someone like Deana Kahlenberg is so important.
Kahlenberg, who is a speech language pathologist at Gallberry Farm Elementary School in Cumberland County, was recently honored by her peers as the Cumberland County Schools speech language pathologist of the year.
Kahlenberg said she was “blown away” to be recognized after being in the profession for only six years.
She was inspired to pursue her career by an elementary school teacher who created a love of working with children in her. Kahlenberg said there is also a history of stuttering in her family that sparked a personal interest in the profession.
While some speech pathologists work at multiple schools, Kahlenberg does all of her work with students at Gallberry Farm. Her focus is on students in preschool through fifth grade who have communication disorders. These can range from having difficulty making certain sounds to problems understanding or using language.
A graduate of Radford, Kahlenberg was an elementary classroom teacher for seven years before she and her husband Mark, who is also a speech pathologist in Cumberland County, went back to get their masters degrees in communication disorders.
Although this year changed things because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kahlenberg normally works with 50 to 60 students per year in both individual and group sessions, depending on the needs of each child.
Kahlenberg is part of a team approach that includes teachers, teacher assistants, parents and entire families in working with students who need communication help.
“The goal of what we do is to give everybody a voice,’’ she said of the students she works with. “I think it’s more critical than ever,’’ she said. “Making sure everyone has that voice and fair opportunity to get an education is our goal.’’
Because a lot of Kahlenberg’s work involves one-on-one interaction with students, the pandemic complicated things, especially when school was closed.
“We moved to teletherapy,’’ she said. “We rely heavily on caregivers and family members to help go through the therapy process. There is a lot of caregiver training and counseling involved.’’
Dawn Collins, the principal at Gallberry Farm, said Kahlenberg did everything in her power to make sure no students fell through the cracks because of the lack of face-to-face teaching this year once school closed.
“She used all the resources possible,’’ Collins said. “She would meet with students in small groups virtually and one-on-one. She considered it a personal goal to contact the students with the best resources she had.’’
Kahlenberg said her primary hope for any recognition she receives from being honored is to increase interest in the speech pathology profession and hopefully draw others to pursue it as a career.
“We are always needing more speech therapists,’’ she said. “I hope it will bring light to the profession and draw younger people to enter it.’’