Sweltering heat and humidity have baked the area this summer but it has meant good business for the Mattocks Park swimming pool, which will end its 2018 run Saturday.
Ray Johnson, who recently retired as sanitation supervisor for the city of El Dorado, said the pool will remain open today — it is normally closed Wednesday for maintenance — through the rest of the week before closing for business Saturday, three days before area students head back to class for the 2018 - 2019 school year in El Dorado and Union County.
Operating hours for the pool are 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.
With excessive heat prompting various agencies to issue heat advisories over the past several weeks, Johnson said area residents have been flocking to the Mattocks pool for respite.
Attendance at the pool was up this year, with lots of new faces joining yearly regulars, he said.
“The numbers definitely came back up. There were a lot of people that had never been over there before. A lot of people came to learn how to swim. Our lifeguards teach swimming,” he said.
In 2017, the daily average number of swimmers was 75, down from 127 in 2016 and more than 100 in 2015.
This year, the average climbed up to 112 per day, Johnson reported. The Mattocks pool traditionally opens on Memorial Day and closes about two weeks prior to the start of school each year.
The pool closed early in 2017 because classes at area schools began earlier than usual. They will start the same day — Aug. 14 — this year.
In his capacity as city sanitation supervisor, Johnson had overseen the management and operation of the pool for the past several years.
His retirement will not change that. Johnson said Robert Edmonds, director of public works, has asked him to continue in the role of managing the pool, and he has agreed to do so.
Johnson began work with the city in 2002 and assumed management of the pool in 2007. Under his direction, free admission was instituted at the pool; partnerships were formed with the Boys and Girls Club of El Dorado, church groups and other organizations to help boost usage of the facility; and events were sometimes held to celebrate the opening and closing of the pool for the summer.
Johnson also continued the city’s working relationship with Lanxess to prepare the pool for opening each year and make improvements to Mattocks Park.
Lanxess has provided the chemicals needed to run the pool, performed repairs, including painting the pool and pool house; provided patio furniture; and built a pavilion at the park.
Additionally, Johnson works with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to present activities for the Family and Community Fishing Program at the Mattocks Park fishing pond.
Mattocks is the only city park with a fishing pond.
Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or by email at email@example.com.