Lifeguards For Bay County's Pier?

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BAY COUNTY - Parts of Bay County's beaches could soon be patrolled by lifeguards. County commissioners are considering the idea of a vendor providing extra eyes for the county pier.

Bay County commissioners will soon receive a detailed proposal for providing lifeguards at the county pier.

County staff members are working with Coastal Parasail managers on the idea. They want to cut a deal having the company provide lifeguards, and in exchange the county would waive $30,000 in vendor fees.

"We're going to be revenue neutral on it so he is going to have to make enough off of the various concessions that he would be running down there in order to pay for the guards. The county won't be spending any money," said Dan Shaw, Assistant County Manager.

The company would use the old Bay County Sheriff's Office sub station at the county pier. They would operate much like the seasonal lifeguards working the city pier.

Bay County officials are considering using the same group of lifeguards Panama City Beach has for its city pier to patrol this pier, but not all commissioners are on board with the proposal.

"I think it's a liability that could cost the county an awful lot of money and everybody knows the risk of getting in the water. It's not a lake. It's not a pool. It is a very dangerous piece of water and we're risking other people's lives," said Mike Thomas, Bay County Commissioner.

Commissioners could be voting on the idea to staff lifeguards at the county pier from memorial day to labor day in the next couple of weeks.

Officials say if the vendor's concession sales aren't successful, the cost of the lifeguards could fall on the county.