Jackson County officials to decide future of Blue Springs Park soon

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MARIANNA, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Blue Springs Recreational Area in Jackson County is a popular tourist attraction this time of year, but park officials are considering whether to even open its doors this season. The decision could impact Marianna's economy.

During the summer in Jackson County, more than 20,000 people visit Blue Springs Recreational Area.

"We see a high amount of people and making sure we have enough qualified staff to oversee those people and making sure they're safe in an event of an emergency is my number one priority," said Jackson County Public Works Director Rett Daniels.

That may not be the case this time around. Daniels said the facility is facing some hurdles before it can reopen. One of its biggest problems is finding enough lifeguards.

"They [a local third party who conducts lifeguard training] elected not to do the training this year. The training is good for two years so I can only rehire ones who certified last year," added Daniels.

Daniels said they're required to have one lifeguard per 50 swimmers. They see around 400 to 800 in the water a day. They also have to fix the damage from the hurricane and pick up debris.

"One is our dock system that used to barricade off where boat traffic would come into the swimming area. Also our playground fencing keeping kids contained in an area," explained Daniels.

Marianna City Manager Jim Dean said it's important to get Blue Springs back up and running.

"With Blue Springs open, it brings more people to our community. With Blue Springs closed, it's going to have a negative impact on our community and a potentially negative impact on employment," said Dean.

He added that it will affect teens who need summer jobs. A decision should be made later this week.

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