Teens and college students continue to bump up the employee rolls throughout Butler County as they make themselves a few bucks during the summer.
Jason Dailey, Cranberry Township's public works director, said the township's summer work policy is to only hire young people, age 18 or older.
He oversees a year-round crew of 50 full-time employees and 10 to 20 seasonal young people each year.
The summer helpers mow grass, weed whack, empty trash, clean restrooms and perform other tasks in the township, according to Dailey, adding they work both weekdays and on weekends.
“Our parks are so busy,” Dailey said.
According to the department's union contract, seasonal employees can be hired beginning March 1 and must be removed from the payroll by Nov. 30.
Most of Dailey's young summer helpers work from May until they return to school in August.
Good help a little hard to find
Finding workers can be a challenge, as many other departments in Cranberry Township also hire seasonal employees.
“We do struggle, especially early and late in the season when they are not quite ready to start or are ready to go back to school,” he said, “but that's common in municipal operations.”
Dailey said the township invests in extensive training so the workers can safely do their jobs.
His department regularly sees college students return for the three summers before graduation.
“We've been very pleased with the decisions that we've made and we're very fortunate that year to year, we've had a lot of returning employees,” Dailey said.
The job of seasonal employees is more than just a paycheck as well, Dailey said, as they work alongside township professionals in various tasks, see various aspects of municipal government, and learn all that goes into keeping a township running smoothly.
“We have kids going to school to be engineers,” Dailey said. “There's always the opportunity that when they graduate, we'll be hiring an engineer.”
'They are still kids'
Cindy Caldwell, the longtime manager of the pool at EDCO Park in Evans City, said 15 to 20 young people are hired to work as lifeguards each summer.
Some are already certified, and others take the lifeguard certification classes offered at the pool each year.
In addition to keeping a close eye on those swimming in the newly refurbished and upgraded pool, EDCO lifeguards also work the concession stand, mow grass and perform other tasks as needed.
Caldwell tries to keep the guards happy when she fills out the work schedule.
“They work as many hours as they want,” Caldwell said. “Our philosophy is they are still kids and they still need to enjoy some of their summer.”
She said guards as young as 15 can work at the pool. Turnover is light because those teenagers return year after year.
One lifeguard was rehired this year for the fifth consecutive year. That guard is now the aquatics director.
Caldwell tends to take each lifeguard under her wing as the summer progresses so they can develop good people skills and a strong work ethic.
“I think young guards and teens in general need just a little bit of extra mothering,” Caldwell said. “When they work here, they can make change without a calculator.”
Caldwell said many of her guards have gone on to great achievements. An environmental engineer who deals with water and wetland issues, a pharmaceutical representative, a physical therapy assistant and a computer software engineer are among those who have worked as lifeguards at EDCO pool.
“I hope that little bit of mentoring has set them on a good path,” Caldwell said.
She has no plans to retire at this time.
“It is a great learning curve not only for me, but for them,” Caldwell said.