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Superior considers higher wages, younger workers for parks

Hiring skating rink attendants, playground monitors has proven challenging, prompting policy changes for seasonal recreation workers.

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Water sprays out to form the base layer of ice at the Red Barn Rink in Superior in 2018. This year, there is no ice because there are not enough rink attendants to go around.
File / Superior Telegram
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Finding skating rink attendants and playground program monitors has proven to be a challenge for the city of Superior.

Now city officials are rethinking their hiring practices, not just wages, but who they hire.

The human resources committee approved a proposal Monday, Jan. 24, that will increase the wages and reduce the hiring age for people working at the city’s outdoor skating rinks and as monitors for the summer playground program.

This year, all of the rinks the city has historically operated haven’t been opened because there are not enough people to work at them, according to Linda Cadotte, parks, recreation and forestry director.

“Historically, the rinks have only had one person working them,” Cadotte said.

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However, she said with the number of incidents that have occurred at the rinks, the city is now running the rinks like the summer program, which requires two people to be on-site.

“This year we’ve hired a couple of people under 18, but in order for them to work at a rink, they have to be paired with someone that is over 18,” Cadotte said.

She said instead of pairing a 16- or 17-year-old with someone older than 18, she’s recommending the city consider allowing two responsible teens to work together to monitor the city’s recreation programs.

Traditionally, the city has hired primarily adults, said Cammi Janigo, human resources director. That changed when the city struggled to fill playground positions; however, minors had to work with an adult on-site.

“We are having an extremely difficult time filling those positions,” Janigo said.

Cadotte said it often happens that when the city hires college students, they stick around until their classes start, and she’s hopeful that students attending high school may stick around over time for seasonal positions.

In addition to amending the hiring policy to allow 16- to 17-year-olds to work together to oversee the city’s recreational sites, the committee approved setting the pay scale at $15 per hour.

The Superior City Council will consider the changes when it meets at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 2, in Room 201 of the Government Center.

Shelley Nelson is a reporter with the Duluth Media Group since 1997, and has covered Superior and Douglas County communities and government for the Duluth News Tribune from 1999 to 2006, and the Superior Telegram since 2006. Contact her at 715-395-5022 or snelson@superiortelegram.com.
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