BEAVER FALLS — After months of fundraising, grant writing and social media pleas, the Beaver Falls Beach has its first fully funded operating budget in years thanks to a final donation made by the landlord.
The Beaver Falls Recreation Association that runs the small community beach and park on the Beaver River shore off State Route 126, was still short of the $23,000 budget goal when the beach opened on July 2.
Association President Darlene K. Hunkins said the property’s owner, Eagle Creek Renewables, made a donation of more than $3,500 that topped off contributions made by community members, local organizations and municipalities, to help reach the $23,000 goal and keep the beach operating.
Ticket sales from a raffle that began in 2018 also contributed to budget funding. Five hundred tickets are being sold for $10 each, resulting in $500, $250 and $100 prizes. The final drawing won’t occur, Mrs. Hunkins said, until the final ticket is sold. There are less than 100 tickets left.
Raffle proceeds will now go toward new fencing needed near the water’s edge and around the park perimeter.
Beyond the budgeted operational expenses, long-time association member Anne T. Petzoldt worked to find grants to help cover costs to replace, repair and upgrade equipment and beach infrastructure, like the $7,000 grant from the Iroquois Pipeline Operating Company of Shelton, Conn. for new ropes, buoys, lifeguard gear and docks, Mrs. Hunkins said.
To address the controversy in the community surrounding the beach’s budget in the past, Mrs. Hunkins clarified that in September, she bases her budget projections on a 12-week season.
Because the budget has not been met for so many years, it hasn’t been possible, however, to open the beach in the middle of June to accommodate younger children already out of school at that time and remain open until Labor Day, as was the custom in the past.
“Even this year, if we were fully funded by May we could have hired lifeguards to open in June, but we weren’t funded until July,” Ms. Hunkins said.
The majority of the lifeguards are college students that will head back in August, making the Labor Day closing goal a challenge even with funding, she said.
The controversy erupted in a previous year after the association had been granted additional funds from the town of Croghan to stay open an extra week into August, but the beach still closed early.
Mrs. Hunkins said the beach had been “running in the red” that year, so the additional cash was used to pay outstanding bills first, but there wasn’t enough left over to keep the beach open.
The largest part of this year’s budget, $13,000, is scheduled for payroll based on the full 12-week season. It covers two lifeguards on duty at all times during the 50 hours weekly the beach is open, at $11.10 per hour.
Although the beach is closed on rainy days, Mrs. Hunkins’ husband, Ricky D. Hunkins, said they can’t take away too many days from the lifeguards because they are counting on that money to go back to school.
There are a total of nine part-time certified lifeguards on the beach staff, including Mr. and Mrs. Hunkins’ daughter, Rebecca, who is the head lifeguard and earns a bit more because she handles scheduling and setting up “in service” training for the lifeguards, Mrs. Hunkins said.
Other large budget expenses include about $9.000 for liability and umbrella insurance, over $600 for disability and workmen’s compensation insurance, and facility needs like the outhouse and basic maintenance, Mrs. Hunkins said.
Currently, free swimming lessons are ongoing and a beach fun day, including a frog jumping competition, is planned for July 27 in conjunction with the United Methodist Church.
In August, a beach volleyball tournament will be held on the sand court in the park.
The beach is open from noon to 8 p.m. on Monday through Friday and from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
For more information, go to the Beaver Falls Beach Facebook page at http://wdt.me/8ckG5G.