CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Thanks to Jared Bloxton, they are keeping their heads above water at the city swimming pool in Ravenswood.
Bloxton, 21, was running the facility when Ravenswood -- and most other places in West Virginia -- was hit by a severe windstorm on June 29. He worked 14 long hours to clean up the debris so they could reopen the pool.
But as of July 1, he was forced to quit the job he's done successfully during summers for the past couple of years.
On that day, the youthful pool manager was installed on Ravenswood City Council -- and there's a city ordinance that prohibits elected Ravenswood officials from holding paid positions in city government.
"I had done my homework in that transition period between the May election and taking office," explained Ravenswood Mayor Michael Ihle, not exactly a grizzled political veteran at 25. "When I took my oath of office, I felt the ordinance was unconstitutional. But I asked our city attorney, when I came into the office July 2 and he said, 'You probably are right, but until it's ruled upon, it's the law.'"
Ihle knew they might have been in trouble, and knew he couldn't legally pay Bloxton or carry the liability of allowing him to work, so, unhappily, he had to let him go.
The catch? Bloxton was the only certified pool operator on staff at the city facility. The health department won't allow the pool to operate without a certified operator to handle the chemical treatment of the water. So the civic-minded councilman has been volunteering to handle the duties until another employee is certified.
"We're getting our feet wet in this together," Bloxton said of his relationship with Ihle.
This isn't the first time Bloxton has stepped up to help his community. The rising senior sports administration major at the University of Charleston and his brother, Heath, approached radio station WMOV-AM about doing a sports show once a week. While he didn't play sports in high school (he was vice president of the student body), he always loved supporting the Ravenswood Red Devils.