Lifeguards are off duty this summer in Douglas County

No lifeguards will be keeping an eye on the swimmers at any of the public beaches.

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An empty lifeguard platform stands on the L'Homme Dieu Beach Near Alexandria as swimmers enjoy the water on Monday, June 14. (Lowell Anderson / Echo Press)

If you take a dip into one of Douglas County’s lakes this summer, you may want to be extra careful if you’re at a public beach.

No lifeguards will be keeping an eye on the swimmers at any of the beaches.

This isn’t exactly new. No lifeguards were on duty last summer because of COVID-19 restrictions. Also, Douglas County has never provided lifeguards at the county-managed beaches. It only puts up “swim at your own risk” signs, according to Brad Bonk, parks superintendent.

But two beaches in the Alexandria area – Lake L’Homme Dieu and Lake Latoka – have had lifeguards in the past.

The city of Alexandria, Alexandria Township and Lakes Area Recreation used to share the cost of having lifeguards on L’Homme Dieu but LAR dissolved in November of 2019. After that happened, the Alexandria City Council talked about working with the townships and county on beach management options but 2020 halted the discussions.


The city’s 2021 budget doesn’t include funding for the lifeguards, according to City Administrator Marty Schultz.

Lake Latoka Beach is under the management of LaGrand Township. It also decided not to hire lifeguards this summer.

“We are just trying to stay consistent with everyone else,” said Kelly Beilke, township clerk. She added there are signs saying that no lifeguard is on duty and that people should swim at their own risk.

Al Edenloff is the editor of the twice-weekly Echo Press. He started his journalism career when he was in 10th grade, writing football and basketball stories for the Parkers Prairie Independent.
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