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Sunset Beach holds meeting on lifeguards

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SUNSET BEACH, NC (WWAY) -- Sunset Beach leaders are looking at how to make their beach safer.

In the wake of several drownings this summer at Brunswick County beaches, a full house turned out today for a special meeting in Sunset Beach to take a look at how Wrightsville Beach's lifeguard system is set up.

"I think it would make the beach a whole lot safer," Sunset Beach resident Theresa Gajewski said. "And for all the kids that come here, it's just a plus."

Gajewski has been living in Sunset Beach for six years. She says the extra protection lifeguards provide for children is well worth it.

"The parents are watching them hopefully and everything, but the lifeguards are a lot more knowledgeable as far as rip currents, and, you know, the ocean, and how bad it is or how good it is," she said.

While some residents say it would be a great idea to have lifeguards at Sunset Beach, others say they are not so sure.

"Everything seems to be under control," resident Ricky Peterson said. "It's a beautiful beach, a beautiful environment, and I think it might be a waste of money, really tax-payer money."

But Sunset Beach Mayor Richard Cerrato, who called for the special meeting, says he is staying neutral on the matter.

"I really have no opinion," Cerrato said. "I just want to learn as much as we can learn."

John Manning, Carolina Shores' Vice Chair of Planning & Zoning, says because his town does not have a beach, residents are always visiting nearby Sunset Beach. He thinks a few lifeguards may keep them safe.

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lifeguards - no thanks

We had a highly unusual set of circumstances this summer that lead to these drownings. It is very rare to have the number and intensity of rip currents that hit Brunswick County beaches. I do not think that we should make permanent changes based on the experiences of one summer alone. Do we have any scientific basis to believe that rip currents will be as bad in years to come?

I also believe that beachgoers should take responsibility for their own safety and those in their care. There is no lack of information about current weather conditions, including rip current risk, available to anyone who bothers to check. I believe that the town should make people aware that there are risks associated with going in the ocean and that it is their responsibility to manage those risks. It may make sense to provide a link to the National Weather Service for our area showing any rip current warnings.

At this point, I do not think that Sunset Beach should build up the infrastructure required to have lifeguards up and down the beach. Doing so would bring many new expenses and many new rules and regulations. I think it is unlikely that the tragic number of drownings will happen again in the foreseeable future.

They could probably even

They could probably even fully fund the lifeguards just by issuing tickets to people who illegally drive golf carts on the road.