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Jacksonville Beach City Council will not let voters decide volunteer lifeguards' future

Citizens say they got enough signatures on a petition to ask the city council to put the future of the American Red Cross Volunteer Life Savings Corps on the ballot.

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. — A 110-year-old institution in Jacksonville Beach may have seen its last days as we knew it.

Volunteer lifeguards did not get what they wanted Monday night when the Jacksonville Beach City Council decided not to let voters decide if the city should keep volunteer lifeguards. Citizens say they got enough signatures on a petition to bring it to the city council and ask them to put the future of the American Red Cross Volunteer Life Savings Corps up to a vote.

The city council is concerned the petition is legally flawed. Residents at the meeting were heated when they spoke to the city council about why they felt there was no right for the volunteer lifeguarding institution to be dissolved.

Problems began when the city cut ties with the Corps because of a federal labor ruling stating city workers can't also be city volunteers. The Corps volunteered with lifeguard duties on Sundays and on holidays.

This spring a lawsuit was filed after lifeguards were locked out of the station. The city says that it gave the volunteers a nine-month notice that their services would be terminated; however, the city sent a notice to the volunteers that their service would be terminated immediately due to "disruptive behavior" in April.

For the 4th of July weekend, lifeguards said the plan was to put up 14 lifeguard towers along the beach and that that would be enough.

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