Getting to Know Rhonda Newman at the Wes Deist Aquatic Center
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1. Name and Job Title: Rhonda Newman, Aquatic Manager at the Wes Deist Aquatic Center
2. What do you do in your position? As an Aquatic Manager I oversee day-to-day operations of the swimming pool. I make sure it is safe, clean and chemicals balanced. I develop, plan, promote and make fun and educational programs for all ages. I supervise a staff of 50 – 100 employees, making sure they are doing their job to make the facility run safely and efficiently. I prepare and manage a $1 million budget. The biggest thing that I do is make sure that all patrons have a safe and fun experience when they come to the Idaho Falls Aquatic Center.
3. Where were you born and when is your birthday? I was born in Idaho Falls about 54 years ago on September 2.
4. How long have you lived in eastern Idaho and what city do you live in now? I grew up in Shelley and moved to Idaho Falls when I got married in 1991. I have lived in Idaho Falls since. I have lived in Eastern Idaho for 54 years.
5. Tell us about your first job after high school or college. My first job was when I was 11 years old. I taught swimming lessons for the Shelley Pool. I worked at the Shelley Pool for 10 years as a swim instructor, lifeguard and swimming lesson coordinator. Other jobs that I had were babysitter, hostess at JB’s, a grocery checker at Buttery’s and a cosmetologist at Sunnyside Beauty Salon, Hair Tech and Hair Care on Elm St. While working most of those places, I also worked at the Idaho Falls (Wes Deist Aquatic Center) since it opened in 1986. I never knew that I would still be in the aquatic field that I loved so much when I grew up.
6. What is the best business decision you’ve ever made? The best business decision that I have ever made was to continue in the aquatics field. I love all that it entails and I love working for the city of Idaho Falls – especially all staff and contacts I have worked with over the last 35 years.
7. Tell us about your family. I am happily married to my husband, Frank, of 29 years. I am the mother of 4 amazing sons: Jeremy, Zach, Morgan and Jordan. My oldest son is married to Mercedes and they have 3 sons: Oliver, Logan and Grizzly.
8. Tell us about a movie or book that has inspired you the most in life. ‘Pinocchio’ has inspired me to “dream big.” If you want something bad enough you can work toward it and achieve it.
9. Tell us about a lesson you learned from a mistake you made in your career. I used to hate change, but now I love change. It allows us to roll with what is going on at the current time and it makes things fresh. Hopefully change can make things better by learning from our mistakes.
10. What is the goal you hope to accomplish in the next 12 months? My goal has been to get a new dehumidification system installed at the Aquatic Center. At this point is has been planned to start around November 7 and take several months. I hope that this will make a great improvement to the current air quality of the Aquatic Center and have less rust and corrosion to metal and electronics inside the facility.
11. What is one piece of advice you have for someone who wants to do what you’re doing? My advice for someone who wants to do what I am doing is to start young. One should take swimming lessons, become a lifeguard and swim instructor and work at a pool (It is a great job to have during high school and college). Learn and get as much experience you can while you are working. If you have the opportunity to go to college, get a degree in Recreation Management.
12. If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently? If I could do it all over again, I really wouldn’t change anything. I love how my life has turned out. I love my job and my family. The only thing that I may have changed would be to have gotten a degree from college during my 5 years going to school. It would have only taken me about another semester or two to get my bachelors.
13. Where is your favorite place to eat in eastern Idaho? My favorite place to eat in Idaho Falls is probably Mongolian Grill, but there are so many places that I enjoy it is really hard to choose just one.
14. Tell us something surprising about yourself. I have worked at the Aquatic Center as a lifeguard since it opened (almost 35 years). I am the only original staff member. I am even older that most of the pipes (a lot of them have been replaced over the last 35 years).
15. How do you like your potatoes? I love my potatoes Russet style. I grew up and graduated from Shelley High School as a Russet. My husband is a potato farmer. I like my potatoes cooked. I don’t really have a favorite way to cook them, I like them all~~ baked, fried, mashed, French fried. You cook them, and I will eat them. Potatoes are a staple for pretty much every meal at my house.
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