Newsworthy Neighbor: City Councilor keeps pool from closing in tribute to late grandson

'Big Dave' Keisler stands in front of the Dunsmuir Community Pool six weeks before opening day. Up until the middle of May, the city did not think the pool would open because of a lack of lifeguards. Big Dave stepped in, raised money and found lifeguards to staff the pool and stop it from closing. (News 10/Mike Marut)

Up until a little more than a week ago, the City of Dunsmuir wasn't sure if the community pool would be open for the summer - the city didn't have any lifeguards.

City Councilor 'Big Dave' Keisler stepped in.

"I had to raise $4000, and we pretty much had it raised before we needed it," Keisler said. "The money was there, I needed people."

Keisler says the Recreation and Parks Department of the city gave him an extension to find lifeguards to apply. He found enough that, if they all pass the proper tests, the pool could be open seven days every week. The lifeguards trained last weekend, will train this weekend and, according to Keisler, could have another training the weekend of June 7th. Keisler believes there are seven qualified applicants at this time that can start right away out of the 18 applicants.

"A $100 bill can't jump in the pool and save anybody's life," Keisler said. "It has to be a person wearing a pair of swimming trunks, you know?"

One of those lifeguards is Rami White, a teacher in town who is currently in the process of becoming one of those first lifeguards for the Dunsmuir Community Pool.

"A lot of kids come every day all day," White said. "It's a safe and supervised place all summer, so I just didn't want it to close."

As a teacher, White sees the children of Dunsmuir most days of the week at school, so has the privilege of watching them grow along with the responsibility of helping mold them. She says that was an important part of her decision to apply for the lifeguard position.

"It's priceless," White said. "I feel like it's family. ... It continues that relationship all the way through the summer, and I just want to keep them safe. I know there are some safe places to swim in the river, but I don't think it's as safe as the pool."

That's exactly why Keisler stepped in. This push for lifeguards comes out of a tragedy in Keisler's past: the death of his grandson.

"I lost a three-year-old, Little Dave," Keisler said. "He drowned., and that ain't gonna happen on my watch. ... Little Dave is part of the reason I pushed this. Let's just leave it at that."

Keisler added all this excitement surrounding the pool and looking for lifeguards did not just come from him, but the entire Dunsmuir community.

"You got everybody from your community stepping up," Keisler said. "From little to big, from old to young, all for that pool. It kind of means something."

Fellow city councilor, and former mayor, Bruce Deutsch, says it's no surprise the community rallied around Big Dave.

"What he's been known for all along is to kind of take his spirit, his indomitable spirit, and bring it to bear in whatever he's doing," Deutsch said. "I think as soon as most folks saw he was putting his mind to make this happen, we all just decided to jump on board the bandwagon."

To say Big Dave is excited about the pool opening would be an understatement.

"I cordially invite you to come back on July 8th, opening day, and stand on this same spot," Keisler said. "I'll be here in a pair of swim trunks, I'm jumpin' in!"

You would recognize Big Dave anywhere - he's got the biggest, whitest handlebar mustache you've ever seen with a big smile and handshake to boot. In part because of Big Dave's push for lifeguards, the city is also trying to get grant funding to refurbish the mural on one end of the Dunsmuir Community Pool.

Deutsch nominated Big Dave for Newsworthy Neighbor. If you know somebody in your neighborhood who does good things but doesn't get the recognition they deserve, email News 10's Mike Marut or send him a message on Facebook.

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