WILLIAMSON, W.VA. -- Mayor Sam G. Kapourales got the call at his drugstore Monday afternoon: An AIDS victim was in the municipal swimming pool.

Not wanting "to cause a panic," Kapourales ordered Dick Roddy, a high school teacher who manages the pool, to tell the 150 bathers that the pool had to be closed because of a malfunctioning pump.

But unlike the fictional Mayor Lawrence P. Vaughan in Peter Benchley's "Jaws," who tried to cover up a potential calamity in the form of a huge shark in the waters off the town's beach, Mayor Kapourales went out of his way to warn everyone in this coal country town of 5,600 of what he viewed as a health menace in its public waters.

He walked into the Williamson Daily News the next morning and explained his action and called the state health department for advice.

Dr. Richard Hopkins, director of the state's AIDS control program, told Kapourales that he had "overreacted." Kapourales said the state's health commissioner, Dr. David K. Heydinger, chided him, saying that "as a pharmacist, I should know better," that acquired immune deficiency syndrome can't be spread through casual contact, and that there is enough chlorine in the pool to kill the virus.

"As a pharmacist I want to believe that, but there are too many unknowns," Kapourales said of his dilemma.

"As mayor, I know the community is concerned, and that {the statement by state health officials} got me off the hook. Now, if people want to go in the pool, or send their kids, they can use their own judgment."

Clearly, most of the townspeople agreed with Kapourales, who said some people have urged him to close the pool for the rest of the season.

"People have a right to know," said Dino Beckett, a lifeguard. He said of the AIDS victim: "People recognized him and were leaving anyway."

Kathy Roddy, daughter of the pool manager, acknowledged that the best solution would be more education about AIDS.

"But if he cut his toe, would you put a Band-Aid on it? Would you save him if he were drowning?" she asked.

Peirce Whitt, the town's recreation director, said "I know if you had a policy like this in Washington, you'd have to shut down everything, but small towns are different. Everyone knows everyone else."

The reaction might not have been as intense as it was had it not been for rumors, totally unsubstantiated, that the AIDS victim was taking actions to intentionally spread his disease.

About the only dissent locally came from the father of the AIDS victim, whose name has not been made public, although he is known to many people. The father was furious because "educated people ought to have enough sense to know right from wrong.

"People with cancer don't get treated this way," he said of his 28-year-old son, who returned home recently after living in Texas, where the disease was diagnosed. "I want him to be able to live until he dies, which he is going to do."

Another opponent of the pool closing was Roger Haynes, a local mechanic, who said he thought closing the facility was "a damned joke."

The pool was reopened Thursday, however, but only 45 people showed up, and only 13 of them went into the water, according to pool manager Roddy.

In the two days the pool was closed, workers scrubbed everything in sight: locker room, wire clothes hampers, lounge chairs, diving board and walkways. Twelve to 16 times the usual amount of chlorine was dumped into the pool, a cleaning process usually employed every two weeks.

The swimming pool incident was the second time in two months that public attention has been called to the man who is believed to be the first local person to contract the fatal disease, which has stricken most often at homosexual men, hemophiliacs, intravenous drug users and prostitutes.

On May 4, in the nearby town of Delbarton, he was convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol, an offense that, under West Virginia law, requires 24 hours in jail.

But Mingo County Circuit Court Judge Elliott E. Maynard overruled the local magistrate, and issued an order "in the interest of protecting the health, safety and welfare of the jail population and staff" that barred the man from jail.

The judge is sympathetic to the mayor and said he does not understand why the AIDS victim went into the pool. "Other people have helped him; it looks like he would understand that that would upset others."

Maynard also isn't comfortable with what he believes are efforts by health officials to minimize the risk. "I still remember those people told us that thalidomide was safe," he said, referring to a tranquilizer sold in many countries (but not in the United States) to pregnant women in the early 1960s that resulted in thousands of birth defects.

Kapourales might be forgiven for being confused. A call by a reporter to the federal Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta produced this response: "We don't give advice on individual cases."

The mayor said he has instructed Allen Hinkle, the head lifeguard, to tell the man, if he returns, that he cannot enter the pool because of a "state law that bars persons with infectious or communicable disease, or open sores."

Kapourales, a three-term Democrat who said "this may be my last hurrah," admitted that "legally there is no way to keep him out of the pool. They tell me that if I bar him, and he takes me to court, he'll win. Well, if he comes back, he'll get that opportunity because he's not getting in."a.