Board visits Republic park

PHOTO BY VICKI JOHNSON Republic Village Administrator Jodi Honaker (left) points out a park feature to Seneca County Park District board member Bill McAllister (right front) while Executive Director Sarah Betts (right), board member Lori Hall (behind McAllister) and business manager Shelly Smola look on during a tour Tuesday afternoon.

Seneca County Park District board Tuesday approved a resolution to become a partner in an AmeriCorps grant and toured Republic village park.

The board met at the Republic village offices in the first of four summer meetings during which park board members and staff plan to tour community parks.

Before the tour, Republic Village Administrator Jodi Honaker told board members about the park’s three ball fields and their evening and weekend use during the summer. She said the village budgets $2,500-$3,000 a year for the park, but the cost and volunteers to maintain are provided by the local Lions Club, which conducts fundraisers.

Honaker said improvements made during the past few years include some of the scoreboards, dugouts, fencing and lights, but more improvements are needed.

Other community meetings are set for July 10 at Fort Seneca at the shelter on TR 152, Aug. 14 at Meadowbrook Park in Bascom and Sept. 11 at the community park shelter in New Riegel.

Regarding the AmeriCorps grant, Executive Director Sarah Betts said the partnership idea was started by staff at Franciscan Earth Literacy Center, and other partners include Campfire USA, Tiffin Park & Recreation Department and other groups are possible.

If the partnership receives a proposed AmeriCorps grant, the park district would share in the use of eight to 12 volunteers for three weeks between September and November.

The park district and other partners would be responsible for helping to pay for lodging and meals, and Betts said the volunteers would be housed at Camp Glen.

Total cost for the park district would be between $2,550 and $3,570, depending on discounts available at Camp Glen from Campfire.

Board Chairman Jim Nordholt reviewed changes in the by-laws under consideration regarding the executive director’s delegated authority to hire other employees and establishing compensation for employees with board guidelines, adding a provision authorizing the executive director to spend up to $15,000 within the approved budget with additional board authorization and a few other changes.

The board is expected to vote on the changes at its July meeting.

Betts said she and others have taken part in initial interviews on the Seneca County Comprehensive Plan. She said a revamped website is under construction and should be completed in mid- to late July.

Signs prohibiting boating have been placed at Ollie Pond at Garlo Heritage Nature Preserve.

Betts said the county’s Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist program has been approved, and applications are available at www.senecacountyparks.com.

Betts said the Community Parks Grants Team met to review 22 grant applications submitted totaling $186,684. Available funding is about $84,000, and the team reviewed the applications to make a recommendation to the board’s Community Parks Grant Committee, which meets today to review the recommendations.

Nordholt said the board is planning to call a special meeting to announce the results.

In her report, Program Director Linda Rose said Hero Academy Camp went well and five more weeks of day camps are planned.

The first is next week at Geary Family YMCA Fruth Outdoor Center. She said parents can check the website for more dates and times.

Natural Resources Director Troy Gibson reported a list of park maintenance items, and some delays because of high water.

Betts reported the county budget commission approved a waiver of the requirement for a budget submission in July.

“We don’t have to submit a pre-budget basically in July, so we’ll have more time to work on it and make it more thorough and accurate,” she said.

Board member Roland Zimmerman said there was some confusion and apprehension among volunteers who thought they were being asked to police the parks.

After some discussion, staff members and other board members said volunteers are not asked or expected to take care of such matters, but they should call the park office or Seneca County Sheriff’s Office as needed.

The board asked Betts to send a letter to the park managers.

The board entered executive session to discuss personnel matters.

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