Butler County Times Gazette
  • Parks and Rec maintains 180 acres, 38 facilities

  • The El Dorado City Commission received an update on the Parks and Recreation Department
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  • The El Dorado Parks and Recreation keeps busy throughout the year, but especially in the summer months.
    The El Dorado City Commission received an update on the department as part of their continuing presentations on the different city departments at their meetings.
    The Recreation staff is made up of Director Kevin Wishart and staff members Brian Urton, Sandra Newton and Don Argo. Their facilities include McDonald Stadium and the East Park ball diamonds, among others, with them currently managing 12 baseball and softball fields, along with two swimming pools, the skate park and the basketball courts at the Rec Center.
    Last year brought a number of participants to the Rec for a variety of programs. The biggest number was the 2,160 youth participants, which was an increase of 14 percent over the previous year.
    “Each year we set a departmental goal of a 10 percent in crease,” Wishart said.
    They also had 510 adult participants, a number that remains fairly consistent.
    They also hosted 10 basketball tournaments and eight baseball tournaments, as well as partnered to host six camps/clinics.
    With all of that, they officiated more than 1,000 games as a staff.
    “We receive a lot of comments from teams that come into El Dorado about the quality of our umpiring and officiating,” Wishart said.
    To help keep good officials, they conduct about 100 hours of game official training.
    “One thing we try to emphasize is sportsmanship,” Wishart continued.
    They use S.A.G.E. - Set A Good Example – with their coaches, players, fans and officials. Staff also tries to wear their S.A.G.E. shirts when they are working games.
    “Nationwide sportsmanship in youth activities continues to be a problem,” he said. “We are very fortunate here in El Dorado the problems are minor and can be handled without too much difficulty.”
    In addition to hosting events, the staff maintains approximately 24 acres of athletic facilities.
    The swimming pools also come under their responsibilities. They saw about 20,000 swimmers last year at the two pools – the Municipal Pool and Prairie Trails.
    They provided swim lessons to 130 youth and hosted 48 pool parties. All of their lifeguards are certified by the American Red Cross.
    They currently have one certified pool operator on staff, with additional staff enrolled in a certification class.
    Wishart said they spend a lot of time and effort working with partnerships such as with Butler Community College on baseball and softball, USD 490, the El Dorado Broncos, assist setting up Frontier Western Celebration, Celebration of Freedom and are regular participants in the Walnut River Festival.
    Page 2 of 2 - The department also manages 14 parks and maintains about 64 acres within those parks on a weekly basis during the summer. They also mow and maintain approximately 16 acres of other city facilities, as well as maintain 5.5 linear miles of the bike path. Maintenance of the splash parks and swimming pools also falls under their duties, as well as making shelter reservations at five parks, with a total of 248 reservations last year.
    They conduct weekly park maintenance safety checks and do the irrigation work at all city facilities, as well as handle snow removal on the bike path.
    The city forester is Sue Austin and she is responsible for the flower beds, hanging baskets and trees they plant. Last year the city planted approximately 250 trees and bushes, as well as maintained 78 planter boxes downtown and 12 boxes on the North Main bridge. They planted and maintained 30 flower beds.
    Other duties included handling 139 pay lots and railroad properties, as well as maintaining city roadsides and rights of way.
    The cemeteries also are part of their responsibilities. There are three cemeteries making up approximately 51 acres. They helped prepare for 131 burials last year.
    “The senior center director is also under the Parks and Rec Division,” Wishart said.
    The center had 487 members last year and the facility was rented 70 times. They served 3,483 lunches and held 33 special events in addition to the 18 regular weekly programs offered. In all, a total of 21,698 people attended events in 2013.
    Their total budget for all of these things is $1,355,154. In addition to nine full-time staff, they have 105 seasonal staff members to maintain the approximately 180 acres and 38 facilities.
    Wishart said on a routine summer night 55 seasonal employees will be working.
    Some of their recent special projects in which they were involved include the dugouts at McDonald Stadium, new ball fields at the lake complex, a shade structure at East Park, new backstops and dugouts at East Park, the splash pad at the North Main Park, ADA equipment at the pool, refurbishing batting cages, turf at McDonald Stadium, irrigation and seed at fire station No. 2, converting Hamblin Field to a grass infield, a new scoreboard at East Park and turned all of the scoreboards into wireless units.
    “This was not an all-encompassing event,” Wishart said. “My staff and I appreciate the opportunity to serve the citizens of El Dorado.”
    Julie Clements can be reached at jclements@butlercountytimesgazette.com.

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