Rec. Board hears summer programs review

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — The city of Sidney’s summer recreation programs were discussed at the Sidney Recreation Board’s Sept. 9 meeting.

Sidney Parks and Recreation Department Specialist Jennie Rogers provided the same presentation to the Recreation Board as was given to Sidney City Council on Sept. 3 about the summer food programs, various recreation programs and the Sidney municipal pool receipts.

She told board members the summer programs were offered from June 3 through Aug. 11, at 12 Sidney park sites. This year three additional sites were added at Julia Lamb, Orbison Park and the city’s service center. There were three new clinics out of the 32 offered for this summer. A total of 1,209 children who participated in this year’s clinics.

Rogers said attendance in the food program increased by 808 children since 2018. The program was grant-funded from the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Summer Food Service Program for Children. She expressed gratitude to Wilson Health for continuing to prepare the hot meals for the Summer Lunch Program again this year.

This summer’s Backpack Program sent home 2,201 meals to feed area youth. Each weekend, each child was sent home with two meals in their backpacks for Saturday and Sunday, containing a protein, fruit and a grain. The ready-to-eat, non-perishable food, Rogers noted, is loaded into zip-lock bags, instead of actual “backpacks” to send home with the children.

Sidney Body Carstar, Buckeye Ford, Cargill, FISH of Shelby County and Emerson Climate sponsored this year’s backpack program.

The pool closed early eight days and only once for the entire day, due to weather, this year Rogers said. Open from June 1 to Aug. 11, the pool made $5,836.90 less this year than than in 2018, she said. There were only six bookings this summer, which were already reserved before city staff realized there would be shortage of lifeguards. Rogers said she didn’t feel safe or comfortable with offering the pool to be rented out further than the six previously booked dates during the summer because of the lifeguard shortage.

No swim lessons were held at the public pool this season, also due to the lifeguard shortage. Swimming lessons, that are provided through financial sponsorship typically at the public pool, were instead held at the Sidney-Shelby County YMCA this season.

Rogers noted city staff is already taking proactive steps to work with Edison State Community College and the YMCA to try to recruit an adequate number of lifeguards for next season. She hopes more people will sign up to take lifeguard classes at the YMCA.

The concession stand was profitable this summer, with $711.10 earned this year compared to 2018 when the stand was in the negative $742.17.

She also thanked the Sidney City Council for sponsoring this year’s programs which included a total of 11,525 participants.

In other business, Sidney Parks and Recreation Director Duane Gaier gave board members an update on the new shelter Ferguson Constructing is building to add to the parks in the city of Sidney. The new shelter will be part of the business’s 100th anniversary celebrations in 2020. The steel shelter is being constructed on city property across the street from Ferguson’s offices. A formal dedication will take place next year during Ferguson’s 100th and the city of Sidney’s 200th anniversary.

Gaier also informed the board the Great Miami Riverway is seeking a new coordinator, as Elizabeth Connor has accepted another job offer. He said Connor left on good terms and did a great job of basically setting-up the platform for and of promoting the 99-mile riverway.

The Great Miami River Corridor Study of recreational assets that was completed in 2015 by the United States Army Corps of Engineers in cooperation with the Miami Conservancy District pointed to a lack of identity for the riverway, Connor told the press in 2018. This information led to the riverway branding in 2016. Then in 2017, the Great Miami Riverway was formed through a coalition of 19 cities and agencies.

Gaier said the coalition received several applicants vying for the coordinator position. Interviews are underway for Connor’s replacement, he said, but they are taking their time to find the right person for the job. He noted Connor left the Riverway set up to run smoothly for a period of time during the interim.

During the comments portion of the meeting, Ed Hamaker, Sidney City Council representative to the board, thanked Rogers for her hard work on the summer programs. He also invited members to participate in the Shelby County Bicentennial Guinness World Record attempt of opening a drink can simultaneously on Wednesday morning, Sept. 18.

Gaier reminded the board the Shelby County’s official Bicentennial tree, the white oak, which is available for purchase during the city’s ongoing tree sale. Orders are due by Sept. 27, and trees will be available to be picked up on Oct. 26, from 9 a.m. to noon at the city’s service center, 415 S. Vandemark Road. The 2019 tree sale order form can be found on the city’s website at Copies will also be available in the Municipal Building and the city service center.

All were also welcomed, by Gaier, to help during the community build of the inclusive play area, located to the left of Geib Pavilion in Tawawa Park, on Sept. 19 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.