By Roger Van Frank
Darke County Parks
This simple phrase has a ton of meaning for those actively engaged in Parks and those that just use the Parks for their personal well-being. There are several reasons families look into different villages and cities to move to and Parks is high on the list according to surveys answered across these United States. Families and individuals look for Jobs, Schooling, Parks, and Special Events, Entertainment as some of those reasons. It is important that the local Park Districts receive the support of the Communities they serve and that these Park Districts have a firm grasp on what the community would like to see being offered in the Parks. The “same old same old” sometimes just doesn’t draw the crowds and attendance they should therefore new ideas are always researched by employees and volunteers of the parks.
Soon a new Parks Director, Robb Clifford will be taking on my roll as the director. Robb, you will find has a ton of fresh ideas for the area which may include putting out a new survey to our park enthusiasts about what they would like to see and what they have liked and attended. This District has grown three-fold since 2003 with 15 parks and over 15 miles of paved trails. This would not have been possible without the continued support from the communities that voted for the .5 mil levies in the past. These two levies have provided a return of over 1.1 million dollars back to the 21 Villages and City that are in and make up Darke County through the annual Community Parks Grants Program. As an example, Seventy-Five Thousand dollars will be distributed to the Villages once again through this reimbursable grant program this year. These are tax payer dollars going directly back into the villages that voted for the levies. Our local and County system is well recognized and has become a favorite of our citizens that use this system daily or just once in a while. I often visit these village parks and find the local families and children using the fields, equipment, or simply enjoying a sunset! This tells me that our Park Board of Commissioners had it “right” to begin this Community Grants Program when the first levy passed in 1993 and saw the overall benefits provided to the communities. This park district was created in 1972 and just celebrated its 50th anniversary with a plethora of new programs and events. County Park Districts are overseen by the Probate Judges of the County according to Section 1545 of the Ohio Revised Code. They provide oversight of all facets of the operation through the Park Board of Commissioners. The dedication of these volunteer commissioners who are unpaid have shown through their work is unparalleled! The Park’s employees love what they do and provide valuable services to the community. It is important for the Park District to thrive over the years as once again valuable services are provided for volunteers that also serve the community. These volunteers serve multiple hours over the year with some just volunteering once a year and others multiple times a week.
It has been my distinct honor to have met and worked with some of the greatest individuals of this community over this past 21 years. I have made life long friends which makes it difficult to retire at the end of this year. My hopes are to come back and volunteer as my friends have. I would be remised if I didn’t mention those volunteers that are no longer with us and have made a difference upon us were it not for there leading by example. They are all truly missed! Our memory post outside of the nature center is proof of those that used the Park District. It is important to continue this journey for our communities and to look favorably upon the requests made.
REMEMBER THE BENEFITS OF PARKS AND RECREATION ARE ENDLESS!
See you in the parks!