Making them shine



The first impression is a lasting impression.

Crothersville Parks Board members and other volunteers are keeping that phrase in mind as they work to improve the town’s two parks. The goal is to have people visit Countryside and Bard Street parks, and then want to come back to use the facilities again.

When the parks board dissolved a few years ago, the parks didn’t receive the upkeep they deserved.

A board was reestablished at the beginning of the year. Since being elected president of that board, Ron Foster has been spending weekends working at the parks.

Some community residents have stepped up to help with two work days to prepare Countryside Park for the upcoming youth baseball and softball seasons. As work wraps up there, they will turn their attention to Bard Street Park.

“We’re kind of at the first rung on the ladder trying to work our way up there,” Foster said. “But I think once people see what we’re trying to do, hopefully, it will draw them out. It’s small baby steps, but that’s where you’ve got to start. When it’s all done is the big picture.”

When the first five-member Crothersville Town Council conducted its first meeting in January, it appointed Foster, Brent Turner, Christopher Cooper and Matt Browning to the parks board. The fifth member is appointed by the school corporation, and it chose school board member Linda Luedeman.

During the parks board’s first meeting, everyone agreed to make safety a priority for the kids who use the parks. The first step was to visit the parks to make a list of things that needed to be done.

In February, the first work day was conducted at Countryside Park, and residents were invited to help. Foster received assistance from his wife, Danieta, who also is on the town council, and Chad Wilson, also a council member.

The main focus was basic cleanup, and they filled a couple of trash bags. They also spread gravel, worked on bleachers and made a list of other things that needed to be done.

The second work day was Monday, and that drew three volunteer firefighters, a couple of parks board members and a town employee.

Firefighters used a fire hose to clean the inside and outside of four dugouts and clean a few sets of bleachers. Other volunteers mended fences, filled low spots in the baseball diamonds, mowed the grass and made a few repairs.

Foster said Countryside Park should be ready for the local youth leagues to use for practices and games. Once that begins, the youth league and town employees will take care of everything inside the fences of the four baseball and softball fields, while the parks board will be responsible for everything outside the fences.

As the season progresses, the parks board will provide routine maintenance and make repairs as needed. If any purchases are required, Foster takes it before the board if it’s more than $100.

The parks budget is about $7,000. Foster said if there is a large expense, the board will ask the community or local companies or organizations for financial donations.

As far as other goals for Countryside Park, Foster said he hopes to add a grill and some picnic tables to encourage people to spend time at the park.

“They can come out any time and use the area,” he said. “Kids come out here now and play on the (playground) structures and stuff, and that’s why we’re wanting to do a few things like that so they can use it on the weekends even if there are no games going on.”

Foster said he also would like to see the park used for adult softball tournaments. A small fee could be charged to generate money for the parks board to use for improvements or purchases.

It’s now time for the board to focus on Bard Street Park. A new sign recently was erected, and picnic tables in the shelter house were cleaned and repaired.

The basketball court is now usable, but the parks board plans to resurface the court and stripe it off and also redo the goals. The board also wants to install a horseshoe pit and play structures for kids.

“Years ago, they had playground equipment over there, and it just fell by the wayside because in time, it got bad or whatever, and they just did away with it,” Foster said. “The other boards that have been in there, they’ve looked at different things, but with the cost, it just kind of fell under the table a little bit.”

Since playground equipment is expensive, Foster said the board hopes to receive donations to help fund purchases.

The board also plans to do some fundraising, including setting up a booth at the Red, White and Blue Festival from June 9 through 11 and showing pictures of what has been done at the parks and what they would like to purchase. Some type of drawing or raffle will be conducted, too.

Foster said town residents have taken notice of the work done at the parks, and he hopes that will spark them to help out in some way.

“Once they realize that there’s something there now, that makes a big difference,” he said. “Some people didn’t know we have a parks board. You have to get out and let your community know what’s going on and see if they will help.”

One of the purposes of doing all of this work is to encourage people to stay in town and visit the parks, Foster said.

Katie’s Playground is a popular attraction, but it’s on school property and can’t be used during the school day, and it’s only open a few hours in the evenings. Foster said people are going to other communities to spend a day in a park.

“This is all for the kids,” he said of improvements made at the parks. “In the long run, it’s going to be well worth it.”

Foster said he appreciates the people who have helped the parks board, and he encourages people to attend meetings and provide input. Those are conducted on the first Monday of each month at 6 p.m. at Crothersville Town Hall.

“I do appreciate the help from the volunteers because it saves you a lot of wear and tear on yourself trying to do everything,” he said.

Cody Defibaugh was one of three firefighters with Crothersville-Vernon Township Volunteer Fire Department helping during Monday’s work day.

The Crothersville native said since he used to play baseball at Countryside Park, it was important to help out.

“I used to play on the field, so to me, it was just getting to help the younger generation experience the same thing I did as a child,” he said. “Who we had here (Monday), they put in really good work, and we got a lot done in a short period of time.”

He said he hopes the improvements help draw people to the parks.

“I like seeing that it’s going back to the way it was,” he said. “It would be nice to see all of the kids come back a lot more playing because it’s good. Used to, if you’d come out here on a Saturday, there wasn’t a parking spot you could find. All down the road, all the parking lots, they were full, and there were people at every ball diamond.”

Brenda Holzworth is among the town residents who have taken notice of the parks board’s work at the parks.

“As a town council member and a Crothersville resident, I am thrilled that we now have a functioning parks board,” she said. “I am really looking forward to seeing major improvements in our Bard Street Park, and I am impressed with the consistent effort this parks board, assisted by others, is making in our Countryside Park for our Little League teams to use.”

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The Crothersville Parks Board consists of five volunteer members: Ron Foster, Christopher Cooper, Brent Turner, Matt Browning and Linda Luedeman.

The board meets on the first Monday of each month at 6 p.m. at Crothersville Town Hall, 111 E. Howard St. The public is invited.


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