From the World of Parks and Rec
By Doug Comer

Well, it is finally here, the Summer Parks Playground Program will open its doors at nine sites beginning on Monday, June 19th. Numbers are expected to be near the 700 range as many families take advantage of the free program offered by the Parks and Recreation department. Director Mike Book is nearing his 40th year with the program and expects another successful summer.

“Obviously, in my years with this program, we have had many people utilize the program and its advantages to children’s recreation during the summer,” said Book. “And this has started years ago as parents participated in the program and now they are the ones dropping their kids off to the area sites. Needless to say, we have been helping many families out with a means to keeping the kids busy during the summer break.”

Last year’s program, only seven sites were offered throughout Harrison County and we averaged 600 kids. And we added another two sites through Energy Express at Lost Creek and Lumberport, so we are sure to hit over 700 on a daily basis. Book, who moonlights as the Energy Express County Representative, has been a strong supporter of the AmeriCorps program and the many positive things it does for the community.

“I have been the county rep for over 20 years and year after year we notice the summer slide in reading with children in the summer months. The program is designed to give those accepted to the program the chance to continue or improve their reading levels, as well as find a friendly atmosphere where the kids are treated as number one. It’s a great opportunity and it definitely has a positive impact on the kids.”

Parks and Rec almost always has a summer program that runs alongside the EE programs and this is where our other two sites will be located. Besides Lumberport and Lost Creek, other Energy Express sites include Wilsonburg and North View Elementary schools. More information can be found on our website at www.hcparks.org.

Salem City Park will host our program on the far west of the county as we have parted ways with Salem University after many years of service with both parks and Energy Express. The move, which was a difficult decision, will offer the kids more room for activities as the field is filled with playground equipment and room for organized sport activities. Plans with City Manager Ron Davis will make the playground an ideal spot for the kids in Salem.

“It is bittersweet that we have to leave Salem University after many years, but the opportunity to have a park with a building in case of bad weather and such a bigger play area will go a long way with the kids,” said Book. “The city of Salem has welcomed our program and will aid in the improvements that are needed to make the park a success.”

The remaining sites located throughout Harrison County include the following: West Milford Community Center, Summit Park Recreation Complex, Nutter Fort elementary (behind the school) and the Shinnston City Parks will host the remaining sites.

Again, this is a free program and not only will the children have a safe and fun summer, they will get a meal and a snack throughout the day. The hours of operation will range from 7:30 am – 5:00 pm Monday through Friday and the program runs from June 19th to July 28th. The program will be closed for July 4th and registration for the program takes place on the first day. Please contact the office for more information.