This Sunday marks the end of this year’s annual Holiday Festival of Lights at the Cove, so it’s your last chance to head over and check out the beautiful lights and firepits. The free event, which runs from 6-9 p.m. every day through Jan. 2 (except New Year’s Day) will return next year! So far, folks have donated $5,6050 and 11 barrels of food. The Knox County Parks and Recreation Department manages the event.
Visitors are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items to donate to the Love Kitchen, which provides meals, clothing and emergency food packages for the homebound, homeless and unemployed. There is also a cash donation box and QR codes that accept Venmo payments. As a reminder, the Festival is still open on New Year’s Day but it won’t be staffed, so the fire pits won’t be up and running on those days. We will, however, leave the lights on.
In other parks news, the Concord crew spent time chopping wood the past few days for the festival pits, cleaning up graffiti around the park buildings and cutting back dead brush. In fact, almost all of our crews have been out there keeping the parks clean and removing dead brush.
Our carpenters are still working on the shop, getting it organized, and waiting on supplies to come in for the new dog park at Beverly Park. We expect the parts to arrive some time next week, and then they’ll get to work on it. We hope to have it open soon!
In addition, it’s budget time, so the bean counters in the department are looking into areas that need work and will submit a spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1, to the Mayor’s Office in the coming weeks.
It’s a short week – folks had Monday off for the Christmas Holiday and will be off Friday for the New Year’s Holiday – so we enrolled some crews in chainsaw classes this week. There’s a ton of dead trees out there and they need to be removed, and we need our folks trained and prepared.
Also, we had some crews down at Maloney Road Park to fix the dock there and replace a few boards. The crew also fixed part of the launch area that the boats washed out during the past few months.
Our one-man machine Frank Christian has dedicated the short week to installing new signs at the parks and pressure washing the ones that don’t need to be replaced. In just one day, he hit Solway Park, Hickory Creek Park and I.C. King Park.
Of course – because school is out – we had some vandalism as knuckleheads with nothing better to do tore up some posts and cable at Melton Hill Park. That will cost the taxpayers some money, so if you hear anyone bragging about it, be sure to report them to the Knox County Sheriff’s Office.
I probably sound like a broken record, but here’s some more (and a repeat from last week) about the Recreation side of the department:
We don’t have any sports the next two weeks, but basketball resumes Jan. 8. Also, as a reminder: Keep an eye out this January for more details about “NFL Flag Football,” which we will offer in the spring.
In the Gibbs community, folks can make their recommendations for directors by Jan. 10. We’re looking for directors for youth baseball, youth softball, youth tackle football, youth flag football, youth cheer and youth basketball. Once that group is elected, the group will elect a chair, who will represent Gibbs Youth Sports on the Knox County Youth Sports Advisory Board.
The eligibility requirements per Knox County Advisory Board bylaws: “The members of the community YSAB are elected by members of the community of which they reside and will serve a term of three years. YSAB members may be re-elected and serve one additional term for a maximum of six consecutive years (This includes time served as a commissioner years prior to the establishment of the YSAB) after which they can remain as a non-voting member and serve on committees and subcommittees only.”
Each nominee will be added to a Survey Monkey Ballot that will be posted online. Please send nomination to Rachel.email@example.com by Jan. 10 and vote on the survey until Jan. 24.
Please note that moving forward, all youth sports programs will be handled this way. Parks and Recreation Department leaders will begin meeting with the other groups next year. There’s been some rumors started that the department is trying to “commandeer” the parks. First off, the parks are owned by the county and the taxpayers. The youth league programs operate – through contracts and memorandums of understanding – at the parks. However, there’s been a lot of powerplays in some of the programs and that’s not going to be tolerated anymore. These programs are about the kids! Not the adults trying to make a few bucks off them.
Under the Parks and Recreation Department’s new leadership, we are going to be looking for more transparency – thus a reason for the boards and not just one person running a program.
Additionally, the county at some point will be taking over the registration process for all the programs, which will allow parents to account for every dollar that is spent with the registration money. The fees also will cover uniforms and that will include full uniforms – not just hats and T-shirts. More information on that in the future. Again, it’s about transparency.
Have a safe and happy New Year!
Mike Donila is communications director for Knox County government