CATEGORY: Pontotoc County
Top 10 programs offered by Pontotoc Parks Dept.
From April 1, 1995 to April 1, 1996
Activity No. of participants
Bread Baking 796
Hunter Education 668
Youth Basketball 310
Swimming Lessons 300
Youth Soccer 190
Adult Basketball 100
Church Basketball 100
Private Lessons 100
PARKS DEPARTMENT HOPES TO BUILD ON YEAR’S SUCCESS
By Jane Hill
PONTOTOC – Kay knows diversity. She can just as easily demonstrate how to make and bake a loaf of bread as instruct someone in the proper use of hunting firearms.
As programs director for the Pontotoc Park Commission formed last year and as director of a cooperative non-profit parks program for six years before that, Kay Stewart has this and more for the children and adults of Pontotoc County and she is always looking to do more.
“We are open for suggestions,” Stewart said. “If there is a need out there that is not being met, we want to hear about it. We are always looking for new, fresh ideas.”
Last year, the parks department sponsored 37 separate programs for Pontotoc County’s youth and adults, from the very popular bread baking classes to the new Aqua Tots program designed to teach very young children how to swim.
Few people realize exactly how expanded a role the parks department plays in Pontotoc County life, she said.
For instance, last year the parks department served a total of 6,123 youth and adults through its various programs, Stewart said. The population of the county seat of Pontotoc is about 5,400. Over the past several years, participation in recreational programs in Pontotoc County has risen annually by 20 percent, she said.
As the first year of the city’s parks department closes, Stewart and parks director Henry May along with other city officials are looking at ways to maintain the programs and facilities already in place and plan for the future.
Pontotoc Mayor Herman Austin said to better serve the growing number of people using the park system, the parks department must run more efficiently, through an increased attention to facility maintenance as well as facility expansion.
The Pontotoc Board of Aldermen recently agreed to hire a part-time maintenance person for the department, but Austin said more will need to be done, particularly when the long awaited Pontotoc Ridge Park is added to the city’s system.
In addition to the sports and recreational facilities the parks department is responsible for, the department also has to maintain the Pontotoc Court Square, the Pontotoc Cemetery and various green spaces around the city, Austin said.
“Eventually I think we will need two full-time maintenance people to keep track of everything during the on-seasons as well as the off-seasons,” Austin said. Facilities at Howard Stafford Park suffered some freeze damage this winter that might have been avoided had the city a full-time maintenance person, he said.
Two maintenance people would bring the number of employees in the parks department to five, one fewer than are employed in New Albany, a city with a comparably sized park system, Austin said.
While most parks programs pay for the immediate expenses they generate through registration fees, the parks budget must cover the cost of salaries, facility construction, repair and maintenance, Austin said.
Stewart said the growing number of people interested in involving themselves and their children in programs sponsored by the parks department is due to the fast growing population and increased awareness that that programs are there.
May said one of his long-term goals would be to expand the services the parks department offers to adults, including expanded softball facilities. Stewart said she, too, is interested in developing some adult recreation, particularly for seniors in the county.