Another week, another storm to clean up

Mike DonilaOur Town Outdoors

The weather might not have been so great with all the storms, but that didn’t stop the Knox County Parks and Recreation Department from getting things done!

“Yeah, the rain might have slowed us down a little, but we were able to work inside and haul off a lot of unneeded items,” said Frank Christian, a one-man machine who does a ton of stuff for the department. “The grounds crews would perform mower maintenance when it was too wet, and the maintenance technicians had a couple of items to fix at the shop. Plus, we built some steps and installed an exhaust fan through one wall.”

Frank said some knucklehead stole a $500 sign from Sterchi Hills Park, so that had to be replaced, and he then spent time at seven other parks installing signs.

“Later in the week, I’ll catch up on some mowing,” he added.

And speaking of the heavy rains, we also had team members throughout the county’s greenway system, clearing the paths so folks can take a run, walk or stroll. Over at Concord Park, our crews finished putting in new sand at the beach and volleyball court. And it was done just in time!

“This weekend was packed, and it will only pick up now that school is out,” said James Major, superintendent of the Concord Park system.

Next week crews plan to cut down a huge tree and haul it away. They also have a waterline to install for some of the ballfields there.

Next week – on Thursday, June 2, at 4 p.m. – Knox County Commissioner Courtney Durrett will be joined by Parks and Recreation Senior Director Joe Mack to host the first “Walk with a Commissioner” event. The event is part of a series started last month by Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs and Joe Mack in an effort to encourage a healthy lifestyle and showcase local greenways.

Durrett and Mack plan to walk the trails at New Harvest Park. In addition, the park will host its weekly Farmers Market from 3-6 p.m. that day. Both events are free and open to the public.

Speaking of the Farmers Market, nurses from the Knox County Health Department will be there on June 9 and June 16 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. offering Covid-19 vaccines. They will provide first doses, second doses, and first and second boosters for those who qualify, and with pediatric vaccines, although they will need the parent or guardian present to sign for permission. The New Harvest Park Farmers Market is open every Thursday from 3-6 p.m. through mid-September.

May 14 marked the 5th annual Beaver Creek Flotilla that featured roughly 420 paddlers – a huge jump from last year’s 225 participants. A number of local leaders were on hand, including Mayor Jacobs, who last year allocated $1 million to help clean up what he envisions will be a 44-mile-long Knox County Water Trail that stretches through five communities.

Charlie Austin, president of the Beaver Creek Kayak Club and a huge champion of the flotilla, also was there and noted some of the recent improvements, including some new kayak launches that were paid for with a donation from Randy Burleson, owner of Aubrey’s restaurants.

Continued clean-up of Beaver Creek

“I absolutely could not be any more excited! The new launch docks for the Powell High Landing and Roy Arthur Stormwater Park are heading to Knoxville. These docks are going to be a game-changer for total access to the stream,” Austin said. “I feel like a kid that’s gotten the best gift ever. I’m so excited for the future of Beaver Creek.”

Working with contractors, our crews so far have helped remove more than 704 tons of debris and trash from the creek in the past year. For a more detailed write-up on the event, check out this article.

We also are trying to close out the spring season for adult softball, but mother nature will not cooperate. We’re working on a modified schedule that we hope will allow us to complete the season by May 31.  As for upcoming sports, we are working on registration for NFL flag and tackle football. We look to open registration early June for football. I believe fall baseball/softball registration is open now by the current commissions.

This past Friday we had our Junior MLB Home Run Derby at the SportsPark in Karns. It was a success with 35 participants. On Saturday, we closed out our Knox Fast Pitch Softball season with games at the SportsPark as well. The young ladies enjoyed the opportunity to play at such a fine facility as the SportsPark.

On Sunday, we had our first annual Lawn Games. We had a consistent flow of patrons at Carl Cowan Park for our 14 stations of games. The participants were excited about this event and on multiple occasions said they are looking forward to it again next year.

As a reminder, we’re looking for part-time recreation assistants, umpires, scorekeepers and golf cart attendants. The pay ranges from $7.50 an hour to $22. Additionally, we’ve lowered the minimum age for a number of our entry level positions in the department. We’ve already visited a number of high schools this week and plan to visit some more next week to meet with 16 and 17-year-olds and seniors. We will have a booth on display inside the schools and are available to answer any questions.

Hours and schedules are flexible, and folks can work up to 30 hours per week during the summer. Recreation jobs, though, tend to focus more on afternoons, evenings and weekends, and the parks maintenance jobs are generally Monday through Friday during the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Positions at the golf course are open seven days a week. For a list of jobs, click here.

Mike Donila is communications director for Knox County government.

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