Home Run Derby is tonight

Mike DonilaEast Knox, Farragut, Halls, Our Town Outdoors

Batter up!


The Knox County Parks and Recreation Department will host an MLB-sponsored Jr. Home Run Derby at 6 p.m. today (May 20).

The grassroots program offers both baseball and softball players the chance to compete in a contest like the one they see their favorite sluggers participate in during MLB All-Star Week.

Tidying up at Halls Greenway

The event is free and open to the public, and walk-up registration is permitted. The regional event starts at 6 p.m. at the Sportpark in Karns (8050 Oak Ridge Highway) and finishes once every hitter has the opportunity to take a swing.

The derby features prizes, including T-shirts and plaques, for first place in each division. Winners also have a chance to move to the state HR Derby and then possibly on to Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles where this year’s All-Star Game takes place.

The regional derby is limited to boys and girls ages 8 to 14.

For more information or to register, go here or contact Brandon Gann or call 865-228-2401.

Two days after the HR Derby – on Sunday, May 22 – we will host our first-ever Lawn Games Festival at Carl Cowan Park, 10058 S. Northshore Drive. The event, which is free and open to the public, kicks off at 3 p.m. and wraps up at 6 p.m.

Visitors can enjoy games such as ladder ball, spike ball and cornhole – just to name a few. The department also will have a blowup mini sports arena that includes soccer and basketball goals for the smaller children to enjoy. Additionally, media sponsor B97.5 will broadcast live from the park and set up a tent with their bee mascot.

Food trucks from CJ’s Tacos and Gelato Brothers also will be on hand.

Carl Cowan Park features a paved loop trail, sports fields, a playground and a splash pad. It also has a beautiful trail for viewing songbirds and waterfowl and connects to nearby Admiral Farragut Park.

“Our recreation department has worked hard to really emphasize fun and community connectivity,” Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs said. “This is just another great event our team has put together for the public.”

Last year, the county held its first-ever Fall Festival and a Trunk-or-Treat event at John Tarleton Park.

As a reminder, we’re hiring some high school students after lowering 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-year-olds, 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 students 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 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Positions at the golf course are open seven days a week.

The recreation and parks jobs pay $12 an hour, and the golf-cart-attendant jobs pay $7.50 per hour.

For a list of jobs, click here.

Also, we opened the new dog park at Beverly Park, and so far people are loving it! We plan to have a ribbon cutting in late June when some of the features arrive. Randy Boyd, whose foundation helped pay for the park, will also be on hand. More details soon.

Speaking of dog parks, Randy, as you may recall, donated $250,000 to the county and $250,000 to the city to build a combined 10 new dog parks. We will more than likely build our second one under the grant program over at Clayton Park. We plan to have folks scouting out a spot there this week. My understanding is that we will use more of the woods for this particular park.

Clearing a trail in New Harvest Park

In other parks and recreation news, our crews – as always – are out there mowing, going and weed eating! Some teams also spent time cutting out a trail at New Harvest Park and finished some grading, seeding and straw work at Roy Arthur Stormwater Park.

Our carpenters have been working on playgrounds and they’re also gearing up to start work on building a cricket field at Forks of the River Park.

And meanwhile, our Concord Park crew replaced broken posts at the fishing bridge and the Cove; painted “no swimming or fishing off of docks” on the boat dock and installed a new water line at the Cove.

As always, we have crews in Beaver Creek working on the Knox County Water Trail. So far, our crews and contractors have collected 704 tons of garbage and debris, which they removed, from the creek in the past year!

Also, during the course of cleaning the creek, we recently discovered that someone built a concrete walkway across a part of it, but it’s underwater now. We are working to remove it, which will take some more time.

And – as another reminder – the 2022 splash-pad season kicked off last week and will run through Sunday, Sept. 11, although it’s possible we will keep them open longer as long as the weather is nice. The free automated water playgrounds are open to the public from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day, weather permitting.

They are located at:

  • Carl Cowan Park, 10058 S. Northshore Drive
  • Powell Station Park, 2318 W. Emory Road
  • New Harvest Park, 4775 New Harvest Lane

See the video on Knox County’s splash pads on YouTube.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a weekly column without an update from our one-man machine Frank Christian.

In a text he sent this week, Frank noted: “Working on a plan to improve Clayton Park landscaping, trimming trees and removing old, dead bushes in the South parks – several trailer loads hauled off. New signs along Powell Greenway. Later in week will be at House Mountain parking area, removing fallen tree and brush. Picking up supplies, order new signs, and paperwork! It never ends. LOL.”

Mike Donila is communications director for Knox County government.

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