Marion Rec expands, one event at a time
Assistant director joins team, helps where needed
With school out and residents gearing up for summer, Marion Parks and Recreation Department is in the midst of operating, planning for, and implementing myriad activities to possibly expand even further.
Director Margo Yates was joined May 23 by new assistant director Josh Clevenger 23.
“Josh helps with everything,” Yates said. “Right now he’s down in Central Park helping fix the spring. Yesterday he grabbed a weed trimmer and prepared Marion Cemetery for Memorial Day services.”
Yates said many people forget that her department is in charge of city grounds, parks, and facilities as well as recreation.
Clevenger, who is from North Carolina and Texas, worked at Hillsboro High School with Marion County Special Education Cooperative before accepteding his position at the city.
“My leadership skills come from the military,” he said. “I’d never ask anybody something I wasn’t willing to do myself.”
He spent three years on active duty as an Army combat engineer at Fort Riley, and now he is in the reserve as a combat medic. He also is working on completing an EMT certification at Butler Community College.
He will be a swimming coach and a game supervisor during Rec baseball this summer.
“I’m helping out where I can,” he said. “The weather has really been killing our progress. I can’t justify sitting in the office when we can save man-hours if I get out there with a Weed Eater.”
Yates, Clevenger, and Parks and Rec operations lead Scott Heidebrecht work in tandem with city crews on parks and rec related projects.
Marion Cemetery sexton Tim Makovec is a halftime worker who prepares graves, Yates said, and is not responsible for maintenance. Central Park caretaker Kevin Hill was not replaced when he retired.
Parks and Rec also inherited budgets from the parks and cemetery department.
“We’re trying to save taxpayers’ dollars,” Yates said. “We have a bigger budget but it is spread across a bigger area now. I keep track of every little zippy-tie we get. I’m pretty particular about our budget. It allows us to start adding new activities to our list.”
The list of recent, current, and coming activities includes expanded tots and beginner gymnastics, basketball and softball clinics, summer swim team, a baby-sitting clinic, antiques value estimation, youth track for students through sixth grade, an upcoming umpire clinic, water aerobics, bridge lessons, and upcoming horsemanship half-day camps.
Yates’ wish-list for future ventures includes soccer, tennis lessons, a racquetball league, and pickleball.
According to the USA Pickleball Association website, pickleball combines elements of badminton, tennis and Ping-Pong and is played on a badminton-sized court with a paddle and plastic ball.
Yates would like to add performances at the stage in the park, horseshoe tournaments, sand volleyball, private swimming lessons, and “FootGolf,” which she said is like playing golf with a soccer ball.
With Clevenger’s experience as a certified climbing guide and instructor in North Carolina, the department may also be able to add rock climbing.
The department is developing a quarter-mile walking trail around the pond in Batt Industrial Park.
Yates said the department would focus on pursuing new activities once Memorial Day and Chingawassa Day activities conclude.
“We’re not sitting on our hands here, it’s been so busy,” Yates said. “With Chinga knocking on the door, there just aren’t enough hours in the day.”