Salem Parks board approves events

SALEM – The city Parks Commission approved two more events for this summer at Waterworth Memorial Park, with the Race for the ROC 5K obstacle race returning on Aug. 17 and a Butch Hallewell concert on July 12 to benefit the Banquet in Salem.

Denise Weingart, a member of the Board of Directors of the ROC, a faith-based community youth center on South Lundy Avenue, and new race director Caroline McDermott appeared before the Parks Commission to request permission for the use of Waterworth.

The inaugural Race for the ROC was held last June, the brainchild of Mike McCulloch, who thought it would be a great idea to have racers go through, over, under and around obstacles throughout the park, whether it be mud, hay bales or a slip-n-slide.

The Brightway Center, a Christian retreat located near Smithfield, helped sponsor the race and provided insurance coverage and will do the same this year.

“We thought it was a great event for Salem,” Weingart said.

The race attracted 250 to 300 people and McDermott said they’ll be contacting their volunteers from last year to ask for their help again. She said she’s not planning any changes to the course since this is her first year as race director.

The commission also gave the go-ahead for a benefit concert at the band shell at Waterworth at 7:30 p.m. July 17 featuring the music of Butch Hallewell, music minister, musician and guitar teacher at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Salem.

A Salem resident, Hallewell gave a benefit concert at the church last year that raised $3,000 for the Banquet in Salem. Pastor Connie Sassanella said the park will give them a bigger venue, with the concert co-sponsored by Thrivent. Hallewell’s genre includes country music, love songs and patriotic tunes.

Letters will be sent out to sponsors for donations. The concert is free to the public, but a bucket will be placed near the stage for any offerings.

Sassanella explained they’re trying to raise some funds to help cover the cost of auxiliary police officers they now have during the Banquet in Salem at the Memorial Building on Mondays and once a month on Thursdays.

Parks Director Steve Faber also announced a change in the Curing Retinal Blindness Foundation Scrabble Run planned for Sept. 22, noting the event will now take place entirely at Waterworth Memorial Park. Previously the plan called for participants to gather at Centennial Park, then ride bicycles to Waterworth while collecting scrabble pieces along the way.

Out of concerns for safety, the entire event will take place at Waterworth.

“I feel much better about that,” commissioner Terry Hoopes said.

Plant Exchange Day

Parks Foreman Jim Grimm and Faber both talked about the annual Plant Exchange Day set from 9 a.m. to noon April 6 at the maintenance building near the duck pond at Waterworth. Plant exchangers are asked to bring two perennial plants, one for the parks department and one to trade for another plant brought by other plant exchangers.

In his report, Grimm said his crew has been preparing for spring, clearing brush along the nature trail, planting some plants, repairing grills with help from Hickey Metal Fabrication and cleaning off the tennis courts at Centennial. Hoopes had asked about the tennis courts. New nets will be placed at Centennial and the old nets from Centennial will be placed at Waterworth.

Plans also call for getting more mulch for the playgrounds. Hoopes asked about artificial mulch, but Faber said it tends to scatter, it’s dirty and it’s more expensive.

Commission Chairman John Panezott talked about the duck pond and the need to get fresh water pumped into the pond somehow. A proposal for a windmill with an aeration system had been discussed previously, but Faber said it came down to cost and location. He thought there could be a less expensive way to help the water flow better into the pond, but nothing was decided.

Recreation Supervisor Shane Franks reported softball season was coming soon and more girls signed up this year, requiring two more teams than what they had last year. He’s working on the scheduling for the different leagues, noting “there’s a lot of people using our fields.” The Salem High School girls reserve team will play at Waterworth.

Franks said he will be talking with Faber about his role at the Salem Lake and said they could have some activities at the lake, such as fishing tournaments. The lake located at the reservoir on Gamble Road opens on April 16.

Mary Ann Greier can be reached at