Lesch: Give Yarnell his due for band shell

SALEM – The Salem Parks Commission heard three public requests Wednesday, including one to add summer concerts organizer Jack Yarnell’s name to the official name of the concert venue at Waterworth Memorial Park.

The venue is now known as the Orashan Memorial Civic Center Band Shell, but former city council president Al Lesch suggested renaming the band shell to something like the Orashan-Yarnell Music Pavilion.

“I honestly believe that Jack deserves it…Jack has brought a tremendous amount of people to our parks,” he said.

Lesch, who also previously served on the parks commission, said the band shell was in dire straits and Yarnell did a lot of work to get the facility a new roof, get it painted and get restrooms constructed over the years the summer concerts have been held there.

He said the band shell falls under the park’s jurisdiction and he offered to help in any way he can to get Yarnell recognized.

Parks Commission Chairman John Panezott said he’s not sure what they’ll have to go through to do that, whether the money used to build the facility includes certain requirements for the name. He said they’ll have to dig into it a little more before making a decision.

The commission approved the other two requests, agreeing to Salem Public Library programming this summer at Waterworth Memorial Park and a resident’s request to use a Centennial Park pavilion for an informational event on genetically modified food, legislation and the need for more information on food labels.

Geoff Johnson asked to use Pavilion #1 at Centennial Park from 2 to 6 p.m. May 25 to give information and raise awareness about genetically modified foods and HR 933, a House resolution now in the Senate which he said prevents people from holding companies accountable for any affects caused by genetically modified organism seeds.

He plans to have some farmers there to speak and beekeepers on how the GMO seeds are affecting them and affecting the ecosystem. He learned about GMOs and wants to get the community involved and educate people on how to find GMO-free food.

Commission member Terry Hoopes asked if he thought there would be any protests, but Johnson said they’re only expecting maybe 30 people and its strictly informational. He did say later that he wants to have a petition there for people to sign against the legislation.

Renee Ault, head of the children’s department at the Salem Public Library, asked to have the sing-a-longs again this summer at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays from June 11 through Aug. 6 at the band shell at Waterworth Memorial Park. She said they were popular last summer. Another program is planned for 6:30 p.m. June 27 at Pavilion #9 at Waterworth for a fairy house building project which goes along with the summer reading program theme of Dig Into Reading. Children will build houses for fairies using cardboard boxes and items from nature for furniture, such as stones or feathers.

In other business, the commission announced another plant exchange day will be held from 9 a.m. to noon May 11 at the maintenance building at Waterworth Memorial Park (near the duck pond parking lot) since the weather was cold for the previous plant exchange day.

The board also hired 12 seasonal employees, with more to come, mostly related to the pool.

Parks Foreman Jim Grimm reported three new nets were installed on the tennis courts at Centennial, with the old nets from Centennial installed at Waterworth, along with new cranks for tightening the slack. He updated the commission on maintenance projects, daily work and noted they’ve been picking up a lot of trash near the restroom at Centennial, even though he’s asked people there to pick up their trash. It helps them to keep the parks clean if everybody picks up their own trash instead of leaving it on the ground.

Recreation Supervisor Shane Franks reported he was notified a couple weeks ago about a new rule from the Columbiana-Mahoning County Fast Pitch Softball League, requiring infielders and pitchers to wear face guards. The cost to get the face guards would have been over $1,000 to cover the seven teams who play at the parks, so a decision was made to have the parents cover it.

Franks, though, said Ventra stepped forward and donated the money to purchase the face guards. He said the company sponsors two of the seven teams and has been a friend to the softball program.

Franks also recognized the passing of Jim Owen, who had been lead umpire and organized the umpires for the softball league, noting his death is a big loss for the parks department and the community. Parks Director Steve Faber said their thoughts and prayers go to his family.

Mary Ann Greier can be reached at mgreier@salemnews.net