Salem Parks accepting letters to Santa again

SALEM — Once again, Salem Parks and Recreation will act as the go-between for Santa and area children by accepting letters to Santa through Dec. 10 at the parks office, 2222 Oak St., Salem.

Parks Director Shane Franks talked about the program during the city parks commission meeting Wednesday night. The program launched this year on Nov. 12 with an announcement on the department’s Facebook page.

Letter writers are asked to include a self-addressed stamped envelope and to make sure to include a clear written return address so Santa knows who he’s responding to with a letter. A special mailbox for the letters is located inside the parks office.

Franks said the best time for letters to be dropped off is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. If no one is available, there’s also a mail slot in the door where letters can be placed. Children can then wait for a response from Santa in the mail.

Christmas came early for the parks department this year after Franks received a letter of his own from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources notifying him about a conditionally-awarded grant from NatureWorks for $6,016. The grant, pending approval by the State of Ohio Controlling Board, represents 75 percent of the funding for a project to replace the lighting at Centennial Park with LED lights. The rest of the cost will be covered with funding from the Salem Community Foundation.

“This is certainly good news,” Franks said.

In other business, the board agreed to allow Franks to move forward with the process to hire a fourth full-time maintenance worker, acknowledging the need for more help due to expanding areas at the park, such as the new Rotary Family area being installed at Waterworth Memorial Park.

Franks also shared with the commission a quote of $2,367 for parts for city electrician Scott Devan to replace the electrical box on the pump house at the Centennial Park pool. The funds will be provided by the Salem Community Foundation.

Franks briefly touched on movie nights for 2022, asking the commission if they agreed with keeping the movies all family-oriented or throwing in some movies for an older crowd, saying he’s had a few requests from people. Commission member Lori Colian said she thought the family direction was wiser, but he could always throw in a movie for older folks and see how it goes to gauge interest. Franks said an anonymous donor contacted him about covering the cost for all five movies and for snacks. Last year, the cost for the movies was $1,500 which covers the rights to show them, but with a little more money, he said they may be able to get more recent releases. The potential donor indicated they may be willing to go higher.

Parks Foreman Jim Grimm updated commission members on work being done by the maintenance crew, which includes leaves, leaves and more leaves. The pollinator garden was cleaned out, with perennials cut back and annuals removed from the parks. Most of the winterizing is complete, with plans to pull the fountains at Centennial and from the duck pond at Waterworth Memorial Park. Grimm said he’s searching now for the Christmas tree for Centennial Park, with someone offering to donate one.

Commission Vice Chairman Lucille Karnofel commented that the island at the duck pond is looking overgrown again, but both Grimm and Franks said the growth helps to discourage the geese from taking up residence there. Franks said a grant application has been submitted for dredging at the duck pond. He said some cleaning up would be done then.

Commission Chairman John Panezott closed out the meeting by congratulating Franks again for being named Outstanding Citizen of the Year by the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce. All three commissioners and Franks’ co-workers at the parks department were there when he received the award last week. Franks said he owed it all to his co-workers and the board.

“We’re gonna support you. We’re proud of you and all of our people,” Panezott said.

The next parks commission meeting will be 5 p.m. Dec. 22 in the parks office on Oak Street, just off of Southeast Boulevard.



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