City Employees, Holiday Heroes Keeping Things Merry & Bright

Joyce Coates
County Reporter
Thanksgiving and Christmas this year are coming again soon to Benton County. City park and recreation departments are busy doing all they can to make the season bright.
Employees in vehicles bearing city logos are working around town to put up Christmas decorations, keep the parks safe and clean, and city grounds mowed and maintained.
Cole Camp, Lincoln and Warsaw cities, in joint efforts with their local chambers of commerce, have scheduled holiday events to uplift and inspire kids and adults, beginning this month. 
On Saturday, November 21, Cole Camp holds its “Christbaumfest,” a Christmas Theme Craft Show at the Lutheran School and JC Building, from 9 AM to 5 PM. Saturday, December 4, Cole Camp’s Christkindlmarket comes to the downtown area from 5 PM – 8 PM.
December 11 and 12, Warsaw’s Christmas at the Harbor program includes a candy cane hunt, a chili/soup dinner, and a Christmas Cantata. The Main Street Christmas Parade on Saturday, December 12 begins at 6 PM. Parade participants pick up and return an application from the City offices by 3 PM on December 10.
The new Green Space in Lincoln will feature Christmas decorations, and, on December 12, Lincoln’s 30th Annual Christmas Parade begins at 11 AM, followed by lunch and holiday activities at the school.
Holiday events and decorations around the towns demonstrate the work by parks and recreation departments most visible to the public. Yet there is more than meets the eye. City Clerk, Jessica Kendall, talked about the budgeting and planning and other routine work that goes on behind-the-scenes each workday. 
Speaking about the budget, Kendall said “The 2019 and 2020 City budgets for parks and the municipal pool were about the same at $480,300. Expenses were $611,297.” She said Recreation is funded separately from the General Fund. “The 2020 budgeted was $14,550; expenses were $71,560.” 
COVID outbreaks put a damper on city revenues, disrupting plans for certain projects. The original budget included matching funds to two grants approved for improvements to the Osage Trail levy south of town, and a new playground area at Drake Harbor. These have been postponed and moved to the 2021 budget which is being developed now, and submitted for approval next month.
Kendall said major expenditures this year were the fence at Lumpy Field, and water fixtures for the Pool. “Payroll and employee expenses are always the greatest,” she said. Park Personnel include Josh Reno, Park Supervisor, Les Day, Kaleb Bulter, James Dority, and Jenn Bradshaw who oversaw pool operations and assisted with Recreation items. 
They are taking an optimistic, but cautious approach to the 2021 budget. Kendall said,  “As our park and recreation opportunities grow, the city is exploring how best to manage the opportunities,” in particular, that involve the trails and Bledsoe Ferry Sports Complex.
“On the bright side,” Kendall said, “we want citizens to share with friends and family the great outdoor recreation opportunities we have. At the same time, because there seems always to be those who want to vandalize what has been created, we ask the public to be vigilant and report any problems they see that may have been caused by vandalism.”
She and all the City staff encourage everyone to let them know of any problems, or of any improvements they would like their local Parks and Recreation departments to explore.