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Friday, January 6, 2017

Bill Pekarski: Day 129, Living life on my terms

Bill Pekarski:

Day 129, Living life on my terms.

I have a habit of talking about how great things were or how great they could be, so today I wanted to write about at what we actually do have. Did you ever stop and think about all of the facilities and opportunities available to the young people of our communities?

Just in our little town we have two well-equipped and conveniently located community parks. They each have picnic tables and cookout spaces, pavilions for public use, restroom facilities, and a variety of well-maintained playground apparatus.

Coudersport Rotary Club, whose mission statement is “Service above self,” has worked hard to repair and maintain the pavilion and facilities at Mitchell Park. Rotary has held work bees where members get together and make needed improvements. They have helped to create a beautiful and scenic park that can be enjoyed by the entire family, even our four-legged and furry family members.

Another advantage to Mitchell Park is its location right next to the public library. A person could go to the library, select a book to borrow, and then walk over and sit on a bench overlooking Mill Creek. It’s one of the most picturesque settings offered anywhere. Not a bad way to spend a lazy day.

On the northern end of town we have CARP. Please note that I did not say “CARP Park.” The reason for this is that CARP is short for Coudersport Area Recreation Park. One mention of the work “park” in that title is enough, wouldn’t you agree?

Anyway, CARP is great place for all ages. There are outdoor basketball and tennis courts along with a myriad of baseball fields, sand volleyball courts and other facilities for group activities. There’s trout-fishing on the park’s border and a looping trail for hikers on the hillside. Years ago, I used to enjoy just watching local guys get together on the basketball court and playing a pick-up game. And many of you probably remember the glory days of the slow-pitch softball leagues. The players and sponsors got together to raise money for lights and night games that were a source of great entertainment for many years. It’s a shame that the softball tradition died off over the years.

And, despite its aging condition, we still have a community swimming pool. Many people have expressed concern over the cost involved with maintaining that facility, but I could not even imagine my youth without it. I learned to swim there and spent many summer days hanging out there with my friends. It is hard to put a price tag on something like that. I really hope we find a way to continue to keep the pool operational. It is a shame there isn’t a way we could enclose the pool to make it operational in all seasons. There was a plan for an indoor pool on the drawing board 10 or 15 years ago, but for some reason or another it never became a reality.

What else do we have? There are two different gymnastics programs for local kids. There are also 4-H Clubs, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and the Boys and Girls Club and all kinds of youth sports programs for all ages and skill levels.

We can only hope that the parents of today recognize the many assets and options that are available for their children’s recreation and healthy development. Pediatricians worry about the impact of too much exposure to electronics and passive entertainment options on our children. There’s even a name for it – “Nature Deficit Disorder.”

Facilities and programs are great, but I would be remiss if I did not mention that almost all of these options rely heavily on volunteers and, generally speaking, we need more of them. Many of the sports programs have volunteer coaches and referees. Coudersport Service Club and Rotary are both in need of new members to lighten the load on those who now serve. Then there are the countless parents who volunteer their time whenever and however they can.

So, today I am dedicating my progress to the volunteers. They’ve had a tremendous impact on my life and countless others. Let it be known that you all have a vital role in our community and your efforts do not go unnoticed.

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