Dean Park continues to improve and offer more to the community

Submitted by Claudell Weaver

Dean Park, Winston County’s only county park has added several more amenities lately and continues to benefit the community more. The Winston County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution on July 21, 1980 to appoint commissioners from the five supervisory districts to manage, control and operate Dean Park for terms to run concurrently with that of the supervisors. Named after the late M. E. Dean, the County Extension Agent for many years, Dean Park is located in the Center Ridge Community on Hwy 15 S. As Dean Park is the only county park, commissioners encourage all Winston County residents to reserve the park for family or class reunions, church events and ball tournaments. County-wide support of the investments in the park will make it more viable and enjoyable for family and corporate use. A small reservation fee is charged for use of some areas. A deposit is required with the application form and it is returned when the area reserved is inspected after use. These funds are deposited with the county and used for park improvements and equipment purchases. Information about reservations can be obtained from any of the five commissioners. Resurfacing the basketball court for safe usage by youth was a major financial priority in 2011. This encouraged and supported the national “Let’s Move” Program on Obesity initiated by First Lady Michelle Obama.

The priority for 2012 is to upgrade electric breakers/circuits to prevent outages that have been problems in the past. In addition, commissioners are supporting a proposal for a “home field” semi-pro baseball team and will make upgrades on the ball field. Repairs will be made to fences, bleachers and the tennis court using labor from volunteers and supervisors. Commissioners have heard the requests from seniors and others with disabilities on the need for restroom facilities near the pavilion. We will work with the community to make this a reality. Commissioners consider it an act of public service and are honored to be recommended to this uncompensated appointment. They meet monthly under the Dean Park pavilion when weather permits and welcome the public to attend and make comments. In addition, commissioners are responsible for hiring and supervising a caretaker who has a wide range of duties and responsibilities. Together, they insure the structures and grounds are in good repair and safe for the public. Commissioners can be seen frequently at the park monitoring activities and at reserved events to welcome users and to provide assistance if needed. Amenities that are available include: 14 tables w/attached seats under the pavilion, 4 wood tables, 8 metal tables, stationery grills, and cement benches in memory or honor of family members are placed throughout the park. Restrooms have hand- activated hand dryers and handicapped accessible commodes. The pavilion has two fire pits to warm users on cold days and wind fans to cool users on hot, sultry days and evenings. Supervisors received a grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for a pilot program to install solar panels on the roof of the pavilion. The work is completed and electricity is being generated to power the pavilion. Excess power is sold to EMEPA with these funds going to the county at the present time. Swings have been added to the playground for 2-5 year olds to aid in their social interaction and physical development. Friends of Dean Park, Incorporated (FODP, Inc.) spearheaded fundraising efforts to replace old, outdated and unsafe equipment on the old playground. These small and large donations from community donors culminated in the purchase and installation of colorful and safe equipment that is used by older youth. Coordinators of the Firewise Program used funds, labor and volunteers for landscaping and irrigation projects to compliment the entire area around the playground. Commissioners, supervisors and FODP, Inc. work cooperatively to plant a variety of blooming flowers, plants, and shrubbery. Beautification days are scheduled frequently to remove fallen limbs, other debris, to burn brush, and to perform other tasks that may be assigned. On March 10 many volunteers helped in these tasks and a local Girl Scout Troop led by Mrs. Rita Eichelberger repainted the trash cans with bright colors. Twelve Community Raised Bed Gardens were built by way of a $10,000 Americorps Grant written and received by FODP, Inc. Seniors and persons with physical disabilities enjoy planting vegetables throughout the year that provide healthy food and physical activity. The same grant also provided for the purchase and installation of a much needed water fountain near the pavilion. Annual events held at Dean Park are: Center Ridge Day on Memorial Day Weekend, the Voters League Juneteenth Day Festival held the 1st Saturday in June; the NAACP Back to School Rally held in late July and Friends of Dean Park Harvest Fest, the 1st Saturday in October. The Commissioners, Board of Supervisors are working with the Friends of Dean Park and the State Highway Department to place a sign on the highway recognizing the park and denoting the person the park is named after late M. E. Dean, the County Extension Agent. Commissioners are committed to making Dean Park the best park in Winston County and Louisville. It will take time, money, more committed volunteers and the support of every elected official and all citizens to make it happen. In the words of a favored author, James Baldwin, “The challenge is in the moment; the time is always now.”