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Play Ball: Diamonds in use for practice, tournaments
Rec board approves staff raises; playground plan moves forward
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Coming soon:

• Defensive Driving Course offered — The Great Bend Recreation Commission, Commission on Aging and Barton County Farm Bureau will host a Defensive Driving course on Monday, May 18, and Tuesday, May 19, from 6-9 p.m. at the Great Bend Activity Center, 2715 18th St. This two-day class will be taught by Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Steve Billinger.
After students attend this course, most insurance companies will lower premiums for participants that receive certificates at the end of the class, according to Megan Hammeke at the Rec Commission. Students must attend both nights of the course. To register or for more information, call the Recreation Commission office, 793-3755 ext. 2.  Participants must register by noon on Friday, May 15.
• Pitch, Hit and Run rescheduled — The Great Bend Optimist Club’s Pitch, Hit and Run Competition that was scheduled for last Friday was canceled after a tornado warning was issued in Great Bend. It has been rescheduled for 5:30-7 p.m. this Friday, May 15, at the Great Bend Sports Complex.
• Imagination Playground takes a break — There will be no Imagination Playground this month at the Great Bend Activity Center, GBRC Leisure Program Coordinator Garet Fitzpatrick announced. The program will return for June and July.
• LEGO camp — GBRC will host LEGO camps June 29 through July 2. Children 5 or 6 years old may attend from 9 a.m. to noon; the four-day camp for chidlren 7-12 years old will run from 1-4 p.m. Cost is $125. For questions or to register call 620-793-3755, ext. 2.

     Baseball and softball practices have started, members of the Great Bend Recreation Commission’s board of directors were told Monday. The board meeting included pay raises for full-time employees and discussion on a master plan for the playground at the Great Bend Activity Center.

     GBRC Sports Director Chris Umphres said youth leagues will use the Great Bend Sports Complex for their games this spring and summer, and adult leagues will use the complex at Veterans Memorial Park.
The Pony Tail League for girls who will be going into grades 7-9 this fall still needs participants; all of the other leagues are “off and going,” Umphres said.
The new traveling Sunflower League has also started practices.
T-Ball starts the first week of June.

     Somehow the recent rains missed the KCAC baseball and softball tournaments, held at the end of April and first of May at the Sports Complex. GBRC Executive Director Diann Henderson told the board that Great Bend could be asked to host these state tournaments again.
     “Great Bend really rolled out the red carpet this year,” Henderson said.

     Umphres said as many as 50 teams could sign up for the Hap Dumont Tournament in June.
Meanwhile, the Kansas State High School Activities Association tournament is coming to Great Bend, May 28-29. Henderson said community volunteers will again be needed for team hospitality, as well as scorekeepers and announcers. Anyone who is interested may contact Umphres at the Rec Commission office or Great Bend City Coordinator Christina Hayes.

Pay raises
In action items, the board met in executive session for 15 minutes, to discuss personnel. Following the executive session, the board approved a 4.5 percent cost of living raise for all full-time staff.

     The board also voted to change the date of the Sept. 14 board meeting to 8 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 11. Henderson and her directors plan to travel on Sept. 14 so they can attend the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) meeting, Sept. 15-17, at Las Vegas, Nevada. Board members who want to attend were told to let Henderson know in the next few days.

     For the month of April, GBRC had 4,923 enrollments. There were 20,667 participants (each time a person participates is counted), of which 9,454 were participants. GRRC offered 1,091.75 hours of supervised activities.

     Playground committee: Henderson reported that the Playground Committee has sent requests for qualifications to venders, and the board will be asked to approve a vender at the June meeting. The board is working toward a master plan for the playground at the Great Bend Activity Center, 2715 18th St.
     So far, the plan is to create a playground that will be known as My Back Yard. It will not be theme-based, Henderson said. Instead, it will have pieces of equipment that will inspire play for children of all ages and abilities. There will be a section for preschoolers and one for children 5-12 years old. This multi-generational area may also have a walking trail for parents and grandparents to use while the children play.
     By the spring of 2016, this project may be getting underway. “We’ll seek public and private partners (for funding),” Henderson said.