CLARKS SUMMIT — The Abington Area Joint Recreation Board (AAJRB) had its annual dinner and reception at the Scranton Country Club Dec. 10. It event was a gathering of board members and volunteers who have been working to improve Hillside Park during the past year. AAJRB members present included president Bill Risse, Gregg Kozar, who represents AAJRB in Clarks Summit; and Jim Davis, who represents AAJRB in Glenburn.
AAJRB awards grants to people, who use these funds to make wholesale improvements to Hillside Park. One of which was Niki Weichert, manager of the park’s farmers market, which provided fresh food from May to October. She also allowed musicians to play music during the times of the market.
“The musicians provided a festive atmosphere,” said Weichert. “We hope to keep increasing our momentum in community involvement.”
To ensure that everybody has the opportunity to try fresh foods over canned foods, Weichert is planning to raise funds to obtain a wireless EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) for people who use food stamps.
“Everybody deserves to have fresh food, no matter how low their income is,” she said.
Vendors of the farmers market donate leftover foods to the St. Francis of Assisi food pantries.
Weichert also plans to expand with more vendors working with different organizations such as Abington Senior Center, Abington Community Garden, and athletic teams. She also worked with Marie King, who leads the dog park committee, to have a pet adoption supply drive last summer.
Other attendees included members of the Abington Girls Softball League (AAGSL), Dave Petz, Ellen Moore, and Jim Keeler, who worked with the AAJRB to install a new electronic scoreboard and a batting cage. The scoreboard was installed during the spring of 2017. It was partially funded through the sponsorship of Williams, an energy infrastructure company located in Tunkhannock. Williams directly employs over 175 people locally, many of whom live in the Abingtons. The softball organization funded the remainder of the installation costs and is actively looking for another sponsor. The batting cage was also constructed in the spring of 2017. It was funded and installed primarily through the hard work and generosity of one of the local softball benefactors.
The next significant improvement the Abington Area Girls Softball League is embarking on is the installation of lights on one of the fields. The installation of lights will allow the league to schedule an additional 100 or more games per season as well as help attract post season tournaments and host special events. Installation of the lights is necessary as the league continues to grow and available field space is becoming scarce. The goal is to have the lights installed in the spring of 2018. The cost of the project is estimated at up to $75,000 and is going to be funded by the AAGSL, sponsorships, fundraising and donations.
“We have held two successful fundraisers and basket raffles at the Nyx so far, but have a long way to go to achieve our goal,” said Jack Williams, AAGSL president. “As it relates to the lights specifically, they are currently being bid out to multiple manufacturers.”
Another attendee was Abington Heights Civic League membership chairperson Linda Young, who created a memory garden near the Eston Wilson Lake.
AAJRB president Bill Risse had a special presentation for retiring AAJRB member Mike Hargrove, who has been on the board for 12 years and has attended meetings for 20 years. Risse gave Hargrove a handcarved wooden board, which reads “Forever Mike.” Hargrove said his favorite memory of being on the board was “seeing the growth of the park and seeing people use the park.”
Hargrove was also a member of the Abington Youth Soccer League for 27 years. He is staying in the Abington area for a year before he moves in the event members of either organization need help.
“It’s time for younger blood,” he said. “But I want to be around if there’s new people who need help.”
AJRB will continue to work with several organizations willing to make Hillside Park an enjoyable place to visit.
“We also put in place cooperating plans with Waverly Community Center, Abington Heights Civic League, Newton Rec Center, and Countryside Conservancy,” said Risse. “We continue talks with Newton Township regarding a participating role with the Abington Area Joint Recreation Board.”
AAJRB successfully completed close-out project audits of PA Act 13 $125,000 grant via Glenburn and RACP (Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program) $900,000 grant via Clarks Green.
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