Outside media coverage of Mill Creek MetroParks

Tony Armeni featured at outdoor gallery

Fellows Riverside Gardens, 123 McKinley Ave., is currently featuring the organic steel artwork of artist Tony Armeni in the outdoor gallery. Armeni, a native Ohioan and teacher at Youngstown State University, has returned to the Gardens to showcase his work. Armeni breathes life into cold, hard material to celebrate life figures, flowers, and celestial spheres. These dynamic structures stand tall, firmly planted, yet light on their feet.

This free exhibit is being displayed now through October, 2017. A Meet-the-Artist session is scheduled from 1 to 3 p.m. on Sunday in the outdoor gallery. This is an opportunity to meet and visit with Armeni and learn about the techniques employed in his work. For more information, visit or call Fellows Riverside Gardens at 330-740-7116.

View the full article at vindy.com

Snake celebrates 20th birthday

The rat snake at Ford Nature Center celebrated her 20 birthday on July 15.

Guests came to visit the snake, make a craft and enjoy refreshments for her birthday. This is the first time the snake’s birthday was celebrated with the public.

Ray Novotny, former naturalist with Mill Creek MetroParks, pitched the idea to Ford Nature Center naturalist, Marilyn Williams, to host a birthday party and allow the public to come and see something they wouldn’t normally see.

While the snake stays at Ford Nature Center, she is used to education children and other guests who come to the different programs.

“I had it’s mom and dad, they lived here, and in ‘97 the mom laid a dozen eggs,” said Novotny.

Novotny took care of the mom and dad snake at Ford Nature Center. When the mother laid her eggs, about half of them hatched and Novotny decided to keep one and let the rest go. Rat snakes can live to be in their late 20’s to early 30’s.

The guests who attended the birthday party had the opportunity the hold the snake and take pictures with her. The party lasted two hours and was open for guests to come and go as they pleased.

View the full article at vindy.com

Creepy crawlers captivate crowd at reptile show

Earlier this year, James Kagarise went to the Animal Charity Humane Society in Boardman on behalf of his dog, but returned with more than he bargained for.

“We went to Animal Charity for flea treatment and came home with a reptile,” the Youngstown man said with a chuckle.

Soon, the family had a new member: Chewbobca, an 11-year-old, 40-pound tortoise. At first, Kagarise’s children couldn’t agree on a name, so they came up with one that is a combination of Bob and Chewbacca, a character from the popular “Star Wars” series nicknamed Chewie.

Chewbobca may have stayed home, but several other tortoises of all sizes were on hand to delight the Kagarise family and others who attended Sunday’s Reptile & Amphibian Show at the Mill Creek MetroParks Farm, 7574 Columbiana-Canfield Road (state Route 46).

Sponsoring the five-hour free, family-friendly event was 21 WFMJ/WBCB.

Numerous species of snakes, turtles, salamanders and tortoises were the program’s main attraction. The primary purpose was to foster a greater awareness of and appreciation for a variety of animals that often are feared and viewed negatively largely because of certain myths, noted Mandy Smith, the MetroParks’ education manager.

“It’s good to have the whole family learn together, and that’s what this event provides,” Smith said, adding that unfavorable portrayals of such animals can reinforce people’s fears of them.

Kagarise’s children – Jimmy, 4, Jamie, 8, and Madeline, 10 – felt anything but fear, however, as they got acquainted with Diego, a nearly 4-foot-long Argentine black-and-white tegu. Also enjoying the experience was 10-year-old Lizzie Pfeffer of Austintown, a family friend.

“I’ve had him since he was a baby. He was the best Christmas present I’ve received,” said Ben Hosler of Chesterland, who owns the large lizard, the likes of which have a distinct pattern of black and white dots and stripes on their bodies, are quite docile and live mainly in rain forests and savannas of Argentina and other regions of South America.

Sure enough, Hosler’s 7-year-old tegu seemed to take all the attention it received in stride. Diego also can be quite sociable, Hosler continued, adding that his pet’s diet consists largely of wet dog and cat food as well as many vegetables.

“I’ve been told that we made him a Facebook page and all that social media stuff,” added Hosler, who’s also a member of the Northern Ohio Association of Herpetologists, a 43-year-old organization dedicated to offering the public accurate information regarding the care, breeding and conservation of reptiles and amphibians.

The animals at Sunday’s event were courtesy of NOAH and the Herps Alive Foundation, a South Euclid-based charity that lists as its primary goal saving, rehabilitating and caring for neglected, abused and unwanted amphibians and reptiles.

Other attractions were four species of tortoises – the largest of which was an African spur thigh, which can weigh up to 150 pounds, and an 8-year-old Russian variety.

“These guys are very inquisitive, very friendly and very intelligent,” said Dr. Erica Giles, a veterinarian and Herps Alive volunteer. “They remind me of a dog, in that they have such good personalities.”

Among those who agreed with that assessment was 3-year-old Mollyann Hulings of Petersburg, who enjoyed holding the Russian tortoise. Accompanying the youngster were her parents, Tom and Denise Hulings, and older brother, Zachary, 5.

Snakes of all sizes, colors and shapes also were a big draw, including a yellow-and-white 8-foot albino Burmese python, the likes of which are native to tropical and subtropical regions of southern Asia. They prey on birds as well as rats and other mammals.

“She’s a domestic snake that never lived in the wild, and that’s why she’s so gentle,” Katie Shipka, a park volunteer, said about Chutes, a 7-year-old striped corn snake, the likes of which are common in the southeastern U.S.

The nonvenomous snake Shipka held and demonstrated to interested attendees was predominately rust-colored, complemented with mottled spots and a large stripe from the head to its tail. The reptile, however, didn’t feel like many people probably expected it should, she said.

“Most people think they’re wet and icky, and they’re anything but,” Shipka added.

Herps Alive also provided information on healthful vegetables and other foods for reptiles, proper heating procedures for enclosures and feeding tips for snakes and insect-eating reptiles.

Displays included a native snake exhibit, courtesy of the Beaver Creek Wildlife Education Center, along with jars containing small frogs, turtles and snakes, and a table with samples of turtle shells, an alligator skull, snake and frogs eggs and nonpoisonous snake skeletons.

Many children engaged in arts and crafts that allowed them to draw, cut and color snakes they made from paper plates.

 

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MetroParks makes improvements to Volney Rogers Field area

Mill Creek MetroParks officials hope some improvements that are being made at Volney Rogers Field will attract new visitors to the area.

The park is wrapping up a project to resurface the tennis courts and basketball court at the field. While the courts have not yet reopened to the public, the park expects work to be complete soon.

The approximately $100,000 project, which began in June, included resurfacing the asphalt surfaces, as well as adding a new acrylic playing surface to the basketball court and all six tennis courts.

In addition to work on the courts, the park opted to make some improvements to the surrounding area.

“We’re taking the opportunity to make other improvements and rehab more of the facility,” said park planning Manager Justin Rogers.

Those improvements include the addition of two pickleball courts and a new asphalt trail that connects current trails to the basketball court.

Pickleball, a game that is growing in popularity, combines elements of badminton, tennis and table tennis.

The project also includes replacement of basketball hoops and a tennis practice wall, plus maintenance to the walkways in the area and some forestry work.

“We’re taking the opportunity, while the courts are down, to really get the facility to a more improved level,” said Rogers. “Overall, it’s giving it a more modern look and appeal. Our hope is to bring in different user groups, with pickleball and the potential to hold tournaments on the tennis courts.”

The last significant improvements to the courts took place about 15 years ago, Rogers said.

 

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Weller Gallery hosts Doug McLarty exhibit

The Weller Gallery in the Davis Visitor Center at Fellows Riverside Gardens presents “Natural Selection: Discoveries in Bloom” by artist Doug McLarty. This free exhibit is displayed now through Sept. 17. An opportunity to meet and visit with McLarty will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. on Sunday. His nature-based images make use of intricate and often whimsical botanical designs along with unusual material combinations. McLarty uses digital scanning technology to reveal unique patterns and perspectives for the viewer. For more information, call Fellows Riverside Gardens at 330.740.7116.

View the full article at vindy.com

Section of Mill Creek Park hiking trail will close for improvement project

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – A section of one of Mill Creek Park’s hiking and biking trails will be temporarily closed for construction.

The East Cohasset Bike and Hike Trail — mainly the northern 1.07 miles of the trail, from the Ottawa Drive entrance to Old Furnace Road — is expected to close early August and reopen by the end of October.

The project will improve storm-water drainage and surfacing along the trail. Drainage pipes and structures will be replaced, stone-retaining walls will be cleaned and repainted, and new asphalt pavement will be installed.

Mill Creek secured a federal grant for the project, which will supply 80 percent of the cost of construction.

 

Click to view on wytv.com

Section of Mill Creek Park hiking trail will close for improvement project

The project will improve storm-water drainage and surfacing along the trail

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A section of one of Mill Creek Park’s hiking and biking trails will be temporarily closed for construction.

The East Cohasset Bike and Hike Trail — mainly the northern 1.07 miles of the trail, from the Ottawa Drive entrance to Old Furnace Road — is expected to close early August and reopen by the end of October.

The project will improve storm-water drainage and surfacing along the trail. Drainage pipes and structures will be replaced, stone-retaining walls will be cleaned and repainted, and new asphalt pavement will be installed.

Mill Creek secured a federal grant for the project, which will supply 80 percent of the cost of construction.

 

Click here to view on wkbn.com

Mill Creek MetroParks closing parking lots for repairs

Several parking lots in Mill Creek will be closed on Wednesday for asphalt sealings. 

The following lots will be closed for several days: Lanterman’s Mill, Newport Wetlands, Davies Wetland Trail, and East Golf Bike & Hike (Shields Road Parking Lots).

The Mill Creek Marketing Manager advised that several minor lots along East and West Newport Drive may be affected as well.

Although the lots will be closed, the facilities will remain open and accessible and scheduled programs will not be affected.

View the full article at wfmj.com

Mill Creek Park Board gives director contract extension, raise

With two-and-a-half years still left on Executive Director Aaron Young’s contract, a majority of Mill Creek MetroParks Commissioners decided to give him a three-year extension and a raise.

The vote came Monday after an executive session but was not made public until Wednesday by way of a statement from the commissioners. WKBN 27 First News was never sent a copy of the statement.

The statement about Young’s three-year contract extension — during which his salary will go from $92,000 to $112,000 a year — speaks to Mill Creek’s long-term plan.

“There’s a five-year plan that’s being initiated,” said Lee Frey, president of Mill Creek Park’s commissioners. “We wanted to give him the opportunity to finish that plan.”

Frey was one of four commissioners who voted for the extension and raise.

Tom Shipka was the lone “no” vote. He was okay with a raise through the end of Young’s contract but he did not want an extension.

“The board has just adopted a set of goals for guidance of the executive director,” Shipka said. “I wanted to observe how he performed within the framework of those goals.”

A year ago, large crowds at commissioners meetings demanded Young be fired after he abruptly terminated 13 park employees.

Bill Adams has been an outspoken critic of Aaron Young and the commissioners. He was not happy with how the decision on the extension and raise was made.

“They had this meeting — a private executive session — no prior notice that this was even on the agenda or even on the radar,” Adams said. “It’s what they call a fait accompli.”

“Now, Aaron’s worked very effectively, I think, with the board,” Frey said. “But those people are unforgiving. So what are you going to do? There is nothing that can possibly be done that will ever change their mind.”

Shipka called the contract extension premature, saying he wanted to see how Young would work with the seven new committees formed to help the commissioners make decisions.

Attempts to contact Young for comment were not successful.

View the full article at wkbn.com