Outside media coverage of Mill Creek MetroParks

Scout gives disc golfers a break

Before month’s end, Boy Scout Gabe Dearing, 15, will be finishing his Eagle Scout project by installing benches on the Mill Creek MetroParks’ disc golf course in Canfield.

Gabe, the son of Kathleen and Albin Dearing of Poland, is a sophomore at Poland Seminary High School.

His project is five months in the making and involves many stages.

“So far he had to create a construction manual, a bill of materials, build a prototype and practice the installation of the prototype,” Gabe’s father said. “As of right now, he has completed the prototype, practice installation and construction manual. On Aug. 6, he completed the construction of the (five) benches that are required for the project.”

Five Scouts and three adults participated in construction of the benches. Utilizing EDGE (Educate, Demonstrate, Guide, and Enable), Gabe was able to lead the team through the construction process. He first educated them on safety and construction practices, then demonstrated and guided them through assembly of the bench. This enabled the team to build the rest of the benches on their own.

Gabe said he has some time invested in his project and more to come when the benches are installed.

“There are currently about 30 man hours in the project between building the prototype, buying and prepping the material, Day One assembly and paint and stain,” Gabe said. “The installation Saturday will add about 18 more man-hours to the project.”

It’s taken some balancing of his schedule.

“I took advantage of weekends when I didn’t have anything going to work on the design and the project plan,” he said. “Once the Eagle proposal was complete, I was able to work in several time slots to get all the prep done. Going to Scout summer camp in July provided a break from the project, but I knew that as soon as I got home, I had to make some progress before soccer season started and the weather turned bad.”

As for what Gabe enjoyed about the project, he said: “Leading the Scouts in the construction of the benches. I had a solid plan, so I was able to enjoy the time and have fun with it.”

Gabe’s brother Noah, 19, installed fishing line receptacles at the MetroParks Farm’s fishing pond three years ago. Their dad said the park offers a lot of opportunity and the Dearing family members are big park users.

“Gabe wanted to perform a project that would benefit an outdoor activity for the park,” Albin Dearing said. “His mother is a big user of the park, especially with her friends who are part of the Steel Valley Triathalon Club, and they are often biking and running in the park system. As a result, Gabe reached out to Nick Derico, Mill Creek Park natural resources manager who had worked with Noah on his project in 2020.”

He said Derico offered several project ideas, but Gabe preferred the bench project because it presented multiple opportunities for him to demonstrate leadership during the planning, construction and installation phases.

Gabe is a member of Troop 9002 based out of the Poland United Methodist Church. He plays high school soccer on the junior varsity team.

He has amassed 21 merit badges, including 12 Eagle merit badges that are required to get an Eagle award. Once having completed 31 merit badges, he will be eligible for a bronze and gold palm in addition to his Eagle award. Palms are issued upon completion of a specific number of merit badges.

MONTHS OF WORK

Work on Gabe’s project began in April. He was approved for the project through the BSA Great Trail Council. He had to work off a design the park hoped would give disc golfers a place to rest their bags and discs off possibly wet ground.

Derico said the disc golf course at the MetroParks farm is becoming popular. He said its use is seasonal and weather-dependent, but it does get daily use in season.

“It is very welcome to have permanent benches along the disc golf course,” he said. “This project was identified several years ago, and we are excited to finally see the benches being installed. The addition of these benches throughout the disc golf course will give players a place to rest between holes, watch friends or even just a dry place to set their gear.”

Derico said the MetroParks normally works with one to three scouts a year who are striving for their Eagle award. Once the benches are installed, the project will be done and Gabe can plan for a November Eagle Award Court of Honor.

Gabe plans on attending The Ohio State University but hasn’t settled on a major yet.

View the original article at The Vindicator.

Fellows Riverside Gardens Plans Major Makeover for Children’s Garden

Mill Creek MetroParks says a new, children-centered project at Fellows Riverside Gardens is the largest in more than 20 years for the Mahoning Valley landmark.

Costing $3 million, the two-phase project began with the construction of the Margaret Cushwa Education Building in 2020. The second phase is expected to begin in the spring of 2023 and will include the addition of a five-component garden concept and entry plaza.

A maintenance facility will be added in Phase Three.

This marks the largest development at Fellows since the opening of the D.D. and Velma Davis Education & Visitor Center in 2000.

The significant improvements to the children’s gardens will allow for a reshaped, modernized experience for children as they explore and learn about nature, said Aaron Young, MetroParks executive director.

Construction of the 1.5-acre-garden at Fellows will include the transformation of a two-decades-old facility into a learning space for all park visitors. MetroParks’ staff will also lead horticulture and ecology education in the building upon completion.

Multiple gardens will be included to show children and visitors how each component works to create the ecosystem:

  • Harvest Garden – children will learn about planting, maintaining and harvesting vegetables though hands-on activities in outdoor learning labs
  • Forest Garden – learning labs will teach children how trees and forests absorb and store carbon dioxide
  • Streams Garden – an interactive garden, children will learn how water sustains plants and animals
  • Hummock and Lawn Garden – an area surrounded by unique hummock mounds will provide relaxation and play
  • Sensory Garden – reflexology is explored through sight, smell, taste, sound and touch.

There will also be a Wonder Rooms Garden where children and visitors pass through a unique landscape with fun enclosures for children to explore.

Overall Concept Plan
The children’s garden will be funded by private donations through the Mill Creek MetroParks Foundation, said Chris Litton, development director.

These latest improvements are a component of the larger, $20 million Love Mill Creek campaign – an ambitious effort to secure long-term improvements to the park system, he added. The MetroParks system will be provided with $10 million in capital improvement funding and the other half in endowment funds for long-term care of Mill Creek, Litton said.

This is the first year of the MetroParks’ second, five-year capital improvement plan, which proposes “significant investment in our existing infrastructure,” Young said.

“From improvements to our roads, bridges, parking lots and many miles of trails, to the full redevelopment of the Wick Recreation Warming House and even new park development at Springfield Forest, these improvements will have significant impact on MetroParks users’ experiences,” he said.
Interest and use of the park were heightened over the course of the pandemic, Young said, which “served as a reintroduction to the benefits of local MetroParks, and we are no exception.”

“Park use exploded during the pandemic and has really not declined since then,” Young added.

The Children’s Garden redevelopment project announcement comes two years after a multi-million-dollar renovation to the Ford Nature Center began.

Russell + Mills of Fort Collins, Colorado, was selected to design the new gardens.

Naming rights opportunities for the Children’s Garden are still available, including the garden itself and each of the five component gardens. Other opportunities for naming rights with Fellows and around the MetroParks are also available.

Donations to the Children’s Garden can be made to the Mill Creek MetroParks Foundation by contacting Litton at (330) 718-2699.

 

See the original article at The Business Journal.

Local car dealership donates to Mill Creek MetroParks

A local company donated a generous amount of money to Mill Creek MetroParks Thursday morning.

Boardman Subaru donated $3,500 to Mill Creek Metro Parks to plant trees. The check presentation happened at the Collier Preserves.

This is all part of the “Subaru Loves Earth” initiative to plant a tree for every vehicle sold during the month of April. $25 was donated for each vehicle up to the $3,500 cap.

“It’s thanks to the generosity of businesses like Boardman Subaru that enable the MetroParks to further its mission at the highest level. As you can see the contributions from Boardman Subaru are gonna allow us to expand our planting efforts at Collier Preserve,” said Executive Director of Mill Creek MetroParks, Aaron Young.

Mill Creek Metroparks expect to plant several hundreds of trees at Collier Preserve soon.

See the original article at WKBN.

New title sponsor for AJGA junior tournament

Mill Creek MetroParks is excited to announce a multi-year title sponsorship agreement with the Mercy Health Foundation of the Mahoning Valley, Farmers Trust and the Howard and Jeanne Karr Charitable Foundation and Meridian Healthcare and other organizations for the 7th Annual AJGA Junior All Star Golf Tournament to be held at Mill Creek Golf Course. The four-year sponsorship agreement includes $25,000.00 per year and succeeds the Mahoning Valley Hospital Foundation who held the 2018 – 2021 tournament sponsor title. Since the events inception, the AJGA Junior All Star Tournament has had a financial impact of around $2,000,000.00 in hotel stays, dining, shopping, and included over $70,000.00+ towards local charities.

“We’re excited to have this partnership which collaborates to support this wonderful event that does so much financially for the Mahoning Valley. The local community has enthusiastically embraced the event since its inception in 2016. This event continues to showcase the MetroParks on a national level,” says Brian Tolnar, PGA Golf & Recreation Director.

The 2022 tournament will take place on Mill Creek’s South Golf Course from June 19 – 24 and will consist of a two-part tournament series (Pre-Season Tournament & All Start Tournament). An AJGA Junior Amateur Tournament will be held on Monday, June 20, 2022, for those wishing to play with one of the top junior golfers from around the world. Information regarding the schedule of events can be found at www.ajga.org.

See original article at WFMJ.

Mill Creek to host PAC Championship in 2023

The Mill Creek Golf Course will host the 2023 Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC) Spring Golf Championships for the first time in history. The event will take place on Friday, April 21 & Saturday, April 22, 2023, with the women playing on the North Course and the men playing on the South Course. The two rounds will get underway at 10:00 a.m. each day.

This year’s PAC Championships will feature a 72-hole stroke play event, with 36 holes contested this fall and another 36 holes played in April. From 2017-18 to 2021-22, the PAC Championships featured a 54-hole championship format for both the men and women, with 36 holes contested at the Fall Championships and another 18 holes played at the Spring Championships.

The combined 72-hole team totals will determine PAC team champions and winners of the league’s automatic qualifying bids to the 2023 NCAA Division III Championships. The All-PAC teams, as well the PAC Players of the Year and PAC Newcomers of the Year, are determined by the combined 72-hole scores from the PAC’s Fall and Spring Championships.

The event will showcase 10 collegiate institutions between Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia which include: Allegheny College, Bethany College, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Geneva College, Grove City College, Saint Vincent College, Thiel College, Washington & Jefferson College, Waynesburg University and Westminster College.

Last year, the men’s spring event was held at the world-renowned Oglebay Resort in West Virginia. The women’s spring event was played at Cedarbrook Golf Course in Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania.

“We’re excited to host this prestigious event in the Mahoning Valley for 2023. Events like the PAC Championships really exemplify what Mill Creek MetroParks are all about in its mission to provide park, recreational, educational, and open space facilities of regional significance. In addition, the opportunity to fill area hotels and restaurants as well as showcase the MetroParks, makes this another great golf tournament for our community,” said Brian Tolnar, PGA Director of Golf.

“The PAC is excited to bring its spring tournaments to Mill Creek MetroParks and its two outstanding Donald Ross courses. This gives us the opportunity to host both our men’s and women’s championship at the same site, which has been a goal for our league coaches over the past several years,” said PAC Commissioner Joe Onderko. “I am looking forward to working with Bryan Tolnar and the rest of the staff at Mill Creek to provide our student-athletes with an outstanding championship experience in the spring of 2023.”

In addition to the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA), Notah BeGay III East Coast Regional, Junior Optimist Eastern Regional Tournament, Roseanne Schwartz NCAA Invitation, Youngstown State Kick-Off Classic, PGA Hope Program, U.S. Kids Cleveland Tour and Northern Ohio PGA Sections Junior Tour, the PAC event will be the 8th national and/or regional golf event in which Mill Creek serves as host. Spectators are welcome to attend the 2023 PAC Men’s & Women’s Championships and a small number of volunteers will be needed for the event. Details on volunteering opportunities will be announced in the Spring of 2023.

 

Read original article at WFMJ.

A labor of love – Retirees, volunteers help grow Fellows Riverside Gardens

A popular activity for many people during the spring and summer months is to visit Fellows Riverside Gardens, a 12-acre botanical garden at the northern end of Mill Creek Park.

The beauty of the colorful flowers — both perennials and annuals — as well as trees and shrubs arranged in a variety of designs attracts more than 400,000 visitors a year. It all comes as a result of year-round work by staff and volunteers, many of whom took on the gardens as a post-retirement project.

Sarah Spetsios of Brookfield has been the garden supervisor for four years. She oversees the staff and volunteers who care for the grounds. The tulips that folks are enjoying now are a result of 40,000 bulbs that volunteers planted in the fall.

Soon the bulbs will be dug out by groups of volunteers and the beds will then be filled and prepped for summer annual planting. Compost is added along with slow-release fertilizer. Tropical plants also are added to the displays.

Marcy Dubec of Boardman has been the full-time gardener at Fellows for 17 years. She chooses the 40,000 tulip bulbs as well as the 45,000 annuals that will bloom and grace the grounds during summer months.

To have these flowers ready, Dubec begins in winter by picking the variety of flowers and colors she wants to use in her displays.

“The growing of pansies begins in December while the annuals are started in January or February,” she said.

These flowers begin as seedlings in flats and then are transferred to a greenhouse on site where they are watered daily. The seedlings grow and then when ready the mass planting by volunteers begins on the grounds. The annuals are then fertilized and watered all summer long.

Stan Vuletich of Berlin Center is referred to as “Stan the Dahlia Man” around Fellows Riverside Gardens. He has been volunteering since 2007 and found his niche in retirement by dedicating himself to growing 20 different types of dahlias for Fellows.

The retired electrical engineer said, “Working at Fellows is relaxing and gives you the opportunity to meet a lot of wonderful people.

“Some people think that dahlias are hard to grow, but if you have full sun, they are easy to grow. (Dahlias) originated in Mexico and are a pretty hardy flower,” he said.

His involvement began when he became a Master Gardener and then found himself teaching a class about gardening and propagating plants, particularly dahlias. He now supervises the volunteers who are interested in growing them.

Vuletich stores the 2,000 dahlia plants at his home, where they are dormant from November through February. In March, they are brought into the greenhouse, where they are watered and fertilized and when ready are planted by Vuletich and other volunteers on the grounds.

Vuletich finds himself at Fellows in all seasons, but April and May are his busy months as he cares for the dahlias four to five hours per weekday.

“Once the growing season starts, I’m here every weekday.”

Debby Metzger of Lowellville has been volunteering at Fellows Riverside Gardens since 2012, when she retired from Akron General Medical Center. She enrolled in a Master Gardening class, which got her interested in learning more about plants.

She retired five years ago and was able to increase her hours, becoming chairwoman of the five plant sales that take place at Fellows yearly. The proceeds of the sales support projects at Fellows Riverside Gardens defined by MetroParks.

She said she particularly enjoys giving advice to people who come to the sales and want help discovering how to grow healthy plants.

Metzger finds herself at Fellows usually four days per week in the spring and summer. “It takes a lot of work to keep the gardens in the shape they are in. Volunteers are essential,” she said. “Where else could you work under such a beautiful environment?”

She said she enjoys working with plants, taking them from seedlings to pots. “My work is very satisfying. I feel like I’m a little part of this big picture,” she said. “You can’t get into a botanical garden for free in other states.”

The Master Gardener class was transformed into the Horticulture Certificate Program, she said. Participants will learn more about topics such as summer gardening in Ohio, garden design and pruning. It’s a series of classes with hands-on training with 10 hours of participation.

The staff and volunteers work around the weather, Spetsios said, “This past winter was very severe and the late cold snaps affect the plants. We constantly have to strategize and deal with mother nature.”

Something the staff and volunteers also deal with constantly is pest management. They monitor trees, shrubs and flowers for pests and disease and treat as needed.

A frequent problem with roses is the Japanese beetle. To fight them they use neem oil. Spetsios said it should only be sprayed on roses in the early morning or late in the evening, before pollinators appear (bees and butterflies).

Another frequent problem is the presence and activity of deer. A deer fence is placed around the perimeter of the gardens to keep the deer at bay. Spetsios says “they love tulips and eat summer annuals like impatiens and shrubs … however they don’t like daffodils.”

Liquid repellent is sprayed on the flowers usually in the spring. She also said deer love hostas while the rabbits love purple cone flowers, so both are sprayed with repellent.

Spetsios said in her job as garden supervisor, she is always planning several seasons ahead.

The favorite part of her job is “seeing the fruits of my labors and in the spring seeing how it all works out,” she said. When the growing season comes along and the public visit, her staff “have the passion to make it the best they can.”

Spetsios calls her work “a labor of love.”

Dubec said that when she sees the public enjoying her creations, she feels a sense of satisfaction: “I made that!”

 

Read original article at The Vindicator.

Mill Creek Metropolitan Park District awarded $136K in H2Ohio funding

The Mill Creek Metropolitan Park District will receive $136,177 in H2Ohio grant funding. The funding, which will be used for stream, floodplain and wetland restoration at the Mill Creek Golf Course, is part of $3 million in H2Ohio grant funding that will be directed to nine wetland projects to help improve water quality in the Ohio River Basin, Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Mary Mertz announced Tuesday. “By expanding the reach of H2Ohio, we are working not only toward water quality, but also to a better quality of life for all Ohioans,” DeWine said in a news release. “Water issues exist everywhere, and these new projects will ensure more communities get the opportunity to experience the benefits these wetlands provide for water quality, wildlife and recreational purposes.”

Awards will also go to projects in Athens, Butler, Clark, Delaware, Franklin, Montgomery, Pickaway and Wayne counties to create wetlands, restore wetlands on hydric soils and/or enhance water quality at existing wetlands and floodplains, the release states. This is the second round of H2Ohio grants focused exclusively on the Ohio River Basin. In 2021, the ABC District’s Forest Lawn Stormwater Park was awarded $300,000 to help alleviate local flooding and stream erosion in the Cranberry Run watershed in Boardman Township.

“It’s exciting to share the nature-based approach to water quality we have been implementing in the northern part of the state with even more communities,” Mertz said in the release. “It has always been our goal to extend the H2Ohio initiative across the entire state, and we are glad to be able to support these new projects in the Ohio River Basin.”

Read Original Article at Mahoning Matters.

Mill Creek MetroParks using fire to improve park

Mill Creek Metroparks is using fire in Boardman Thursday for what’s called prescribed burn.

They’re doing it to make the park healthier.

WKBN was there at the corner of Tippecanoe Road and Western Reserve Road. The area is known as “Collier Preserve.”

The fire will help get rid of any unwanted invasive bugs, plus help reduce thatch build-up. It also gets rid of woody growth.

“It’s an effort to really improve the native grasses that are here to get rid of some of the thatch, to encourage the seeds that are in the soil base to really invigorate them and get a really nice native 45-acre prairie,” said Just Roberts, planning and operations director of Mill Creek MetroParks.

Organizers hope this prescribed burn will be wrapped up Thursday.

Davey Resource Group out of Kent helped with the project.

 

Read original article at WKBN.

FirstEnergy donates 300 trees to Mill Creek MetroParks for second year in a row

FirstEnergy has donated 300 trees to Mill Creek MetroParks to celebrate Earth and Arbor days for the second year in a row.

A variety of hardwood trees were planted on Thursday by FirstEnergy employees throughout the MetroParks’ 402-acre farm in Canfield.

On Earth Day in 2021, FirstEnergy had donated 300 trees, which were planted at the MetroParks’ Collier Preserve.

In addition, FirstEnergy plans to donate an additional 400 trees to the Poland Municipal Forest on Friday, April 29 to celebrate Arbor Day. Those trees will be planted by FirstEnergy employee volunteers throughout the day on Friday and Saturday.

This initiative is part of the company’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint, promote responsible use of natural resources and further the advancement of sustainable practices.

Since April of 2021, FirstEnergy has donated and planted over 17,000 trees throughout its five-state service territory, and is on track to plant over 14,000 additional trees this spring.

 

Read original article at WFMJ.

Mill Creek trail to get upgrade

A trail in the Mill Creek MetroParks system is getting an upgrade.

A $175,000 gift from the John and Joanne Beeghly Family will help pay to refurbish the primitive trail system surrounding Lake Newport.

New drainage, surface improvements and wall erosion control are all part of the work that will be done. Retaining walls, borders and stone steps will also be addressed.

The Mill Creek MetroParks Foundation launched a $20 million campaign to improve the park system and pay for its long-term care and preservation.

Read the original article at WKBN.