Outside media coverage of Mill Creek MetroParks

Mill Creek MetroParks Ford Nature Center receives $1 million gift

The campaign to renovate Mill Creek MetroParks Ford Nature Center received a $1 million challenge grant from the Sand Hill Foundation of Menlo Park, California. The Sand Hill Foundation is a private family foundation established by the late Tom Ford and Susan Ford in 1995. The $3 million campaign to renovate the 106 year old former Robinson Mansion, which houses the Ford Nature Center, has raised $1 million to date. The challenge grant offered by the Sand Hill Foundation will match new donations to the campaign up to $1 million.

The estate was originally gifted to Mill Creek MetroParks in 1968 by the heirs of the late Judge John W. Ford. After a brief period of hosting the park’s administration offices, the site was transformed into the Ford Nature Center in 1972. Since then, many generations of Valley residents have enjoyed the exhibits, programs, walking trails and special events contained within the MetroParks. The Center receives over 14,000 school children visits every year.

“On behalf of the staff of the MetroParks and the board of directors of the Mill Creek MetroParks Foundation, I would like to express my gratitude to Susan Ford Dorsey for this generous gift. This gift will allow us to not only extend the mission of educating the park’s visitors about the natural wonders of the world for generations to come, but it also extends the wonderful legacy of the Ford Family here at Mill Creek,” says Chris Litton, Mill Creek MetroParks Director of Development.

View the full article at vindy.com

Two Mill Creek Golf Professionals Win PGA Awards

Two employees of Mill Creek Golf Course were honored at the Northern Ohio PGA’s annual awards ceremony last week.

Mill Creek MetroParks PGA director of golf Brian Tolnar won the region’s Merchandiser of the Year award for the third time. He previously won it at Mill Creek in 2016 and for the Western New York PGA in 2013 when he was at Blue Heron Hills Golf Club.

The award is presented based on promotional skills, getting products to market on a timely basis and the use of specialized merchandising techniques including displays and advertising.

Meanwhile, Mill Creek Golf Course head professional Andy Santor won the Teacher of the Year award, given to professionals based on overall performance, innovative teaching programs, published articles and golfers the teacher has instructed.

The two were honored at the Northern Ohio PGA awards ceremony Oct. 22 at Westfield Country Club’s Cary Blair Center in Westfield Center.

Pictured: Mill Creek Golf Course PGA director of golf Brian Tolnar and head professional Andy Santor both won awards at the Northern Ohio PGA annual awards ceremony last week.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.

View the full article at businessjournaldaily.com

Home Savings donates money toward hockey rink in Mill Creek Park

A local bank is continuing its commitment to a project at Mill Creek Park.

Home Savings presented a check Wednesday morning for $12,500 to the MetroParks.

It’s to install Dasher Boards at the Dek Hockey Rink. Dasher Boards run the perimeter of the rink, protecting spectators from players.

Home Savings partnered with the Youngstown Phantoms and the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation over the summer to build the rink in the Wick Recreation Area.

They refurbished the old ice rink into a year-round street hockey rink. Now kids can play street or roller hockey on the rink — no ice needed.

“In addition to the hockey, we’ll also have box lacrosse and we’ll also have soccer available here, we’ll have rental equipment here and the Wick Recreation Area so you don’t necessarily have to have your own equipment to come here to play,” said Brian Tolnar, with Mill Creek MetroParks. “In addition, we’ll also have some adult leagues, some junior leagues as well to get them into the game of hockey and lacrosse.”

The rink is available first come, first serve but you can call the MetroParks to reserve it as well. Next spring, the plan is to install lights so kids and adults can play into the night.

View the full article at wkbn.com


Mill Creek Park golf staff win prestigious PGA awards

Andy Santor, the Mill Creek Golf Course head professional, won the 2018 Northern Ohio PGA Sections Teacher of the Year Award.

The award bestows special recognition on a PGA Golf Professional who has performed outstanding services as a golf teacher and coach.

This award is based on a professional’s overall performance in teaching; unusual, innovative and special teaching programs initiated or implemented; articles published; as well as outstanding golfers the professional has instructed.

Brian Tolnar, Mill Creek MetroParks PGA director of golf, took home the 2018 Northern Ohio PGA Sections Merchandiser of the Year Award. The award signifies the PGA professional who has excelled as a business person in merchandising and promotion of the game of golf.

This marks the third time Tolnar has achieved this award dating back to 2016 for the Northern Ohio PGA section while at Mill Creek Golf Course and in 2013 for the Western New York PGA Section while at Blue Heron Hills Golf Club in Rochester, N.Y.

The awards ceremony hosted by the Northern Ohio PGA Section was Monday at the Westfield Country Clubs Cary Blair Center in Westfield Center, Ohio.

View the full article at vindy.com

Mill Creek kicks off autumn with hay rides and food

Mill Creek MetroParks held its Sunset at the Farm event Saturday to showcase its farm park. 

Hundreds came out for the activities, including hay rides that ran down the hike and bike trail. 

There was also a corn maze, a petting zoo, pony rides and food for guests to check out.  

Parents at the event said they were happy to get their kids away from a screen for a few hours. 

“It was great to get fresh air and finally some fall weather that we can enjoy and not be too hot,” said Candance Horvath from Canfield. 

Organizers said getting the word out was only part of the reason to hold the event.  

“I feel great that so many people are showing up from all over East Palestine, Columbiana, some from Pennsylvania. We get some of them from even Florida that are visiting,” said Linda Miller, a volunteer at Mill Creek MetroParks. 

The event was free and ran until sunset. 

There will also be hay rides next Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.


View the full article at wkbn.com

MetroParks efforts bring in more than $2.4 million in private donations

Organized fundraising efforts have paid off in spades for Mill Creek MetroParks, according to a development update provided to the park board Monday.

MetroParks Development Director Chris Litton reported the MetroParks has brought in more than $2.4 million in private donations so far this year. That is substantially more than the previous annual totals of $17,334 in 2016, $106,325 in 2015 and $334,625 in 2014, according to figures Litton presented.

“We’ve really done quite a bit with a short period of time,” Litton said.

This year, the MetroParks launched an endowment drive and a capital campaign. To date, the park has raised more than $825,000 in endowments and $1 million in capital contributions, according to Litton.

Additionally, the MetroParks will get about $310,000 from the sale of a house on Clingan Road in Struthers that had been donated to the park system by local philanthropists Bruce and Nancy Beeghly. Those funds will help pay for a renovation of Ford Nature Center.

The park system this year has received more than $15,000 in memorial/tribute donations, and $285,000 from donors for specific projects, Litton reported.

“I think the numbers speak for themselves,” MetroParks Executive Director Aaron Young said. “We’re going to hope to end the year on a high note.”

In other business, the board set equipment and rental fees for the new dek hockey rink at Wick Recreation Area. Dek hockey is a version of ice hockey that is played on foot instead of skates.

The Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation covered the majority of the $250,000 cost of installing the rink at the park’s former ice-skating area.

The rink is free to use if it has not been reserved. A 60-minute reservation costs $20 for Mahoning County residents and $30 for non-residents.

Hockey and lacrosse sticks will cost $2 to rent and there will be a $1 charge for a dek puck/ball.

The MetroParks also will offer dek leagues, with rates of $500 for adult teams and $50 for individual children.

In other business, the board passed a resolution related to the final phase of a project that will complete the Mill Creek MetroParks Bikeway. The project will extend the bikeway from Western Reserve Road to Washingtonville, where it will meet Columbiana County’s bike trail.

Young said the MetroParks is in the middle of the final phase and is now moving forward with purchasing vacant property along the trail’s planned route. He said he expects construction to begin in about a year.

The board authorized MetroParks staff to apply for a federal grant that would cover up to 80 percent of the estimated $200,000 cost of rehabilitating the Old Orchard Bridge on Chestnut Hill Drive.

Additionally, the board recognized members of the Mill Creek PGA Junior League, a youth golf program coached by Professional Golfers’ Association and Ladies Professional Golf Association professionals. The Mill Creek team, one of six in the local division, went undefeated this season.

View the full article at vindy.com

Summer tours of MetroParks Farms showcase farm

The Mill Creek MetroParks Farms hosted their weekly family tour event on Aug. 2.

The event runs throughout the summer and is used to showcase all the unique aspects of the farms while providing a fun event for families to attend together.

“Primarily it gives families the opportunity to bring little kids in,” said Bill Gilmour, a parks employee who ran the tour, “It’s a group bonding thing.”

The Family Tour event has been going on every summer for about a decade according to Kimberly Moff, a parks employee.

“It helps to keep people in touch with the farm,” Moff said.

She explained that a lot of people, even adults, are unaware of where the food they eat comes from.

This tour helps to showcase what the MetroParks Farms do, and how they operate to create the food we eat every day.

“We talk a lot about the farm to try to keep them in touch with the fact that their food doesn’t just come from the grocery store, there’s actually a place where it all starts,” Moff said.

To attend the event families have to preregister through the Metro Parks and 35 people are welcome to attend each week.

Gilmour said that even though the event takes place weekly in the summer, they still have a full or almost full group every Thursday.

To battle these numbers the parks also hosts a similar tour event about once a month on a Sunday from 1-4 p.m. Moff said.

During the tour guests take a tractor ride through the farms.

The tour goes to the poultry house and the barns where tour guests get to see and learn about all of the animals the farms keep.

“If we are harvesting wheat we can talk about that, if they are making hay we are talking about that,” Moff said. “Its kind of based on what we have going on at the farm at the time.”

During the tractor ride the tour guide uses props and goes over information about the farm and animals. The tour also goes through the barns where all of the new and old animals live, sometimes allowing children and their families to pet them. Recently, the farms have been showcasing the new born babies they have, including kids and calves Gilmour said.

“I always tell the kids on the tour that we have real kids.” he said.

The Family Tour Thursday event will take place through Aug. 23 at the MetroParks Farms.

To learn more or preregister for the event, you can go to www.millcreekmetroparks.org.

View the full article at vindy.com

Project Power Play: Youngstown

Year-round Dek hockey rink installed at Mill Creek Park

Working through the heat of Tuesday’s late morning and early afternoon, employees from the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation built a hockey rink at Mill Creek Park that players can use even during hot days like this.

It’s not ice hockey, but something known as Dek Hockey.

A busload of workers came to the Wick Recreation Area on Tuesday to build a Dek Hockey rink on the same site as the old ice rink that closed more than fifteen years ago.

Players can wear inline skates or just regular sneakers to hit a ball into a net.

The rink even has an electronic scoreboard.

Mill Creek Park officials will announce an opening date in the future.

The effort is part of the foundation’s quest to grow the sport of hockey at the grassroots level for both youth and adults.

So far the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation has built 13 outdoor, multi-use athletic facilities. Adding the rink in Mill Creek Park will increase that number to 14.

View the full article at wfmj.com

Project Power Play aims to grow dek hockey in Valley

Mill Creek Park’s old ice-skating rink is getting a blue makeover courtesy of a team that wears black and gold.

On Tuesday morning, volunteers from Mill Creek MetroParks, Home Savings, the Youngstown Phantoms and The Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation were laying down blue tiles for the park’s new dek hockey rink.

Dek hockey is the outdoor version of ice hockey that is typically played on foot instead of skates. Unlike the facility its replacing, the dek can be used all year.

“That’s one of the most exciting parts about adding this recreational opportunity,” said Aaron Young, MetroParks executive director. “Everybody knows the history of the Wick Recreation Area. This new project is a tip of the cap to the old history of what used to be here. It’s just in a new and improved manner.”

The Dek is the foundation’s first dek in Ohio after building 13 in western Pennsylvania. It’s part of the foundation’s Project Power Play meant to make a more affordable version of hockey accessible.

Mill Creek and the foundation – a nonprofit whose primary sponsor is the NHL franchise – linked up through the Phantoms and Home Savings came aboard to contribute.

“We’ve done some promotional stuff with the Phantoms and we were approached by Mill Creek Park with a strong interest, asking ‘How do we put a dek up?’” foundation president Dave Soltesz said. “For us, it’s about growing the game. This is a market where we have youth hockey teams already, but how can you introduce more kids to the game?

“It’s great for parents. You can have a kid say he wants to play hockey and do you want to go out and buy skates and all that stuff? It’s cool to just go out there and play the game,” Soltesz said.

The Dek features covered benches and an electronic scoreboard.

The estimated $250,000 facility was completed Tuesday afternoon.

Young said he didn’t have exact figures to what the MetroParks paid, but said it was “minimal” with the foundation covering the majority of the costs.

The dek is expected to become fully operational in 2019, with leagues and safety rules established around that time. The Phantoms will also run clinics on dek hockey.

“It’s too soon with Mother Nature creeping up on us here. The hope is by 2019, we have everything for leagues to operate,” Young said.

“We’re evaluating our own operations in terms of running leagues. We’re not through with our evaluation just yet, which is why 2019 is more realistic to us.”

Phantoms head coach Brad Patterson had his own version of dek hockey growing up Cranbrook, British Columbia, which was hockey on the concrete floor of a local fire hall. It’s one of his fonder memories of his sport and one area kids can have – minus the concrete.

“It’s not always about being coached or being out there in a formal setting. It’s about being able to go out there and try new things, have fun with it and get out with friends and family,” Patterson said.

“I think this being out here in the area gives us a huge outlet to do that.”

View the full article at vindy.com