Outside media coverage of Mill Creek MetroParks

Mill Creek MetroParks invites community to celebrate holiday season


Mill Creek MetroParks invites guests to celebrate the holiday seasons at Fellows Riverside Gardens.

Volunteers set up 60 trees along with lights and decorations through the Davis Center. 

This year’s theme, Frozen in Time, is a celebration of the garden’s 60th anniversary. 

One woman said the event is enjoyable for the whole family.

“It’s fun to bring all the little cousins, so that they can see, you know, all the themes every year and it’s a good tradition,” said Mya Agee.

There’s also scavenger hunts and live music.

The activities are free to the public and will continue Tuesday through Sunday every week in December from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

There is also Winter Nights on Saturdays, which includes extended hours until 7 p.m. and an outdoor light display.

For more information, call 330-740-7116.

View the full article at wkbn.com

Mill Creek brought Tolnar home to Valley

Hubbard native Brian Tolnar has made a number of stops during his golf career.

Since 1996, Tolnar has been assistant golf pro Alliance Country Club and Tippecanoe Country Club, either head professional or PGA Director of Golf at Steubenville Country Club, Avalon Lakes, Triple Creek Golf Club and the Golf Club at Blue Heron Hills in Macedon, N.Y.

But after spending a little more than 10 years as a golf professional in Rochester, N.Y., the opportunity to return home and become PGA Director of Golf at Mill Creek was just too good to pass up.

Tolnar told the Curbstone Coaches during Monday’s weekly meeting at Avion Banquet Center that after 22 years in the business, he’s having more fun now than he has ever had.

“I said it during the interview process over four years ago and I still believe it today, that there was only one job in the Mahoning Valley that I would come home for and that was Mill Creek,” he said. “The reason I said that then was because the sky is the limit here and it has a ton of upside and potential.

“I need to thank Aaron Young, MetroParks executive director for giving me the opportunity and the tools necessary to be successful. I couldn’t be happier to be here and be aligned with such a great core of people. It’s truly and honor and I’m excited to be a part of the team.”

Tolnar said there are two things, self-reliance and commitment, which stand out as to why he chose golf as a sport and career.

“With self-reliance, you can only depend on yourself and the time you put in if you expect to be successful. In other sports, your teammates can pick you up but it’s all on you in golf,” he said. “You need to have a strong will and the commitment to achieve success. On the golf course, it’s about practice, dedication and putting in the time and effort as a player.

“When running a million-dollar operation, it’s about the commitment of your management team and fellow co-workers, doing things that other facilities and staffs are unwilling to do like providing service, opportunities and hosting events.”

Tolnar came to Mill Creek with two goals in mind.

“First and foremost, I wanted to know how we could make a major impact in the local community,” he said. “Then, I wanted to know how best we could showcase the MetroParks through the game of golf. With those two objectives at the forefront of my list, I felt as though we could make the people of the Mahoning Valley proud of what they have, as well as the importance the MetroParks plays in their lives in providing recreational opportunities.”

He added that the upside to Mill Creek Golf Course was second to none.

“I felt that Mill Creek, with a Donald Ross design, was a sleeping giant with tremendous upside,” Tolnar said. “Player development needed a boost, but a solid marketing campaign and facility promotion to build presence has helped. We have such a great history and that just added to the potential for hosting future events.”

In addition to hosting The Vindicator’s Greatest Golfer of the Valley as well as its junior tournament, the course has also hosted the highly successful AJGA (American Junior Golf Association) tournament, among others.

“The AJGA has played host to the junior careers of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Paula Creamer, Natalie Gulbis and Stacie Lewis, to name a few,” Tolnar added. “We worked on gaining national exposure by hosting and AJGA junior tournament through connections in Rochester and last year’s event had a $414,000 impact locally. Since hosting the event in 2016, the area has realized a $1.218 million impact while raising an additional $32,000 for local charities, the AJGA Ace Grant & MCMP Foundation.”

Tolnar has helped launch a five-year capital improvement campaign to reinvest in their facility and credits local PGA professionals Dave Coller, Dave Boos and Michael Spiech for their help and support along the way.

He also called his team, which consists of head professionals Stacie Butler and Andy Santor, and course superintendent Lance Bailey the best professional golf team in the Mahoning Valley.

Tolnar is the 2018 PGA Certification for Player Development and Northern Ohio PGA Section Merchandiser of the Year honoree, adding his group will launch their Growth of the Game Initiative with its Let’s Play Golf Youngstown, a three-tier initiative to include instruction for beginners, intermediate and advanced players.

Next week, sports talk host Mark “Munch” Bishop of iHeart Media Sports will serve as guest speaker.

View the full article at vindy.com

Annual Olde Fashioned Christmas at the Mill continues Sunday

Christmas is a month away, but perhaps Holly Edwards has already received the gift that will be the most meaningful and personal.

“These are the initials of my late father,” the Canfield woman said, referring to “SRW,” which stands for Sam R. Wagner, who died after having received hospice care.

Edwards had the three letters stamped on a personalized leather bracelet she bought, which was complemented with butterflies, as a way to honor her father’s legacy, thanks to having attended the annual Olde Fashioned Christmas at the Mill gathering Saturday afternoon in Mill Creek MetroParks’ Lanterman’s Mill.

The six-hour family-friendly holiday-themed event continues from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. today at the mill.

The traditional, old-fashioned holiday celebration features 15 local and regional vendors, crafters and artisans such as tinsmiths, woodcarvers and leather makers. Also included is musical entertainment, along with a magician and comedian, noted Carol Vigorito, the park’s recreation and education director.

“The focus is on being old-fashioned, and we decorate to the hilt. It’s our last weekend open [until spring] and people come out to enjoy the holiday atmosphere and give something back,” she said.

Also, attendees are encouraged to donate hats, mittens, scarves, gloves and other winter wear to a Giving Tree. The items will go to the Mahoning County Educational Service Center to be distributed to some of that agency’s clients, Vigorito explained.

Accompanying Holly were her husband, David Edwards, as well as daughters Samantha, 6; Sophia, 10; and Madison, 13. Samantha also had a bracelet made bearing her nickname, Sammie.

Christmas will be spent with both sides of the family, David added.

Making the bracelets is Kathy Bowman of Austintown, a self-taught crafter who first wets the small leather straps, then uses a poly mallet to stamp the letters in place. She also adds touches that are personal to each buyer, she said.

“I started doing it in 1989 by making wallets, purses, all kinds of stuff … but I always did bracelets,” recalled Bowman, whose daughter, Shawne Wilfong, assisted.

A sample of merchandise for sale in Lanterman’s Mill includes T-shirts emblazoned with Youngstown landmarks, prints of the mill, a variety of scented soaps, candles and room sprays, coffee mugs, tart burners and arrowheads. Also on hand for those with a touch of nostalgia is the popular book “Idora Park: The Last Ride of Summer” by Rick Shale and Charles J. Jacques Jr.

Those who desire to spice up their kitchens a bit likely found much to their liking, courtesy of Gregg and Deb Kristophel of Harmony, Pa.

The couple runs a 33-year-old business called Riverwood Trading Co. that specializes in selling treenware, which is essentially any wooden utensil used mainly in the kitchen, Gregg explained.

He uses electric sanders, band saws and other hand tools to design and make carvings on cuts of mainly cherry wood, which are converted to items he has for sale that include salt, mixing, strainer and saucepot spoons, four-piece utensil sets, spatulas, dippers and coffee scoops. The items also are specially designed for those who are left- or right-handed.

“I work in my shop six or seven days a week,” said Gregg, who also was a self-taught and self-employed carpenter.

In addition, they take part in about 35 craft and other related shows each year, Deb added.

Many people have used phrases such as “a diamond in the rough” to describe what they see as the aesthetic beauty of Mill Creek Park, so it’s probably not a stretch to surmise that some found C. Scott Lanz’s photographs quite pleasing.

Lanz, of Boardman, an attorney and an avid nature photographer who runs a 13-year-old business called LanzScape Photography Ltd., has for sale numerous prints and photos on canvas, many of which are taken in Mill Creek Park during all four seasons.

He also is selling 2019 calendars that feature some of his photography around the park.

View the full article at vindy.com

Santa brings animals to MetroParks Farm to delight of kids

Five-year-old Theodore Sapp and his father, Tom, didn’t exactly hammer out the terms of a major treaty or piece of legislation, but the compromise of sorts they came up with resulted in early holiday cheer for both.

“He had a big list, and he practiced what he’d say and ask for” while waiting in line to meet Santa Claus, the Canfield man said about his son, a C.H. Campbell Preschool student.

Theodore was among the many youngsters who excitedly waited in a long line to climb into a bright-red sleigh in which sat St. Nick, who was one of the central attractions of the annual Santa’s Winter Barn event Sunday afternoon at the Mill Creek MetroParks Farm, 7574 Columbiana-Canfield Road (state Route 46).

For his arrival in the Mahoning Valley, Santa brought not only the traditional reindeer but other animals not usually associated with him. They consisted of a donkey, a goat and a miniature cow, all of which were sources of added joy for many of the hundreds of attendees who had waited in a line that snaked out the door of the unheated barn to see and have their pictures taken with St. Nick, as well as next to the animals.

The four-hour family-oriented gathering, which takes place the Sunday after Thanksgiving, also offered people an opportunity to make crafts for their Christmas trees, said Brenda Markley, Mill Creek MetroParks’ agriculture and education manager.

In addition, the celebration marked the farm’s final event before it closes for the winter and reopens in April, Markley said.

When he met Santa, Theodore handed him a piece of paper on which was written a letter that listed the gifts he wanted most: a set of Hot Wheels cars, Minecraft (a popular game that allows players to use blocks to go on various adventures) and Starlink: Battle for Atlas (an action-adventure video game). Beforehand, the child and his father worked on the letter, which also entailed condensing the list of what Theodore could ask for, Tom explained.

“I told him the letters and he wrote the letter down. He picked out the toys he wanted,” Tom continued.

Also relishing the festivities was Theodore’s mother, Krista, who said the family’s holiday plans likely will include Theodore dressing up for a part in a Nativity re-enactment at his church. The boy also intends to leave a plate of gingerbread cookies – possibly with a few sweet embellishments – for Santa’s visit to their home on Christmas morning, Krista added.

Also making it obvious that they are part of the Santa Claus fan club were sisters Gabby Gaetano, 6, and Paisley Gaetano, 8 months, whose shirts read “I love Santa” and “Santa’s sweetheart,” respectively.

“She said her sister wanted baby toys,” said the siblings’ mother, Theresa Valek of Canfield, referring to what Gabby told Santa during their visit.

One of Gabby’s requests was Beanie Boos, which are stuffed animals that are smaller versions of the famous Beanie Bears and perhaps best known for their large, round eyes, Theresa explained. Gabby’s having sat on St. Nick’s lap for the first time was a big accomplishment for the youngster because of her initial fear of St. Nick, her mother continued.

Theresa added she will host the Christmas festivities at her home for the first time, which will consist largely of celebrating the traditions of a holiday dinner and opening gifts.

Santa also welcomed sisters Sydney Patrone, 9, and Savana Patrone, 12, of Madison, who accompanied their 5-year-old cousin, Racole Turney, of Youngstown in the sleigh.

To reinforce their sense of the holiday spirit, many children and adults bought ornament craft kits for $1 apiece. The activity allowed participants to peel foam Santa Claus heads, snowmen and other Christmas-related cut-outs and attach them to backings, then thread ribbons through holes in the ornaments and tie the ends together to make a hanger for placing them on Christmas trees.

Designing the crafts also was valuable because it encouraged a greater feeling of family togetherness, observed Carolyn Oberle, a Mill Creek Park volunteer who oversaw the activity.

“In this day and age, [family] is very important,” she added.

View the full article at vindy.com

Mill Creek officers honored for rescue

The Mill Creek MetroParks board recognized two of the park’s police officers at the board’s Monday meeting.

Officer Peter Katsaras and Sgt. Robert Vukovich were honored for finding a 3-year-old boy who went missing during the park’s annual Pumpkin Walk Oct. 14 at Fellows Riverside Gardens.

Although about 10,000 people attended the 21/2-hour event, Katsaras and Vukovich were able to reunite the child with his parents.

The officers’ families were present at the meeting.

“Part of the uniqueness of it is they both have children about the same age as the child that was missing, so I think it hit home for them both,” said police Chief Jim Willock.

“Congratulations and thank you again,” park commissioner Germaine Bennett said.

The board also received an update on the park’s $3 million Ford Nature Center Redevelopment campaign.

After being awarded a $1 million challenge grant from the Sand Hill Foundation, the campaign has about $1 million left to raise.

“We’re very optimistic. We’ve identified probably about half of that already, so we just have to close,” said development director Chris Litton.

View the full article at vindy.com

Mill Creek MetroParks Dek Hockey rink project wins award

The Ohio Parks and Recreation Association has announced its 2018 Annual Awards of Excellence winners. Mill Creek MetroParks’ Wick Recreation Area Dek Hockey Rink Project placed 3rd in the Capital Improvement Projects under $1,000,000 category.

The awards are judged by a panel of parks and recreation professionals from around Ohio.

“Parks and recreation professionals throughout Ohio work every day to improve the quality of life of the people they serve,” said OPRA Executive Director Woody Woodward. “This effort is a shining example of that kind of work, and we are pleased to be able to present this award.”

The MetroParks partnered with the Youngstown Phantoms Hockey Team of the United States Hockey League and the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation to renovate the former ice skating rink at Wick Recreation Area into a street hockey rink, also known as Dek Hockey.

The goal of the project focused on improving functionality and use through rehabilitation, restoration, and adaptive reuse. The vision was to create year-round public availability, play for individuals or groups, league play, and instructional programming for both youths & adults thus making Wick Recreation Area a premiere regional, four-season, active recreation facility. The scope of the project included installation of dasher boards and chain link fencing, tile surfacing, scoreboard, overhead structures for player benches, and site work including demolition, concrete repair, and electrical work.

Along with donations from The Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation and Home Savings Bank, the incredible outreach continued on a hot day in August 2018. Local volunteers and representatives from the Pittsburgh Foundation, Youngstown Phantoms, Home Savings Bank, and Mill Creek MetroParks joined together to install the decking material for the rink.

“This project exemplifies the culmination of planning that included adaptive reuse, third-party funding, partnerships and volunteerism, which serves as the model for future MetroParks’ projects,” says Mill Creek MetroParks Executive Director Aaron Young. “Partnerships like this allows us to increase recreational opportunities to our park visitors.”

The OPRA Annual Awards of Excellence will be presented at a banquet hosted by the association on Feb. 5, 2019 in Sandusky.

View the full article at vindy.com

Mill Creek MetroParks Dek hockey rink wins award

Mill Creek MetroParks’ Dek Hockey Rink won an award from the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association (OPRA) on Tuesday.

OPRA announced MetroParks’ Dek Hockey Rink placed 3rd in the Capital Improvement Projects under $1,000,000 category. Award winners were decided by a group of parks and recreation professionals throughout the state.

The Dek Hockey Rink is a year-round street hockey rink that can be used by players wearing roller skates or normal tennis shoes. The rink features an electronic scoreboard and dasher boards and is free to use. The rink was built in the same area that ice rink used to be years ago.

The project is a team effort between Mill Creek MetroParks, the Youngstown Phantoms, and Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation.

Officials from Mill Creek MetroParks will be presented with the award during a banquet hosted by OPRA in Sandusky, Ohio in February.

View the full article at wfmj.com

Mill Creek Receives $16K Grant for Disc-Golf Course

Mill Creek MetroParks has been awarded a grant for $16,056 by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) for an 18-hole disc-golf course at the MetroParks Farm in Canfield Township.

The grant, through the 25th round of ODNR’s NatureWorks grant program, is providing 75% of funding for the project.

The disc-golf course will utilize the MetroParks Farm’s landscape, changes in topography, and scenic vistas to establish a unique recreational experience.

The construction of a disc-golf course continues the MetroParks’ effort to provide additional and diverse recreation opportunities throughout the county, and reinforces the MetroParks’ commitment of securing third-party funding for new active recreation facilities. 

The project will be scheduled for construction as a 2019 capital improvement project.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.

View the full article at businessjournaldaily.com

Disc golf course coming to Mill Creek MetroParks Farm in Canfield

A disc golf course will soon be installed at Mill Creek MetroParks Farm in Canfield.

The 18-hole course will provide another activity for visitors of the MetroParks land along Route 46, which already features a bike trail.

Money for the disc golf course will come from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources NatureWorks grant program. It will provide up to 75 percent — over $16,000 — of the cost.

The MetroParks Board of Park Commissioners still has to approve the budget. After that happens, it’s likely the project will be scheduled for construction as a 2019 capital improvement.

View the full article at wkbn.com

Disc golf course coming to Mill Creek MetroParks Farm in Canfield

A disc golf course will soon be installed at Mill Creek MetroParks Farm in Canfield.

The 18-hole course will provide another activity for visitors of the MetroParks land along Route 46, which already features a bike trail.

Money for the disc golf course will come from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources NatureWorks grant program. It will provide up to 75 percent — over $16,000 — of the cost.

The MetroParks Board of Park Commissioners still has to approve the budget. After that happens, it’s likely the project will be scheduled for construction as a 2019 capital improvement.

View the full article at wkbn.com