Today’s winds lent helping hand at MetroParks kite fest

Kite enthusiasts braved today’s cold and wicked wind to take part in Mill Creek MetroParks’ kite flying festival.

The MetroParks teams up with the Ohio Society for the Elevation of Kites for the event, which takes place at the MetroParks Farm every other year.

The main attraction, of course, was kite flying. Colorful lizards, sharks and other kite animals could be seen soaring from down the road.

Carol Vigorito, MetroParks recreation and education director, said the festival has been hosted by the park for decades.

“It’s just a fun way to provide entertainment and show people a pastime that most people aren’t acquainted with as much anymore,” she said.

Children built and decorated their own kite or glider at one of the workshops inside, with kits provided by OSEK.

Some put their skills to the test with wind sprints and high-flying contests.

Cheri Pyles of Lordstown said she has been coming to the festival for the last several years.

“I’m really glad they do it; it’s a great way to bring families together,” she said.

Read more about the event in Sunday’s Vindicator or on

View the full article at

Fellows Gardens’ daffodil show finally opens Friday

As springlike weather finally arrived this week, flowers were coaxed into bloom.

Across Fellows Riverside Gardens, gold- and lemon-hued daffodils, red tulips and deep-purple magnolias emerged and lifted their heads to the long-awaited sunlight.

The few days of nicer weather arrived just in time for Mill Creek MetroParks’ Daffodil Show. Originally scheduled for last weekend and delayed due to weather, the show now will go on.

The annual event at the gardens will take place today, Saturday and Sunday. Participants will show daffodils in all their various cultivars and hues, and the public is invited to come out and enjoy the colorful blooms.

“It’s very unique,” MetroParks Gardens Director Andrew Pratt said of the show. “It’s kind of like a best-of-show for daffodils, sort of like a rose show would be, but we do it with daffodils here at the Gardens.”

Participants will enter their flowers Friday and Saturday morning, then judging will take place on Saturday.

Read more about the event in Friday’s Vindicator or on

View the full article at

Safety in the MetroParks

It’s spring time and the nice weather brings more activity in the park. We want everyone to have a safe and enjoyable visit. Mill Creek MetroParks Police would like to remind visitors to slow down, share the road and to be aware of their surroundings. Visitors should anticipate seeing increased patrols throughout the MetroParks. Park visitors are urged to contact MetroParks Police at 330.744.3848 should they see something out of place or a questionable situation.

Mill Creek Golf Course Closure for Private Event

The Mill Creek Golf Course will be closed the morning of Friday, May 4, 2018 due to a scheduled private event. Both North and South Courses will be closed. The Course will reopen to the public at 3:00 pm. The Practice Facility and Wick Recreation Par-3 Course will be open for normal play during the day of the event.

Mill Creek MetroParks Foundation launches endowment campaign

In kicking off a campaign at the start of this year to establish endowments for Mill Creek MetroParks, staff members hoped to raise $250,000 in 2018.

They reached that amount by the end of January, and have now surpassed $520,000.

MetroParks Development Director Chris Litton said he is encouraged by the positive start to the MetroParks’ first organized endowment plan.

“I think people have been waiting for opportunities like this to help the park,” he said.

Efforts have been underway over the last year or so to transform the Mill Creek MetroParks Foundation from an organization that primarily distributes funding into one that raises money. The endowment campaign is part of that effort, and aims to help maintain areas in the MetroParks in perpetuity and decrease the park district’s dependence on tax dollars.

“This is the first attempt to go out and create structured endowments on behalf of the park,” Litton explained.

So far, the foundation has received gifts from 21 donors, which have established nine endowments: the Golf Course, Fellows Riverside Gardens, Lily Pond, Trails, Joanne F. Beeghly Rose Garden, Land Preservation, Ford Nature Center, and Collier MetroParks Bikeway endowments, as well as a general endowment.

The Joanne F. Beeghly Rose Garden Endowment was established with a $215,000 donation to benefit Fellows Riverside Gardens’ Rose Garden. A $100,000 donation established the Collier MetroParks Bikeway Endowment, a component of the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley. An anonymous donor gifted $200,000 to benefit Ford Nature Center.

There is no minimum amount to establish an endowment. Naming rights are available with donations of $100,000 or more.

The foundation hopes to not only attract large gifts, but a large number of small donations.

“We expected small contributions, large volume. And we still do,” Litton said. “We’re hopeful we see more than 100 donors before the year is out.”

The foundation is sending out information to residences in the county. Individuals interested in donating can send checks to the Mill Creek MetroParks Foundation at P.O. Box 596, Canfield, Ohio 44406 or donate online at

As for why people should consider contributing, Litton said: “I think people generally say the park is the gem of the Mahoning Valley. People care about the park. People love using the park, and this is an opportunity to benefit specific areas of the park.”

“If you talk to 10 different people, you get 10 different reasons why people love using the park,” he said. “This gives individuals an opportunity to benefit those areas.”

View the full article at

Mill Creek unveils overhauled bunkers

Jack Reese has been teeing off at Mill Creek Golf Course for two-thirds of the course’s 90 years.

But his tee shot on Monday might have been his most significant. He striped it 190-or-so yards down the middle off the No. 1 tee at the South Course.

“I like getting to tee off first at my country club,” laughed Reese, who thinks it’s his 65th year playing at Mill.

The South Course had a special opening for play Monday after being closed for a $250,000 overhaul of the sand bunkers. Monday was the first day of play after the reconstruction.

“From the moment players step onto the tee, aesthetically, the bunkers are more visually pleasing,” PGA Director of Golf Brian Tolnar said. “From a playing perspective, the bunkers are a lot more user-friendly with more consistency to get out of them.”

The 36 rebuilt South bunkers are the first known overhaul of the items since the Don Ross-designed 36-hole course opened 90 years ago, Tolnar said. A Ross design makes special use of bunkers for challenge. The aged bunker conditions had made many often unplayable.

Work started Monday on the 42 North Course bunkers. One set of nine holes will be closed at a time on the north side while work continues. All work will be done by June 1.

The redesign of the bunkers will actually make routine maintenance of the bunkers easier — saving about two hours per day in manpower.

In addition to the bunkers, other Mill Creek enhancements include work on the driving range, hole signs, new motor and pull carts and a redesigned pro shop. There will be more amenities added in 2019.

“From the moment you pull in off U.S. 224, it’s exciting times for the metroparks,” Tolnar said.

Aaron Young, Mill Creek MetroParks Executive Director, said the bunkers launch a big year for the entire operations.

“This is a big year for the parks,” he said. “A lot of the projects were finished in 2017 right before the weather changed, so not a lot of park visitors were able to see those changes. Today, with the unveiling of the bunkers, you’ll be able to see the beginning of 2018 work, too.”

Investing in golf this way is key for the district, he said.

“Golf is an important part of what we have going on,” Young said. “It generates over $1 million worth of revenue. It’s a return on investment we anticipate to see over the next 90 years.”

Reese was joined by playing partner Bob Banks as the first two to play the South Course.

Banks remembers playing Mill Creek as a kid, and they would hunt for lost balls because could not afford to buy any. His opening tee shot was not hard to find down the middle of the fairway like his partner, Reese.

“Golf teaches you discipline,” Reese said. “Some of the greatest people you can ever spend time with you meet on the golf course.”

View the full article at

Mill Creek Golf Course Scores Birdie with Upgrades

Looking off the tee box on the first hole of Mill Creek Golf Course’s south course, the bunkers, recently restored and filled with bright white sand, are easy to spot.

That wasn’t always the case last year. With old, brown sand, the bunkers at a glance could be easy to miss, confused maybe for the rough or a patch of fallen leaves.

“No. 1, aesthetically, they’re much more visible,” said Brian Tolnar, Mill Creek MetroParks’ director of golf. “That’s compared to the brown we had in the past. They’re a bit more user-friendly and the drainage is 100% different to what it was before.”

Tolnar was joined by golf course staff and Mill Creek Park officials for a ribbon cutting to celebrate the course’s improvements for the 2018 golf season.

“[Course designer] Donald Ross said, ‘There’s no such thing as a misplaced bunker. Regardless of where the bunker may be, it is the business of the player to avoid it,’ ” said Aaron Young, executive director of Mill Creek MetroParks.

“If you happen to find yourself in one of our newly renovated bunkers, I’m sure it’ll be the result of a stiff wind or maybe some sun glare,” he continued with a laugh.

Last autumn, work was finished on a new cart staging area just outside the clubhouse, now replete with 124 new golf carts and 80 wheeled carts for players who prefer to walk. Each hole at the two courses now has new signage and the driving range has new practice balls. The pro shop has been remodeled and now offers fittings for Callaway clubs. Monday afternoon, Tolnar said, work began on restoring the north course’s bunkers, a project he expects to wrap up in late May.

Replacing the bunkers starts five or six feet below ground as drainage is replaced. Parella-Panunnzio Inc., Youngstown, and Golf Preservations Inc. of Middlesboro, Ky., are the contractors for the $510,000 project.

“It had been caving in over 90 years of use. There’s new drainage, new stone, new mesh so the sand doesn’t get in the drainage,” Tolnar said. “Then there’s the new sand, about eight inches of compacted, bright white beach sand.”

The project has been in the works since Tolnar arrived at Mill Creek in 2015, when he put together a list of improvements the course could use. The first of those are now being finished and plans are set for annual upgrades through 2020.

“The need certainly exceeds that, but the planning has lasted over a year and we’re pleased to bring it to fruition,” said Aaron Young, executive director of Mill Creek MetroParks. “Bringing more people to the park is what we like to see. The more, the better. When you have a high quality product, you have more visitors.”

Last year, about 66,000 rounds of golf were played at Mill Creek Golf Course. With the uncooperative spring weather so far this year, though, this year’s figures are already well behind 2017’s.

“Last year [through the first 22 days in April] we were open 21 days. This year, it was six days,” Tolnar said, adding that the course improvements could make up some of the ground as more golfers are interested in the course.

Taking advantage of the recent break in the weather were longtime course golfers Bob Banks and Jack Reese, who had ceremonial tee offs to christen the renovations and used the opportunity to fit a round in Monday morning.

“We’ve been coming here since we were kids,” Banks said after his tee shot straight down the fairway. “We used to ride our bikes down here and look for lost balls to use. To see this, it’s great.”

Pictured: Andy Santor, head professional, Mill Creek Golf Course; Justin Rogers, planning manager; Mark Winnick, Mill Creek Foundation president; Reid Schmutz, foundation board member; Lee Frey, Mill Creek Park Commissioner president; Brain Tolnar, director of golf; Aaron Young, Mill Creek MetroParks executive director; Stacy Butler, head professional; and Lance Bailey, superintendent cut the ribbon on upgrades at the golf course.

View the full article at

Mill Creek Golf Course Features New Hole Signage

The Mill Creek Golf Course will now feature new hole yardage signs for the North and South Golf Courses. The new hole signs were installed last week to help kick off the 2018 golf season. The new signs feature: hole numbers, course tee yardages, trash receptacles, ball washers and hole sponsor partnership plaques. The updated hole signage is a collaborative effort with the current hole sponsorship opportunities at Mill Creek MetroParks. The new signs have a 25+ year shelf-life and will make an aesthetic improvement to the facility.

“We’re excited to have the new hole signs up for the golf season as they will add to the enhanced golf experience at Mill Creek. The new signage is a nice addition to the list of positive changes and capital improvements we have on the horizon in an effort to make the course better than it has ever been. Our staff is excited to share the improvements in a year where we will be celebrating 90 years of golf in the Mahoning Valley”, says Brian Tolnar, PGA Director of Golf

For more information about the Mill Creek Golf Course, visit our website at

Mill Creek Park Golf Course unveils new bunkers

Are you planning to hit the links soon?

If so, you’ll notice a big change at Mill Creek’s South Golf Course. 

Patrons of the course will notice a big difference in the bunkers from last season.

The course took the off-season to drain and replace the sand on 18 holes of the South Course.

Mill Creek will now be taking the next 2 months to replace the bunkers on the north course. 

“What you’ll see on the south course is much more of an improved playability from a players stand point. When they get in the bunker it will be a little more user friendly and we will do that on the north course starting today as well,” says PGA Director of Golf Brian Tolnar. 

The 36 hole bunker restoration costs approximately $500,000. 

View the full article at

On the Calendar

Mill Creek MetroParks and the Ohio Society for the Elevation of Kites, kite festival, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at the MetroParks Farm; 330-740-7107 or

Daffodil Show, 1-5 p.m., Davis Center at Fellows Riverside Gardens, 123 McKinley Ave.; 330-740-7116 or

View the full article at