The Hope Mills Citizens Academy class held Sept. 21 offered an insider’s view on how the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Center keeps everything running smoothly and at the different types of programs it offers to children and seniors aged 55 and up.
Directing the Citizens
At the class, Kenny Bullock, Parks and Recreation director, informed students of the importance of community involvement and input concerning the master plan of the Hope Mills Golf Course and the park amenities needed for the “Park within a Park” at the Hope Mills Recreational Complex.
“We ask for monies on a need-only basis. If we don’t need it, we don’t ask,” Bullock said. He added that even though it would be great to have several new trucks and new equipment that it is not truly needed and the HMPR is not one for wasting money.
There are suggested ideas for new playgrounds, picnic shelters, walking/running trails, open space/unprogrammed play/ an amphitheater/outdoor events, environmental education, outdoor fitness, disc golf, a community center, ballfields, multi-use fields/courts, and even a fishing pier, splash park, water sports and a swimming pool. Bullock emphasized the impact that citizens’ opinions have on the changes within and around the recreation center.
Jamie Bahma, Parks and Recreation supervisor, and her staff, work diligently to keep the Hope Mills baseball, football and soccer fields in tip-top shape. Cutting the grass, painting and chalking boundary lines, measuring the proper distances and keeping the dirt at the correct level and texture are just a few of the tasks Bahma and her staff carry out.
Some of the Citizens Academy students chalked the foul line from third base to home plate — Commissioner Pat Edwards was one. Other students painted the grass line. Bahma and her staff used John Deere Gators and three-wheelers to even out the dirt around the bases. Exact measurements are needed for the batters box. This is done using a metal template.
One of the most well-known events held at HMPR is the fireworks for the 4th of July/Independence Day celebration. As with any of the events held by HMPR, they prepare early. Placing the flags, games, banners and canopies, preparing for the parade, testing all outlets, trimming branches, checking equipment, checking stage power and marking vendor spots are just a few of the details the maintenance crew handle for each event.
From baseball to football to cheerleading, there are several activities for the youth of Hope Mills to participate at the HMPR. Athletic director Maxey Dove and Athletics and Programs assistant Don Wilson gave a few examples of how they train the teams and what they expect from members and their parents.
“It’s ok to have fun, but we don’t laugh at each other,” Wilson said. “If I hear you laugh at or make fun of another teammate, then I will send you back to your parents. We believe in sportsmanship and we will show it.”
It is football season. Therefore, the students participated in a couple of football drills. The first drill was sprinting. They had to run 20 yards as fast as they could. The second drill was the “angle step drill.” The students had to run a few steps, plant their right foot, turn and catch the ball.
More Youth Programs
For ages 1-5, the toddler programs help kids learn about utensil safety and cooking healthy meals in the Young Chefs program. Toddlers need to burn off a lot of energy and they can do that with the Little People, Big Fun program in which they can run, play and bounce in the open gym.
Senior Citizens 55 and Up
HMPR offers a variety of programs for senior adults aged 55 and up. Senior Programs Director Kasey Ivey and Assistant Senior Programs Director Anne Evanco ensure healthy activity for the seniors of Hope Mills. Arts and crafts, Zumba, line dancing and Bingo and Brunch are a few of the programs that seniors may choose to participate in.
Senior citizens also may join programs to help those in need such as the Plastic Sleeping Mat program. This program aids the homeless within Cumberland County. Each mat is hand-woven with plastic grocery bags and are so well-made that they resemble a cloth mat. They are thick, weatherproof and easy to carry. These special mats are given out at the VA Medical Center, Alms House, NC Works (which works with homeless veterans), Connections of Cumberland County and Fayetteville Urban Ministry. The seniors enjoy making these mats and have already surpassed their quota for the year.
The Senior Program has had a 180 percent increase in overall participation, causing it to outgrow the Sunshine Senior Center and become part of the HMPRC. Between Nov. 1, 2016, and Sept. 21, 2017, there have been 206 new participants.
Between youth sports, senior programs and special events, there is always something to do at the HMPRC, located at 5770 Rockfish Rd. Learn more about the facility and the programs by visiting www.townofhopemills.com or by calling (910) 424-4500.
Photo caption: On Sept. 21 Citizens Academy students learned about the work that goes into maintaining Hope Mills’ sports fields and about hand-woven mats that senior citizens make to give to the homeless within Cumberland County.