Proud of Jackson's youth sports programs

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Jackson is known as the city of beautiful homes, parks, schools and churches. This month, I would like to highlight one of the greatest aspects of Jackson's parks, the youth sports programs. Our parks are home to several recreational youth leagues. Included are the Jackson Youth Baseball League, which has a summer and fall season with 600 players; Jackson Youth Softball League, which has a summer season with 500 players; the JAOSA spring and summer soccer league, which has 600 players; and the JAYF fall football league with 200 players. This adds up to participation of almost 2,000 kids during the various seasons last year. What a great use of our parks.

What is most gratifying is that our recreational leagues are run by volunteers with support from our park department. I would like to personally thank all the volunteers for their efforts in supporting our youth programs. Many of the volunteers are parents of players, but you also find many do not have kids presently playing a sport. It is their love of the game and their interest in supporting the kids that keeps them involved.

Our volunteers manage the leagues. This includes coaching, scheduling games and practices, use of the fields, equipment management, league finances and serving on the governing boards. They work closely with the Jackson Park Department and Jackson Park Board. The leagues donate time and finances to assist the city in keeping the fields playable and to prioritize improvements.

The latest joint project approved was the installation of lights on one of the fields of the soccer park. This jointly funded project will enable the soccer league to greatly expand the time for games and practice with night time play. This lighting project will be completed this fall. This project is one of a long list of projects that have enabled the city to improve playing fields for the leagues by joint cooperation and donations. Our plans are to continue to expand our youth sports opportunities. We are finalizing plans for a disc golf course in Litz Park, made possible by a generous donation. More information will be provided this fall. The Jackson Civic Center will be the next addition to our park's facilities. This facility again will offer opportunities to add to our youth sports programs.

The swimming programs, summer youth camp program, Rotary Lake fishing, the skate park and playgrounds round out our present youth activities.

Of course, our 228 acres of parks are used by many adults for sports as well. The playing fields, walking/running trails, tennis and pickle ball courts are used every day by the community.

I would like to thank again our youth sport volunteers, our park staff headed by Shane Anderson, Park and Recreation Director, and park board members for their dedication to the youth programs. Our community members who serve on the park board are Ennis Hinkebein, Rodney Ladreiter, Dwight Johnson, Jennifer Beussink, Darin Pettit, Robert Lichtenegger, Andrea Marchi, Carmen Simpher and Tina Weber. Alderwoman Katy Liley and Alderman Tim Welker are assigned as representatives from the Board of Aldermen.

More information can be found at jacksonmo.org.

Dwain Hahs serves as mayor of the city of Jackson. He can be reached at mayorhahs@jacksonmo.org.

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