Thursday, October 30, 2014

Recreation programs, participants continue to grow

By RACHEL HAWKINS, Herald Staff Writer | 11/12/2009

Despite a dwindling economy with many people cutting back, participation in Ottawa Recreation Commission programs is on the rise.

In 2008, the ORC surpassed its goals for participation and program numbers.

Despite a dwindling economy with many people cutting back, participation in Ottawa Recreation Commission programs is on the rise.

In 2008, the ORC surpassed its goals for participation and program numbers.

And so far this year, numbers are looking even better, the staff reports.

The number of participants has reached 5,545, which is more than the group’s goal of 5,000.

“I think it’s a nice combination of us improving our professional services, our staff and quality of our programs,” ORC Director Therron Dieckmann said. “I think people are looking for activities that are a little closer to home. Our number of visitors per day has consistently increased since I’ve been here.”

Beginning this year, adults were able to qualify for reduced rates through a scholarship program based on the Ottawa School District’s reduced lunch guidelines. By Kansas law, the school district levies tax for the ORC.

“But it’s dedicated for our budget,” Dieckmann said. “It’s our own separate budget. They are our fiduciary.”

If children qualify for reduced lunches in the school district, they receive 50 percent off the ORC individual programs. If they qualify for free lunches, they receive 75 percent off individual programs, Recreation Manager Josh Todd has said.

If adults have children on reduced lunches, they automatically qualify, Todd said. Adults without children fill out a form to determine income requirements.

Along with the increases in participants and programs, the ORC is planning a new recreation facility, which is planned to have an indoor turf arena, walking track and other features.

The walking track is something the community has been asking for, Dieckmann said.

“Any time we’ve done a public survey, that has come back as a top priority,” he said.

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