East Prairie celebrates newest park
EAST PRAIRIE - East Prairie's first ever "Park Day," scheduled to take place Saturday at the K.S. Simpkins Family Recreation Facility, will officially dedicate the city's newest park and recognize the accomplishments of its namesake.
Park Day 2002 begins at 10:30 a.m. with a dedication ceremony honoring Kathie Simpkins, East Prairie's city administrator, according to Brett Blackman, parks and recreation director.
Mayor Gene Ditto said the park is being named after Simpkins in recognition of her key role in making the new park a reality among other things.
"She came up with the idea," said Ditto. "It was born in her first and because of us being a dedicated Enterprise Community we had some special things that were available to us."
The idea to name the new park began as "an inter-office thing that began to be talked about," said Ditto, "and it was a good idea." The decision to name the park after Simpkins was announced at the city's Christmas party.
Ditto said the park is a symbol and benchmark for the city's progress as well as "an idea that kept growing and growing and is still growing today."
The 25-acre sports complex and park features four baseball fields, one soccer field, three tennis courts and three basketball courts. "It also has several play areas and pavilions throughout the park," Blackman added, "and it has a pond in the back for fishing, too."
A flag pole and lights were added to the entrance way as well as two plaques dedicating the park on the gates.
One displays the park's official name and the other lists the members of East Prairie Board of Aldermen, Recreation Corporation and park board as well as other city officials.
Following the opening dedication ceremony will be a community picnic scheduled for 11:30 a.m. at the park's main pavilion. "That's sponsored by First Security State Bank," said Blackman.
The East Prairie Parks Department will cook hamburgers and hotdogs which will be served up along with chips.
At 12:30 p.m., the East Prairie Park Board will hold their 2002 award ceremony for the baseball and softball teams and pass out all the trophies.
Activities for both kids and adults will kick off at noon and continue until 2 p.m. The Retired Seniors Volunteer Program has already committed to providing games for children and the Department of Public Safety will present drug education literature. Blackman said things were being finalized with other groups interested in participating.
For those interested in politics, the event will also feature the opportunity to "Meet the Candidates" on baseball field 1's outfield from 1-2 p.m.
"We're going to allow them to set up on the field there," said Blackman. "It's opportunity to set up and campaign if they need to."
Blackman said several of the candidates running for presiding county commissioner have already said they will be there.
Park Day will also be "kind of giving back to the community for their support of the park tax," said Blackman. Although this is the first "Park Day" for East Prairie, Blackman hopes it catches on. "I want to try to do this every year," he said.