Mount Gilead State Park Manager Lori Weiser and Friends of the Park President Linda Harper were featured speakers at the July Morrow County Chamber of Commerce Meeting.
Weiser said that when she heard the state park system was putting a manager in every park again, she immediately knew she wanted to be at the Mount Gilead State Park. She had worked with the Mount Gilead Volunteers in the Park (V.I.P.s) and knew what a dynamic group they were. She is happy to be a part of the park and the community.
Weiser gave an update of improvements at the park that include trail repairs and improved signage along the trails this summer. She noted that it is now possible to download a free “Park Ranger App” to learn about park happenings. It can be used on both I phones and I pads and is called the “Pocket Ranger,” the Official Guide to Ohio State Parks.
Improvements at the lakes and some other projects like the wash house with showers are slated to be done by 2017. The $6 million project to repair the two deteriorating dams in the park and make other improvements was announced by state officials in August of 2014. ODNR officials have a goal to lower the depth of the lakes and work on the dams.
Weiser said that there are a couple ways they can do that. Lakes would either need to be dredged out by about 10 feet, or the dam will need to be raised to hold more water. Due to the high cost of the dredging, it is more likely that they will work on raising and repairing the dam in order to deepen the lake. She said dredging cost is estimated to be $450,000 per cubic foot.
Weiser spoke about the many opportunities to volunteer at the park. Besides the V.I.P.s and Friends of the Park there are many ways that groups can help. An example she gave was the Northmor High School Girls Volleyball team that came to do projects around the park.
Friends of the Park President, Linda Harper spoke with enthusiasm about the Friends disc golf project (also known as Frisbee golf.) There are now nine holes at the park and there is a plan to have an official course of 18 holes that extends all around the park.
“There are lots of ways at the park to let your kids give their thumbs a rest,” joked Harper, referring to the way that kids are texting on the phone.
The Friends of the Park hope to get the Mount Gilead Park disc golf course on the circuit. They welcome anyone who wants to volunteer when they install the pads for the disc golf. They want the game to be accessible to people regardless of income. Harper added that trees won’t be felled for the disc golf course and dead trees already cut down can be used for the project.
Another Friends project is the Park Library. It was set up in the park near Pavilion 1 and they plan to have an outreach with a couple more in the Mount Gilead area. Friends made the library box and the Mount Gilead Public Library provided books. Anyone taking the books can keep them or return them to the box. They gladly accept books that are in good condition.
Other activities at the park include Nature Programs led by Park Naturalist, Terri McFarland, Nature Center activities, hiking on park trails and of course the ever popular Country Breakfasts sponsored by the V.I.P.s.
The last three park events of the season will be Peddlers in the Park from Aug. 15-16, Apple Butter Festival Oct. 2nd and 3rd and the Snowflake Festival Nov. 7 and 8.
“The V.I.P.s are champions of the Park,” said Harper. “And every cent from events and breakfasts stays right here at the park for projects and improvements.”
Alberta Stojkovic is a correspondent with the Morrow County Sentinel and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.