Editor's note: This is the next in a series of stories about member agencies of the United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley.
BELPRE - The Belpre Recreation Commission receives $6,000 from the United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley.
The funds enable children who would not otherwise be able to get swim lessons receive them, provide family pool passes for residents in need and help with park maintenance.
Belpre has three parks. Howes Grove Park, 1600 Washington Blvd., is at the corner of Putnam Howe Drive and Washington Boulevard. It has picnic shelters.
Civitan Park, located along Blennerhassett Avenue, features a walking trail, ballfields, picnic shelters, fishing pond, community swimming pool and a playground. Across the street from the park is boat access.
Depot Park, on Depot Street, has a walking trail, picnic shelters, playground and a restored caboose on display.
"We were able to provide free swim lessons for 26 kids and 17 local families received free passes this past year. These are for families of up to five members," Belpre Mayor Mike Lorentz said of the assistance provided by the United Way.
Some of the United Way funding last year were used to purchase new playground equipment at Howes Grove Park, and to make repairs to tables and benches at Civitan Park.
"I'm amazed at how many people use the park facilities including Howes Grove Park," Lorentz said. The park is located next to the Belpre Area Chamber of Commerce and municipal buildings. "On nice days there are people out there at the shelters, reading or walking around," the mayor said.
"We cannot use municipal funds for scholarships or swim lessons, it's not an allowable expense, so having the United Way funds available really helps. We put the word out and moms and dads come in and sign up. It's a great thing to see the pool full, even with the rain and everything last year, there was still good usage," Lorentz said.
Alice White, 86, was one of the seniors who used the swimming pool at Civitan Park during free senior swim times.
"We went down there several years. I was the instigator for the senior swim. The lifeguard volunteered her lunch hour to stay at the pool so we could swim. It was at noon. They had classes in the morning for the children, swimming classes. So we came in at lunch time and got to swim at no charge, there were about 12 of us that did that regularly," White said.
"It was really nice that they did that for us. It was good exercise and even those who didn't know how to swim could still walk in the pool. A couple of us even went down the slide," White said.
Lorentz said the city's parks with their walking trails and picnic facilities, are a real asset.
"For business growth, schools, parks and recreation opportunities are important. If I had young kids I would want them to have access to the pool, ballfields and everything else the parks have to offer," Lorentz said. "We recently had representatives from a local business venture which will be locating here come through town, one of the things I showed them was our boat access, and parks. They are a draw and bring people and businesses in," Lorentz said.
The recreation commission is made up of five members: one representative of Belpre City Council, one member of the city administration, and three city residents appointed by the mayor, with preference to those who have contact with recreation programs in the city.