Summer rec program continues with precautions


FERDINAND — Ferdinand’s summer recreation program will return this year after being canceled last year due to COVID-19.

Ferdinand Town Manager Chris James said he is looking forward to the program returning, especially since several parents and babysitters have contacted him asking if it’s going to happen, he said at a Town Council meeting Tuesday.

“Now that we’re in a better place with COVID, it’s my intention to go forward with the program,” he said. “We still want to offer programming for the kids so they can try to have a somewhat normal summer with their friends and be able to take advantage of our parks, as well.”

The program, which will run from the first week of June through late July or early August, will have two sessions this year instead of one so the employees can sanitize the areas between sessions. The two sessions will likely be broken up from 9 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. to noon, James said. In the past, there have usually been 30 or so kids per session, so the two sessions will now be limited to about 15, to allow for social distancing.

“In the past, everybody kind of ran together and did their thing, but now we want to be a bit more precautionary with how everything is set up,” James said. “This way, we’ll still be able to offer it to hopefully the same number of kids.”

Additionally, James said participants will have to be registered in advance this year, whereas in years past, parents or babysitters would sometimes drop kids off and sign them up on the spot. There will also be a sign-in sheet with contact information so that everyone can be reached in the event of contact tracing.

The program typically offers crafts and activities outside, which will remain the same this year. However, movies will not be offered on Wednesdays at the library, as it’s still in the process of gradually reopening, James said.

Participants will be required to wear masks during the program, except during the last week during time at the splash park.

“We’re going to try to maintain, in some ways, continuity from how they’re doing things at school,” James said. “Kids are very adaptable, so I don’t see it being a problem.”

The council approved the hiring of two seasonal employees for the program, one of which is funded by the park department and one by the town’s general fund.

The council also:

• Heard that the police department received four defibrillators from Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center and will be trained by Memorial EMS.

• Heard the electric department will be adding street lights at the Industrial Park Road and State Road 162 intersection.

• Declared surplus playground fall protection mats as no value so they can be donated.

• Heard from the park department that two Eagle Scouts will complete projects within the parks. Gavin Kieper’s project will involve installing LED solar lighting along the bridges at Old Town Lake, and Kennedy Staton’s project will involve building an interactive human sundial at the 18th Street park.

• Heard that the fishing pier and kayak launch at Old Town Lake should be completed by Memorial Day.

• Heard a presentation about Dubois County becoming a vote center county from County Clerk Amy Kippenbrock.

• Extended the town emergency order from last month. At last month’s council meeting, the order was modified to loosen some COVID-19 restrictions.

• Passed a resolution for temporary rental fee increases for the shelter house and senior room, which will be in effect until further notice.

• Considered adding a four-way stop and restricting some parking at Ninth and Virginia streets after complaints that cars are not slowing down at the intersection and that some trucks cannot easily get through with cars parked along the street.

• Passed an ordinance establishing a local grant fund for the American Rescue Plan Act for COVID-19, which will provide $468,252.82 over several years. Town Council President Ken Sicard said it’s still unclear how exactly the funds can be used.

• Discussed a water rate increase of approximately $1.50 per 1,000 gallons used. The average person uses about 3,000 gallons a month. There will be a public hearing at the next council meeting at 7 p.m. May 18.

• Approved a town budget meeting date of July 22.

• Approved a job offer for a new hire for the water and wastewater department.

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