Walk in the Park
From the Director’s Desk
SUBMITTED BY BOB BELOTE
First and foremost, allow me to welcome each of you into the 2023 year! I sincerely hope that the recent holidays were both a special and joyous time for you and your respective families! I also want to thank you for the role each of you played in helping us administer a very successful and busy 2022 year for our park system. It was very rewarding to have a year that was considerably “more normal” than either 2020 or 2021 and all of their challenges. Without question each of you should take a great deal of pride in knowing how much that our parks, trails, outdoor areas, facilities and services have meant to our Springfield community over the past three-year period! Thank you for helping us stay open and available!
I’d also like to thank each of you for your spirit of charitable giving with our department’s recent 2022-23 United Way campaign. Through everyone’s generosity, I’m incredibly pleased to share that we set a new Parks departmental campaign record of $16,554.78! That includes $14,780.78 in departmental employee pledges (thank you!) along with another $1,774.00 generated through the City Employee Picnic (chippo game) and our annual Best of Parks Raffle. There’s no question that United Way touches a lot of lives here in Springfield and throughout Southwest Missouri – thanks so much for being a huge part of that important effort. And of course, a very special thank you to our Parks Department Campaign Coordinator, Ms. Karen Mellinger! Karen was recently recognized by United Way as one of its “Top 10 Employee Campaign Coordinators” for her many years of campaign success. A very big “WAY TO GO” for Karen and all of her efforts (and delicious homemade pan cookies)!...
One thing that really struck me at our recent Employee Holiday Luncheon was how many new faces I saw amongst us. Come to find out that since the onset of 2021 we have had 71 new FTE’s join our employee ranks – nearly 30%! That’s an amazing amount of new employees on board but I suppose that shouldn’t be all that surprising given the number of retirements we’ve seen over the past 2-3 years. And while I appreciate all that the City does on behalf of new employees through its “Welcome to the City” orientation program, we’re also working to find ways to specifically welcome and engage our new Parks employees. Several of our new employees have actually been serving as a focus group for a new Parks Onboarding Program of sorts, and I’m pretty excited about it. We have so much good going on throughout our various Parks’ divisions and sections – we’re just hoping to find a better way to share all of it with those new employees joining our Parks team. There’s much more to come on this front and if you have any personal ideas of your own, please let me or Amie Davis, our Parks HR Coordinator, know of your thoughts, ideas and potential ways to make things better!
Again all, thank you all for a really fantastic 2022 year for our Springfield-Greene County Park Board! I’m quite sure 2023 will have more than its share of great rewards and unique surprises!
In Appreciation & Good Health, Bob
Park Ops Heads to Japan
SUBMITTED BY JOSH CURNUTT
My trip to Japan was amazing! Actually staying with a host family and living there culture was a once in a life time experience our cultures are so different so to live and learn theres was simply amazing I made new life long friends that were like family to me after just a few days. Working side by side with the Japanese gardners which in my opinion are the best of the best was awesome, learning there different techniques they use in there many different gardens. Japan is one of the most beautiful places I have seen and the people of Japan are the most loving respectful people I have ever met. If anyone ever gets the opportunity to visit Japan I highly recommend it. Thank you so much to Sister City and the City of Springfield Parks for this opportunity.
SUBMITTED BY ZACH HENRY
I was one of the 3 gardeners who were given the opportunity to go to Isesaki, Japan. Thanks to sister cities and the Springfield Park board. Here are just a few things that I experienced. One thing we got to do was work with the Isesaki gardeners making frost shields and brooms, pruning trees and learning how to tie a knot to build a bamboo fence. Another thing we got to participate in was a festival and our Springfield group had the honor in caring a Mikoshi shrine during the Isesaki Matsuri or Festival. We had to carry it two blocks and it would rock side to side bouncing up and down while caring it. It takes 100 people to lift it and it weighs a ton. It was so much fun!
SUBMITTED BY KAREN MELLINGER
I love to visit new places with family and friends. This year’s adventures included a visit to Cabo where our daughter, Rachel, got engaged, a RV road trip with our dog, Sugar, and my 80+ year old parents to visit my brother’s family in Long Island, New York; a birthday celebration for our one-year-old grandson, Jake, in San Diego, followed by a trip back to Cooper Landing, Alaska. We have also made several trips to Dallas/McKinney, Texas, area, as Rachel bought her first house in Anna, Texas, and Julianne moved into a beautiful lifestyle apartment complex in Allen, Texas.
I really love live music and do my best to scope out new music when I travel. Although I have not discovered any new artists, I enjoyed seeing the following artists during their tour stops: Carly Pearce, Kenny Chesney, Dan & Shay, Old Dominion, and most recently, Ingrid Andress, Tyler Hubbard, and Keith Urban, with special guests Sam Hunt and Luke Combs, in Nashville.
6th Annual Speedgolf Open
SUBMITTED BY GARRETT HOLT
Horton Smith GC hosted the 6th annual US Speedgolf Open on Oct. 15-16. 28 competitors participated in the event, with different divisions based on number of holes, age, and gender. Participants came from all around the USA (California, Texas, Indiana, Minnesota, New York, Kentucky, etc.) and even as far away as Tipperary, Ireland. In fact, the winner was the Irish competitor, Rob Hogan. This event featured many of the countries and world's top ranked speedgolfers.
Speedgolf scoring is a combination of golf score and the time taken to complete the round.
Horton Smith GC is a favorite track for speedgolfers, due to the compactness of the course, the flatness of the route, and the excellent condition it was in. Horton was in perfect shape for the event and all participants took note.
The event also raised over $1,100 for the Honor Flight of the Ozarks.
SUBMITTED BY BECCA FLEMING LESMEISTER
Brian Lesmeister (Golf Operations) & Becca Fleming (Park Operations) celebrated our wedding on 9/3/2022 at The Loft at Keith Farms surrounded by our friends & family. The truck was my Great Grandpa’s truck and is going to be mine someday. Brian & Becca Honeymooned to Orange Beach, AL.
Charity Keniley got engaged to her long time partner Cody in mid December at a Van Gogh exhibit in Kansas City.
SUBMITTED BY KAREN MELLINGER
On Wednesday, October 5, more than 600 City Employees came to the beautiful Jordan Valley Park to eat lunch, play games, win prizes, and enjoy some conversation with friends and colleagues. Another 200 To Go orders were also prepared for staff that could not join us.
Although this was a city-wide event, Parks staff stepped up to make sure all the volunteer shifts were covered, and everyone had a great time! Parks staff grilled, prepared, and wrapped food, coordinated To Go Orders, maintained the food tables, arranged for food, tables, chairs, hay bales, pumpkins, and mums, greeted employees, removed trash, set up/tore down tables/chairs, and organized fun games for everyone to enjoy the fabulous weather! A big shout out to David Hall, Trey Metzelthin, Amber Spice, Allie Schaefer, Katie Strodtman, Robert Uckele, Holly Garrison, Jonathan Horton, Ben Kellner, Lori Vandersnick, Amy Francka, BJ Norman, Kyle Wartick, Ani Gardner, Jeff Putnam, Waylon Cavinder, Joe Lane, Steve Webb, Bob Belote, Jennifer Shepherd, Renee Evans, Stacia Portis, Chenoa Cole, Lana Woolsey, Heather Parker, Matt Coats, Jake Dill, Jennifer Penning, Liz Nelson, Diana Ellison, Garrett Holt, Garrison Pendergrass, Charity Keniley, Kara Remington, Jenny Edwards, Justin Smith, Jerome Brauner, David Trent, Bryson Vanscoy, and Dalton Dunn for saying yes to a volunteer shift! Your help was invaluable!
Director of Parks, Bob Belote, was recently recognized by the Kansas City Chiefs franchise and their lead sponsor, GEHA, as a part of their “Hometown Heroes” Program. That program recognizes public servants serving to make a difference within their respective communities. Bob was recognized at the Dec. 24th Chiefs game verses the Seattle Seahawks, and is pictured with his wife, Deana, at the GEHA Deck at Arrowhead Stadium, and along with his daughter, Abbey, in the Chiefs Hall of Fame area. Bob and his family are extremely big Chiefs fans and most definitely getting ready for their upcoming Super Bowl run!
New Hires & Promotions
- Caitlin Ball, Community Recreation Supervisor, Chesterfield Family Center
- Malachi Brixey, Senior Parks Caretaker, Cooper
- Benjamin Byrd, Community Recreation Supervisor, Community Tennis
- Ben Kellner, Superintendent of Jordan Valley Park
- Charity Keniley, Senior Multimedia Specialist, Admin
- Michaela Ledbetter, Community Recreation Specialist, Accessible Rec
- Charlene Pruitt, Accounting Clerk I, Business Operations
- Kara Remington, Parks Web Coordinator, Admin
- Chris Rogers, Maintenance Worker, Nathanael Greene Close Memorial Park
- Jason Sibley, 2nd Shift Maintenance Worker
- Andrew Talbot, Parks & Inventory Clerk, Parks Garage
- Pa Houa Vang, Community Recreation Specialist, SPARC