Zach Newman – an “Extreme” star gets his start at local stake park

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Zach (left) is pictured Louisville Councilwoman Barbara Sexton-Smith, his wife Rachel, and his parents Kevin and Debi Newman.

By Walter Munday
Parks Outreach Manager
E-mail Walter

Last July, Frankfort native Zach Newman finished 4th in the BMX Vert Competition at the World X Games in Minneapolis, MN.  Zach, the top USA finisher, placed behind Australian Vince Byron, nine-time winner Jamie Bestwick from the United Kingdom, and Chile native Coco Zurita.  Unlike his competition, Zach was underrated and unsponsored.  As an underdog, and he put himself on the world map at this year’s X Games.

Zach, 28, was born in Frankfort, KY, but fell in love with extreme sports at the age of eight.  This was during the 90s and early 2000s when “Extreme Sports” were gaining popularity.  In fact, the X Games and the Extreme Sports Channel had just launched.  Following the opening of the Louisville Extreme Park (now David Armstrong Extreme Park) on April 5, 2002, and the Tony Hawk‘s Secret Skatepark Tour at the park that year, Zach (approximately 12 yrs. old by this time) was totally hooked.

A few weeks ago, Louisville Parks & Recreation invited some professionals to the David Armstrong Extreme Park to test themselves on a new metal vert ramp that’s considered to be among the finest skatepark elements in the world.  The ramp was designed and built by G. Ramps AG, a German firm specializing in skate park elements construction, and the pieces were transported to the United States by a ship.  Zach, and few others traveled to Louisville to check it out.

Zach, along with his parents Kevin & Debi and wife Rachel came down.   I had an opportunity to catch-up with Zach and his parents, and learn a little more about his love for extreme sports.

“We would spend our weekends in Louisville,” said Debi.  “I was like the mother to all of the kids who skated at the park back then.”

Both Kevin & Debi like skating.   “I would skate the flat surfaces while my husband Kevin would venture into some of the smaller bowls.”

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Zach, now 28, graduated from Frankfort High School in 2007.  He attended and graduated from Northern Kentucky University with a degree in photography.  Zach and his wife Rachel reside in Bellevue, KY, and he works full-time at a local skate shop.

According to an article published in his hometown paper (The State Journal), Zach indicated that he’s even more excited about his future now that he has one X Games competition under his belt.

“You always want to strive to be the top and the best, set the bar high, and that’s what I did,” Newman said. “Almost 20 years later, I’m still striving for that same goal, but now it’s within grasp. I feel like I solidified myself a spot in next year’s games and I’ll come swinging.

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From New Mexico to Louisville – meet Tim Fulton, new Operations Administrator

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Tim Fulton, who last served as parks administrator in Las Cruces, New Mexico, is now serving in a similar capacity for Louisville Parks and Recreation.

By Walter Munday
Outreach Manager
E-mail Walter 

After more than 30 years on the job, Jackie Gardner retired earlier this year.  In search for her replacement, Louisville Metro Parks & Recreation cast the nets far and wide as part of a national search, and Tim Fulton, from New Mexico was hired as the new Operations Administrator.

Prior to arriving in Louisville, Tim was the Parks Administrator for the City of Las Cruces, New Mexico.  Las Cruces is approximately 46 miles north of the Mexican border, 225 miles south of Albuquerque, and 48 miles northwest of El Paso, Texas. Las Cruces’ estimated population is approximately 101,643, making it the second largest city in New Mexico after Albuquerque.   Las Cruces is the home of New Mexico State University.

As the Parks Administrator, Tim oversaw the maintenance and management of over 100 parks, all city trees, about a dozen of sports fields, the city’s trail system, parkways and specialty parks that included a skate park, archery range, model airplane airport and a 640-acre natural area.

“During my tenure in Las Cruces, I introduced the concept of zone management, which provides the park workers with more autonomy which resulted in better maintained parks.  In addition, I developed an Integrated Pest Management Program, supervised the development of a tree inventory and forestry management plan.  I used my knowledge as a Certified Playground Safety Inspector to improve the maintenance the city’s playgrounds,” Fulton said.

While in Las Cruces, Tim was selected by the city manager to lead a team of city staff in the creation of a city-wide succession plan.  In addition, he was chosen to serve on the staff committee to explore and select projects for the city’s general obligation bonds.  Under Tim’s leadership, the Las Cruces Park & Recreation partnered with the New Mexico Department of Health through their Healthy Kids Healthy Communities program.

“Our role in this program was to lead the design and installation of way-finding signage and promotional materials to encourage youth and their families to use the city’s trail system,” he said.

Tim also served on the Las Cruces Bicycle Friendly Task Force and promoted cycling among city staff and elected officials through a program called Back on the Bike; a program which teaches participants the basics of safe bicycle commuting.

A native of central Texas, Tim is a big outdoor enthusiast.  He graduated from Texas A&M University, and received a B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science.

“I enjoy spent my free time outside hiking, swimming and enjoying nature,” said Tim.  “That’s simply why I chose a career working parks & recreation. Originally, I wanted to a research biologist, but one of my professors was a wonderful teacher and I realized I had a passion for teaching others about my love of nature.  Parks and Recreation provided me with the opportunity to work with communities and develop programs and facilities that connect people and nature.”

Tim’s interest in Louisville Parks and Recreation began about 20 years ago when learned about our Olmsted Parks system.

“I heard great things about Louisville – a city moving in the right direction,” he said.  “Everyone I spoke with shared how much they loved this wonderful city, and its parks.”

Tim indicated that he’d been looking for an exciting and challenging new job, and felt confident he’d find that hear.

“All of this, plus the fact that Louisville’s Parks and Recreation department is an accredited agency made me want to be part of this team.”

Back to school kids! We had a great summer!

IMG_1470By Louisville Metro Parks and Recreation staff
e-mail us

We’ve had a great summer at Louisville Metro Parks and Recreation! Summer camps, outdoor programs, evening movie nights and events at our two historic homes … it’s been jampacked with lots of fun. We hope you enjoy the photo document below that we put together to chronicle all the awesome activities we’ve shared with you and your families.

We look forward to a great fall and are planning for Summer 2018 – we know it’s sure to be another great one!

Photo document:
Summer Fun @ Parks & Rec Photo Document.wmv

South Louisville sewing club opens hearts to support cancer patients

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The sewing club at the South Louisville Community Center meets to knit caps for women who have lost their hair during cancer treatment. 

By Walter Munday
Outreach Manager
E-mail Walter

Recently, I had the opportunity to read an article by Caring.com Senior Editor Melanie Haiken, which focused on how to support a cancer treatment patient battling hair loss.

Haiken writes, “In the face of a life-threatening illness and treatment that’s sometimes as painful as the illness itself, hair loss might seem like a small worry. But it’s just the opposite: For many cancer patients, losing their hair is one of their biggest fears, and one of the most emotionally upsetting experiences of the whole cancer journey. However, there are ways to help someone cope with the emotional side of hair loss.”

Last winter, South Louisville Community Center’s Sewing Club led by Carolyn Anthony, provided more than 50 hand-knitted hats to women in the Louisville area battling the loss of their hair due to cancer treatment.

Laneisha Beasley is the supervisor of the center, and indicates that eight ladies participate in the club, which has been meeting at the center for about a year.

It’s free, but participants must bring all of their equipment and supplies.  The club meets on Mondays at 11:30 am, and anyone interested in joining can stop by South Louisville Community Center to register.

South Louisville Community Center is located at 2911 Taylor Blvd.

Golf: it’s never too late to learn

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Terry Hawkins and Alice Edwards

By Walter Munday
Outreach Manager
E-mail Walter

As baby boomers move from careers to retirement, many find themselves searching for new interests; new passions to idle their time. After spending forty or fifty years punching a clock – or more – many retirees haven’t taken the time over the previous decade or two to nurture hobbies.

Often couples, whose lives/careers may have traveled completely entirely different paths, struggle to find mutual interests. But that’s not the case for Terry Hawkins and Alice Edwards.

This couple enjoys dual residency both here in Louisville part of the year and in Florida the other part. While in Florida, Terry and Alice noticed that many of their new friends all were avid golfers.

Since neither one of them played, they thought it might be fun to learn. So, they signed-up with Barry Bonifield for lessons last year. Barry is the Golf Pro at Crescent Hill Golf Course.

When I asked Alice, who is an avid tennis player, which one was harder, Alice replied,
“Golf is the most challenging sport I’ve ever tried to play by far, but it’s definitely the most fun.”

Over the last year Alice and Terry have been hitting the links several days a week perfecting their game. They’re really enjoying the game of golf, and more importantly, they’ve developed a hobby they can enjoy together.

Happy Mother’s Day from Louisville Metro Parks and Recreation!

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Ginny Reichard Park, located at 1001 Franklin Street in the Butchertown area, is one of several Metro Parks named after prominent citizens – and mothers – from the area.

By Walter Munday
Metro Parks and Recreation Outreach Manager
E-mail Walter

This Sunday is Mother’s Day; a special holiday honoring motherhood. Mother’s Day was created by Anna Jarvis in 1908 and later became an official U.S. holiday six years later in 1914. On Mother’s Day, husbands and children often present their mothers, wives, grandmothers and other women with gifts and flowers, and/or family dinners honoring mom.

In recognition of Mother’s Day, Louisville Metro Parks & Recreation would like to recognize all of the contributions women have made to our parks and recreational amenities. We’d like to pay homage to five of our parks which dedicated in honor of contributions from women in our city. Those parks include Eva Bandman, Carrie Gaulbert Cox, Hays Kennedy, Georgia Gean (G.G.) Moore and Ginny Reichard.

Eva Bandman

Three of the five parks named after women are located along the Ohio River. The first is Eva Bandman Park which is 59.28 acres located at 1701 River Road. Eva Bandman Park was acquired in 1937.

Eva Bandman loved the city. In 1953, following a gift of 17 acres of land along the river at River Road and Barbour Avenue to the city for parks, she told a reporter that she loved “parks and picnics”. She didn’t like much publicity, so there few other details. What we do know is she was an avid supporter of the Young Men’s Hebrew Association and the Jewish Community Center. She was an officer of the Council of Jewish Women. She died in 1964 at the age of 76, and left a portion of her nearly $1 million estate to civic and charitable organizations.

Bandman’s uncle was Ben Washer, a teacher and later dean of the old Jefferson Law School. Bandman’s charitable giving must have followed in her uncle’s footsteps. Washer donated several parcels of land to the city along with being an author and philanthropist. The Jefferson County Law School merged with University School of Law around 1950. Washer was the dean from 1930 until the merger. Ben Washer Park is located at 519 W. Kentucky Street.

Carrie Gaulbert Cox

Another park named after a woman is Carrie Gaulbert Cox Park located at 3730 River Road. Cox’s Park is 51.2 acres acquired in 1952; 44 acres of which came from a $50,000 gift from Ms. Harriet (Cox) Collis, Carrie Gaulbert Cox’s daughter. At the request of Ms. Colls, the park was named in memory of her mother – Carrie Gaulbert Cox Park. Carrie was the only daughter of George and Hattie Gaulbert, the founders of the Peaslee-Gaulbert Corporation, one of the largest paint manufacturers in the country, and the inventors of ready-mix paint. Peaslee-Gaulbert Corp. is credited with helping to rebuild the South after reconstruction by enabling homeowners to paint their own homes and businesses.

The Gaulbert family owned the a three-mile stretch of land from the river up to Brownsboro Road. Carrie later married Attilla Cox, Jr., and they build the Malvern House, a historic home which overlooks the Ohio River. They hired Frederick Law Olmsted to design the landscaping. Carrie (Gaulbert) and Attilla Cox also had one daughter named Harriet.

In an interesting bit of history, the life of Attilla, Carrie and Harriet almost came to an abrupt early demise. In 1911, Harriet Cox (an only child) traveled with her parents Carrie and Attilla Cox to Europe by ship. While there, she contracted scarlet fever, her sickness so severe that the family had to cancel their return trip back to the United States. That return trip was scheduled for April 1912, on the maiden — and only — Titanic voyage. The entire family lineage could have ended had Harriet not been so sick to travel.

Hays Kennedy Park

Ms. Kennedy was born Hays Robinson to Henry and Louise Robinson on March 1, 1893, in Louisville, Kentucky. She was the sixth of nine children. She was a longtime member of Lampton Baptist Church, and started attending Harrods Creek Baptist Church when she married Calvin Kennedy on November 23, 1923. Mr. Kennedy was the brother of Rev. Harrison Kennedy who was a founding member and pastor of Harrods Creek Baptist Church on River Road. He died in October of 1966.

One of the most faithful volunteers in Harrods Creek neighborhood was Ms. Hays Robinson Kennedy. Ms. Kennedy was a “nurturing sole” who loved children. Not having any biological children of her own, she adopted all of the kids in the neighborhood – black and white. She coordinated activities for the young people in the neighborhood. Ms. Edith Edmondson, a lifelong resident of the Harrods Creek, was one of those neighborhood kids, and vividly remembers Ms. Kennedy and the cross-town softball games between the J-town and Newburg centers.

“Ms. Kennedy loved kids. She was definitely committed to volunteer service. She worked hard to coordinate activities for the kids and raise money for programs and playground equipment,” Ms. Edmonson said.

On November 15, 1972, the Prospect-Harrods Creek Optimist Club was formed. Their first big project was to develop the newly identified park. Several local churches Green Castle Baptist Church, Harrods Creek Baptist Church, and St. Francis in the Fields in the Field Episcopal Church, joined the Prospect-Harrods Creek Optimist Club, the then Metropolitan Parks and Recreation Department to name the park.

On Saturday, July 27, 1974, their dreams were realized with the dedication of the Hays Robinson Kennedy Park. A memorial now stands at the park with the following biblical passage printed on it which reads “suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for such is the Kingdom of God.

After more than a half-century of service to the Harrods Creek neighborhood Ms. Kennedy passed away on January 15, 1985, at the age of 91. A Courier-Journal article (date/author unknown) I found in our files here at Metro Parks highlights Ms. Kennedy’s volunteer service. The short article is titled “Fund-raiser for Children”. It calls attention to Ms. Kennedy’s simple fundraising techniques, which often included regular collecting of bottles along the side of the road, organizing fish fries and ice cream socials all to raise money for playground equipment and youth programs.

Her love and commitment to helping others resounds loudly through the many voices and memories of those I spoke with who remembered Ms. Kennedy. While many of our parks carry the name of Indian tribes, former politicians, explorers, philanthropists, Hays Kennedy Park bears the name of a “good shepherd” whose unyielding sacrifice and perseverance are an everlasting testament to her legacy.

G.G. Moore Park

G.G. Moore Park is a small pocket park located near Churchill Downs at 626 M Street. The park is just under one acre, and was a Georgia Moore was a leader in establishing high school classes for African-Americans in Louisville. The South Louisville Colored School was renamed in her memory in 1918. It closed in 1956 and the students were transferred to Heywood School. The property was sold to the city of Louisville and the location is now the G. G. Moore Park.

Ginny Reichard Park

On the corner of Wenzel and Franklin streets, a small park went unnamed for a numbers of years. It’s address is 1001 Franklin Street, and is the smallest of the five parks listed in this article at just .22 acres. The park was acquired in 1949, but it wasn’t until 1981 that it was named after Virginia Anne “Ginny” Reichard, who was a neighborhood activist in Butchertown. Reichard originally grew up in Oldham and Eastern Jefferson County but moved to Butchertown in the late 1960s. She began working for the hearing and speech center at Kentucky Easter Seal Society around the same time.

Barbara Banaszynski, a fellow activist described Reichard’s character.

“It seemed like she was always concerned with others. Always working for others,” she said. ”

Reichard was also involved with a number of neighborhood projects such as Oktoberfest. She even helped purchase the Butchertown house that Thomas Edison once lived in.

“It seemed to me that whenever something needed to be done in Butchertown, Ginny was always on the spot,” Sam Dorsey, the neighborhood Representative at the city’s Neighborhood Development Office explained.

A brief history of ‘Forest Fest,” Louisville’s celebration of bluegrass and Jefferson Memorial Forest

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This year’s Forest Fest advertisement

By Autumn Costelle
Americorps VISTA Worker, Jefferson Memorial Forest
E-mail Us

Jefferson Memorial Forest used to be known as “Jefferson County’s Best Kept Secret,” but not anymore. With the help of Forest Fest, an annual bluegrass festival that promotes local businesses and artists, the Forest is gaining attention as the most treasured natural playground in Louisville’s backyard.

Forest Fest began 13 years ago, when Tonya Swan, the program manager at the time, decided to try something new to bring Jefferson Memorial Forest into the public eye. The beautiful 6,600 acres of sloping, tree-covered hills right in the middle of Fairdale needed an event to draw in visitors who might not normally come to the forest.

“I wanted it to be something that introduced the rest of Louisville to this great Forest and this very traditional community that held onto its small-town feel right in the middle of the largest city in Kentucky” Swan said, explaining her motivation for starting the event.

Despite Kentucky’s rich Bluegrass roots, Swan felt that Louisville had failed to showcase the genre and the talented artists from the area.

It would take a lot of effort, but she believed Forest Fest would be an excellent opportunity to bring Bluegrass fans out to the forest and put both the music and the location on the map. The first Forest Fest was in 2005, and there were just two bands, 100 people, an oversized stage, and one speaker.

In recent years, however, Bluegrass has made a comeback in Louisville due to regular jams, the work of Bluegrass Anonymous, and local bands becoming more popular in the area.

By 2008, Forest Fest’s headliners were Dr. Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys, and the event attracted over 5,000 attendees.

The event is growing every year with six musical acts and more local food and drink vendors and family activities. The event could not happen without all of the amazing volunteers, forest and parks staff, and sponsors such as Metro Council, LG&E, and WFPK.

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Berk Bryant, the “Country Gentleman’ from WFPK Radio, has been a familiar site throughout the history of Forest Fest. 

Forest Fest includes both traditional and progressive/Americana bluegrass. The Forest has recently added music and band workshops as well as an expanded camping area for the festival.

Rebecca Minnick, current Program Manager at the Forest, took over the festival in 2013. She starts planning the next year’s festival when summer camps end and works tirelessly to gather all the required resources needed to hold such a huge event in the middle of a forest.

An outdoor event always comes with hiccups and difficulties. But even on a rainy day like they had for Forest Fest 2016, people were dancing in the rain and having a blast.

One of Minnick’s favorite parts about Forest Fest is the kid’s nature play activities. The kids can make mud pies and fairy villages, get up close with native wildlife, and dance around the trees. Minnick wants kids to say to their parents “I had so much fun playing in the forest, can we go back there?”

The goal of Forest Fest is to promote Jefferson Memorial Forest and raise awareness of all the infinite opportunities for free, fun learning right in your backyard.

Jefferson Memorial Forest is a place for Louisvillians to hike and picnic under the leafy canopy and a chorus of songbirds.

A place to go fishing with your children. A place to discover all the wildflowers of spring. A place to camp under more stars than you can count. A place for your children to look back on and remember those magical days of summer camp where they got to catch bugs, go canoeing, and build forts in the woods.

And lastly, a place to enjoy a beautiful spring day surrounded by the best Bluegrass and Americana music in Louisville!

This year’s Forest Fest is happening May 20th from 10:30am to 7:00pm. Admission is free. Parking is $10 per vehicle.

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