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Board maintains recreation space throughout Jeannette

| Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Jeannette Recreation Commission members Lou Altieri, vice-chair Bob Horn and Dr. Matthew Hutcheson, superintendent of Jeannette School District, listen during a meeting discussion.
Joseph Yorio, president of the Jeannette School Board, Randy Highlands, school board member and Jeannette EMS operations manager, and Bill Bedont, city councilman, talk during a Jeannette Recreation Board meeting. PHOTOS:Margie Stanislaw | The Jeannette Spirit
School board members Joe Yorio and Randy Highlands, city councilmen Bill Bedont and Mark Clark, recreation commission chairman, Nancy Peters, recreation director, Lou Altieri, Bob Horn, commission vice-chair, and Dr. Matthew Hutcheson, superintendent of Jeannette School District participate in a Recreation Commission meeting. Mayor Robert Carter is also a member of the commission.

The Jeannette Recreation Commission and Jeannette Baseball Association are teaming up for a Mardi Gras event on Feb. 9. The event will be at 8 p.m. at Mersinger Hall and will help to raise funds for both programs.

The Jeannette Recreation Commission, seated in 1949, raises money to help with the task of overseeing eight playgrounds and parks, five baseball fields, five basketball courts and two tennis courts.

The organization is a non-profit organization and is set-up to have 10 members. The membership is designed to have two members from the city council and two members from the school district, with three members from the community at large. The other three members are to be the recreation director, the mayor and the school superintendent. Those three members do not have voting rights.

For the past 11 years, Nancy Peters of the Arlington neighborhood has been the recreation director for the City of Jeannette. Her background prior to working for the Recreation Commission was with the Girl Scouts of America. Other current members include councilmen Mark Clark and Bill Bedont, and school board members Randy Highlands and Joe Yorio, and community members Bob Horn and Lou Altieri.

The Recreation Commission maintains eight playgrounds — Agnew Road Park, Charles Graham Park (on South Sixth Street), West Jeannette Park, North End Rec Playground, Clark Avenue Playground, Elliott Playground, Altman Park and Wolfe Field Playground. The commission also rents the pavilion at Altman Park for graduations and other picnic type events in the summer and sponsors an eight-week summer playground program.

This program is predominately funded by the United Way Community Impact Fund because of the content of the program. Not only do the children participate in the usual summer playground activities, but they also engage in a weekly reading program and every child gets a book to take home every week. Annually, the program registers between 100 and 125 children and there is no charge for Jeannette residents.

With 2,397 children under the age of 18 in the City of Jeannette and 2,127 people over the age of 65 within the city limits, the Recreation Commission is cognizant of the fact that recreation and leisure activities must be offered at every age level. The commission also offers monthly bus trips to Wheeling, in addition to trips to various shows and cultural events in the City of Pittsburgh.

There are evening aerobic classes at City Hall, as well as Silver Sneaker Exercise classes offered during the day. Annually, the Recreation Commission also sponsors a Senior Citizen's Picnic at Altman Park.

Parades are something Jeannette is well known for and are enjoyed by the community. The Jeannette Recreation Commission sponsors the annual Halloween Parade which also includes costume judging and cash prizes. Every Christmas season, there is a Christmas Parade complete with Santa Claus, who comes to town for the parade and stays to listen to the Christmas wishes of all little girls and boys. He also hands out Christmas treats.

The Recreation Commission still hopes to build a Recreation Center. With all the activities currently scheduled and a need for social hall space within the city, the board still hopes to accomplish this goal. At present, the only facility that the Recreation Commission has for rent is the pavilion at Altman Park, which can only be used in the summer.

Upcoming activities for the spring include the Mardi Gras event, an Easter Egg Hunt at Altman Park held the Saturday before Easter and a 5K Walk/Run on April 27. Questions on any events, or park rentals, should be directed to Peters, at 724-527-4000, ext. 29. Office hours are Monday through Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Margie Stanislaw is a freelance writer.