Participation up for PTARC's annual summer playground program
Participation in the Penn-Trafford Area Recreation Commission's summer playground program rebounded after a down year in 2013.
This summer, 428 children signed up for the free eight-week program that has been a PTARC staple at sites in Penn Township, Trafford, Manor and Penn Borough. That's an increase of 109 children from 2013 and just six fewer than in 2012.
Registrations had been falling in recent years as the student population in the district dropped, but PTARC officials blamed a rainy summer last year for the low turnout.
“We had a much, much better staff this year, so I think word got out,” PTARC director Cheryl Kemerer said.
Officials this year added an eighth site — and third in Trafford — in the Trafford Terrace neighborhood, where 28 children signed up.
Though PTARC board members are beginning to decide how to replace Kemerer, who is retiring, they already have committed to having her assistant, Linda Bires, become certified as a playground-safety inspector.
As one of Kemerer's duties, she has inspected 18 playgrounds in the Penn-Trafford School District communities on an annual basis.
Board members on Monday voted to have Bires take a certification exam in Harrisburg in December through the Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society. Kemerer estimated the cost is about $1,000 for the course, travel and lodging.
Kemerer has not formally set a retirement but indicated it might be in January.
Kemerer's decision to opt out of health benefits through PTARC has saved the rec group about $2,900 so far this year.
That total includes a monthly $250 benefit to Kemerer for opting out of health coverage.
Some officials have suggested putting that savings toward paying down PTARC's loan for improving the parking lot at the PTARC/Shelley Proskin Recreation Center.
Kemerer said on Monday that she recommends the board wait until the end of the year to decide how to use the savings.
Chris Foreman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-871-2363 or firstname.lastname@example.org.