An audience of more than 20 local residents witnessed the beginning of a new era for six community parks across the county.
During Tuesday's meeting of the Clay County Parks and Recreation Board, board members Doug Barr, Kevin Girton, Marcey House and Doris Easter took action to remove the parks from county control and placed them back into control of their respective communities.
Because of the county's ever-tightening budget, the Clay County Council agreed to turn over control of Center Point, Coalmont, Knightsville, Poland, Saline City and Staunton parks back to the towns or an entity interested in continuing to maintain them as parks.
The following transactions occurred:
* The lease for the Center Point Park was transferred back to Town of Center Point,
* The lease for the Knightsville Park was terminated and returned back to the Town of Knightsville,
* Although owned by the Clay Community School Corporation and leased to the Breakfast Optimist Club of Clay County Inc., the sub-lease option from the Optimist Club (May 18,1992) was terminated by the county and will be picked up by the Posey Township Trustee,
* The lease for the Saline City Park was terminated and taken over by the Saline City Picnic Association,
* The deed for the Poland Park was purchased by the Poland Lions Club for $1, and
* The deed for the Coalmont Park was purchased by the Coalmont Community Church for $10.
"I just hated to think the parks wouldn't stay in the communities that need them," House said.
The board members wished the new owners as much success in their new endeavors as the Town of Carbon Park has had since park ownership was transferred a couple of years ago.
Speaking on behalf of the Clay County Commissioners, Clay County Council and local residents, Commissioners Paul Sinders and Jack Withers congratulated the park board for their tireless efforts to ensure the parks would remain open for upcoming generations of children.
"It's important to have a place for the kids to play," Girton said in agreement.
With no more parks under county control, Park Board Attorney Eric Somheil told board members when the meeting ended, "I think you just signed yourself out of a job."
For one board member it was a somber occasion.
"I've been on the board for more years than I care to remember," Doris Easter told The Brazil Times about her more than 20 years of service after the meeting. "I've always felt this was important work for the children and families in Clay County."