Baxter dollar baseball program planned for July
A normal summer recreation season is not in the cards this year, but Baxter Parks and Recreation will run a dollar program for kids beginning in July.
The city of Baxter contracts with Brainerd Public Schools Community Action for recreation programs. Before state officials gave the OK June 19 for youth sports programs to play actual games beginning June 24, the summer parks and rec program was in jeopardy of total cancellation.
The joint powers board, made up of representatives from both the city and school district, approved a plan earlier in the month that would establish a dollar ball program if state guidelines allowed for games to be played later in the summer. Otherwise, Community Education Director Cori Reynolds said it didn’t really pay to have a season. The Baxter City Council also approved that plan before games were allowed.
“The guidelines that the department of health has issued for youth sports programs this summer really presented logistical barriers that we didn’t feel we could reasonably overcome at Baxter park and rec, especially without the ability to play games,” Reynolds told Brainerd School Board members Thursday, June 25.
Staff was laid off amid the COVID-19 pandemic, so no prep work was able to be done to get a regular program rolling. With the new allowance of games, Reynolds said Thursday staff will begin to organize the dollar ball program.
“It’s sort of like the pickup games of maybe some of our childhoods, where kids just come to the park and they play games a few times a week,” she said. “We’re working to have volunteer coaches on site to provide short, very basic skills instruction as needed and to oversee the games and to make sure that the safety precautions are being followed.”
The games will be at Oscar Kristofferson Park in Baxter, and kids will be able to participate for $1.
The city mowed the fields and completed some maintenance, making them ready for games. They aren’t lined, but Reynolds said the games can happen without that.
As a parent of young kids, board member Charles Black Lance said he was glad some kind of a program can happen.
“Though it’s not like what it used to be, the dollar ball is something that will give them the opportunity to get together and play and have some loose supervision to that, which I appreciate,” Black Lance said.
Staff will spend next week developing program details and starting to advertise, Reynolds said. The goal is for games to begin the week of July 6.
Superintendent Laine Larson thanked Reynolds for all her hard work over the last couple months amid the ever-changing climate.
“I know this has been really hard on you because you have wanted to have the same program that we’ve had other years. And just with what had to happen with so many of your staff being furloughed and having to work with the city. … I just really want to commend you,” Larson said. “Because I know this has been really difficult for you, and you’ve done a great job, so thank you.”
THERESA BOURKE may be reached at email@example.com or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa .