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Forest City Parks and Rec silent amidst COVID-19

Forest City Parks and Rec silent amidst COVID-19

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Cheer camp 4

In this file photo, participants practice a cheer together during the Parks and Recreation cheer camp. Forest City Parks and Recreation Director Sue Edmondson said there are no activities going on at the Parks and Rec presently and the governor’s mandate is effective to Dec. 10.

Forest City Parks and Recreation Director Sue Edmondson and Programs Director Brett Geelan are working behind the scenes and preparing their department for the days after the post COVID-19 surge.

They are in the midst of idle times for youth sports due to the recent rise in illnesses and resulting activities restrictions, including Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ prohibition on recreational sports released Nov. 16.

Edmondson said there are no activities going on at the Parks and Rec presently and the governor’s mandate is effective to Dec. 10.

She said they will wait and see, but will be ready to resume recreational sports programs safely as soon as the ban is lifted.

“Brett and I are huge sports fans, so when the Big 10 and NCAA canceled basketball last April, we knew the Forest City Alumni Tournament was coming next,” said Edmondson. “There was no Alumni Tournament (due to COVID-19). It was the first time that we canceled the Alumni Tournament in 32 years. We still wanted to hold it in August, but couldn’t do that, either.”

The summer programs were non-existent, with the Forest City Aquatic Center closed the entire season for repairs. There was no swim team, no swimming lessons, no lifeguard training, not even a summer brochure, Edmondson noted.

“There could not have been a better time to be closed,” said Edmondson. “We did a lot of painting and really fixed up the Civic Auditorium, but now it’s empty except for us.

Edmondson said that before all the restrictions, a meeting was held and safety guidelines were gone over with everyone.

"We wiped all the bats and balls in baseball and softball, limited close contacts, and even placed the umpires behind the pitchers at a safe social distance," she said. "You can still see the balls and strikes OK from there.”

The department communicates closely with the Iowa Department of Public Health. During soccer season, Waldorf players assumed coaching roles and always wore masks.

During volleyball at the Civic Auditorium, every other row of bleachers was taped off. Fans were good about wearing masks and social distancing, disinfectant wipes were abundant, and refs wore masks and used hand-held electronic whistles.

Now, everyone is waiting. Edmondson and Geelan are still preparing for basketball leagues to start in January 2021.

“There are no games and no practices until Dec. 10,” said Edmondson. “If it is longer, we will deal with it. With the YMCA also shut down, their noon-hour basketball league wanted to play here, but there are no recreational sports right now.”

Instead, Edmondson and Geelan, formerly at Waldorf and into his second year as Programs Director in April 2021, are working hard on budgets, repairs, and capital improvements. They will also be ready to play ball whenever restrictions are reduced and/or lifted.

Rob Hillesland is community editor for the Summit-Tribune. He can be reached at 641-421-0534, or by email at rob.hillesland@globegazette.com.

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