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Ada Sports
November 18, 2019
 

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15 minutes with Kenny Wolke - he takes care of Ada's largest lawn, just for starters

Kenny Wolke's job has grown in acreage and usage since he became manager of War Memorial Park 18 years ago.

How many acres are involved in the park?
The park had 40 acres in 1996, now there are 68 acres.

What does your job entail?
Taking care of the equipment, buildings, and grounds, and scheduling the use of the various facilities. There is electrical, plumbing, mechanical work to do...a little bit of everything.

What athletic facilities are there?
The stadium for home football and boys and girls track, 6 ball diamonds, 10 soccer fields, 4 tennis courts, basketball courts, truck and tractor pull facilities, and a horse arena.

What's the largest event?
The Farmers and Merchants picnic draws about 5,000 people. There is a truck and tractor pull on Friday. The picnic, entertainment, and the Ohio State Tractor Pull Association events all occur on Saturday. The picnic has been held annually for more than 100 years. The next picnic is Aug. 8.

This begins your busy time.
Yes, youth soccer and ball begins soon. We are trying to get the fields in shape but snows and rain haven't helped. Also, there is a tractor pull on May 15 and the all-day Ada Invitational track meet involving 13 schools on May 9. In addition, there is high school baseball, softball, and track in the spring.

What occurs in the fall?
There are high school home football games, soccer, and girls tennis, and youth soccer.

What picnic facilities are available throughout the season?
We have 9 shelter houses, more than 100 picnic tables, and several outdoor grills. People hold picnics for family reunions, birthday parties, and club meetings to name a few. Shelter houses can be reserved by calling 419-634-0074.

What playground equipment is there?
We designed our own layout. The company who built it liked it so well that they included it in their catalog. The Girl Scouts built a walking/exercise path nearby.

There are many old trees.
Yes, someone with foresight planted trees 100 years ago, but we have had to contend with Dutch elm disease, the devastating 2005 ice storm, and more recently, the emerald ash borer. We appreciate donations of trees from individuals and organizations. They are usually given in honor or memory of someone.

You work a lot.
Yes, 7 days a week from March through November. Mike Simon has been the full-time seasonal employee for the past 6 years. He does a good job and his experience is helpful. Mowing takes a lot of time. Picking up trash on a daily basis is time consuming. I wish people would not litter. Also, I encourage drivers to slow down since many small children are running about.

Who is your "boss?"
The park is led by a three-member board and a clerk-treasurer.

How is the park financed?
By property tax for those in Liberty Township, including those who live in Ada. Proceeds from the F&M Picnic go to projects that we would not otherwise have. Donations are helpful, too, especially from those who reserve the shelter houses. Shelter house use is free, but donations are appreciated.

Has the park received grants?
Yes, for the playground equipment and fence for the four newest ball diamonds...that's nearly a mile of chain link fence surrounding the newer fields..

Is the pool part of the park?
No, it belongs to the Village of Ada.

How did you come by the job?
I grew up on a farm, enjoy the outdoors, learned how to care for and repair equipment. I worked at the park for three summers, then the park manager resigned, so I was hired as manager. I enjoy the work very much, something new every day.

Tell me about your family.
My wife Eva and I are the parents of four daughters, Lori of Bel Air, Md., Mandy of Mechanicsville, Md., Lindsay of Ada, and Chelsea of Hagerstown, Md. We have four grandchildren.

March is here, the busy park season has begun. Soon, the park will be filled with those competing in sports, walkers, picnickers, and families with children on the playground...not to mention all sorts of dogs enjoying a walk in the park with their owners.
(Monty Siekerman)

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