Parish Council needs to settle recreation

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 5, 1998

By Duaine Duffy / L’Observateur / October 5, 1998

DEAR EDITOR: On Wednesday afternoon (Sept. 23), I was attending a volleyball game formy sixth-grade daughter on the campus of Ascension of Our Lord School.

Her game coincided with my 8-year-old son’s soccer practice. As I stoodthere, I began to take notice of my surroundings. There were between 150and 200 children involved in the volleyball, soccer and playground activities. All of this was being supervised by parents on a volunteerbasis.

Also on the grounds were Mike Abate and Mark Heniford, working feverishly to prepare the soccer fields for Saturday’s games. I spoke withMike and he told me that over 700 children are participating in the LaPlace league from Ascension of Our Lord, St. Joan of Arc and St. Peter schools.These soccer clubs are open to the public. Seeing these men hard at workreminded me of something I witnessed in Edgard last Saturday (Sept. 19).There, the West St. John recreation football team was playing Zachary. Onthe field were Councilman Perry Bailey assisting the coaches with one of the games. Several parents from both clubs were in the stands. I went tothe concession stand to buy a soft drink and serving me was Judge Madeline Jasmine. Judge Jasmine, Councilman Bailey’s wife Kathy, andseveral ladies were working frantically to serve the crowd. Again, all thework was being done by volunteers.

The point I am trying to make is that we do have available recreation in the parish, despite the lack of a well-organized, well-run parish program.

Citizen groups such as NOAH, Reserve Recreation, and others, churches such as Ascension of Our Lord and St. Joan of Arc are helping to fill thevoid. However, the great work of these groups does not allow the parish toabdicate their responsibility to provide recreational facilities.

Now, decisions must be made by the Parish Council to assess the future of the Recreation Department. My position has not changed, the parish mustfind a way to provide recreation facilities for the public. Someone must bein charge of the Recreation Department who can get a commitment from the Council, School Board, Sheriff’s Office and the business community to construct and maintain facilities. With cooperation from these groups,that can be accomplished.

However, the key to a good program will be volunteers. That is howrecreation programs succeed. We must have concerned parents andcitizens who are willing to work for the program to be successful. Thedepartment has to provide a structure, but the volunteers are what makes the difference.

For the Parish Council, it’s decision time, based on the performance and condition of the department, but our community should stop and take a look around at the positives, as well as the negatives, and strive to be a part of the success, and avoid the failures.

Duaine DuffyCouncilman-at-LargeSt. John the Baptist Parish

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