The Sedalia Park Board met for the last time in 2023 with a brief meeting held at the Heckart Community Center, 1800 W. 3rd, on Thursday. The full board was short by two members, including Meg Simon and Kristy Woolery.

The most expensive item discussed Thursday was approving the purchase of a new skid steer for the department, as long as the price doesn't exceed $50,000. The decision was made to beat an anticipated price increase on Jan. 1, it was noted. The deal will include the trade-in of Parks & Rec's current skid steer, which was purchased in 2018. The difference with the new piece of equipment, is that it will be propelled by tracks instead of wheels, and it will be bigger than the old one.

“We're doing a lot of maintenance projects in-house, so we just need a bigger skid steer that can carry more weight and different things like that,” Parks & Rec Director Amy Epple said, adding that the sealed bid went out today (Friday, Dec. 15). “And we'll award that bid on Dec. 29."

The board also awarded bid by the Sedalia Democrat to print Parks & Rec's program guide at a cost of $12,555.96. The guide lists all of Parks & Rec's upcoming activities, and is mailed to area residents and is available for free to anyone who stops by the Heckart Center or Convention Hall and picks up a copy.

The next closest bid came from 510 Printing (formerly A Graphic Resource) at $12,986.50, a difference of only $430.54.

Plans call for improvements to the Heckart's front counter, which will allow for better eye-to-eye contact between employees and customers.

Jake's Woodworking is doing the carpentry for it and is working after-hours to complete the project sometime in January, Epple said.

“It's a small little thing, but to me, I think it will be a big improvement for staff and we hope that customers see that as well,” Epple said.

The board approved a part-time pay scale in anticipation of a minimum wage increase Jan. 1. It is currently $12 an hour on Missouri and it will increase to $12.30 in 2024.

One thing that won't be going up in January is the Heckart's membership fees.

As discussed at November's Park Board meeting, the Heckart's COP loan closed this past Monday.

Randy Kirby
Randy Kirby

Epple said that the money that wasn't used will go to the debt service. “The next exciting thing will be when we pay it off,” she said, adding that once she accomplishes that goal, she can retire in a couple of years.

The hallways at the Heckart were previously showcasing local professional artists on a regular basis. Artwork is still on display, but now the artists are local elementary students.

The professional artists were paid a small fee to allow the Heckart to display their work, Epple noted. But then she suggested reaching out to local schools to see if they would be interested in displaying student artwork. SPARC (Sedalia Parks Art as Recreation Committee) agreed, and now the halls are filled with a variety of student artwork.

“It's a great idea, because two of the members on SPARC are art teachers,” Epple said. “The art teachers have been great, this is the second one that we've done, the teachers come in and hang everything themselves and then we have an open house showcase. They bring their parents and siblings, and they get to show off their art, and see their friends' artwork.”

Epple added that the visitors to the Heckart Community Center “absolutely love seeing the artwork.” The current display will come down in mid-January and be replaced with another school's artwork.

Light Up Liberty is receiving rave reviews from those driving through Liberty Park at night to see more than 70 LED Christmas displays, 24 of which are new this year.

Epple thanked all the sponsors which make Light Up Liberty possible. “It's just a good way for us to spread some joy throughout the community,” Epple said, adding that many people have made multiple trips to see the lights. “Hats off and kudos to my maintenance staff for doing it, because they're out there in the cold, the wind and the rain.”

Epple added that the lights remain on 24/7. Residents may drive through anytime from 5 a.m., to midnight, seven days a week.

The reason the LED lights remain on is overall it's cheaper to leave them on, rather than turn them on and off every day. LEDs don't draw that much electricity and it also keeps the ground moisture at bay.

Initially when the program first started, the lights were turned on and off via timers. But vandalism was a huge problem, Epple said. With the lights on, it's easy to see (by Park Security and Sedalia Police) who is in the park and if they are causing trouble.

Revenue at the Heckart is up by around $150,000 this year, taking into account membership fees, room rentals, service charges, etc.

“That's a good thing. It's just showing that programs and activities and everything like that has been going well and we're pretty steady and people are coming and using the facility, and that's why,” Epple said.

But the flip side is that expenses like janitorial supplies go up (more toilet paper and trash bags are used, for instance) and more staff is needed on certain nights, Epple noted, adding that Tuesdays and Thursdays are some of the busiest days of the week for the Heckart.

Park Board

Gallery Credit: Randy Kirby

Light Up Liberty

Gallery Credit: Randy Kirby

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