April 21, 2018

By Tribune Staff

On Tuesday night, April 17, 2018, Jackson County Parks + Rec paid tribute and expressed appreciation to its volunteers and partners with a banquet ceremony at the Adams Pointe Conference Center.

The parks system is the third largest county parks system in the country. These volunteers gave thousands of hours of their time and skills through photography, historic interpretation, park and trail improvements, special recreation, golf, special events, and outdoor education.

Director Michele Newman announced that last year for the first time ever that the Parks Department attracted visitors from all 50 states, even Hawaii.

County officials and staff present for the occasion were County Executive Frank White, Jr. and his wife Teresa; legislators Crystal Williams, Theresa Galvin and her husband Bill Galvin; Chief Operation Officer Gary Panetheire, Deputy Chief Operating Officer Mark Trosen and his wife Rhonda; Deputy Director of Park Enterprise Operations Dianne Kimzey, Deputy Director of Park Operations Brian Nowoty and his wife Heidi, as well as its Parks + Rec superintendents.

Frank White expressed appreciation for 57,000 volunteer hours given in 2017 which is 5,000 more hours than last year, saving the county more than one half-million dollars.

The Division’s Service Award is given for outstanding volunteer service for a particular work site within the parks system.

The award recipients are:

Operations Service Award for Trails,
The Dorrance Family
Every chance they get throughout the year, this Dorrance family is enjoying each and every one of the many beautiful trails in Fleming Park for exercise and fresh air and picking up debris along the way.

Youth Operations Service Award,
Grayson Davenport
Life Scout Grayson Davenport from Boy Scout Troop 310 in Grain Valley chose for his Eagle Scout project the renovation of the historic Longview Farms cypress split rail fence located at the entrance to the Longview Campground and Christmas in The Park.

Historic Service Award – Missouri Town,
Dannie and Shannon Oxley
Shannon and Dannie Oxley bring a lifetime accumulation of livestock knowledge and help with the oxen and other livestock at Fall Festival and can be seen driving a horse or mule on the sorghum press.

Youth Historic Service Award – Missouri Town 1855,
Bessie Browning
Dennis & Laura Browning’s Percheron mare, Bessie, is always a special attraction at the site. The 2,250 pound black beauty takes visitors on carriage tours around town.

Natural Resources Service Award,
Bill Fessler
Bill Fessler, a horticulturist, joined Cave Spring volunteers and started a program to fight invasive plants Chinese honey suckle, poison ivy and euonymus with sprayer in hand on most weekends and donates his spray product.

Special Population Service Award,
Ivory Traylor
Ivory Traylor is a certified coach in basketball and flag football. He is also a community partner who competes alongside Special Population Services participants in volleyball, bocce, and bowling and chaperones for all programs where needed.

Fred Arbanas Golf Course Service Award,
Dalbert Wieligman
Since retiring from Leeds General Motors plant, Dalbert Wieligman devoted 31 years to the success of the golf course from greeting visitors and collecting green fees to serving as Golf Marshall to cleaning the golf cart fleet. On December 6, Dalbert lost his battle to COPD and his wife, Donna Wieligman, accepted his award.

Outdoor Education Award,
Optimist Club of Lake Lotawana
The Optimist Club of Lake Lotawana has been a part of Kids’ Fishing Derby for over 20 years. They conduct the Casting Contest that not only provides fun but teaches basic skills to introduce children to the fishing sport.

Youth Historic Service Award-Fort Osage,
Elliot Zeiler
Elliott Zeiler began working in the blacksmith shop and learned the trade under the tutelage of Fort Osage blacksmith Don Bailey. You can find him working the forge at the blacksmith shop or interpreting in the trade room.

Partner Award,
Lee’s Summit Tribune
Linda Ahern of the Lee’s Summit Tribune is a media partner who has played a key role in the success of Parks + Rec events through print, ads and social media since becoming publisher in 2008. The success of the Midnight Ride thru Christmas in the Park was attributed to the Tribune’s promotion over the past five years.

Showcase Service Award,
Karen Davis
Karen Davis is gifted photographer sharing the park’s splendor on her website and Facebook. She can also be found in the parks picking up debris, rescuing birds, and continuing to beautify the parks by reporting acts of vandalism.