By Sean Rice
A new Independence Day celebration to be held on Lake Shore Drive on July 2 and 3 is in the works for Celina.
Celina Parks Director Jeff Fortkamp told parks board and city council members Tuesday night, "It's pretty much going to happen, the bands are all lined up ... it's going to be a great time."
The event is being developed by the Celina posts of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, with help from the parks department.
Fortkamp said he learned the VFW and Legion were planning an event somewhere in Celina at the same time planners of the "concerts in the park" series were brain-storming a July 4th weekend event.
For the second year a string of concerts are planned for Sunday evenings at the grassy area known in the city as the "Hawk property," just east of North Shore Park. The big band sound that is played on Sundays attracts an older crowd, and planners are hoping to bring younger people out for Saturday concerts. Fortkamp said bands already are booked for July 2 and 3. Also a hog roast, concessions and other events are in the works, he said. Other ideas under discussion include a boat show, volleyball tournament and various other games.
Fortkamp said he is planning a meeting with VFW and American Legion leadership. Many details and times are still to be worked out.
"You'll be seeing more about it," he said.
Onlookers at Celina's little league games this year may notice numerous baseball and softball players wearing a new kind of batting helmet designed for eye safety.
Celina was awarded a grant of 104 new batting helmets from the Ohio Ophthalmological Society, which are fitted with a protective mask similar to football helmets.
Celina was at first turned down for the free offering. Fortkamp said he received a rejection letter from the society stating the high response to the program prevented Celina from getting chosen.
After making a phone call to see about Celina's chances in a 2006 grant program, he was told a batch of helmets were still available.
"They basically sent whatever they had left," Fortkamp said. "And we pretty much got the heads up that we are going to get the rest of them next year."
The original request was for 165 helmets. Four of the city's summer leagues will use the new Rawlings helmets exclusively.
"They're not as obtrusive as I thought they would be," Celina City Council member June Scott said after seeing council member Angie King model one.
Parks officials are thinking of ways to make the concession stand at Bryson Pool profitable or at least make it break even.
Fortkamp said he has been looking into other communities that use only candy and soda machines at the pool for concessions.
He estimated Celina loses between $650 and $2,000 per year running the concession stand, after supplies and labor costs are figured. If only machines were used a small profit could be expected, near $1,000.
"I have mixed feelings about it," Fortkamp said, adding that $3.50-per-hour concession stand employees often move on to lifeguard positions.
Not enough parks board members were present Tuesday to make decisions.