The Sedalia Park Board met for the first time since September on Thursday at the Heckart Community Center, 1800 W. 3rd.

Executive Director Amy Epple is working on obtaining a matching grant through Sourcewell to improve the historic Liberty Park Stadium.

The $2.6 million project includes artificial turf that will cost around $1.1 million, Epple noted.

Other improvements, in order of priority, include bleachers, fencing, parking, dugouts, and locker rooms.

SFCC baseball coaches Jud Kindle and Jordan Dey attended Thursday night's meeting and relayed their appreciation for the project to Epple and the board.

Also attending was local contractor Brock Wilson.

A 10-year lease for Parks & Rec to use the youth football fields at Smith-Cotton High School, 2010 Tiger Pride Blvd., is up for renewal. The Park Board is awaiting an official response from Sedalia School District 200 to see if the contract will be renewed.

The amount of the lease was $10, Epple said, adding that Mark Hewett was Parks & Rec director at the time.

“The school district and the Parks Department has always had a very good relationship,” Epple noted, adding that the location of the football fields and the concession stand is school property. “It's their land, so as long as they're taking care of youth football, we're okay with that.”

The Youth Football program will still have a place to play, she said, but it may not be the Parks & Rec's (responsibility) to take care of anymore,” Epple noted.

The Liberty Flyer train will have a totally new look in 2024, sporting the yellow, gray and black colors of Union Pacific.

“It's a completely brand new train,” Epple said, adding that the old engine (Missouri Pacific) did not pass inspection and was retired and will be on display at Liberty Park.

After much research and a vote by the public, the colors of Union Pacific were decided upon and the new train will be shipped (by Parks & Rec employees) to Texas in December. Once the work is completed, the train will be transported back to Sedalia (once again, by Parks & Rec employees. Epple noted that using her employees will be way cheaper than having it trucked to Texas commercially.

The passenger carts will be repainted with the new colors in Texas over the winter and later pulled by the new train in 2024, she noted.

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The COP (Construction and Operations Plan) for the Heckart Center will be closing out in December. Any leftover money will go to the debt service, Epple said, due to coming in slightly under budget on the project.

“We got the facility that we wanted, we came in under budget, we're happy with the results,” Epple told KSIS. “I sure wish we could have closed out a little sooner, but we're hitting the mark of two years in March, but it will be closed out here in December, once all the paperwork is completed.”

Membership at the Heckart is “outstanding.”

“We just continue to get new faces in here, and those who are (current) members are sticking around and staying members, so it seems like the community is happy with it, and that's what we're here for,” Epple said.

Epple added that she doesn't get paid by how many memberships the Heckart racks up. She and her team work hard to “make our community better and to provide the community with the very best and make them proud of what they have.

“The facility is always being used, and people are enjoying and loving it, and I think they speak very highly of it, and I just want to give them what they voted for, and what we promised them, and that's what we'll continue to do,” Epple stated. “As long as people are up and about, moving, happy and healthy, that's what we want to see.”

Many members live outside of Sedalia, some as far away as Concordia, Marshall, Tipton, Warsaw, Cole Camp and Versailles, to name a few cities.

Epple is proud of the economic impact that the Heckart has when out-of-towners visit Sedalia on a regular basis.

“Buy local,” Epple said, “we love for (visitors) to buy local in Sedalia, because it helps the Parks Department with sales tax to be able to do other things.”

Parks & Rec's annual Christmas lights display is becoming a bigger attraction every year, and the display will be turned on in the coming week.

Twenty new displays will make their debut this year, along with the 70 existing Christmas light displays at Liberty Park, which is open 'til midnight every night for visitors to drive through and enjoy the festive lights throughout the park.

The Sedalia Park Board meets again Dec. 14. The public is invited to attend.

Randy Kirby
Randy Kirby

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