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Parks Flap Gets Public Airing


June 24, 2013 by wcobserver


The Observation Post

by Steve Winkler

As the days grow longer and the hills go green the boys of summer pull out the bats and balls, oil the gloves and head to the ball park. It’s not just the kids that come out for America’s favorite pass time. In a society that likes to organize and structure summer fun it means that along with the  kids comes a gaggle of adults in the form of coaches, assistant coaches, umpires, managers, fund raisers, volunteers, drivers, grounds keepers, directors,  and of course Commissioners. And parents.

City owned and operated Carter Park in West Fork is a modern facility with all the amenities’ of any small town sports facility; fences, bleachers, well tended in and out field, lights, paved parking, rest rooms, concession stand and a pavilion for picnics. The facility is financed with a city sales tax and overseen by a seven member commission that hires a professional parks and recreation director.

Any keen observer of small town social life knows that many folks around here rank Sports right up there with God and Country. So it’s no surprise when any perceived deviation from the principles of fair play and character building will spawn emotions that one doesn’t usually see in, say, academics or the arts. Adults sometimes seem to forget that sports are kids playing games.

There are as many reasons why adults get involved in their children’s sports activities as there are adults. Some emphasize character building and teamwork; others see it as community involvement; others may relish the ego satisfaction, networking and sense of esteem that comes with it.

Kids in summer, left to their own ingenuity, will usually find an empty lot, a ball and bat, some improvised bases and spend a lazy afternoon having fun the way only kids can have fun. Those days are gone.

There is a brouhaha brewing in the West Fork Baseball Program. The conflict involving players, coaches, the director and a commissioner has been festering since early spring without a resolution in sight.

The situation is unfortunate but not rare in small town sports. The difference here and

Parks Commissioner Susan Neyman

now is that instead of gleaning distorted facts from second and third hand chatter, we can hear first hand from some of the parties involved.

Parks Director David Roebke

Parks Director David Roebke has, much to his credit, posted several documents on the Parks website that help clarify the nature of the contentious issues. Along with minutes of meetings are lengthy and detailed letters of complaint from parents and a letter from Parks Director David Roebke referring to Commissioner Susan Neyman.

We realize that there are people who will see this openness as “airing dirty laundry” or not “being positive.” But it is this sort of open, honest, public discussion that will better achieve a resolution that will help the kids…PLAY BALL.

Click here to review the documents.

You Decide



  1. jim power says:

    I don’t know how to get good stuff about West Fork on this site , seems like all that is able to be posted is some bitchin’ about something. I don’t have any of that crap to share ! I have something good ! I was eating a West Fork Cafe this morning , as I do every Sat. morning , and looked around and there was not anything but friends visiting with each other and enjoying a great breakfast ! None of the West Fork “special” were in there , non of their holier than thou attitude could be found !!! Only good friend and neighbors talking about gardens and lack of rain ! Their were those braggin’ about kids and grandkids ! There were old friends sittin’ down to a meal with each other ! They were greeted with a smile and served a great meal !!! Guess the “special folk” are over at Jake’s at the long table figuring out what is best for them ! Stay there , we don’t need ya’ll polluting any thing else in West Fork !!! If a new person to West Fork came in to the cafe and had read about the bull-crap that goes on in the town , they would wonder what was going on ! They would find non of that in that cafe…they would find only small town friendliness and would want to live in West Fork if they were looking for a place to be ! So all you “special people ” of West Fork , stay at Jakes , sit at the big table and be important cause on Sat. mornings , that the only place you can get that feeling for yourselves !

  2. Nikki Roebke says:

    It is always so nice to drive by and/or visit Riverside Park, especially this time of year…all of the people from our community and from many others come to enjoy spending time at a beautiful, clean, and free place to cool off in the river and just enjoy the sights. I am proud that we have such a lovely city with great parks. I am even more proud because I see how much work goes into keeping the parks as wonderful as they are. I know they are not “state of the art” parks, but they are perfect for our little city of West Fork. Our parks director, alone, cleans and maintains these parks. This one person picks up all of the trash (even on weekends on many occasions), cleans/stocks the bathrooms, mows/weed eats all of Carter Park & the Community Center. This one person also maintains the budget for the parks department, coordinates youth football, youth cheer, and youth baseball/softball. Both youth football and cheer are new to the parks director’s duties since the current director has been hired. Coordinating youth baseball also includes maintaining the fields…mowing, dirt work, and prepping for every single game. He hires the referees and umpires for these sports and finds volunteers to help with gate fees and to do the announcing, score board, and chains during football games. He fills in as needed for all of these as well. He attends league meetings for football and baseball/softball after hours and on weekends. He takes calls and texts at all hours of the day and night from commission members, other coordinators, coaches, and parents. He works from home on numerous occasions as needed to complete numerous tasks. He attends all of the home games for football and baseball…I can count on one hand the amount of times he had to miss a home game. He has tried starting many new activities/events for the community to participate in. The Chili Cook-off and Pumpkin Carving Contest were not a huge success, but they took a lot hard work to plan and carry out and had a lot of effort put into them. He started the annual Easter Festival (3 successful years) and the 4th at the Fork (about to celebrate for the 2nd year). There hasn’t been a lot of involvement or help from the parks commission up to this point with any of these. The commission, with a rare exception of a couple members, has not even attended these events. Thankfully, the commission is taking the responsibility, which they should, this year with the 4th at the Fork. It is absolutely ridiculous to expect one person to coordinate such an event alone. The 4th celebration was amazing last year & he did an exceptional job putting it together, but it is too much for one person to do alone, especially when it falls directly after baseball season and tournaments. I see, on a first hand basis every day, how dedicated my husband is to being the Parks Director for the City of West Fork. I know he is not perfect, none of us are, but I believe he has done a fantastic job at bringing the parks to what they have become over the last 3 years. You can’t make everyone happy, but he does his best to do so anyways. It is disheartening to see the criticism he has endured over the last year. I always welcome constructive criticism, but it has to come with some praise…especially when it is well deserved. Personally, it feels like one person, along with a friend or two who were recruited to constantly harass & cause chaos, has been able to come in and make a great situation pretty horrible. The support that is expected by the commission has not been there. In all, it is just a huge disappointment. It is sad that the city will most likely lose a great asset due to a few individuals having an unprovoked personal vendetta against their Parks Director. The commission should be there to support the director amongst the constant criticism from the same few individuals. People with issues or complaints should be immediately notified that the commission has faith in the director and they know he does everything possible to meet everyone’s expectations. They should then ask to come address their concerns publicly at a commission meeting with the director present so the issues can be heard, discussed, and resolved. Continuing to allow complaints, gossip, and rumors, especially those that are submitted “anonymously”, is a very unprofessional way to handle this situation. These individuals should know that the commission does support, have faith in, and respects their director. If the commission doesn’t believe in him, why should anyone else? They need to set a precedent so this immature and unnecessary behavior from these individuals can finally come to an end.

    Nikki Roebke

  3. Jane Zenor says:

    Good grief!! Makes me want to take the ball and go home. The making of a good sports person (any sport) is the connection between the player and coach. Being together during formative years is excellent life coaching not just in sports.

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