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Oxford Park Commission reports busy, productive year

From gymnastic classes to canoe trips to championship-winning athletic teams, the Oxford Park Commission keeps Oxford and Lafayette County children and adults active with a large variety of programs.

Finishing his first full year as OPC director, Seth Gaines submitted OPC’s 2016 year-end report Tuesday to the Oxford Board of Aldermen.

Mayor Pat Patterson thanked Gaines for his leadership.

“It’s a breath of fresh air over there,” Patterson said.

Gaines pointed out some highlights from 2016 that included switching to new registration software that costs $22,000 less than the old program and increasing the roles of interns. In 2016, interns logged more than 2,750 hours between nine interns.

“When I worked my internship when I finished classes at Ole Miss, I was merely used as a gopher,” Gaines said in the report. “I made a decision that if I was ever over an intern program I would treat the interns like employees with a job description to help them in their growth as a professional in the field.”

Leisure Lifestyles, OPC’s program for older adults, has grown in recent years. To help fund the program, OPC started charging for parking at the Oxford Activity Center and Stone Park, bringing in $13,000 for the program.

New programs were added last year, including Mothers Morning Out and Ping Pong Tournament that raised money for breast cancer screenings, and new facilities built, like the Garden Terrace playground. Work continues on a future addition of the Activity Center. A design has been approved and now OPC and city officials are looking at options as to where to build the center after discovering a large amount of trash still exists on the OPC campus off Molly Barr Road and the newly re-aligned Price Street.

Besides its host of athletic programs, OPC hosted several events in 2016, including the annual Easter Egg Hunt, Kid’s Night Out on every third Saturday of the month, Couch to 5K, winter, spring and summer day camps, fishing classes, canoe trips and the annual Movies and Music in the Park events held in June and July.

The John Leslie Tennis Facility hosted the 2016 MHSAA Tennis Championships and the USTA Mixed Doubles 18 and 40 and Over Mississippi Championships, along with several smaller tournaments.

Revenues from OPC’s events brought in $632,820 with expenses amounting to $607,999.