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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Are the parks a joke?

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  • For several years I camped, fished and volunteered at West Lake. I became friends with the head ranger, many of the regular campers and the part-time people who worked there. Two of the regulars were also named Mike. One, from Wichita had camped there for over twenty years. Every year he, not the two Rangers or part-time people, trimmed the grass and brush around the lake and swimming area. He was provided gas for his bushhog. A friend from high school has camped there for many years. He and I put on the carp fishing contest which has as many as 30 contestants. I spent one summer cutting brush around the lake so people get to the water to fish. The ranger did put poison on the roots and hauled off the brush.
    I read where Kim, the new ranger in charge of the parks said they were contracting out the grass cutting. She stated "watch us now, what we will accomplish now that the rangers are not riding lawn mowers" Wait — they never did mow — it was the part-time summer help that was hired. Oh, and they did all the maintenance on the mowers and around the park.
    When I started camping at West Lake, there were two rangers. One lived in the house there and the other was a friend I went to high school with. The rangers spent their time in the office and patrolling the park. Now the office is closed and the grass is being cut by someone else. I can not wait to see what the rangers are going to do now. Oh and one of the part-timers who used to work there was the son of one of my best friends. All he did was cut grass. Now they have hired a full time maintenance person, and no one lives on site. The last head ranger was fired from her position at West Lake - I guess she did not cut enough grass!
    What is the parks department trying to do except spend money, run off campers and not allow people who actually enjoy camping and have an interest in Harvey County from being part of the solution.
    There seems to be a pattern here. Yet the three parks have a salary budget of over $250000 and a budget of over $500,000. I do not know, but think maybe it is a big joke
    — Mike Smurr, Newton

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