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Darlington Park & Recreation reconsider NFL Flag Football

POSTED March 8, 2017 3:08 p.m.

DARLINGTON – The Tuesday, Feb. 28 the Park & Rec meeting of the City of Darlington was called to order by Don Osterday, chairman, at 6:00 p.m.
    Wade Berget, Park & Rec department head, is making changes to the Darlington flag football program. The three main changes are going from eleven on eleven teams to five on five teams; bringing in second graders into the program; changing the time and day of the games from Wed. evening to Sun. afternoon; raising the fee from $10 to $45.
    At this meeting Berget decided to move the fee from $45 to $35 with $25 for the NFL program and $10 goes to the Park & Rec program. The NFL fee includes each player receiving a reversible jersey, their own flags belt, USA Football membership and insurance coverage.
    RJ Brunkow (long time interest in the program) was present and brought up these points: against the five on five passing league format. Brunkow said, “What are you going to be able to teach as you’re getting away from the existing program which mimics the actual game of football, that these kids will be playing at upper levels? Passing only, you can’t teach coverages in this format.” Berget responded, “There are running plays in the NFL program, the coaches will receive a NFL membership and will have plays and practice materials available to them.”
    Matt Crist (a coach in the current program) said, “My biggest concern is changing from traditional 11 on 11 football to 5 on 5. 5 on 5 is too much space, the kids with superior speed is going to stand out more with 5 on 5. All the kids matter in football. I don’t want to see the slower kids (at this age) left behind. You’re going to leave kids out, why would you fix something that’s not broken?” I appreciate Wade that you’re trying to inject new life, but the flag football program has be going on for thirty years and is a successful program.
    Brunkow added, “The higher pricing is an issue with some families and the bigger kids that are an important part of football, I can see them getting left out in this format.”
    Beget said, “I can show you the plays.” Crist responded, “I don’t need to see the plays. I looked on the NFL Flag Football website and watched videos and there were none of the kids that we’re talking about and they will be left out of this program. This is a Rec league and it’s been working for thirty years. Berget said, “One thing I’m looking at is we have third graders playing against sixth graders and I’m getting away from that.” Christ, “Are you saying that there are a lot of injuries. I haven’t seen many injuries.”
    “Another huge issue is moving it from Wed. to Sun.,” Crist said, “People don’t want their Sundays taking away from them for six to eight weeks. Parents with kids this age have a full plate and you’re asking us to give up eight Sundays? It’s an issue” Berget said, “My issue with Wed. nights is how late is too late, even with the lights at the ballpark. Keeping kids out on a school night with having to eat and do homework. On Sundays, I know that kids are involved in a lot of sports already on Sun.”
    Berget said, “I want a league that is fun for kids, I want more kids touching the ball, I want girls to sign up for this. I’m trying something different. This could be the best thing that happen to Darlington or it could blow up in my face.”
    Osterday said, “We appreciate your input and it will be considered. This has been talked about when Doug Lindstrom was here. We’ll have a lot of conversation and nothing is finalized as of yet.”
Lions Club
    Alder and Lions’ member Steve Pickett proposed installing a Lions’ water fountain in the Festival Grounds near the bridge that the Lions Club will pay for. A motion was made and approved to accept the donation. This will go to the council for approval.
    A shelter house is also proposed to be constructed in the Festival Grounds by the Lions. The Shelter would act as a bus shelter (as this is one of the locations the bus picks up students) and it could be used for Canoe Fest. Pickett pointed out this is in the preliminary stage, but he needed the Park & Rec permission to get the ball rolling. This will also need to be approved by the DNR. The shelter would consist of poles in the ground and a roof with canvass on the sides to stop the wind in the winter. Pickett thought it could be larger and other civic groups may help with the project. The committee approved Pickett to go forward.
Concealed Weapon
    Amy Prine, director of the Dora Ritter Wellness Center, asked the council if she could set up a concealed weapon course for women, that would be open to the public to take. Jason King, Chief of Police, thought it would be a good idea and would be willing to conduct the class. The curriculum would be a four hour class and they would receive a permit, after a test at the state is passed. This would not just be about guns.
    Osterday said he thought is was outside the realm of the wellness center. Osterday said, “If the police department wants to offer a class, that would be their choice. Maybe if the wellness center offered a self-defense class in general that would be fine.”
    King said he would be willing to have a class run by the police department. No action was taken by the committee.
    In Other Business:
    •Approved 2017 summer employment positions and to advertise in the Republican Journal.
    •Discussed the Pecatonica River Trails Park campgrounds. The Quilt Wind Farm are looking for a place to have their windmill constructors park their campers and asked if the city’s camp ground would be available for that. The feeling on the committee was the campground is meant for ATVer’s and tourists to camp. This will come up at a future meeting.
    •Pony League jerseys were found. Berget asked, “How do we get coaches for Pony League.” Answer: ask some dads to help out and then the city workers will take over in June. A motion was made and approved to allow Berget ask for some volunteer parents to coach until the summer staff is in place.
    •Approved Bob and Nate Wiegel to coach 5th & 6th grade girls softball.
    •59 kids signed up for rec dodgeball program and it begins March 7.
    •Accepted a donation from Jim Acherman for $1,500 for the purchase an AbsBench X2. This donation is made in the memory of Shirley Acherman.
    •Pickett and Park & Rec member Stu VamStad thought the wellness center and other departments should develop a list of equipment and apparatus needed.
    •Approved Bunny Hop proceeds of 50% - 100% of the proceeds (depending how successful the run is) of this years Bunny Hop will go to the John and Rhonda Roelli family who have a child who has been diagnosed with cancer. The Bunny Hop is April 15, 2017.
    •The Dora Ritter Wellness Center has 344 memberships that cover 660 individuals as of Feb. 2017.

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