Driving range, ball field open for use at Vernon Recreation Park

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VERNON — Seth Deyo would normally be teaching kids how to hold a bat and then showing them how to properly swing it.

But the coach and his players were thrown a curve ball this year.

"While funny to think about, I sure do miss telling tee ball players to take the glove off their head or to put second base back where it was," said Deyo, who is the Vernon Recreation Department's director.

The coronavirus has terminated the department's baseball season and affected several other programs that are offered.

Deyo is looking forward to the opening of the Vernon Recreation Park's tennis and basketball courts, shuffleboard area, and the playground on Pond Road, as the guidelines from the state allow.

"Folks are more than welcome to use the ball field now or hit golf balls at our mini driving range," Deyo stated. "From a program perspective, we will offer some traditional summer activities such as archery and hopefully sports camp."

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The town's summer camp will be offered to 21 kids each week — if enough interest is shown. The campers will be able to enjoy crafts, games, swim lessons, archery, cooking, and more.

"We certainly hope to be able to open. There is always a great deal of anticipation as local kids and families wait for the doors to open each summer. With that in question, it has been tough on us all," Deyo explained. "We realize many have far greater challenges on their plate than a potential opening of a pool, but it is important to us. We want to be here for the community if we can find a way to make it happen. Time will tell."

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The Vernon Recreation Department also offers adult basketball and volleyball, fitness classes, gymnastics and soccer. A great deal of what goes on there is centered around the pool, which was originally scheduled to be open from June 19 to Aug. 23 this year.

"Generally, we offer swim lessons, diving lessons, parent/infant swim time, adult swim/exercise time, teen night, as well as standard open swim," said Deyo.

The Vernon Preschool, which runs through the recreation department, is currently planning for its special graduation.

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"That celebration is still going to happen, though not necessarily in the traditional sense. We will be stopping by each student's house, congratulating each and and every one of them with a personalized graduation of their own, socially distanced of course," Deyo noted.

One of the director's other responsibilities is to manage the J. Maynard Mill Town Forest, which includes a 3.25-mile hiking trail that takes visitors past a couple of black gum swamps.

"With help from the Miller family, Jeff Nugent of the Windham Regional Commission, and the Vernon Highway Department, we have just about completed a renovation of the trail system," Deyo commented. "The positive feedback from the community has been great."

The Vernon tee ball league would have started on April 27, had it not been for COVID-19 concerns, with Deyo coaching the Cubs and his brother managing the Yankees.

"It's a heated rivalry," Deyo joked, adding that it's a tradition for the league to hold a pool/pizza party for all teams after the season is completed in mid June.


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