Rec Center Set To Open June 14

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Town parks and recreation officials huddled with summer employees Tuesday morning to lay plans for the 2004 edition of the youth recreation program.

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Table tennis is a popular indoor pastime at the town-sponsored youth recreation center held in the Rim Country Middle School gym. Last summer, Lee Owens (right) was among the recreation leaders to oversee the program.

In the meeting were the part-time town employees who will oversee the program -- Will Dunman, Carol Hayes, Jill Dendy, Jennifer Plumb and Darrin Grover. Dunman, Plumb and Grover worked the program last summer. Hayes and Dendy are new to the recreational offering.

As in the past, the recreation center will be housed in the Rim Country Middle School gymnasium and will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays June 14 to July 16. The schedule for the Independence Day holidays has not yet been set. Youngsters who have completed fourth through 10th grades are eligible to participate free of charge.

Indoor games available are basketball, volleyball, table tennis, bumper pool, air hockey and other activities. Outdoor games also can be played.

The program is a popular part of the Rim country summer recreation scene.

Begun 16 years ago by Payson Elementary School teacher Bruce Haught and Wendy Joe, it was originally loosely sponsored by the Payson Unified School District, Rim Guidance and town of Payson.

In later years, the parks and recreation department took over exclusive sponsorship.

Payson High School teacher and coach Chuck Hardt and Haught supervised the program for about 13 years before stepping down three years ago.

"While we were there the parks and recreation department was really good to us," Haught said.

Under the leadership and creativity of the two, the center attracted throngs of youngsters who flocked there to participate in the games, contests and challenges Haught and Hardt dreamed up.

In the early 1990s, the center offered weight training which was taught by Haught in the Payson High School gymnasium.

Town-sponsored weight training has since been discontinued.

In the early years, the program also featured art and design classes taught by Bob Arnold.

In the summer of 2002, the program came to an abrupt halt when the RCMS gymnasium was turned into temporary housing for those fleeing the Rodeo-Chediski fire.

In 1990, the program took a back seat to the Dude fire evacuation effort. The RCMS gym was turned into a refugee center for those escaping the ravages of the Dude Fire.

If a forest fire should break out this summer, the recreation program might again be ended prematurely or possibly moved.

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