Briefly Noted

July 1, 2013, Department, by Danielle Taylor

New York City parks are getting some solar-powered mobile charging stations courtesy of AT&T that will help keep cellphones and mobile devices fully charged.In mid-June, 25 solar-powered charging stations made their debut in New York City parks, beaches and outdoor spaces throughout the five boroughs. The 12.5-foot structures — a joint venture between the city and AT&T — will be popping up in places such as Union Square Park, Metrotech Plaza and the Rockaways Beach for three to four weeks at a time until October. Each station will be able to charge up to six devices — regardless of carrier — including iPhones, Androids, Blackberries and other devices using standard USB charging cables. Two years earlier, AT&T also debuted free Wi-Fi in 26 locations across New York City parks. A spokesperson for the company says this initiative was implemented to help enable local residents and businesspeople to lead more sustainable lives.

The National Association of Counties recently awarded the Columbus, Georgia, Parks and Recreation Department their NACo Achievement Award in recognition of the department’s Scientific Learning Involving Magnificent Experiments (S.L.I.M.E.) program. The program allows pre-teen students to explore physics, chemistry and biology during after-school hours and apply scientific concepts to real-life applications through experiments. NACo’s Achievement Awards recognize innovative county government programs and are judged on intergovernmental cooperation, increasing citizen participation and awareness, improved cost effectiveness of county programs, improved public policymaking and similar criteria.

The Trust for Public Land recently released its 2013 ParkScore report, which analyzes and measures how well the 50 largest U.S. cities are meeting their residents’ need for parks. This year, Minneapolis won top honors, with a score of 81 factoring from its park system’s acreage, services and investment, and accessibility in relation to its population. Last year, when the top 40 cities were analyzed, San Francisco took the top spot. ParkScore was designed to help local communities improve their park systems and identify where new parks are needed most.

Officials in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, may soon authorize drilling for natural gas in county parks, focusing specifically on the 1,180-acre Deer Lakes Park. A city councilman reassured the public by saying that any extraction would take place outside park grounds, with an external well pad drilling horizontally underneath the park. A local engineering consulting firm has already signed many leases for drilling on sites bordering Deer Lakes and other local parks. Researchers at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review state that the county could raise between $40 million and $96 million from drilling in Deer Lakes Park alone. Local residents have already begun voicing strong concerns about the effects that drilling will have on the parks.

Visitors to Tennessee state park restaurants can now enjoy an exclusive Tennessee table wine with their dinner. The wine, a Seyval blanc grape blend grown in Tennessee, was developed especially for the state park system by Stonehaus Winery in Crossville in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Tennessee State Park system. Winemakers Fay Wheeler and Jan Nix developed the blend, a semi-dry table wine. The grapes were grown in Johnson City, Tennessee, and the label was designed by a Smithville artist, making the entire product a celebration of the Volunteer State.

The mayor of Hartford, Connecticut, is allowing a barber to continue giving haircuts in a city park despite orders for him to leave from police and health officials. A spokeswoman for Mayor Pedro Segarra says he is granting Anthony “Joe the Barber” Cymerys a special dispensation in light of his years of charitable work. She also said the city will help Cymerys obtain a state barber’s license if he would like. Cymerys, 82, has been giving free haircuts to the homeless in exchange for hugs for 25 years at Bushnell Park. He says officials confronted him in mid-June and ordered him to leave because he did not have a permit. City officials say residents had expressed concerns about sanitation.

A section of a Civil War battlefield is expected to be added to a park in Chesterfield County, Virginia. Preservationists plan to acquire more than 15 acres that contain four Confederate artillery emplacements and add the acreage to Battery Dantzler Park, which currently protects about an acre that contains another artillery emplacement. A representative from the Chesterfield Historical Society of Virginia says the land will be acquired through a $133,400 federal matching grant, a landowner donation and a payment from Dominion Resources, a Virginia-based power and energy company. Park organizers are awaiting the grant’s authorization by the National Park Service director. The Confederate battery was part of the Howlett Line that kept Union forces pinned on the Bermuda Hundred Peninsula in the late spring of 1864.

In Arlington, Texas, the beloved “Nessie” play sculpture in Allen Saxe Park has been beheaded in a malicious prank. Before its decapitation, the playful replication of Scotland’s Loch Ness Monster appeared to be swimming through the park, popping up in three segments next to the park’s playground. Park officials and police, who estimated the damage will cost $5,000 to repair, are investigating.

Fruita, Colorado’s Park and Recreation Department recently suffered its third case of vandalism in the past few months with the arson of three city trucks and a shed full of little league equipment at Little Salt Wash Park. City officials say replacing this equipment will be a hard thing to absorb into their busy summer workload. Upon word of the incident, the Grand Junction Rockies minor league baseball team vowed to replace any necessary equipment that was lost, helping local kids play ball once again.

A 23-year-old Blanding's turtle who has been a fixture at the Pokagon State Park Nature Center since 1998 is back on display after emergency surgery to clear an obstruction from his digestive track. Mr. Happy, as the turtle is known, began sneezing and stopped eating in May, and an X-ray showed a rock had lodged in the turtle's lower digestive tract. A local newspaper reported that two veterinarians who performed a two-hour surgery on May 22 successfully removed the rock. Mr. Happy returned to the zoo on May 30, where naturalist Fred Wooley says he was fed worms injected with antibiotics to prevent infection. The beloved reptile is expected to live another five or six decades.