Notable News

March 1, 2015, Department, by Danielle Taylor

Katherine Z. LueckerKatherine Z. Luecker, vice president of Lincoln Aquatics of Concord, California, passed away on January 27 after a year-long battle with ovarian cancer. She was 55 years old and had been a prominent figure in the aquatics community for more than 32 years. Luecker graduated from Oregon State University in 1983 and first started her career at Lincoln as a regional sales manager, where she was responsible for the Pacific Northwest region. She and her brother Charlie purchased Lincoln Aquatics in 1987 from their father, William Luecker. In 2000, she moved to the corporate office in Concord, California, as vice president, and in 2006, she and her brother also acquired the Southern California branch of Lincoln operated by their uncle, Ed Little. A major accomplishment that made Luecker very proud was her involvement as one of the founding members of the Association of Aquatic Professionals (AOAP). She also participated in many aquatic groups associated with NRPA, state level park and recreation associations across the country, the World Waterpark Association and the International Health and Racquet Sports Association, among others. In 2011, Luecker was presented the Industry Leadership Award by the World Waterpark Association. She will be remembered by others in the industry as a great listener who immensely enjoyed her contact with customers, whether on a pool deck or at a trade show.


The Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority in Alabama is planning a 38-foot-tall slide, and while community kids are excited about the prospect, parents and other community members have raised questions regarding safety concerns and the overall price. The slide, which is planned for Tuscaloosa’s Snow Hinton Park, would be buttressed by climbing equipment versus the traditional set of stairs. The department estimates the project will cost $275,000 and make their slide the tallest at any playground in the Southeast.


As new dictionaries are published each year, critics take note of the additions and comment on what their inclusion means for the changing world. This year’s publication of the Oxford Junior Dictionary, which limits its word count to 10,000, may be even more telling in what it has dropped. Some of the words removed from this edition include monarch, ivy, heron, newt, raven, wren, acorn, bramble and fern, while MP3 player, cut and paste, celebrity, vandalism, attachment and broadband were added. 


In Salem, Oregon, several joggers have been attacked by an angry owl at Bush’s Pasture Park. The flying marauder, dubbed “Owlcapone,” has stolen hats and nicked scalps in its attempts to defend its turf. MSNBC host Rachel Maddow suggested that city officials post signs to warn park goers about the attack owl, which they soon did. "It's just making people aware that there's an owl there that for whatever reason swoops down and goes after people's hats," says Mark Becktel, parks and transportation services manager. Birders have identified the avian as a barred owl, which is especially aggressive during mating season. The good news: It should calm down soon.


Edmonton, Alberta, may soon be sporting a frozen glissade of ice to encourage commuters to ice skate to work rather than drive. The Freezeway, as the project is to be called, would extend nearly seven miles and was conceived as a way to create new options for commuting and “address the challenge of making our winters more livable,” according to the designer of the project. Matthew Gibbs, a master’s in landscape architecture candidate at the University of British Columbia, proposed a year-round greenway through downtown that would sustain artificially maintained ice in wintertime to support commuting and recreational ice skaters. During the summer, the surface would be paved for cyclists and pedestrians. Similar skating pathways already exist in Ottawa and Moscow.


Idaho’s state parks system is looking for corporate sponsors for signs, brochures, picnic shelters and the like as part of its effort to make the parks system largely pay for itself. At the suggestion of the Idaho attorney general’s office, the parks department will propose a bill this year to authorize such arrangements. Airstream is already working with the state to produce a 50th-anniversary Idaho State Parks trailer in the coming year. The department would get $500 from each sale, and the trailer’s interior would be decorated in a theme tied to Idaho parks. However, State Parks Director David Langhorst said the program would not include selling naming rights to the 30 state parks. Idaho’s Department of Parks and Recreation this year is getting $3.5 million in state funds, about 10 percent of its budget. Other funds come from fees, sales and charges; grants; a small slice of state gas taxes; and registration fees collected on boats, snowmobiles, motorbikes, ATVs and RVs. In fiscal year 2008, the department was allocated nearly $18 million in state general funds.


Portland, Oregon, joins the growing list of cities whose parks have been designated smoke-free areas in an effort to promote better public health. Starting July 1, visitors will be banned from smoking in all city-owned parks and nature areas, including five golf courses. The ban includes other types of smoking and tobacco products, including clove cigarettes, e-cigarettes, nicotine vaporizers, chew, snuff, smokeless tobacco and marijuana.


A recent Canadian study found that engaging in outdoor exercise offers better results than indoor exercise for midlife women who want to become more active. The results also showed that women who worked out outdoors attended more sessions than those who exercised indoors and got a stronger sense of peace and tranquility following their exercise. Additionally, the group of women in the study who exercised outdoors exhibited fewer depressive symptoms than the indoor group and tended to become more active in their daily lives overall.


Monarch butterflies heading south to Mexico for their annual migration will soon have a new place to recharge in Oklahoma. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, approximately 970 million butterflies have vanished in the past 25 years due to herbicide spraying by farmers and homeowners, and the agency has pledged $2 million toward responsive conservation projects nationwide. The Oklahoman reported that more milkweed, the monarchs’ critical food source, will be planted along the state’s Interstate 35 corridor in an attempt to foster more monarch habitats along the migration route.

Danielle Taylor is the Executive Editor of Parks & Recreation magazine.