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State grant enables extra summer help at Westmont Park District

Published: Monday, Aug. 18, 2014 8:30 a.m. CST
Caption
(Bill Ackerman - backerman@shawmedia.com)
Summer camp counselor Jack Gordon (right) of Westmont talks with camper David Brabb, 8, of Westmont, as kids line up to go to lunch on Aug. 1.
Caption
(Bill Ackerman - backerman@shawmedia.com)
Martin Seyller of Westmont waters a flowerbed in Aug. 1 in Veterans Memorial Park. Thanks to a grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Westmont Park District has been able to hire extra youth summer workers to assist with maintenance and summer camps.
Caption
(Bill Ackerman - backerman@shawmedia.com)
Summer camp counselor Jack Gordon (right) of Westmont talks with camper David Brabb, 8, of Westmont, as they walk to lunch Aug. 1.

WESTMONT – Helping hands are in abundance this summer at the Westmont Park District.

After receiving a youth employment grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for the second consecutive year, the park district hired nine extra young seasonal employees ages 16 to 19 to help with either the summer day camps or the maintenance crew.

Westmont Park District Superintendent of Parks and Planning Bob Fleck said they interviewed candidates in the spring knowing they had to hire a summer staff, all the while remaining cognizant that, if awarded the grant, they could also employ extra help.

When word came down from the Department of Natural Resources that Westmont was a grant recipient, park district staff scrambled to hire an extra nine workers.

"We were awarded the grant in second week of June, so it was then a mad dash to complete the paperwork and fill the positions that same week," Fleck said. "But it's been an amazing summer with these young employees.

"We have always taken pride in being one of the largest employers of youth in the community. So this grant not only allows them the opportunity to work in the summer and make some extra money, but it enable us to build on what we already do."

Summer staff began working at the park district June 16 and the season will end Aug. 31. The workers paid are $9.50 per hour and work 40-hour weeks, according to Fleck. The park district compensates its employees directly, and is then fully reimbursed by the state, he said.

In all, two of the workers helped with the day camps while the remaining seven got their hands dirty with the maintenance crew.

"It's definitely hard work," Fleck said referring to the maintenance duties. "But we operate differently here because our year-round staff is comparatively small. We don't ask anybody to do things we wouldn't do ourselves – I've moved picnic tables in a shirt and tie before."

Martin Seyller, 19, of Westmont is one of the seven young employees entrusted with maintenance and grounds work.

So far this summer, the College of DuPage undergrad has picked weeds, assisted in landscaping projects, helped set up and clean up of the park district Fourth of July celebration, removed an old tee ball back stop and fencing and completed various drainage projects.

Although he says working in the sun is no easy task, he now has a fond appreciation for the park district's maintenance crews.

"It's been challenging, but it's good experience and I've grown to like it," Seyller said. "I'm surrounded by hardworking individuals who love their job, and I get to work outside all day – I honestly can't think of a better way to spend the summer."

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To learn more about the Westmont Park District, visit http://westmontparks.org/.

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