PlayJC.org, a group related to local nonprofit Quality Play for All, approached the Geary County Commission Monday afternoon with a funding request.
The group asked for $7,860 to help fund the salary of a fulltime employee with the group and elaborated on plans for the next six months. The county did not vote on or grant this request.
Chair of the county commission Charles Stimatze said the commission would be looking into potential funding sources such as through the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the county’s parks and recreation fund.
Quality Play for All is the nonprofit helped bring new playground equipment to Fifth Street Park and now members of PlayJC.org want to expand the recreation scene even further for Junction City.
Members would like to see Junction City hold tournaments that would draw more people to Junction City, possibly for extended stays. They have also been trying to gather information on youth sports leagues — information that members say has not always been readily available to those who want to participate in youth sports — and put it in an easily-accessible format.
Commissioner Ben Bennett, during the meeting, said that people had tried to take on similar projects in the past and run into problems.
Member Terrah Stroda, however believed it was possible to do what the group had set out to do because of the sheer amount of community support the group had gathered.
“I have no question that we’re not going to make PlayJC the new private-public sector of recreation needs in Geary County,” she said. “I think the fact that we have all the major players and stakeholders present and we have excitement and interest from the community from the families but also from county commissioners, city commissioners, etc. is hugely beneficial.”
To Stroda, it’s not a matter of past versus present.
“I think the issue is, it stayed stagnant,” she said. “And so we lit the flame and we got, I would say, a broad and dynamic group of people together to do it in the 2019 version. And the goal there is to get, again, more families, more organizations, more really excited people to invest time and money in our community.”
Stroda is raising her children in the Junction City community, she pointed out, as are many other people involved in PlayJC.org.
“This was just our attempt to say, ‘hey, we love our town, we believe it can be better, and the way that we want to focus our attention next is on assuring it’s safest, healthiest, most wonderful to raise a family,” she said. “This is the goal.”
Bringing more people to the Geary County area through tournaments could be good for the local economy as well, as Stroda pointed out, not only through transient guest tax generated through overnight stays but by compelling people to spend money in local shops and restaurants.
Stimatze said it was yet to be seen if the county could provide the funds requested by the group.
“I think we’re working on it now and seeing what we can do to help,” he said. “I think it’s a great idea. I think the committee is doing a wonderful job so far.”
Stimatze believes, he said, that the biggest challenge will be getting everyone together at the table.
“But I think we’re going to do what we can to help,” he said, though financial or “moral support.”