Welcome Summer!!!
June News & Updates
  Nature is not a place to visit. It is home . ---- Poet Gary Snyder
65 Years at the County Pools...and counting!!!
Ray Ames of Bethel Park is gearing up for another season at South Park Wave Pool
Can you imagine loving a job so much that you do it for 65 years? Ray Ames is that man.  As a University of Pittsburgh education student in 1951, a friend told Ray that Allegheny County was hiring lifeguards at the once-grand South Park stone pool. He applied, got the job and took to it as the proverbial fish to water. That's where this story begins - with no end in sight!  When the Allegheny County pool season opens on June 4, Ray, at the age of 84, will take his position once again as the manager of the South Park Wave Pool.  

Back when he started, lifeguards earned $3 for a full day of work. Ray's eyes get wide when he compares that to the $11 an hour lifeguards make today, with the option of bonuses for attendance plus a $1,000 college scholarship. The County is still recruiting for lifeguard positions for this summer season. (See the link below.)

Ray worked at the pool every summer while in college. When he became a high school teacher, first in Duquesne and then at the former Peabody High School for 43 years, having the summers off allowed him to keep his second career at the pool. 
He's seen many changes since then. 

The Stone Pool was designed by  landscape architect Paul Riis with plans drawn up by local architect Stanley Roush as a series of naturalistic stone formations with cascading waters and a combination of deep sections for diving and shallow waters for wading. It measured six acres, required two million gallons of water to fill and cost less than $1 million to build. Daily admission cost 10 cents. The pool drew as many as 15,000 swimmers a day. It was informally referred to as 'the common man's country club.'
But by the 1970s, the pool was leaking and repairs were more costly than building a new one. So the Wave Pool was built and opened in 1978. The stone pool was filled in and became a go-cart track and a miniature golf course. 

Ray has weathered all the changes, being promoted to head guard and eventually to pool manager, with each job earning him an extra $1 a day. Once he retired from his teaching job, he took on winter responsibilities as manager of the ice skating rink. 
A self-proclaimed "people person," Ray has kept in contact with many of his former employees. "Every doctor I've ever had since I was 18 years old either worked with me or for me," he said. 

Clarence Hopson, Deputy Director of Parks and Recreation, is Ray's supervisor and the two share a mutual respect and the lively give and take of longtime friends. "He's been a great employee for me. I tease him that I was born the year he started working at the pool!" he said, laughing. 
Ray said he's often asked why he still works there. He's quick with an answer. "This is the best job I've ever had in my life." 

Students from Highlands Middle School planted trees in Boyce Park with the Allegheny County Rangers in May.  The tree planting was recommended by the Boyce Park Ecological Assessment following an in-depth evaluation of the natural resources of this popular park. The Allegheny County Parks Foundation commissioned the study which was carried out by the 
Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and funded by the PNC Foundation.
Spare an Opinion???

If you can spare a few minutes, the Allegheny County Parks Foundation wants to know how you spend time in your parks! We're conducting a park user survey this summer so you might see clipboards and trained interviewers during one of your visits. We're looking at how people get to the parks and what they do when they get there, among other questions. Surveyors will be in all nine parks, beginning over Memorial Day Weekend and ending in August. The results will help us decide where to focus our restoration and renovation dollars. This survey is made possible through the generous donations of the Colcom Foundation and the Richard King Mellon Foundation. 
Paula Dahm adjusts soaker hose.
North Park Demo Garden Earns Big Honor

Stop by the North Park Demonstration Garden on Ingomar and Babcock roads to see new plant species being tested in our region. This garden was selected by the Penn State Southeast Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Manheim, Pa. as a test garden for 72 flowering plants being introduced to the region. 
Demo Garden co-chairs Paula Dahm and Denise Birsic, both Master Gardeners, are overseeing the installation and welcome visitors to watch the progress. The plants are provided by American and European growers and each trial garden is judged monthly on four criteria: uniformity, flowering, foliage and overall growth. " These trials are an opportunity for nurseries, growers and homeowners to see how these plants perform in our climate and cultural conditions.  This is our first year to be a satellite site for the trial gardens and we are very excited about this opportunity," Paula explained. 
Master gardener's volunteer at the site Wednesdays from 4-7 p.m. and they always welcome visitors. 
St. Ursula School first-graders Jacob Bridgeman and Liam Downey practice their marble skills. 
Calling All Mibsters*

The County Marbles Championship is fast approaching on June 2-4. That's where all the kids who have competed in preliminary trials will gather to test their marble-shooting skills against other county residents and vie for a spot in the 93rd National Marbles Tournament. The Marbles Program is sponsored by the Allegheny County Parks Department and is in its 42nd year. It's free to all kids 14 and under. Instructor Ed Ricci of Shaler visited 15 locations this spring, including County Parks, teaching kids how to SHOOT and SCORE!!!

*That's a person who shoots marbles!
Marathon Wrap-Up

We hit the ground running on our first year as a designated charity of the Pittsburgh Marathon! Thanks to our devoted runners - we had 11 - and their commitment to our cause of preserving and improving our nine Allegheny County Parks, we raised $7,500!! These funds will go towards ongoing improvements to expanding the North Park Lake Trail. To read more about this project, click here:  North Park Lake Trail
To donate to the North Park project,  click here:  Love the Loop!
South Park Ecological Assessment Underway

The Allegheny County Parks Foundation has teamed up with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy to conduct an assessment of the ecology of South Park. In 2015, the Foundation decided it was time to assess the health of the parks and design a plan for preserving our region's valuable resources. This 2,000-acre park in Bethel Park and South Park Township is a popular, year-round destination for residents and identifying the natural elements within the park could suggest improvements that will assure its sustainability for many generations to come. 

Funding for this study has been provided by PNC Foundation and the Heinz Endowments. 

Naturalists from the Conservancy have already started collecting data. Previously they prepared a report on Boyce Park in Monroeville and Plum, which is providing a useful template for the South Park study. That assessment is available below and led to several tree planting sessions and plans to establish a meadow in the fall. A final plan on South Park is expected early next year. 

Advanced Adventure Series

Discover isolated areas of your Allegheny County Parks that are usually overlooked when you sign up for Venture Outdoor's Adventure Series. Join hikers Sunday, May 29 at Hartwood Acres Park, Sunday, June 12 at Harrison Hills and Sunday, June 26 at Deer Lakes. These vigorous,10-mile hikes are considered advanced and showcase each park's less-traveled areas. And they're a great way to stay cool if the summer sun ever arrives! 
Learn more or sign up below: 
Our Board of Directors
James Mitnick, Chair
Richard (Rick) Rose, Treasurer
Thomas W. Armstrong
Bill Bates
G. Reynolds Clark
Pat Getty
Laura Karet
John Mascaro, Jr.
Todd Owens 

Ellen Still Brooks,  Vice-Chair
Sally McCrady,  Secretary
Chester R. Babst, III
Carol R. Brown
Karen Wolk Feinstein
Jonathan Kersting
Nancy Knauss
Daniel A. Onorato
John Surma
Ex Officio:
Rich Fitzgerald, John DeFazio, William McKain, Andy Baechle, Stephen Shanley, Caren Glotfelty

Allegheny County Parks Foundation | 724.327.7627 |  www.acparksfoundation.org info@acparksfoundation.org