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Despite staff shortages, La Pine Park & Recreation District brings back youth programs

LA PINE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The La Pine Park and Recreation office, filled with empty hallways, is not what it used to be.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the park district to cut back on staffing to just one full-time employee and cut all of its programs, to comply with state mandates.

“During COVID, we lost over half our budget, our fundraising abilities went away, our grants went away and obviously we had to close down our programs due to COVID,” Karen Miller told NewsChannel 21 on Tuesday.

Despite all of the challenges, the department was able to run the only park and rec baseball program in the state, according to Miller, and has partnered with local businesses to bring back its youth sports programs.

In September and October, La Pine parks was able to run a six-week youth soccer season, with nearly 200 kids.

"I think a lot of people are very eager to get out and start doing things again," Matt Richmond, the district's sports coordinator said. "I also believe that as we continue to grow, these opportunities need to be here. Sports are very important to what we do here.”

Richmond joined the parks department in August and helped bring back the youth programs. Richmond told NewsChannel 21 he wants to bring new programs to La Pine, like an adult/youth golf program and softball for girls.

“What we are trying to do is be involved in the community as much as possible," Richmond said. "We want to give members of the community as much opportunity to play sports and interact.”

Article Topic Follows: La Pine
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Jordan Williams

Jordan Williams is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Jordan here.

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