• John McGary, Woodford Sun Editor

Falling Springs activities replaced by painting and cleaning

The smell of paint has replaced others usually associated with the Falling Springs Arts and Recreation Center. The center closed March 13, and since then, its 11 full-time employees have been busy doing things they couldn’t if it were open – like painting, according to Executive Director Rich Pictor. He said those with offices picked out their favorite shades and got to work soon after the center closed. “Each individual … in their office area picked the accent color they wanted, with the exception of me – I let the ladies pick it out because I don’t know,” Pictor said. “Mine’s more of a gray with the tan. Heather’s is red, and this is blue …” Another employee chose midnight blue to reflect his love of the University of Kentucky. “We’re forced to be shut down for a lengthy time period, so we just said, ‘Let’s roll up our sleeves and get it done,’” Pictor said. Last Friday morning, several employees were using rollers to paint hallways. Rainey Johns, who wrote the successful grant application that will pay much of the cost of tennis court upgrades, was halfway up a ladder near The Kids Zone, brush in hand – after painting her office walls parakeet green. “Grant writer-turned painter,” Pictor joked of Johns, to which Johns chuckled, then admitted she hadn’t painted much before. “It’s not really one of my favorite things to do, but you do what needs to be done, and the building is definitely due for an upgrade,” she said. “Hopefully it will feel new and fresh and exciting when the doors reopen.” Asked about her morale, Johns said, “It’s pretty good. You know, it’s hard to figure out the new normal and what do you do with your time and, ‘Oh, I want to go – oh, I can’t do that because everything’s closed kind of a thing,’ so I spend a lot of time walking the dogs when I’m home …” Pictor said what his full-time employees are doing is not busy work. “We’ve been needing to do it for a long time. We’ve been open coming on 18-plus years, and it’s never been done. But it’s hard to do when you’re open seven days a week, and the last thing we ever want to do is shut the building to the community, so this gave us an opportunity to do it,” said Pictor. Earlier last week, they drained and cleaned the main indoor pool and therapy pools. “We normally do that in September and August, but we didn’t want to do it again this year, and we normally are shut down for a week when we do that, so we’ve gotten that out of the way this year,” Pictor said. They’ll begin cleaning and filling the outdoor pool this week. “A little earlier than normal, but we have the time,” he said. Lobby painting, with steel gray on the pillars and tan on the walls, will likely be tackled late this week, Pictor said. Pictor said he and his employees are observing social distancing and other recommended measures, including wearing gloves when handling objects or opening doors. “Everyone seems healthy to this point and we hope to stay that way,” he said. For now, the center’s 50-75 part-time employees are being paid, but not coming in to work, Pictor said. For the full-timers, it’s business not-as-usual – with occasional breaks for pickleball games in the gym. “And Aaron (Stover, who runs the department’s recreation programs) doesn’t like it, because I’ve beaten him every time we’ve played, but he’s getting better. I’m trying to teach him, best I can,” Pictor said, smiling. Don’t use playground equipment Monday afternoon, after participating in a conference call with local leaders, Pictor passed on a sign that will be posted on playground equipment in parks across the county. It reads, “The Woodford County Health Department, along with local government leaders, has ordered that all park playground equipment be closed until further notice to help stop the spread of COVID-19.” Pictor told the Sun there was no way for his employees to wipe down park playground equipment on a frequent-enough basis – like after every time a child comes down a slide or steps off a swing set. What’s ahead What’s inside and outside the center isn’t the only concern of Pictor and company. This week, without the help of inmates from the Woodford Detention Center, they’ll have to begin mowing nearly 400-plus acres of county parks with just three employees. “I’m sure I’ll be on a mower, as well as maybe some other people in here … when the grass really starts growing,” Pictor said.

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