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West Fargo Park District observes 50-year milestone

The West Fargo Park District is celebrating its 50th milestone in 2007 with a variety of activities that will continue through year-end rotating at Park-related locations throughout the City.

The next community observance is their big 50th Birthday Bash from 5 to 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 17, at Armour Park, 2nd Ave. West.

The evening promises to be filled with entertainment and fun for all ages, starting with Penny and Pals at 6 p.m.; the music of the Red River Valley Veterans Band at 7 p.m.; a Kiddie Run at 7:30 p.m.; concluding with a big screen movie after dark titled "Night at the Museum."

Free hamburgers and hot dogs will be served, while they last. There will also be birthday cake, face painting, strolling magicians and a number of kid's games to be announced.

Park District officials are looking forward to the event and encouraging the community to stop out and take in the fun.

"The West Fargo Park District has experienced tremendous growth in its programs and facilities over these 50 years, especially in recent years," Executive Director Barb Erbstoesser stated. "The Park District Commissioners and staff are committed to continuing to listen and work with the community for the betterment of West Fargo's park system. The next 50 years look to be exciting, especially with recent growth. Along with new areas of growth, the Park District will be especially mindful of the older parks and updating of these facilities as well. Please come out to Armour Park on Tuesday, July 17 to help celebrate the West Fargo Park District's 50th birthday celebration."

The history of the West Fargo Park District dates back to 1957, when the late Herb Tintes served as the first Park Board Chairman. In 1975, the District hired Jon Kenyon as its first full time Superintendent of Parks. In 1984, he was joined by a full-time recreation director. Erbstoesser came on board in that capacity 19 years ago and was named Superintendent upon Kenyon's retirement in 2000.

In 1989, the cities of Riverside and West Fargo merged into one city creating even more area for the Park District to oversee and maintain. The West Fargo Park District presently owns and or maintains approximately 39 park areas, totaling 350 acres with administrative offices located in North Elmwood Park at 500 13th Ave. W.

Throughout the expansion and growth, the West Fargo Park District's mission has remained the same - to provide opportunities for citizens to enjoy leisure time in its public programs, facilities and parks contributing to the quality of community life and meeting the needs and interests through quality services at a reasonable price.

Toward that end, the Park District now offers a three field soccer complex; a lighted 4 court tennis complex; seven softball diamonds; a Babe Ruth baseball diamond; a Legion baseball diamond; two outdoor hockey rinks; six outdoor pleasure skating rinks; an indoor multipurpose sports arena; two large picnic shelters; BMX racing track; garden plots for public use; numerous recreational trails - throughout the parks and City; a skateboard park (new in 2002); several outdoor basketball courts; numerous playgrounds; one outdoor swimming pool; horseshoe courts; two warming houses; sand volleyball courts; a disc golf course and lots of green space, open for the imagination and future development.

Through it all, the staff has also grown considerably to meet the ever changing needs with employees now including Erbstoesser; recreation manager Lance Belisle, two years experience; facility manager Jamie Olson, 14 years; park operations manager Bob Potter, 27 years; recreation specialist Kim Wangler, one year; facility specialist Brad Onofreychuk, three years; business manager Justin Germundson, two years; and maintenance personnel Kevin Hawley, 17 years, Greg Foien, 14 years, Dave Opdahl, nine years, Dave Schacher, six years, Andrew Rodriguez, four years, and Jesse Johnson, one year.

The West Fargo Park Board meets the 2nd Wednesday of each month governed by five elected commissioners: Sharon Odegaard, chairperson, Ken Zetocha, vice chairperson, Gary Fugere, Denise Johnson and Kathy Scully.

More information is available by contacting the West Fargo Park District at 433-5360 or visiting their Web site at