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Valley Parks and Rec. adjusts to COVID-19

VALLEY — Valley Community Center is slowly building its daily participation. Before the coronavirus shut down in March, the Community Center was averaging more than 300 visitors every day. The first week following the reopening last month, the daily average was only 78 people. That number is up to an average of 109 people per day.

“The numbers are slowly going up,” Valley Parks & Recreation Director Laurie Blount told The Valley Times-News, “but it’s going to take some time to get back to where we’d like to be. The main thing is for people to feel comfortable being here, and we are trying to do all we can for that to happen. We are still doing lots of cleaning to keep everything as safe as possible.”

There’s a new piece of equipment at the main entrance that scans for COVID-19. “It scans your face and gets your temperature,” Blount said. “It will go off if your temperature is at a certain level. It’s a good way to know if anyone coming in has symptoms of the coronavirus.”

Wearing a mask is encouraged but not required.

“It’s hard to work out wearing a mask,” Blount said. “We do ask people to social distance and to stay at least six feet away from anyone else.”

The fitness room is being limited to 15 people at a time. All the machines that are in operation are at least six feet apart. Some of the treadmills have been temporarily shut down to allow this.

The Community Center is open from 5 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. EDT Monday through Friday and from 8 to 4 on Saturdays. This week it will be closing at 6 p.m. on Friday and will not be open on Saturday, which will be Independence Day.

Weather permitting, a long-time Valley tradition will continue with a July 4th fireworks show. It will start around 9:45 p.m., or when it’s completely dark,

“We are asking people to maintain social distancing,” Blount said. “They will be doing this by remaining in small groups around their car. That’s what usually happens at our fireworks shows. If people keep doing what they’ve done in past years they will be okay. Just don’t get together in a big group.”

The current tradition of July 4th fireworks shows began in 1996 when the city celebrated the opening of the Sportsplex.

Blount said that activity is also picking up at the Valley Farmers Market.

“We will be up to nine farmers this Friday,” she said. “They are bringing some really good produce, and everyone should feel free to come by during the hours of 3 to 6 p.m.,” she said. “Most of what’s for sale was picked that day from a garden.”

Another Valley tradition will continue on Friday, July 17th. That will be free tomato sandwich day. This is something that pre-dates the farmer’s market. It was started by the late Evan and Jeanette Mason at the Village Curb Market on Highway 29 in Valley. The Masons were ahead of their time. They were selling fresh, vine-ripe tomatoes via the Internet when it was a new and coming thing.

“We will also be having a free watermelon day in August,” Blount said. “We’ve yet to decide on the date.”