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Softball controversy still not resolved


Girls coordinator separates from Genoa City Recreation, starts league


September 03, 2013 | 11:01 AM
GENOA CITY — Is the local girls softball program still operating under Genoa City Recreation?

Will it be something co-operated by the village?

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Genoa City Xplosion (click for larger version)
The person who ran girls softball for the last five years wants to work with the village now, but one of Genoa City Recreation's board members said he'd like it to stay with the organization.

In an Aug. 28 phone interview, Karen Koehn, who organizes the girls softball program, said "we separated from the rec program." She said she received a letter from a Genoa City Recreation board member authorizing the split.

"I've kind of really just gone off on my own and created my own league," she said. But in an Aug. 29 interview, Stan Torstenson, of Genoa City Recreation, said girls softball hasn't officially separated from the organization.

"I'd like to keep it," Torstenson said adding that there's a difference of opinion among rec board members.

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Trustee Phil Traskaski, who chairs the Parks and Recreation and Community Relations Committee, was asked to set up a meeting with the involved parties after they appeared at a regular village board meeting in August.

Koehn said she hasn't yet heard from Traskaski. There are no committee meetings posted on the village's website.

"You have to move forward with the league because the season has started," Koehn said. "(But) we're still hoping to be able to work with the village."

Why leave Genoa City Recreation?

Koehn said the organization favors the boys programs over girls softball, which would end each year with "$3,000 to $6,000" left over, then start the budget for next year at "zero."

"They could care less about the girls program," Koehn said. "If it wasn't bringing in any money, they'd be done."

The Aug. 29 interview with Torstenson lasted about 15 minutes.

"At the (August) board meeting, I said, 'This is not the place to discuss it,'" Torstenson said.

Several times, he asked the Regional News not to write the story.

"I don't want a lot of stuff published until we sit down and have a meeting," he said.

Torstenson said he didn't know when the meeting will occur.

He also said he didn't want any of his comments to appear in print.

After being told that his comments would be used in this story because it's germane to the issue, Torstenson said he would not respond to further questions.

Koehn said partnering with the village wouldn't just help her league secure a place to play.

She said it could benefit the village because it would bring in people "and they need someplace to eat."

"It could be huge for the village, which really needs something," she said. "I've lived here my whole life and it's sad to see all these businesses closed."

Moneyball

Koehn discussed growing up in Genoa City. She said she played softball until she was 18, and that she was one of the first people to receive the Joe Darling scholarship.

Girls softball has a travel team of 12 players, the Genoa City Xplosion, she said. There's also a "rec league," she said, the Genoa City Sluggers, which provides softball games for "girls who don't want heavy competition, just the fun, to learn the skills."

For five years, she ran both. The travel league, she said, began three years ago. Her daughter played on it, then went on to a league team in Illinois.

With practices, "realistically, you will play some type of softball most of the year," Koehn said.

The Xplosion will probably play 80 games or more, she said.

And it's funded by donations girls softball players and coaches obtain through sponsors and fundraisers.

"Because you're nonprofit, you try to do everything you can," Koehn said.

She said with Genoa City Recreation, there is one account, and all the funds raised for the girls and boys programs go into it.

Koehn said when she asked the organization's board to move in the fence behind home plate on Darling Field, where girls play, she was denied. She said she asked to have a temporary fence placed there, and the board denied her second request. Koehn said board members asked why girls need a fence.

Torstenson said Koehn's request was denied because some teams play baseball on that field. To move or place a temporary fence would break baseball game regulations, he said.

Koehn also questioned what happened to a $2,500 donation to the girls softball program. She said a family donated the money specifically to the girls program and "we never saw a dime of that" donation.

She also said she has asked budget questions before, but never saw any financial documents until after the August board meeting.

She said she received documents after the August board meeting which show some bills Genoa City Recreation paid for girls softball, including lawn maintenance of Darling Field.

Isn't this to the benefit of the girls softball program?

Koehn answered that with another criticism of Genoa City Recreation: "There is absolutely no communication with this program." She said she has not been invited to a meeting in two years.

As for where is the money going, Torstenson listed some of the things Genoa City Recreation paid for, including the lights and lawn maintenance in Darling Field.

"We paid all the bills," he said. "Whenever (Koehn) asked for something, we'd give it to her."

Torstenson also said Koehn "does a great job running that program."

Now, it appears she said she's running it without Genoa City Recreation.

She said she received a letter from David Schiltz, of the recreation board, which authorizes her separation from the organization.

Koehn said she established the program as its own business, ordered uniforms and scheduled tournaments. She said the advantage to working with the village is it could be something that Genoa City as a municipality can offer its children, and the money it brings in can be used to maintain Darling Park.

What will happen if she's running it without help from the village?

Koehn said she will do what she can.

"As long as we can lease a field from Genoa City and my girls have a place to play, we'll take care of it," she said.

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