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Residents want city to offer handball league, host races

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Posted: Wednesday, April 4, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:00 am, Wed Apr 4, 2012.

A citywide handball tournament, Spanish lessons, a wrestling program and the planting of a community gardening were just some of the ideas Lodi residents suggested as services or activities the city's Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services department should consider offering.

The Recreation Commission held a forum Tuesday night to hear what recreation programs or other activities the public would like to participate in.

One of the main suggestions to target at-risk youth was handball. Commission member and Lodi High assistant principal Jeff Palmquist said students are latching on to the sport at his school after a gang resource counselor suggested it.

"Two main groups come together in a positive way," Palmquist said. "Kids that are normally trying to fight are playing handball together."

Interim Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Jeff Hood said it is a possibility that the city could use some of the $250,000 grant it received to fight gangs to create scholarships to help kids from low-income families participate in sports, music or arts programs.

Boosters of Boys/Girls Sports president Eddie Long said his organization offers scholarships, and could always use more money to get more students involved. They do not pay 100 percent of the fees for a child, so families still have to contribute some money, Long said.

"It's hard on the families that have three or four kids who want to play sports, and sometimes they have to choose which kid gets to play," he said.

Councilman Bob Johnson suggested the commission see if the city could expand or offer new opportunities based on the running program a teacher started at Heritage Elementary that has grown to 100 participants.

Long said the his organization has discussed adding wrestling.

Commission chairwoman Barbara Wardrobe-Fox said the No. 1 thing she hears from people is the desire for community theater to return to Lodi, especially for children. She said she has noticed the proliferation of dodgeball and kickball leagues in other cities.

Palmquist also suggested the city look into providing some type of citywide running series or a biathlon of kayaking and running sometime around the Fourth of July.

Do you have suggestions or want to offer to teach a sport, class or activity? You can contact the city at prdept@lodi.gov.

Contact reporter Maggie Creamer at maggiec@lodinews.com. Read her blog at www.lodinews.com/blogs/citybuzz.

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