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JCP
08-09-2010, 12:19 AM
The Lions Behind Mat G. Boname, M.D. Park

OXFORD – Many memories have been made at Boname Park. It has been an important location for birthdays, graduations, reunions and other special events. For several years it was the location of the Bluegrass Festival, and recently the park was even home for a concert by Panhandle, the Alt-Country band with Oxford roots. Not many, however, know how the park came to be, how much the Oxford Lions Club has done, and about the maintenance that continues.

The Mat G. Boname, M.D. Park, on East River Road just north of Oxford Village, was once simply known as “the Village Park”. Lawyers Vernon Stratton and Janet Hill Gordon got the land for the park donated to the Village from the (new at the time) Veterans' Home administration. The property was to be used as a public recreation park, always. Even today, park pavilion use, with advance reservations through the Village Hall, is free for Oxford residents to enjoy.

How did the Park get its name? Originally the Medical Inspector, Dr. Boname, an obstetrician and devoted Rotarian, conducted clinics in the Oxford Schools for many years and was the school physician since the beginning of his medical practice in 1928. Having meant so much to so many, the park was dedicated to Dr. Mat G. Boname in 1992 in honor of his 90th birthday.

The Oxford Lions Club assumed the responsibility for the development of the park as their community service project. In the 1970’s, they built three pavilions; the largest was dedicated to “Lion Kenneth Bartle” who was the chairman and driving force for the construction of the large pavilion.

This was a perfect location for the Club’s popular horse pull fund raisers. With the raised funds they were able to install restrooms, barbecue pits, snow fencing, and in time, playground equipment and plantings for beautification.

As the park grew, so did the excitement, and soon everyone wanted to help with Boname Park. The Oxford American Legion provided the blacktop, and many different Oxford organizations paid for the picnic tables that were made by Camp Pharsalia inmates.

Time and use, however, has taken its toll and some Park building repairs were needed. This past June, Oxford Lions Club members, headed by Lion David Emerson, volunteered their help. Then in July, the Lions received a grant from The Place in Norwich and arranged for park maintenance to be done by two youth groups, the SYETP and Headwaters, to give the park a fresh appearance.

First, new coats of paint were brushed on picnic tables, benches and pavilion interiors by area teens from the Summer Youth Employment Training Program (SYETP). SYETP is a government project designed to train young people for future jobs. Student crews get hands-on work skills at a variety of county worksites doing community projects. They also receive once-a-week training in making resumés, cover letters, and they learn interview skills and get college guidance to develop their own future career goals. The students who heard about this work training opportunity in their high school (or from CDO Workforce) were Michael Perez from Oxford, Tynan Anderson-Bell from Bainbridge, Charlene Beckwith from Oxford, Antonio Escobar and Krys Escobar from Oxford, Tom Sheffield from Afton, and Brittany Dunagan of Oxford. Under the crew leader, Selena Carroll, Boname Park started looking like new.

Continuing the painting project, Cara Sefchick, AmeriCorps Programs Coordinator at The Place, sent over teens from the Headwaters Youth Conservation Corps. According to the crew’s leader, Adam Landon from Livonia, the purpose of this federally sponsored group is to get work experience before college in natural resources and conservation. Park work like this is exactly what they do. This crew consisted of Kristen Rawluk – Pharsalia, Zach Hayes – Greene, Brad McDaniel – Sherburne, Erik Palmer – Smyrna, and Zach Forrest – S. Otselic. They painted the exteriors of all three pavilions and all the white trim. With their hard work, Boname Park is ready for the Money Family’s reunion on August 15th, and every other special event to come.

To make plans at Boname Park, contact the Oxford Village Hall at vgoxford@stny.rr.com or (607) 843-2512.

Don’t miss the Oxford Lions Club’s next fundraiser on August 29th, the “Big Rig Show” to be held at Otsego Auto Crushers, Route 12 south of Norwich. For more info contact president Debbie Martinson at (607) 843-6151 or email info@oxfordlions.org (info@oxfordlions.org) .

(Click on the thumbnail to view a larger image.)
Caption: Headwaters Youth Conservation Corps members at Boname Park were Erik Palmer, Zach Forrest, Adam Landon, Kristen Rawluk, and (on ladders) Brad McDaniel and Zach Hayes. This hard working crew recently painted all three pavilions for the Oxford Lions Club.