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Season’s end

Campgrounds close for winter

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Webster County Conservation Director Matt Cosgrove makes sure the power is off to the cabin in the John F. Kennedy Memorial Park Campground Wednesday morning. Tuesday was the last day of camping and park crews got right to work winterizing the facility.

If anyone wants to try some late-season cold weather camping, John F. Kennedy Memorial Park isn’t going to be the place for them. The Gypsum City OHV Park isn’t either.

The 2018-2019 camping season ended Tuesday.

According to Webster County Conservation Director Matt Cosgrove, his staff wasted no time getting started on the winterizing.

“It was fast and furious,” he said.

The biggest first-up task is making sure the pipes don’t freeze. Crews remove most of the plumbing under the fixtures, take out the water filters and drain the water heaters.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Webster County Conservation Director Matt Cosgrove makes sure the gas is shut off to one of the water heaters in the shower builidng at John F. Kennedy Memorial Park Wednesday morning. As part of the winterization process, the filters attached to the pipes at left have already been removed.

“The biggest concern is when the night-time temperatures get to freezing,” Cosgrove said. “We shut down the water.”

With the plumbing safe and sound, there’s plenty of other tasks.

“We take down the flag, shut off all the breakers, take down some of the signs so they’re out of the elements and button up things in the cabins,” he said.

Cosgrove said it’s been an exceptional season.

“Considering the weather we’ve had,” he said, commenting on the cool, wet summer. “You wouldn’t have known that by the camping.”

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
That’s it folks. Another season of camping at John F. Kennedy Memorial Park has come to a close.

One of the fun fall events for the campers is the annual Trick or Treat night. Campers decorate their sites and visitors go screen door to tent flap collecting treats.

“It went great,” Cosgrove said.

The crew will get to stay busy though. It’s not over just yet.

“We have two weeks before they can start setting up for Lights at Kennedy,” he said.

That means some tree trimming, minor repairs and the replacement of a few aging pieces of infrastructure.

“The campground dates to the ’70s,” he said. “We might have to replace a grill or a hydrant or two. We try to spread it out over time.”

One advantage to the campground being empty of visitors is the crew assembling the new yurts can spend their time working. Cosgrove said park visitors are curious about the structures and often stop to ask about them.

The crews will also be going out to the other 23 sites managed by Webster County Conservation.

“We want to get out and get some land management done,” Cosgrove said.

He is working on changing the way firewood is supplied, too. While it’s a revenue source, it also costs money to fill the old corn crib that’s now empty after the busy season.

“We’re going to try to go to a contract,” he said. “We have six weeks of staff time at two to four hours per day just splitting wood. There is no profit.”

Next year’s camping season will start on April 15 giving those anxious for a weekend away from home something to do besides filing their tax forms at the last minute.