Painter family’s love of Admiral Farragut Park rewarded by Smokies, KCPR

Milena Painter, 10, and big brother, Cameron, 11, stand in front of parents, from left, Caitlin and Jeremy Painter, alongside Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett after the family earned a “good behavior” gift package from the Tennessee Smokies at Admiral Farragut Park Thursday afternoon, May 10. This new program is in cooperation with Knox County Parks & Recreation. Also on hand, from left, were Chris Allen, president of Boyd Sports (oversees the Smokies); state Rep. Jason Zachary (R-District 14, which includes Farragut and Northshore/Concord); Connor Pearce, Smokies “Rally Ranger” mascot; and Knox County Commissioner John Schoonmaker (R-5th District, which includes Farragut and Northshore/Concord).
The Painter family has developed a fondness for Admiral Farragut Park along Northshore Drive near their home — after all, it’s where Jeremy and Caitlin are documenting the growth of their Northshore Elementary School children, Cameron, 11, and Milena, 10.

“There’s a spot down here, and two or three times a week on the way to school I will stop and they will jump out and go by the water and I’ll get a picture of them in the same spot,” Jeremy said about Cameron, a fifth-grader, and Milena, a fourth-grader.

“I’ve been wanting to do that so we can (document) seeing them growing up over the year,” he added. “Hopefully it’ll turn out to be an ongoing tradition.”

With all four family members picking up trash at the park “at least once a month” dating back to last fall, as part of Knox County Parks & Recreation’s “Adopt A Park” program, “it’s just great to get out and give back,” Jeremy said. “Along the shoreline you see a lot of trash that maybe gets tossed off of boats, or people that walk along the trails at night.”

The extent of their park fondness was recognized earlier this month, as the family’s volunteer work was rewarded by Tennessee Smokies Class AA Minor League Baseball team, in cooperation with Knox County Parks & Recreation.

Labeled “Park Perks,” game tickets and other team memorabilia were presented to the family during a ceremony, which also included Knox County Commissioner John Schoonmaker (R--5th District, including Farragut and Northshore/Concord), Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and state Rep. Jason Zachary (R-District 14, which includes Farragut and Northshore/Concord) Thursday afternoon, May 10.

“They adopted Admiral Farragut Park last fall, and have done a tremendous job helping us and our staff to keep it clean,” Burchett said.

Chris Allen, president of Boyd Sports (oversees the Smokies), said the collaboration “is a unique partnership. … If you look at the thousands of acres of parks they have throughout the county, over 25,000 acres, and you can just do a good deed — pick up trash or whatever — you should be rewarded.”

A handful of Parks & Recreation officials, including director Doug Bataille, have the discretion to allocate tickets to whomever they deem is a worthy volunteer, or contributor, at a county park, Allen said.

During the Smokies’ season, which runs from early April through early September, “We’re going to give out several hundred,” said Mike Donila, KCPR Community Relations manager. “We might carry 10 at a time.

“If a kid hits a game-winning home run, maybe he gets a ticket,” he added. “… It’s more of a feel-good program. … We may give out all 10 in one day or maybe it’ll take a week to give out 10.”