>Bean Foundation major contributor
Thanks to generous grant money from the Bean Foundation, the Madras Aquatic Center recreation department established itself within the community last year and is gearing for an even stronger second run.
   Steve Keever, who was named MAC program director in July of 2011, has been the face of the recreation department. Over the past 13 months, Keever said there have been challenges with change, but said with a year under his belt, he hopes to build upon the programs established.
   "I think we've been really successful because we have branched out from more traditional recreational activities such as the skate part event, which we plan to do again September," Keever said. "It was the first event ever at the skate park, and it's those type of things that we want to provide as part our recreation program."
   Over the past year, the MAC district benefited from a one-year $75,000 grant from the Bean Foundation to assist with development of a recreation department, under the guidance of Keever.
   "We just can't thank the Bean Foundation enough," Keever said.
   Due to the success of the recreation program, the Bean Foundation has committed to another five years of steadily reduced funding: $60,000 for the current year; $50,000 for 2013-14; $40,000 for 2014-15; $20,000 for 2015-16; and $10,000 for 2016-17.
   "I think the Bean Foundation has seen that our participation numbers are up, and despite some challenges, it was a very successful first year with the recreation department," said MAC general manager Bobby DeRoest.
   The MAC recreation department has partnered with organizations such as Jefferson County Little League, Kiwanis and Lions, and businesses in town such as Madras Physical Therapy to help organize and run youth recreation programs such as baseball, basketball and softball.
   "We came together with several organizations and tried to establish a system for signups and operation of each program," Keever said. "We want to try and make one place where people know to come to signup and get information about the recreation activities in Madras."
   The MAC recreation department also introduced a men's basketball league, a softball league, an indoor soccer league and a six-run running series.
   "We anticipated five teams, but we had 13 teams turn out for basketball," Keever said. "We had some issues there because we had such a big turnout, but we learned and it will be run more efficiently next year."
   Keever admits change has brought some challenges, but said he's working to continue and improve relationships within the community to better the recreation programs in place.
   "One of our biggest challenges is that Steve can only be at one place at a time," DeRoest said. "We have lofty goals and expect a lot of him, so we have to try and be careful to not get overextended with what we offer, so what we do offer is run very efficiently."
   Over the next year, the MAC recreation department plans to improve upon the established programs and expand into a wider range of age groups with family-oriented programs.
   "Instead of just an open gym for 20-30-year-olds, we want to try and implement family activities, such as bike rides or a horse shoe season," Keever said. "It's a lot of work, but a lot of people are coming on board."
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