‘Dog friendly’

Soft opening held for dog park in Hanock County

RIBBON CUTTING — Members of the Hancock County Parks and Recreation Board, joined by the county commissioners and other officials, cut the ribbon Saturday for the new Hancock County dog park, located on Gas Valley Road. Pictured, from left, board member Connie Mason, board Secretary/Treasurer Amy Franey-Cunningham, Park Administrator Britni Recinella, Commissioner Jeff Davis, former board member Mark Cooper, Commissioner Paul Cowey, Commissioner Joe Barnabei, board President Jeff Wargo and Bob Vidas, executive director of the county’s Office of Technology and Communications. -- Julie Riedel

NEW CUMBERLAND — Hancock County went to the dogs Saturday, with officials cutting the ribbon to unveil the county’s first recreational area specifically for local canines.

“I’m glad everyone came. I think it’s a great turnout and it just shows what it’s going to do for the community,” said Britni Recinella, Hancock County Park and Recreations administrator.

As part of Saturday’s soft opening of the dog park on Gas Valley Road, dog owners were able to bring their pups to play in the park. There was a pet blessing, as well as vendors selling dog-friendly items, a dog costume contest and a door prize raffle.

“I’m happy the weather has cooperated and we have a good turnout. And we’re happy to be bringing a dog park to Hancock County,” said Jeff Wargo, park board president.

Members of the county’s Park Board, along with the Hancock County Commission, did the ribbon cutting and Patti Barnabei did the pet blessing.

“I’m just happy for the turnout and I want to continue inviting residents to the dog park. It’s for them to use,” Commissioner Paul Cowey. “And I want to thank everyone who made this park happen.”

During the ribbon cutting ceremony, Commissioner Jeff Davis said conversations about a dog park started eight years ago. He also reported the cost for the park was $70,000 and the money came from the county’s hotel/motel tax. Commissioner Joe Barnabei also honored former park board member Mark Cooper, who was instrumental in making the dog park happen, with a plaque.

“It’s so nice. I’ve been waiting for a dog park,” said Michelle D’Amico, who was there with her dog Jade.

The park will be open from sunrise to sunset each day. The park board will be holding a grand opening in the spring after agility equipment and other features are added to the park. Wargo explained the soft opening was held because the park is at a point it can be used.

(Riedel can be contacted at jriedel@reviewonline.com)