BY C.L. HARMON PUBLISHER
FLINTSTONES! Meet the Flintstones, they’re the modern…WAIT! Oops, wrong cartoon. Same creators, but different cartoon. Oh well, since we’re already talking about meeting someone, meet the Ryans! Ryans! Meet the Ryans. They’re the modern day Jellystone age family. A
nd they are clearing the way for fun in the sun this summer at the new Jellystone Aqua Park. The family, consisting of Bob, Beth and son Ben, are currently working on construction/renovation aspects at Salt Creek North just outside of Mannford. We recently had a few moments to visit with Bob and Beth Ryan about what they are doing in preparation for the park. Bob said that one of the first tasks has been increasing water availability so campers running water hoses across the roads to reach spickets will no longer be an issue. “Please bring what you used to bring and then be pleasantly surprised,” Bob said. He added they are adding 20-25 new spickets, which will hopefully be enough but for this first season. In addition, they are repacking the actual campsites so campers will not be sinking in the mud during the rainy season. They are also updating the bath houses and installing the water playground. (See our website for their brochure showing the playground aka wibit.) Due to the fact that the season is at hand, they are limited at to what they can accomplish before officially opening. However, they have already trimmed trees and scraped the swimming beach making it void of rocks. Most of it anyway, Bob said. They will also have have the paddle boards, kayaks and life jacket availability. ready by their opening. “The main thing the public needs to be aware of now as far as we are concerned is that this is no longer a city or Corp park in the sense of a business. Everything that is being paid for here is out of the Ryans and the Sahli’s pockets,” Bob said. He explained that there are no more volunteers or city or government money. Al and Rose Sahli are the Ryan’s business partners in this venture. “We are glad to be here and glad to be spending the money, but as a private venture we have liability issues that we are concerned with. We understand that people are used to this being a public park, but it can be dangerous with trucks moving in and out construction going on,” Beth and Bob said. They hope that people will understand their position and use other lake facilities for day outings. This in no way implies that that they want people to stay away. As a family, they are very concerned for the safety of others and are very excited to show off the facilities once they open. The park will be under construction for quite some time, but once they open, those areas will be closed to the public. As things come online, they will be opened. For now though, what they have mentioned already will be open by mid April. Interestingly, the tables turned on me during this interview and the Ryans began asking questions about the public’s perceptions and their concerns. They seem genuinely concerned about what the public thinks and have even become a part of the community, buying a home and frequenting the local eating establishments. I mentioned the importance of fishing and how there had been some negative comments about how their presence would effect the fishing. They responded by saying that if anyone is willing to give them some guidance, they are happy to work with them on keeping the fishing a healthy past time. In addition, the area the park is occupying has always been desiganted as swimming areas and therefore should not interfere with popular fishing areas. They also spoke of rates. With a business sense of running a park of this size, they explained that they understand rate increases are difficult and dealt with this issue at their park in Pennslyvania as well. During the spring and fall, rates will be reasonable, but in the peak season of summer, when they have to employ 50 more people to help run the park, rates have to increase to offset the cost of labor which is necessary to keep the level of service that they park goers will become accustomed to. The Ryans explain that when one breaks down the value of the parks’ cost, people are getting a very good deal, especially when they realize all that is available to them at the park.