Hawkins County children found a way to beat the heat this weekend, as the town hosted the A.S. Derrick Park splash pad grand opening on April 30.

Once Mayor Dennis Deal officially cut the ribbon in front of the new water feature, several kids began to try it out.

“When I woke up this morning, I got to thinking about the city of Church Hill,” Deal told crowd gathered to watch the ceremony. “Our forefathers named this city pertaining to a church on the hill. The city has really been blessed. The good Lord has blessed us beyond means…Our past boards and our current board has allowed us to be where we are today financially.”

After construction delays due caused by COVID-19 shutdowns, the splash pad was completed in July of last year, and an official grand opening was set for August. As COVID-19 cases continued to rise, the town eventually cancelled the grand opening.

The afternoon of April 30 this year was the first time the water feature has been open to the public.

“We never dreamed this time last year that we would be shut down,” Deal told the crowd. “We had no recreation, and we had to shut our fitness center down and our senior citizens center.”

The structure, which was designed and installed by Vortex Aquatic Structures International, is 1,963 square feet and includes in ground and above ground features that users can enjoy. The structure is also ADA (Americans with Disabilities) compliant.

The splash pad will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily in the summer months for public use.

The splash pad is one of several new upgrades coming to A.S. Derrick Park. A stage, playground sets for ages 2-5 and 5-12, and a wheelchair accessible swing set have also been installed. Two new picnic shelters will also be installed soon.

In September, the town also purchased the nearly three-acre piece of property behind Church Hill’s VFW Post 9754. This property is located at 261 Silver Lake Road and will be used to expand Derrick Park, which is located just next door to Post 9754, and create two ball fields and two parking lots.

Deal also reminded the crowd that some of the town’s recreational sports for children begin on May 6. The town is also planning a May 15 parade for Volunteer High School seniors at 6 p.m. At the conclusion of the parade, students and their families will gather in the parking lot of the Church Hill Library for speeches and socialization.

Church Hill’s city pool, which is located at 424 Lane Street, also remained closed for the entire summer of 2020 due to COVID-19 cases. Deal told the board at the time that 2020 was the first year in his memory that the city pool wasn’t open.

As was traditional before the COVID-10 pandemic, the city pool is set to open on Memorial Day weekend in 2021.

“We’ve been very blessed in this city with what we’ve been able to accomplish,” Deal told the crowd. “We’re a community city…and if we can make it better, that’s what it’s all about.”