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September 2, 2014 • Headlines

The National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association is ready to celebrate muzzle loading sports and Early American heritage.
Pictured above, an NMLRA member practices at the firing line during the competition in Friendship.

Many veterans attended the showing of “Honor Flight” on Aug. 27 at the Osgood Damm Theatre in Osgood. The WWII vets were encouraged
to sign up for the Indy Honor Flight to DC. After the film, sponsor Lila Neal asked the vets to stand. The free movie left many with tears.

Art Reckman is pictured above relaxing at his cabin overlooking the lake.
Reckman shares his property with urban kids giving them an opportunity to experience nature.

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City kids meet nature
Sunman lot developed for urban kids to enjoy country landscape, activities

Mary Mattingly

Surrounded by lush shady trees with shards of morning sun streaming through amidst the summer sound of crickets and birds chirping, Arthur Reckman relaxes on a screened-in porch overlooking an eight-acre, glistening lake, and cherishes what nature has brought. But the 64-year-old, Cincinnati developer is not content to keep the little bit of heaven on earth to himself. That was never the idea when he bought and developed the 82 acres tucked off of Schaefer Road in Sunman over three years ago.

Art Reckman property


Left, Over the Rhine kids try the rope swing at Art Reckman’s Sunman property. The city kids come and experience nature at the farm.

“We wanted a family farm or retreat to share with friends and relatives and the people on the street we work with at Over the Rhine,” he said.

His three grown children, Chris, Matt and Molly, and wife Mellen all had a say in where to build a retreat, and what it would feature. For example, gas boats are prohibited on the lake. It was important to all of them to keep it as close to the natural environment as possible. More importantly, it was crucial to share their blessing. And, they do…with 50 urban kids!

This past June, 53 K-12th grade children from Over the Rhine were able to enjoy what the Reckmans built. The Wesley Chapel Mission Center, a ministry for after school and summer care that leases space in buildings which Reckman’s company owns, loaded up the city kids on a bus and drove them an hour to the country, in Dearborn County

“They got to learn how to fish, how to ride a horse, how to take a walk in nature. Frankly, for many of them, they were overwhelmed. It’s the first time they walked into nature. We had to say, ‘this is a lake, trees, grass!’ They don’t see things like that,” Reckman said. It is something many kids in rural Southeast Indiana take for granted.

Becky Costello with the Wesley Chapel group confirms the children’s reaction. “For the first-timers, many have never been out of the city so the bus ride to the country is a new experience. They comment on the live animals they see, the horses and cows, and how far apart the houses are! They are actually a bit intimidated when they arrive on Schaefer Road because of its dense greenery. Once we go down the tree-lined street, it looks like a jungle to them. You have to understand this is an unknown to most of these kids,” Costello said.

Art Reckman property
Pictured right, a volunteer shows an Over the Rhine visitor how to fish.

Before Reckman developed this Sunman retreat, the city children would visit and experience similar activities on his farm in Northern Kentucky. They made the day long field trip for 10 years. About twice as many volunteers also attend and several others the Reckmans invite. He sold that land and looked at “100 properties” as he said, before they discovered the Sunman lot. It was actually an abandoned piece of property, but today it has a new 40 x 80 foot barn compete with kitchen, restrooms, two lofts, a 14 foot long red oak banquet table, and even an indoor basketball court! There is also a boathouse, picnic tables, benches, and fire pits surrounding the acreage. The 60-yea- old cabin was overtaken by animals before they cleaned it up

“It all turned out better than I dreamed. I’m living the dream,” Reckman says enthusiastically. He hopes the kids get the same feeling he does, like he is somewhere far away, other than just an hour from his home in Maderia or work at Over the Rhine.

He grew up in a modest home, and his father died when he was seven, but neighbors always made sure he got to experience the great outdoors. Now, he’s trying to do the same for what others did for him. “You see kids experience what I did as a child,” he said. There is a huge grill outside the barn on a trailer he often takes to Over the Rhine for cookouts. They’ll grill corn on the cob, ribs, burgers and brats, for the kids and the volunteers, and eat at the benches in a circle…just like summer camp. He always visits the Wesley Center to take menu requests before the kids come “What’s amazing is every kid wants to fish! Some will fish for six hours, some for 10 minutes,” he said. The city kids also get a kick out of playing basketball in the middle of the barn.

It’s all about giving back to the folks in the neighborhood he worked in for 40 years. “I wanted them to experience it, this environment. All of our employees want to give back and live the mission,” he said. Reckman employs 100 people with The Model Group, a Cincinnati-based holding company for development, construction and management that he founded in the late 1970s. It’s also the same organization that donates the building space for the Wesley Chapel. Costello said he’s very generous. “I tell him it gives our children that wholesome fun… It’s a most encouraging environment they experience and something others may take for granted.”

Semi-retired, Reckman visited the Milan Hoosiers ’54 museum for inspiration, and built a half court wood floor spring loaded with rubber gaskets. He’s invited the Milan board to use the farm for dinner meetings, fundraisers or whatever they might want. Reckman is in the midst of preparing the barn for his son’s wedding, a perfect setting for the popular vintage theme weddings these days. He has a crew cutting wood from the trees on the property and making picnic tables. In the meantime, he finds purpose every day when he wakes, anxious to chop wood, clear trees, or teach a child to fish. “ This is exactly what I want to do….This is as close to perfection as you get!”

5K race salutes soldiers

Sunman wants to honor soldiers and veterans, and it is doing so with a special event on Saturday, Sept. 6. Rita Seig, who lost her cousin PFC Anthony Seig in 2006, while he was serving in Iraq, has organized the second Salute a Soldier 5K race. Run, walk or roll, she says, to honor all service members.

Last year, they had 357 participate, and many more who lined the streets to support the runners and walkers, soldiers and veterans. “Last year everyone walked away that day proud to be an American and so proud of those men and women,” she said. American flags are on display, many with a soldier’s name inscribed, as the runners pass by. The American theme continues for this second annual race. Last year, they raised $6,000, which went toward the Let Us Never Forget Scholarship Fund in the name of 51 Tri-state soldiers who lost their lives. Seig hopes to raise as much again. They also give a portion to the American Legion Post 337 in Sunman for helping host the event.

The start and end of the race is at the post building on Eastern Avenue, with the race starting at 9 a.m. A tribute for veterans follows at 11:30. “The special guests are the veterans themselves and the men and women currently serving,” Seig said. “It’s all about them and their families and anyone who wants to share in giving them a salute that day.”

There are age categories for children 8 and under, up to adults age 70+. To register visit an FCN Bank location or online at Participants may also register the day of the race. The race kicks off the Sunman Wine and Fireworks festival at the community park.

Pick up this week's edition of the Osgood Journal for the stories below and more local news. Subscribe by clicking the subscribe link or call 812-689-6364.

• Recognizing scams and frauds: written by Senator Joe Donnelly (page 4)
• Women and Social Security: written by Charo Boyd of the Social Security Administration (page 4)
• Details on the Annual Pumpkin Show Baking Contest (page 8)

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