Recreation director is first stepPublished 12:18am Monday, February 11, 2013
This week the Adams County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to support the hiring of a recreation director for Natchez-Adams County. While all supervisors may have had different reasons to support this position, I wanted to share my opinion on why I voted yes and why I think now is the proper timing for hiring a recreation director.
The battle to build a new recreation complex has consumed the spotlight for all recreation issues relevant to Natchez-Adams County. While these talks have been on going long before I came in 2007, some issues have been heavily ignored. When I look at our recreation situation county wide, I see a lot of improvement that can be made, and none of them require a recreation complex.
To start with, we have little to nothing for our senior adults. While recreation is usually focused at youth, we must remember recreation is something that should impact all ages. Also, we have very little to offer middle age citizens. While adults do have the choice to play golf or tennis, which is already offered, isn’t there more that could be offered in a community that was just recently selected as a top retirement destination by Where to Retire magazine?
Furthermore, I’m not objecting but commending the city of Vidalia for offering such outstanding youth programs. They are so good, a significant portion of Natchez youth go there to participate in their programs. Sometimes this is because we don’t offer programs such as youth football or basketball. Then, sometimes people prefer Vidalia leagues over Natchez leagues because organization, structure or other reasons. Again, I compliment Vidalia for their success and thank the many volunteers that spend endless hours providing our youth with these opportunities. But could more be done to bring a higher level of professionalism, league collaboration and uniformity to youth sports in Natchez?
I must also wonder, could more be done outside of league sports to boost recreation? When I grew up, we had recreational summer camps, programs for youth with disabilities, sports and fitness programs, adult softball, special events, recreation fundraisers and more.
While I think the future of Natchez should have a modern-day recreational complex, all these things mentioned would greatly enhance our community without the need for a complex but only require a leader with a clear vision, positive energy and the resources to get the job done. The most powerful resource is volunteers, which we are blessed to have many of.
The new recreation director would fall under the supervision of the joint Natchez-Adams County Recreation Commission. This would eliminate some of the hassle of governmental oversight and allow the person to work more aggressively answering solely to the recreation board, not me or other elected officials. This person should have the ability to work with and develop volunteers to help manage parks and programs. They should have a track record of financial management and fundraising experience. They should also have a background of developing programs outside youth sports, implementing new activities, and fostering a new identity of recreation in our community. They must have the ability to create a vision for recreation in our future, be able to articulate that vision and finally see it become fulfilled.
While this is no easy task, I feel if we find the right person through a wide search, outside our city and state, we can make immediate changes to recreation in our area. Then once these pieces start to fall in place, the need and understanding for a recreation complex may seem clearer to everyone.
David Carter is the Adams County supervisor representing District 2