02/02/09 — Mount Olive has picked new rec director

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Mount Olive has picked new rec director

By Steve Herring
Published in News on February 2, 2009 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- The town's first recreation director in years could be hired within the next several days, Town Manager Charles Brown said Thursday.

Brown had hoped to have the director on the job by Jan. 1, but the first applicant who was offered the job turned it down because of the salary. That prompted the town to re-interview some applicants.

"I hate to say it is a done deal, but it is pretty much finalized," Brown said. "Until everything is in hand I can't say a lot about it, but I think we are pretty much there."

The town budgeted $28,000 for the salary plus a benefits package -- 401K plan, retirement and health insurance that adds another $7,000 to $8,000 making the total package around $36,000, Brown said.

"What happened initially is that we identified a prospect, but it was going to take more money to bring that individual than we had budgeted or that we could appropriate," he said.

The town didn't have to start over since two or three "good prospects" had been identified, Brown said.

"We just had to kind of regroup and go back and re-interview," he said. "We will have someone here for the spring recreation programs."

The town's revived recreation program, Brown said, will be more than just T-ball, baseball and basketball.

"We are talking about somebody coming in and planning activities not just for the children and youth of this community, but for the senior citizens and adults," he said. "We want it to be an all-encompassing recreation program."

Brown said a survey of town residents two years ago indicated that recreation was one of the things people spoke out "most passionately" about and that the town needed more recreational facilities and programs.

"Our goal is to deliver on that," Brown said. "The individual we hired is not going to be able to do it all by himself. It's going to require community involvement and volunteer help."

Brown said members of the town's nine-member parks and recreation commission are "very enthusiastic and very dedicated."

"They have some great ideas for where the recreation programs will need to go," he said. "Our goal was that we had rather have it right than quick. I think everybody is comfortable at this point that we are headed in the right direction. I hope the people of Mount Olive will feel the same way once we put this person in place."

Brown said there remains an interest in the town owning its own recreation facilities. Currently, the town pays $2,600 in annual rent for the Daughtry Field complex just off of U.S. 117 Bypass South at Smith Chapel Road. The total also includes paying taxes on the property.

A town facility would require community support including volunteer fund-raising, he said. Also needed would be business and industry sponsorships, Brown said.

"But yes that is definitely a goal that we would like to set," he said.

Parks and recreation commission members have toured a facility in Hartsville, S.C., that could be a model for what the town wants to do, he said.

"We have big ambitions and it will just take a while to get there," Brown said. "But we think that we can achieve that."