Rec district director steps down

by nathan oster

The Greybull Recreation District has begun its search for a new director after Chris Waite announced late last week that he was resigning in order to accept a position as the volunteer coordinator for the Billings Recreation District.

Waite will remain on the job through the end of this month, at which time he will turn over the reigns to Heather Howe and Trista Williams, who during Monday’s meeting of the Greybull Recreation Board were appointed interim director and interim assistant director, respectively.

Howe has been serving as the assistant director and Williams as the roller rink supervisor.

“It has been such a pleasure to work here in this fine community,” Waite said, adding during the meeting that he appreciates the support given to him and his programs by members of the rec board over the years.

Waite has spent nearly eight years in the position, and told the board that he and his family — wife Audra and their three children — have wanted to move closer to their families in Oregon, where they lived prior to coming to Greybull.

While the Billings won’t trim all that much time off their trips back home, Waite said the Billings Recreation Department sold the position to him and that he’s looking forward to having a more set 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule, as opposed to the one here which required considerable evening and weekend work.

Waite’s resignation and its aftermath dominated Monday’s meeting of the rec board.  During the course of business, the board promoted Howe and Williams, hiring both to fill in on an interim basis and at the salaries recommended by the current director.

The board also tweaked the job description of the director and agreed to advertise the position for two weeks. Applicants must submit a cover letter and resume by 5 p.m. on Friday, April 26 to be considered for the vacancy.

The board hopes to conduct interviews and hire a new director in May.

A hiring committee is in the process of being formed.  At Monday’s meeting, rec board members Barry Bryant, Greybull’s superintendent of schools, Mike Carlson and Sherri Wilkinson agreed to serve on the hiring committee.

Waite suggested that “a parent or two” with children who are active participants in rec district programming might fill out the committee nicely.  Board members agreed and in the days ahead those people will be contacted and asked if they’re interested in serving.


Pool report

The new director won’t have to worry about the swimming pool. In recent years, while the pool has been under the management of the recreation district, it’s been Waite’s responsibility to prepare and oversee the budget.

But with the pool now closed, the only question is how much money is going to be left in the pool budget and returned to the school district and town, which have been splitting operation and maintenance costs in recent years.

Waite said he and his office “have been processing a lot of refunds” for people who purchased passes and that the push now is to get the equipment out of the building.  A surplus sale has tentatively been set for Saturday, April 27.

Some of the pool equipment will be going to the pools in Basin and Lovell, Waite said.  Both are making bids on the items they’d like to claim, Waite said.  Lovell is the likely destination of the pool covers.  Basin wants “just about everything else that’s pool-related,” Waite said.

Jamie Flitner, a member of the rec board, relayed a question she’d received from a constituent.

“Tell me again why we can’t just take the top off and use it as an outdoor pool?” she asked.

Joe Forcella, the district’s maintenance director, said the pool “was never designed to be an outdoor pool” and that it “would never hold up to the weather.”  In addition to that, the pool has already been drained — and given the amount of time that has passed since that draining occurred, the walls of the pool are no longer any good, Forcella said.  A new liner could be put in, but at considerable expense, Forcella said.  Even if that were to occur, he said there are multiple other code violations that would also need to be addressed before the pool could reopen.

Bryant said that with it being a state building, it wouldn’t be as easy as just removing the roof. He said the process of altering a state building is a complicated one and would require input from an architect as well as the fire marshal.

Bryant added that short of complete demolition, the School Facilities Commission would not pay for any of the building alterations.

The recreation board agreed to deposit any proceeds from the salvage sale into the regular pool account.  When all the bills have been paid, that money will be returned to the school district and the town.


Other business

In other business on Monday night:

• Waite presented a preliminary budget for the 2013-14 year.

• The town was supportive of the recreation district’s plan to pursue grant money for improvements to the Herb Asp Community Center, Waite said.  But the one caveat is that the town would like recreation district staff to assist with some of the paperwork.

• The recreation district won’t be holding its Old Fashioned Fourth of July Picnic this year. Waite asked for and received the board’s blessing to pull the plug on the event due to declining attendance.  He said last year’s low turnout revealed that the success of the event is tied to the fireworks show.  Without one last year due to fire restrictions, attendance dropped sharply.

Waite said his thought, prior to resigning, was to add an event in the fall to make up for it.

• Lastly, Waite used his final discussion with the board to plant a seed about the intramural football program. He said that given its growth and the fact that athletes are traveling out of town for games, the sport no longer fits the guidelines of an intramural program. For that reason, he suggested that the sport might be a better fit for a separately-run parent association, similar to the one now in place with the Greybull-Basin Athletic Club for youth wrestling.