Jackson County Parks + Rec Preps for 2020 Season

Parks + Rec "State of Parks" meetingParks + Rec Director Michele Newman discusses the success of Parks events in 2019.

February 19, 2020 - With 21,000 acres, three major lakes, and various sites and amenities to care for, Jackson County Parks + Rec’s superintendents and supervisors aren’t often found in the same room together. But on Wednesday, they all gathered for a “State of the Parks” meeting to congratulate them on the progress made in 2019, and to encourage even more ambitious goals in 2020.

Brian Nowotny, Deputy Director in charge of Operations discussed improvements made to park land at 140th and Holmes and thanked the crews that have kept sidewalks and parking lots cleared from snow and ice all winter. The Ranger division has added some new recruits to help keep the parks safe and received new uniforms to look professional doing so.

Matt Davis, Program Coordinator for the Rock Island Rail Authority, reported that counters on Jackson County’s newest trail development are recording record usage from bikers and pedestrians alike. Overall, Parks + Rec expects the Rock Island Trail to become an integral attraction for Jackson County residents and visitors.

Dianne Kimzey, Deputy Director in charge of Enterprise, announced that Parks has upgraded several campsites to full hook-up sites, further increasing revenue from the campgrounds which have increased their revenue for each of the past three years. An attendance record was broken last year at Dogtober Fest, and 4.75 tons of dog food was donated to area animal shelters. Other highlights were the NAGAAA Softball Tournament at Frank White, Jr. Softball Complex that brought 5,000 participants from 220 teams to Jackson County, as well as improvements to the Fred Arbanas Golf Course, Adair Park, Longview Marina and more.

Of note, Missouri Town 1855’s picturesque Colonel’s House has historically been unfurnished and closed to the public. Work has begun on the house’s parlor, with a plan to make it yet another spot in the village where patrons can step back in time.

Parks + Rec Director Michele Newman reported on the success of Christmas in the Park 2019 and Trip the Light Fantastic, which on its new night accommodated 2000 cyclists through Christmas in the Park. Director Newman also communicated a directive from County Executive Frank White, Jr., asking for “those who are called managers to be leaders, not just supervising associates, but truly leading them, creating an environment in which everyone is working together, pulling in the same direction, and on the same team.”

Jackson County Counselor Bryan Covinsky was the next to address the group and discussed the importance of leadership and conflict resolution techniques to improve outcomes between associates as well as the general public. He emphasized the need for accurate documentation of any and all incidents that happen on Jackson County property for the protection of the County, its associates, and visitors to the parks.

Chief Park Ranger Joe Piccinini gives a presentation on park safety

Finally, Chief Park Ranger Joe Piccinini gave a presentation on parks safety, especially important for managers to communicate to their staff who are often working in isolated areas. Parks + Rec has also produced a handbook that outlines safety procedures.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Director Newman was satisfied that her team was clear on the difference between management and leadership, and that Parks + Rec was ready for another successful year “making our customers’ days here.”