Danville Express

Newsfront - March 30, 2007

Alamo recreation programmer moving on

Committee considers enlarging position as program grows

by Natalie O'Neill

Alamo's recreation programmer Valerie Matlock says it's time to pass the torch.

Matlock, who was hired one year ago, got the area's recreation program off its feet, working part time for the R-7A Parks and Recreation Committee, but announced her resignation from the position last week.

"I think we've got some good momentum going and I want to make sure what's built so far is passed on smoothly to the next person," she said.

Along with coordinating events and classes and getting the word out about them, she spearheaded the construction of a Web site dedicated to Alamo recreation activities that will be launched in coming months.

Matlock is resigning because she's moving away to Lake Tahoe with her family for the summer. She will continue in the position until May.

In light of her resignation, committee members are considering enlarging the position and adding more staff members to the growing department in the future.

"If we are replacing Valerie, is this an opportunity to expand that role?" asked R-7A committee member Marianne Sasso.

Other recreation programs have several staff members, Matlock said, noting that in her opinion they need more staff.

"You're going to need more than one person. Maybe look at hiring one person to do administrative work and another to do the creative recreation planning," she suggested.

While this is an option worthy of consideration, it might be too soon to take those steps, other committee members said.

"That's a possibility but it's a little preliminary right now," said R-7A Chairman Steve Mick.

Taking the change into account, county staff said the hunt for Alamo's new recreation programmer should begin pronto. County Public Works Senior Civil Engineer Eric Whan said he expects the process will take at least six months - about the amount of time it took to find Matlock.

"By the time we go through the interviewing process and training, it will be more than six months," he said.

Qualified candidates should have a background in recreation or event planning. It also helps to be organized, outdoorsy and good with people, Mick said.

"They should be really versatile because they'll be planning for everyone from youngsters to seniors," Mick said.

Matlock has done a noteworthy job of accommodating many different demographics, considering she has had to take on several roles at once, committee members said.

"I wear so many hats, some days I think: 'Which one am I going to put on first?'" Matlock said.

"You started from zero and you did an exemplary job," Mick told Matlock.

To aide the program in a smooth transition - from the time she leaves to the time the new position is filled - Whan suggested that a county staff member in special districts begin training with Matlock. He also said contract work is an option.

"That might be good to get us through the summer," he said.

The county will need to consider both what's best for the program and what's most cost-effective, county staff members said. The quicker they move, the better, Whan added.

"I want to get someone in now to get them up to speed on this," he said.

The position currently includes organizing family nights, classes, outdoor games and music. Finding volunteers, making sure there are Port-o-potties at concerts and collecting money are some examples of job tasks.

Additional costs will inevitably be associated with a larger staff, county staff members pointed out. With a Web site under construction, a new aquatic center and YMCA to be built in coming years, a larger staff may be just as inevitable, they also noted.

Contact Natalie O'Neill at noneill@danvilleweekly.com


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