By Messenger Staff
The decorations aren’t all in place yet in Courtney Walker’s new office, but he has already hit the ground running as the city’s new Parks and Recreation Director. Walker took over the city’s recreational department effective Jan. 1 this year.
Walker, 46, started working for the department in 1994, managing various community and recreational facilities in Gadsden. Over time he has moved within the department, serving as assistant director for about seven years before becoming interim director last October.
“In a nutshell, it’s more phone calls,” said Walker of the difference between his new position and his old job. “I dealt with a lot of phone calls then, but I think I deal with more now.”
The Parks and Recreation department has over 120 full-time and part-time employees that work in its various divisions. Walker said he finds himself answering more questions and dealing with more employee relations than in the past.
“I’ve always been one, even as assistant director, to be out and about a lot,” said Walker. “I deal with a lot of hotels and businesses – a lot of our sponsors – and I’m more of a hands-on approach kind of person. I find people like it when they can put a name with a face.”
Walker said his short-term goals include improving the city’s after school and day camp programs. He said the department will be implementing nutrition coordinators for day camps to improve the services it provides to youth in the city.
In addition to managing facilities and employees, Walker oversees the city’s bids for recruiting state parks and recreation activities to be hosted in Gadsden. He said he is working this year to secure more state recreational sports tournaments to be hosted by Gadsden.
In fact, the department has just secured the state’s wakeboarding tournament, which will be held in Gadsden June 27 through 28. Walker also said the city will be hosting the state parks and recreation track meet May 16.
The new director says these tournaments are important to the city because of the tourism and economic impact they have on local businesses. Additionally, Walker says he is interested in securing a state basketball tournament and others.
Currently, Walker’s old position as assistant director is vacant which leaves him wearing multiple hats. According to Walker, the mayor’s office will ultimately make the decision on who his replacement as assistant director will be.
Walker is originally from Coosa County and has a bachelor’s degree in recreation and a master’s in public administration from Jacksonville State University. He plans to apply his education, experience and passion to bringing quality programs to the city’s parks and recreation department.