Daytona raises bar to work for Leisure Services Department

Filed under DAYTONA BEACH

BY JAMES HARPER
DAYTONA TIMES

For the first time in several years, Daytona Beach will be hiring for a new position in the Leisure Services Department but interested applicants have only until Sept. 2 to apply.

Daytona Beach posted on its website Aug. 23 an opening for an athletic manager.

Percy Williamson

Percy Williamson

Persons with related experience but no bachelor’s degree need not apply which the Daytona Times has learned upset many longtime employees in the department who knew the job was opening up.

Leisure Services Director Percy Williamson told the Times this week the person hired for the position will take over the responsibilities of Hilary Rowley, who will be retiring Sept. 30 after 38 years of service.

Job requirements
Williamson said the position held by Rowley has taken on added duties, which is why a bachelor’s degree in leisure services or closely related field is required. Also needed is a minimum two years of experience or training involving sports programs and knowledge of turf grass and athletic fields.

The applicant also must have public speaking experience, standard first aid and CPR certifications, and a valid Florida driver’s license.

According to the city’s website, though he has been acting as athletic manager, Rowley is listed as a recreation specialist who works at the Midtown Cultural and Educational Center.

Another ‘critical position’
Williams also said the city will be hiring for another “critical position” within the next year.

Linda McGee, recreation manager for Leisure Services, will be retiring by next summer after 38 years with the city.

Neither Rowley nor McGee had college degrees when they began working for the city.

Rowley is the third person to retire from Leisure Services within the last year, but his position is the only one the city is hiring a replacement.

Longtime Leisure Services employees Fred Morrell, who worked for the city 35 years, and Wilma Hawkins, a 35-year employee, both retired last year as recreation specialists. Hawkins and Morrell also did not have college degrees.

No one was hired to replace them due to budget cuts in the department.

Fewer people, more work
In an interview this week, Williamson admitted they have fewer people in Leisure Services doing more work, which requires his employees to multitask.

City commissioners are currently discussing next year’s budget, which goes into effect Oct. 1.

Williamson said he hopes his new budget allows him “to be able to at least continue doing the things we have been doing.”

Williamson said there is a need for more employees in his department but he understands his budget “depends on the city’s priorities.”

Result of cuts
His concern also is the growth in Zone 4 and admits in the future he predicts the need for a recreation center in that area and possibly more parks.

The gutting of Leisure Service employees upset many in the community during last year’s budget process.

As reported by the Daytona Times in April 2012, city commissioners voted in March of that year to eliminate four positions in the Leisure Services Department, including two office specialist positions and recreation leaders.

At the time, Williamson admitted that losing these staffers has led to his department eliminating the track and field, boxing and adult flag football programs.

He has reorganized the department and shifted his staff around to deal with the vote by the commissioners.

“We are moving in a different direction. Currently the eliminated programs are run by city staff. The direction we are going is there are parent associations running these programs in other cities. The purpose of us running the program was to give them traction,” Williamson explained.

Williamson said then reorganizing his department would save the city money.

More changes
Many residents voiced concern that saving money could also cost lives, implying they were worried there would not be enough supervision at the centers and the elimination of staff and elimination of programs could mean their children may end up hanging out on the streets instead of in a safe environment.

Since last year, the city has signed contracts for the YMCA to operate out of the Midtown Center; the Boys and Girls Club is renting space at the John H. Dickerson Center; and the Police Athletic League returned to city property and is located at the Yvonne Scarlett Golden Center.

The new athletic manager replacing Rowley will administer the athletic activities of the recreation division and manage the daily operations of the Midtown center.

The athletic manager also will be responsible for organizing the athletic programs and scheduling facility usage.

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