• Last modified 1532 days ago (May 13, 2015)


Recreation mess leads to new department

Yates to be offered director position of new parks and recreation department

Staff writer

Untangling the web of Margo Yates’ employment is no easy task. She wears different hats about town, serving as the recreation board director and chamber of commerce secretary.

Her salary and benefits come piecemeal from the recreation commission, the city of Marion, the chamber of commerce, and USD 408.

Yates’ position — the amalgam of roles as it exists — is being deconstructed because one of the many legs it stands on, specifically the school district’s contributions, is being taken out from under her.

As of June 30, Yates will no longer be paid by USD 408 due to school budget cuts. The city has used this change to initiate a massive overhaul of recreation operations in Marion, beginning with Yates’ position itself.

Yates sat relatively quiet in the corner of Monday’s city council meeting as the fate of her position was discussed. She interjected only occasionally, and was never asked her opinion on the options the council was considering.

City council decided not to advertise the position of parks and recreation director, which will be newly created and offered to Yates. She would presumably have to vacate her position as chamber of commerce secretary to accept the city position. Holter and Mayor Todd Heitschmidt have met twice with the city chamber regarding the changes.

City Administrator Roger Holter said it could be until October before the department is up and running, but assured Yates she would still have income between July 1 and whenever that date is.

It’s unclear how the position will compare to Yates’ current compensation package. If Yates declines the position, council decided, it will be advertised.

Holter and councilors were effusive of the job Yates has done in her 22 years with the city, but nonetheless insisted the recreation system in Marion needed significant reform.

Holter created a graphic that depicted the flow of park and recreation authorities within Marion as a tangled mess without a central authoritative body.

Councilor Chad Adkins, a former member of the recreation board, vehemently agreed with Holter’s depiction, saying the board, in his experience, had “no power.”

The alternative, as suggested by Holter, was a nine-member parks and recreation board, chaired by the parks and recreation director. The plans included the creation of a program director position under the parks and recreation director. That would come further in the future, however.

The parks and recreation director would report to the city administrator as the head of a city department.

Specifics of the board were not determined, including whether the cemetery board would be tied in with the parks and recreation board. Holter suggested three of the nine parks and recreation board slots be held by cemetery board representatives. Adkins questioned this, saying the boards’ activities were different.

“On the cemetery board, you’re not going to be talking about putting down a Slip’n Slide,” he said. “They’re just different conversations.”

Holter said he included the cemetery board because with the addition of a serenity garden for cremated remains, the cemetery could be adopting an operating mind set more similar to a park.

Ultimately councilors passed a resolution to go in the direction proposed by Holter, without agreeing to the specifics he provided. Holter urged councilors to make a decision because of the June 30 deadline brought about by the budget measures the school has taken.

Last modified May 13, 2015