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Local News

Virginia man picked as Parks and Rec leader

October 4th, 2011 11:30 pm by Gary B. Gray

Roger Blakeley was named Johnson City Parks and Recreation Department director Tuesday by City Manager Pete Peterson, making the newcomer Memorial Park Community Center’s first caretaker.
Blakeley, from Alexandria, Va., will begin his career with the city Oct. 31. He will lead more than 60 employees and oversee Freedom Hall Civic Center, 25 parks, 46 ball fields, 19 tennis courts, two 18-hole golf courses, seniors’ programs and services, four recreation centers and two swimming pools.
He will become the first person to oversee the new $15 million, 657,000-sqaure-foot community center, which is expected to be complete in March.
Completion of the new center and operational programming will be a priority, Blakeley said in a news release Tuesday.
“I’m going to do a lot of listening with the staff and community,” he said. “Good communication with residents is the key to having great and successful Parks and Recreation Department. I also will be working with our staff to formulate a clear plan of action to move the department and services forward in the age of instant communication.”
Blakeley will work with a 2012 fiscal budget of about $3.4 million and have direct supervisory responsibility over senior services. However, the senior services director will continue to be responsible for programming, evaluations, staffing recommendations and so on, Peterson said.
His annual salary has been set at $84,000. That’s about $30,000 above the $54,303 salary attached to the advertisement for the position and the minimum starting salary for the spot, according to the city’s pay and classification plan.
Blakeley has served for the past 6½ years as Alexandria’s Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities deputy director. He holds a bachelor’s degree in park and recreation management from the University of Oregon. His 25 years of government experience also include tenures with the city of Yuma, Ariz., and the state of Oregon.
“Every place I’ve worked, I’ve had different experiences,” he said. “Yuma, Ariz., was mostly starting up a new outdoor recreation, an environmental classroom, and improving the quality of maintenance at the existing parks and recreation facilities. I was deeply involved in the creation of the Yuma West Wetlands Park. Alexandria, Va., was about being able to implement a very complex capital plan and infrastructure improvement plan that enhanced all the recreation facilities and the quality of life in a very urban area.”
He will be leaving his post in Alexandria, which has a population of nearly 140,000, to come to Johnson City, where the population is less than half that at 63,152.
“We are very pleased to have Roger join our team,” Peterson said. “He has demonstrated a mastery of leadership, team-building and cost-effective service delivery. All of our recreational divisions — golf, seniors services and parks — will benefit from his diverse background.”
Tom Alexander, the last person to hold the title of director, was fired in early March 2008.

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