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Posted on: March 19, 2020

City Recreation Director looks ahead to busy year

Billy Powell Jan 2020

For the full story as published, click below:

https://www.dothaneagle.com/enterprise_ledger/news/parks-rec-direct…l-dives-into-busy/article_a4d56228-cf84-576a-bcf4-42fe1bb8c00a.html


By Kay Kirkland, Special Projects Coordinator, City of Enterprise


Fresh off a year as president of the Alabama Recreation and Parks

Association, Billy Powell is energized and looking forward to an

action-packed 2020 at home.

Powell, who has served as the Enterprise Parks and Recreation

director for the past 22 years, recently turned over the reins of the

ARPA to a new leader. He will continue to serve on the

organization’s board and help to move forward some of the longterm

projects he and others started on the state level.

But with the ambitious ARPA agenda behind him, he’s also

excited to sharpen his focus on an eventful year in Enterprise.

The EPRD playbook includes hosting the Special Olympics April

17, the Children’s Festival in the Park May 2, the Alabama State

Games June 12-14, the Dixie Girls Softball tournament July 10-

14, the annual Youth Summer Camp and “Spooky in the Park” in

October.

If that’s not enough, Powell and his staff will be taking care of the

175-acre Enterprise Recreational Complex and six other parks,

eight baseball fields, six softball fields, two soccer fields, eight

practice fields, the Jug Brown Recreation Center complex, the

Moose Hope Gym, the Skate Park, Aviator Monument Park and

the Fort Rucker Appreciation Park. The department also

landscapes and provides lawn care for city buildings and grounds,

and assists other city departments preparing for and implementing

special events and almost all other city-related activities.

The lineup also features pickleball, weekend travel ball activities,

adult and youth church league sports, adult kickball … the list

goes on.

In addition to Recreational activities and responsibilities, this past

year Powell took over the management of the Civic Center and

Farmers Market and those activities and events as well.

Powell admitted that the department already has a full schedule of

work for the staff, which translates into offerings for the public to

enjoy and to help improve health, hone skills and make great

family memories. However, he and his staff never stop thinking of

and planning ways to make the program better, to bring new

opportunities to the public.

That’s one reason Powell believes his year as ARPA president was

so valuable.

“I’m honored to have had the opportunity to lead the ARPA at a

time when we were involved in some groundbreaking initiatives,”

Powell said last week as he and ARPA Executive Director Natalie

Norman reflected on the year.

“I’m also glad I had a chance to learn so many new things and

gain leadership experience along the way,” said Powell, who

represented Alabama at the National Recreation and Parks

Association Convention in Baltimore. “It was a wonderful

experience that allowed me to receive top-notch training and

network with recreation professionals from all over the country.”

Powell met with other state presidents, who shared practices that

work best for their communities and that could benefit P&R

departments in Alabama, as well.

“We may implement some of those ideas right here in Enterprise,”

he said.

Under Powell’s leadership, the Alabama organization set the

standard, however, for promoting safety within its youth sports

programs. Departments nationwide expect to follow Alabama’s

model.

Norman explained that Alabama was the first state to pass an act

addressing public concerns about sports injuries. The Coach

Safely Foundation pushed for passage of the Coach Safely Act,

which was advocated by coach Bill Clark of UAB, coach Nick

Saban of the University of Alabama, coach Willie Slater of

Tuskegee University and Dr. Mike Goodlet, team physician to

Auburn University. The law seeks to provide coaches and parents

in youth sports with critical education, tools and resources to

prevent and recognize sports-related injuries.

“Billy has always had the perspective that safety within our

recreation programs is of utmost importance,” Norman said.

“Since it provides an extra layer of protection for our kids, the law

was easy for Billy and our awesome board of directors to

support.”

ARPA was the first to partner with the Coach Safely Foundation

and the Alabama Department of Public Health, which was charged

with administering the law.

“This is going to have a long-lasting effect,” Norman said. “We

believe this will have a nationwide impact as other states, over a

period of years, establish similar laws. We are pleased that we can

be a part of that history.”

Powell said the ARPA recognized that the ratio of sports injuries is

increasing.

“That can be attributed to the fact that we are seeing more

aggressive play, but it’s primarily because departments are

offering more and more opportunities to play,” he said.

With more activity comes more risk, he noted.

“We have hundreds of thousands of children age 14 and under

participating in our programs throughout the state. As we’ve said

many times, recreation professionals and youth sports coaches and

volunteers have a great influence on the youth we serve. We try to

instill pride, good citizenship, a sense of fair play and

responsibility,” Powell said. “And now, it’s more important than

ever to also instill in both our youth and adult leaders the lifelong

safety practices that can prevent needless serious injuries.”

Powell praised the P&R directors and staff members in Alabama

who stepped up to meet the safety training and awareness

requirements of the Coach Safely Act, which was passed in 2018

by the State Legislature. Most have already implemented it in their

communities and therefore were able to pass on their knowledge

and advice to the other states.

“It was really rewarding to be able to share with the rest of the

country what steps we had taken to help prevent and recognize

injuries,” Powell said. “It’s a serious issue that we must address to

protect our kids. It’s not that P&R staff or coaches were not

already aware of the possibility of injuries.

“All of us have had to deal with that, but this Act gives us more

clearly defined and additional practices that we can implement

first, for prevention, and second, to improve the ability to

recognize injuries before they worsen or cause permanent

problems or life-threatening situations.”

During the process of implementing the training, Powell and the

ARPA put extra emphasis on establishing partnerships.

“As a result of the Coach Safely program, we’ve cultivated a great

relationship with the Alabama Education System. We will work on

how we can have a better method of communication between the

youth sports programs and the schools in the Alabama

communities where our municipalities, county governments and

state youth programs operate,” Powell explained. “We believe the

improved communication will help minimize heath issues because

school nurses and even teachers will be able to watch for signs or

symptoms of an injury or worsening injury.”

The ARPA also worked with the school systems about policies

concerning the use of and sharing of facilities, which will be

mutually beneficial for all entities involved.

Powell is pleased about the ARPA’s relationship with the Alabama

League of Municipalities, the Alabama Department of Economic

and Community Affairs and many other organizations or agencies.

Reaching out beyond the ARPA membership, the ARPA has

worked with these agencies to make connections between ARPA

programs and some of the smaller cities or communities that do

not have organized recreation programs.

“We met with mayors and other community leaders to see how we

can help create recreation activities or help the communities better

utilize playgrounds or other facilities they may already have,”

Powell said.

Norman also pointed out that Powell was a “great assist” in

establishing a government affairs position to help the organization

stay informed about the legislative platform and network with

agencies that can positively influence parks and recreation

programs in the state. She said the addition of the consultant was a

goal of Powell’s and the ARPA leaders who recognized the

importance of having a voice, a legislative presence, in the policymaking

and lawmaking process.

“With this addition, our voice is louder,” Norman said.

Powell is proud of the achievements of the ARPA during the past

year, but he said they couldn’t have been done without Norman.

The former Montgomery Parks and Recreation assistant athletic

superintendent is an “exceptional” leader in the ARPA’s daily

operations.

“Her insight is such a great asset for the ARPA,” he said. “The

value she brings to the team shows every day in how hard she

works and the commitment she makes to this organization and to

others.”

Norman said she enjoyed working with Powell last year. She’s

known him as a colleague and a friend for a number of years.

“Billy is a great professional,” she said. “He’s a visionary, and he

provided the kind of leadership and vision that’s necessary to

move things forward, to develop the goals that we collectively

have for ARPA.”

Norman said many goals were accomplished, but some cannot be

completed in a year. “We made a lot of strides in the organization

that will continue into years to come,” she said, expressing

confidence that new president Gary Minor of Tuscaloosa will

continue and build upon the important programs.

“It’s really been a blessing to have the benefit of Billy’s

leadership,” Norman said. “And it’s a blessing for the city of

Enterprise to enjoy his leadership each and every day.”

Enterprise Mayor William E. Cooper also congratulated Powell on

a successful year as ARPA president. He said Powell was able to

accomplish the state goals while never neglecting his commitment

to Enterprise.

“We appreciate the job Billy does for this city every day, and we

are proud of his achievements in the state during the past year,”

Cooper said. “We knew that he would lead the ARPA in the same

goal-oriented, conscientious way that has made him a superb

leader of our recreation department for over 20 years.”

Powell said serving as ARPA president this past year helped reenergize

him and reminded him that the work done by recreation

professionals is important.

“It helps mold the young people into the adults they become, so

we should never take for granted the influence that our efforts, our

behavior and our leadership have on the generations of young

people who go through our programs,” he said.

Just around the corner, Powell, his staff and coaching volunteers

will have lots of young people to serve:

Thousands of youngsters will enjoy the Children’s Festival in the

Park May 2.

The Alabama State Games could bring in anywhere from 300 to

1,000 participants as Enterprise hosts track and field competitions

and, most likely, the softball tournaments as well.

More than 40 teams of all age divisions in Dixie Girls Softball will

invade Enterprise in July for their state tournament.

“This will be the third time within the last six years we are to host

all age divisions at one location,” Powell said. “We are the only

city in Alabama that has ever hosted all age divisions in one

location.”

Already under way is the youth league spring sports. Powell said

590 youth signed up for baseball and another 200 for softball. That

doesn’t include the adult and youth church league, the adult

kickball league and pickleball participants.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” he said. “But when we can put a

smile on the faces of youngsters, adults, families — whether they

are picnicking at the park, playing at the splash pad, having a

family reunion under one of the park pavilions, practicing on the

skateboard, playing baseball or softball or basketball, or getting

exercise on the walking trail — then we’re doing our job; and it’s

worth it

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