By CARL SMITH
Starkville Parks and Recreation Director Matthew Rye confirmed Tuesday he is stepping down from his position this month.
Rye, who joined the organization in 2005 and moved up to director in 2009, said he will officially step down July 19 when the SPR Commission holds a monthly meeting.
SPR Commission Chairman Dan Moreland said the board is expected to approve advertising for the position and delegate responsibilities instead of naming an interim director.
Rye is leaving his position to take a teaching job at Mississippi State University’s Department of Kinesiology.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in physical education, both from MSU. After college, he taught high school students for four years before joining SPR.
“I told my staff and the commission (about the departure) Friday. I leave the park commission with great thanks for giving me the opportunity to serve,” Rye said. “(The commission) allowed me to become a leader, and I owe a lot to this organization. I will also miss the great staff that is at SPR. They are great people who have a passion for improving recreational programs and the experience for the citizens of Starkville.”
Both Rye and Moreland said the outgoing director will continue to help the department through the summer transition. Moreland said he will oversee most of the large projects, including the construction of a soccer pavilion.
“We hate to see (Rye) go. I told him to wait and announce his resignation one minute before 9 p.m. (tonight, when officials will begin shooting fireworks at the Starkville Sportsplex during Fourth of July celebrations) so they’d serve as a celebration for him,” Moreland said. “He’s very well thought of in the department and the community.”
Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman said Rye leaves city parks in better shape than he found them.
“Matthew has been a very effective leader for our parks system,” Wiseman said. “He’s been very approachable and very creative with the ideas that he’s brought in for Starkville.”