Rotary receives parks and recreation rundown

Starkville Parks and Recreation Department Executive Director Gerry Logan speaks at the Starkville Rotary Club's meeting Monday. (Photo by Charlie Benton, SDN)

Staff Writer

The Starkville Rotary Club received an update on the city’s parks and recreation facilities when Starkville Parks and Recreation Department Executive Director Gerry Logan spoke at its meeting Wednesday.

Logan discussed the department’s current course and facilities, as well as future plans and growth. Logan was named to his current position in July following a period as interim director. He holds a bachelor’s in parks and recreation management from the University of Mississippi and a master’s in recreation, park and tourism sciences from Texas A&M. Prior to Starkville, Logan worked for the parks and recreation department in College Station, Texas. Logan is a Certified Parks and Recreation Executive (CPRE).

He gave an overview of the programs the department offers the community, including youth sports along with activities for senior citizens and others in the community. The department also backs several special events, including a Fourth of July celebration and the upcoming Hail-O-Ween celebration in October.

“Parks and rec is an economic impact driver,” Logan said. “We host tournaments. We host events. We contribute to the economic development of the community. We deal with quality of life issues. We have sidewalks. We have various areas to walk. We have a free walking track at the Travis Outlaw Center. We host these programs that are so important to people’s exercise and mental and social skills.”

He also spoke to the impact of the youth sports leagues on children and families.

“It’s not just about cutting grass and going to a park late at night,” Logan said. “It’s about contributing to the quality of life and the soul, if you will, of the community.”

He discussed some grants the department had recently received, including a grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation for a disc golf course in J.L. King Park. The department also received a grant over the summer, supporting a summer feeding program at the Starkville Sportsplex.

The department is scheduled to host the Mississippi Soccer Association’s Premier Cup tournaments in 2019 and 2020. It will also host the Mississippi Parks and Recreation Association's 2020 convention. Additionally, it hosted several baseball tournaments over the summer bringing at least 400 teams to Starkville. Tennis and basketball tournaments are also slated to come to Starkville in the coming year.

“Basketball tournaments are not something that are hosted too often here in town, and that’s something that we’ve had the good fortune to do,” Logan said. “We’re very proud of that. It was a great event.”

Logan also discussed facilities upgrades and the possibility of new facilities. He said the department’s new budget was a significant increase from years past, with funds set aside to improve existing facilities.

“There’s certainly opportunities in the future for new facilities, and if we’re going to make anything like that happen, it’s going to take everyone in this room,” Logan said. “It’s going to take support. It’s going to take buy-in. It’s not going to just take support and buy-in from you, but from your neighbors and anyone you talk to. As those potential opportunities rise up, it’s certainly a great opportunity for the city, but we’ll be looking for those things for sure.”

He encouraged those at the speech to believe in the department and volunteer. He also said opportunities were available for businesses to promote at parks and recreation events. He also encouraged citizens to listen and be engaged with the department, including attending Starkville Board of Aldermen meetings and following the department’s social media.

“Our parks department doesn’t really do anything without the help of someone,” Logan said.