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Creating more opportunities while enhancing what already exists is the goal for Kevin Crawford, the new director of New Albany Parks and Recreation. With previous experience with the parks and recreation department in Pearl, Crawford is returning home to run the Sportsplex.
Born in Pontotoc, Crawford received a degree in recreation from Ole Miss and served as a graduate assistant in the recreational sports department at the University of Alabama. In six years at Pearl, Crawford served as the program director for the department and eventually interim parks chief before moving to Baltimore, Maryland.
Now returning to Mississippi, Crawford has big hopes of what can happen in New Albany, but first things first, getting a lay of the land and what he's inheriting. A busy first day met the new boss on Monday, as several events took place, including high school baseball and softball, as well as the first night of youth league soccer.
“I met with Steve (Wilkerson) and the crew this morning and said get your people pointed in the right direction and do what they need to because this is a big day,” Crawford said of his first day. “We met after lunch to have more of a 'get to know me, this is how I operate, this is what I see us as' meeting. I see us as a team, working together. Hopefully I will spend less time behind the desk, shuffling papers and more time out with the crews doing various things because that's how I was trained and brought up in parks and rec.”
Although he has not had a lot of time to look over the various programs, Crawford credits New Albany Mayor Tim Kent for helping to settle him into his new position.
“Mayor Kent has a real handle on what's going on and what needs to be done, but to hear that voice from people, the parents of the kids in the program, I can sit there and nod and say yes I do understand that because I was told that. There are simple concerns that can be taken care of,” Crawford explained.
Crawford is impressed with the current staff in place, as well as the facility.
“The first time I came out here with the mayor last Thursday, I was really impressed with them and they know what they're doing,” Crawford said of the staff. “I was really pleased, and with the two times I've worked with them and watched what they do, there's no wasted time. Right now, my biggest thing has been looking at the facilities, which the facilities are great. This sports complex here is just amazing.”
One of his main goals is to enhance what New Albany already has, as well as listening to what the community wants.
“A lot of that is going to hinge on looking at the facilities and what we have. We have the walking track and bike trails and the disk golf and really finding out while I'm here what the community's interests are,” Crawford said. “There are a lot of different interest in park and recreation that are more than just sports minded. I have a friend in Maryland that loves sports that don't involve a ball, so there different sports like that that we can look into and maybe we can help enhance what we do already.”
Knowing he has one of the best sports complexes in the state, Crawford wants to continue the excellence of the programs, as well as keeping up the reputation of New Albany Parks and Recreation.
“I told the rest of the staff just a few moments ago that our goal is to basically make sure that New Albany has the best parks and recreation program in the state,” Crawford explained. “I'm not saying that it's not already one of the best, but there are always little things that we can do to enhance what they already have here, and I'm excited to be back home.”