The city was chosen among all those nominated within the 10,000 to 20,000 population range. Although the awards banquet will not be held until next week at the GRPA Annual Conference, the announcement was made locally in the city of Cartersville's fall newsletter.
Aquatics Director Kristen Strickland formed the proposal and wrote the reports necessary for consideration. A panel reviewed agency specifics, including budgeting, personnel, programming, public use and participation.
Executive Director Greg Anderson was delighted to receive such recognition and attributes any success to teamwork and firm foundation laid by those before him.
"There's a lot of people that are responsible for this. I have to thank Kristen first of all for doing the reports for us and nominating us, but there's our park patrons, our city council and then there's our staff. We have 25 full-time employees and each one of them has an equal share in what happens and what's been accomplished," Anderson said. "The staff we have now, they work together as a team. We are very department, very city-oriented. They are dedicated and I feel like I have the best parks and rec staff in the state. If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't get this award. Again as I mentioned, they're just part of it. There are a whole lot of people that are receiving this award.
"From when the park started in 1955 under Fred Caswell and all the following directors that followed up to my boss, WK Gentry, I think they share just as equal in the award, too."
Strickland created the proposal to highlight the features Cartersville Parks and Recreation has to offer. The reports illustrated a continued record of performance through challenging times and emphasized a commitment to excellence.
"I think it's great for our department. This is the first time we have received a state award this big, and I think it just shows that in this down economic time that our department is still thriving when some in the state are not. So I think it's an honor for us to get, especially right now," Strickland said. "I think that the award just shows that we are doing what we need to be doing for our community."
Also specifically featured was the city's Pine Mountain Recreation Area. Strickland included a report that highlighted the trails and programming at Pine Mountain. Moonlight hikes at Pine Mountain are now a popular monthly attraction, which stemmed from a strategic planning session suggesting new programming with zero impact on the budget. This site and program adds to the mix of various offerings, including football, softball, baseball, soccer, gymnastics and swim facilities.
"All of our parks are family-oriented. We provide quality service and parks for the city. We have over 640 acres of park land, and again, it didn't happen overnight and I think it's something for us to be very proud of," Anderson said. "We try to provide something for all aspects for all citizens and I feel like we do a very good job of that. It's a proven fact that the more you use your brain and the more you use your body, the better quality life that you're going to have. And the citizens of Cartersville are very lucky to have the park system that we have. The city forefathers, the council now and previous city councils, they had the foresight to see all of this and that's why we have a very, very quality park system."