New Greenwood Parks Superintendent cites community involvement as top motivator in job search

GREENWOOD — The new parks superintendent for Sebastian County’s second-largest city said the personal interaction with the people he’ll serve motivated him to apply for the job in the first place.

Greenwood City clerk/treasurer Sharla Derry said Casey Craig, 36, started her job on Monday. The city’s Parks Commission voted to hire Craig at a special meeting on Oct. 27.

Craig comes to the Greenwood Parks and Recreation Department as a former animal control and code enforcement officer for the city.

Craig said he views the parks manager position as an opportunity to improve professionally, being intrigued by the prospect of engaging with the community more frequently than in his previous role. He was also intrigued by the idea of ​​involving the community in special events through the park department, as well as organizing and planning them.

“I liked having that personal interaction with someone and being able to have it more regularly,” Craig said. “As an animal control officer, it’s usually more of a one-time situation. You go see them, maybe interact with them a bit, and then you’re gone. You’ll probably never see them again, whereas with special events in the parks and also just as director of parks you’re going to see them more regularly it seems.”

Prior to that, Craig started working as a cross-connect technician for the Fort Smith Utilities Department in May 2020, according to his resume. He became a building inspector for the department in December 2020 before joining Greenwood the following May. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership from the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith in August 2021.

Craig, a resident of Greenwood, said Tuesday he would be able to use his past construction experience to complete all 24 open Parks Department projects.

Mayor Doug Kinslow said he thinks Craig has done a “very good professional job” handling the responsibilities and situations that come with being Greenwood’s animal control/code enforcement officer .

“I think he’s going to do a good job,” Kinslow said. “He’s very reliable to say the least. He’s always around and he takes his job very seriously and he’s already working on new aspects of what he wants to bring to the Parks Commission. We are excited to see all of this happen.”

Craig took over from Tammy Briley, who stepped down as Director of Parks effective October 7. The Parks Commission voted unanimously to accept Briley’s resignation at a special meeting on September 27.

Briley, who became director of parks in May 2019, said on September 27 that she had decided to resign after being accused of failing to properly communicate with the commission about a plan to reassign up to 30 $000 from a low water bridge project at Greenwood City Lake to build a fishing pier. She said she made a recommendation for the project “as information” in a report to city council for its Sept. 12 meeting without the commission first approving the project.

Briley said he spoke with Joel Goldstein, chairman of the commission, about the project before the meeting. She also put the project in her report knowing the commission would have to approve it, she said.

Goldstein said Sept. 27 that the commission felt blindsided by Briley’s report. He confirmed that Briley expressed her interest in the project to him before the board meeting and told her he was okay with it, although he also noted that she needed the commission’s approval. The commission discussed the matter on September 20, along with Briley’s lack of attendance at commission subcommittee meetings.

Goldstein said Wednesday that 10 people applied for the position of parks manager after Briley resigned. The Parks Commission reviewed the application package and selected three candidates to interview.

Although he did not participate in the commission’s vote to hire Craig, Goldstein said he believed the commission chose Craig because of his experience in construction and for Greenwood, as well as his education. Goldstein has also heard good things about Craig regarding his record keeping skills and dealing with the public.

Goldstein said he urged Craig to bring ideas he would like to see for the parks to the Parks Commission for approval after researching what they would entail to avoid a situation similar to what happened with Briley. He also stressed the importance of providing information to the Parks Commission so they can make an informed decision.

The parks director’s job is to oversee the parks department and park projects, according to Goldstein.

Craig said Briley, along with Kinslow and Richard McKinney, who served as parks director from June 2007 to June 2014 and August 2016 to February 2018, respectively, laid a strong foundation for him. He described two other “exceptional” Parks Department employees, DeWayne Tucker and Hunter Jones, as running a “well-oiled machine.”

“I think the priority has definitely been established,” Craig said. “It’s just my job to be up to it.”

Craig said his long-term goals for the park service include linking Greenwood’s trail system, expanding and improving the town’s annual events, and improving the service’s relationship with community providers and other participants in city events.

The position of parks superintendent comes with an annual salary of $53,000, according to Danielle Smith, the city’s director of human resources and Kinslow’s executive assistant.

Casey Craig, the new City of Greenwood Parks and Recreation Department Manager, works in his office, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022, at Greenwood City Hall in downtown Greenwood. Craig began his tenure in this position last Monday. Visit nwaonline.com/221113Daily/ for today’s photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Hank Layton)

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