By Chris Whitfield
The Dalton Parks and Recreation Department has seen a change in leadership in the past six months, and various projects are in differing phases of completion throughout the area.
But even with those changes, the DPRD still has one of the top programs in the state.
That was affirmed recently as the department was named the Georgia Recreation and Park Association’s Agency of the Year for District 5, one of seven districts in the state. Also, DPRD Adult Athletic Supervisor Alex Sullins won the Al Richardson Award as the District 5 Athletic Professional of the Year.
District 5 is composed of 32 different recreation entities stretching north and west from Atlanta and includes agencies for Cobb County, Cherokee County, Cartersville, Rome-Floyd and Calhoun. Although it is under the City of Dalton umbrella, many of the programs of the department are open to all ages throughout Whitfield County.
“This is a testimony to the hard work and the dedication that the staff continues to put in,” said DPRD Director Steve Card. “It is certainly appreciated with the support we get from the community and the city. It is great to be honored amongst all of the respected agencies in District 5.”
Card, who was recently named the president of the GRPA Board of Trustees, took over the department after Ronnie Nix retired on June 3 following more than 25 years on the job.
“Anytime that a department you are associated with for so long receives an honor by their peers, it is gratifying to know that you are looked at as doing a good job and providing the needed services for a community,” Nix said. “Most of the credit goes to the staff, and all of them are still there. They are the ones that produce the programs and handle day-to-day.
“Anything like this is a team effort, and I give most of the credit to the staff. Over the years, they made me look pretty good.”
While recreation programs are probably most widely known for youth sports offerings, Card wants the DPRD to be known for more than just athletics. Parks and recreation is about reaching the entire community and being part of citizen’s lives throughout, he believes.
“There is more than just sports and all-star teams with all of the therapeutic offerings, special programming, senior center and all of the senior activities, as well as one of the crown jewels with Nob North (Golf Course) as well,” Card said. “The entire package is what is really recognized when an award like this is received. This is a testimony to the hard work and the dedication that the staff continues to put in. It is certainly appreciated with the support we get from the community and the city.”
The DPRD will be up for statewide consideration at the annual GRPA banquet next year.
Sullins said his excitement about winning the award is less about his work and more about the name on the award. Al Richardson was a longtime DPRD employee who has been celebrated by the state with the award in his honor and locally — the fieldhouse at Northwest Whitfield is named in his honor.
“One thing that we strive for is to offer athletic avenues for all people,” Sullins said, “and to bring home an award with his name on it is a special honor.”
One of the points of pride for Sullins is the Dalton Community Center that is currently under construction on Frederick Street. With that building and some other projects on the agenda, Sullins said the future looks bright as well.
“We are looking forward to getting that building going and really excited about that,” Sullins said. “We’ve also got some turf fields under construction and some other projects and planning, and we are in a boon right now planning for the future. It is interesting times right now.”