Director candidates revealed for Parks and Recreation

Staff Writer

The Starkville Board of Aldermen set a special call meeting to hold interviews with four applicants for the vacant Parks and Recreation Department director position during its meeting Tuesday night.

The board unanimously approved to hold in-person interviews with the four candidates at 3 p.m. on July 10 in the boardroom. The four candidates are Reginald Burton, of Merrillville, Indiana, Gerry Logan, of Starkville, Edward Smith, of Jackson, Tennessee and Digby Whyte, of Bordeaux, France.

Burton has worked as the operations manager for the University of Notre Dame since 2015, moving to the position after serving as the director of Parks and Recreation for the city of Lake Station. He was also a park supervisor for the Chicago Park District.

Logan currently serves as Starkville’s interim Parks and Recreation director. He assumed the interim position last winter after Herman Peters was terminated as park of an embezzlement investigation regard department staff. Prior to joining the city of Starkville, Logan was the special events supervisor in College Station, Texas.

Smith is currently the director of Parks and Recreation for Madison County, Tennessee. He has also served similar roles for the city of Mount Holly, North Carolina and Gwinnett County, Georgia.

Whyte has worked as the Chief Executive International Federation of Parks and Recreation for World Urban Parks, for four years. Prior to working for World Urban Parks, he served as the executive contract officer for the Department of Natural Resources Environment the Arts and Sports.

During the meeting, Mayor Lynn Spruill said three of the four candidates are from out of town, which makes it “problematic” for them to be in Starkville for the interview.

Spruill said her plan was to hold an elimination round of interviews, which would have candidates from out of town interview via Skype.

“I realize that is kind of unique, but I thought it would be worth us considering,” Spruill said. “I think it is a hardship if we are going to have more than one interview for these folks.”

Vice Mayor Roy A’. Perkins said interviewing for a position of this caliber is a matter too important to be considered in the middle of the day and during a work session meeting.

“The matter of interviewing, discussing, selecting and hiring a department head should be done in our official board room,” Perkins said.

Perkins said the interviews need to be done at a time where the public can have an adequate time to be present and voice prior concerns.

He said there is no reason to rush this interview process. As for the Skype interviews, Perkins said if a person is going to apply to be a department head for the city, then the board needs to be consistent with their interview process and bring them before the board.

He said this will allow the aldermen to have a “full and complete” assessment of the candidates.

“It is up to the applicant, not the mayor, the vice mayor and the board to decide whether it is a hardship to the applicant,” Perkins said. “It is that applicant’s duty and responsibility to get before this board.”