Aldermen choose Logan as new parks director

Parks and Recreation Director Gerry Logan
Ryan Phillips

The Starkville Board of Aldermen approved a motion to appoint Gerry Logan as Starkville’s new parks and recreation director, After a motion to appoint Edward Smith as the new parks director failed in a 3-4 vote.

The motion to appoint Logan, who has served as the department’s interim director since former director Herman Peters was fired in January amid an embezzlement investigation, was passed. He will assume the role effective immediately, with an amended salary of $66,000 and a six-month probationary period.

Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver initially made the motion to appoint Smith as the new Parks director with a salary of $70,000, effective immediately with a six-month probationary period. Ward 5 Alderman Patrick Miller seconded Carver’s motion.

“It’s gonna take somebody with visionary skills, a philanthropy background and ways to create unity within the community,” Carver said. “If there was one individual, it was Mr. Edward Smith who stood out to me.”

Carver favored Smith’s success and philanthropy experience in Gwinnett County, Tennessee, which has won national awards.

“I think each of the candidates would be capable of handling and running our parks department,” Ward 4 Alderman Jason Walker said. “So this is a tough decision we’re about to make tonight.”

Carver’s motion to appoint Smith was turned down with a vote of 3-4. Carver, Ward 2 Alderman Sandra Sistrunk and Miller voted for Smith, while Ward 3 Alderman David Little, Walker, Ward 6 Alderman and Vice Mayor Roy A.’ Perkins and Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn voted against passing the motion.

After his first motion failed, Carver made the same motion, but to appoint Gerry Logan, the interim parks director, to the role in a permanent capacity with a yearly salary of $70,000, effective immediately with a six-month probationary period. Miller, once again, seconded Carver’s motion.

When Mayor Lynn Spruill opened the motion for discussion, Sistrunk voiced her opinion that Logan’s experience warranted a lower salary.

“I can absolutely be supportive of Mr. Logan as our parks director,” Sistrunk said, “I think that that salary does not necessarily reflect his current experience or where we need that position to be.”

Little agreed with Sistrunk that the $70,000 salary was too high.

“I am supportive of Mr. Gerry Logan for this position,” Little Said. “However I am not supportive of the $70,000 salary.”

Little asked to amend the salary to $62,500. Carver supported Little’s motion. However, Perkins did not agree with lowering the salary on the basis of fairness.

“We want to be fair, equitable, and just. We want him to take this department to the top of Mt. Everest,” Perkins said. “It is wrong to pay this person $62,000.”

The city’s salary range for the parks director position is $61,122 to $73,951. After Sistrunk confirmed the advertisement for the position required at least 5 years of experience, and Logan has over 8 years of experience, she amended the lowered salary.

“It sounds like $62,500 was too low,” Sistrunk said. “So if I may, may I make a friendly amendment to change that salary to $66,000, which is in the mid-range.”

Vaughn seconded the $66,000 salary.

“First lesson in being a public servant is not to take anything personal,” Carver said to Logan, who was present during the board’s discussion.

The board then voted 6-1 to appoint Logan as the Starkville parks director with the amended salary of $66,000 and a six month probationary period. Little was the sole dissenting vote.

“Congratulations, Mr. Logan,” Spruill said, as the room filled with applause for Logan. Overcome by emotion, Logan temporarily left the meeting.

Logan is excited to continue forward with Starkville’s Parks and Recreation Department.

“This is a dream job for me,” Logan said. “The goal was always to get to the top, and I’m thankful that I’m there now, and I’m thankful that they had the confidence in me to appoint me here. I’m not going to let them down.”

“He’s been very successful doing things that we have not had happen before,” Spruill said. “I’m very excited that he will bring the same breath of fresh air that he has brought to us in that interim role, with an even stronger presence because now he is going to be the man.”

Despite the salary discussion, Sistrunk still thinks Logan is qualified for the job.

“We were not going to make a bad hire no matter what we did,” Sistrunk said. “Logan doesn’t have as much experience as the other candidates, but he has a world of potential. And we’re expecting him to live into that potential.”

“I’m glad we got through it, and I’m glad that I am their pick,” Logan said. “It’s certainly an interesting process to go through, but everything in city government usually is. The end result is, I’m very happy.”