Over the years, Williamson Parks and Recreation has offered various parks, facilities, and activities for Williamson and the surrounding communities. As with any community organization, the goal is to keep moving forward. Williamson Parks and Rec is ready to make changes and evolve to meet the needs of the area and visitors through their properties.
Properties and Facilities
Mentioning the Williamson Parks and Rec Board, most people
think of the Historic Williamson Memorial Field House, but the board also has several other properties to manage. These include the sports fields adjacent to the field house, community center and softball field in West Williamson, Robert Alexander Park, and Ramella Park. According to Parks and Rec Executive Director, Jarrod Dean, they are also looking at other sites to develop and create more recreation opportunities.
According to Dean, the Williamson Field House has a seating capacity of around 5,000 people. Inside the field house is the Hall of Fame room which can accommodate 45 people. With tables and chairs set up for an event, the Community Center can host close to 200. These facilities are available for rental for events such as receptions, weddings, meetings, and parties.
Meet the Executive Director
Jarrod Dean grew up and attended school in Huntington. After spending 12 years working in the structural steel industry, he chose to go to work for the State of WV. Dean says he spent 4 years working with Walt Helmick, State of WV Commissioner of Agriculture. In 2016, Dean accepted the position as Executive Director of Putnam County Parks and Recreation. While serving Putnam County, he worked alongside the county commission and county manager to manage a $17 million dollar parks upgrade and development project. Fast forward to 2020, after serving as Interim Executive Director for a few months, Jarrod Dean assumed the role of full time Executive Director for Williamson Parks and Recreation.
Jarrod and his wife, Andi, have decided to make their home in Logan, where she is originally from and where their home church is located.
“We found ourselves desiring to be closer to our church in Logan and wanting a change in life. Although it would mean I’d be further from my family in Huntington, we were still feeling a calling to move to southern WV and to be more involved in our church where my brother in law is the pastor,” says Dean
Dean says he quickly learned a lot of Williamson history simply by asking questions and listening to all of it- the good and the bad. He took time to listen to people share their stories and memories of the facilities and parks.
“I listened to the passion of the people I met and talked with. Their stories and experiences, I tend to let those sink into my thought process and become a part of the way I lead this organization forward. These folks want the kids today to be able to share the same types of memories with their own kids 30 years from now. So, we have the responsibility to work hard to defend and create those types of experiences for generations to come. This is our new legacy to create,” notes Dean.
He goes on to say he is proud to have his career in Williamson and will continue to work with everyone in Williamson and Mingo County.
“It’s a real honor for me and my wife Andi, our 5-year old daughter Ava and our 3-year old son Alexander, to come into this community. We are definitely here to stay,” he says.
Since accepting the position, Dean has started implementing some changes. He commends the board for being a group that respects ideas and embraces change. He has started restructuring operations, streamlining the property rental process, correcting budget issues, including how the budget and cash flow is managed. The group is also evaluating other funding opportunities, that include, but are not limited to, grants and a portion of hotel/motel tax funds. Dean also tells us he is working with the Williamson city attorney on paperwork to become a certified 501 (c) 3 entity.
For property changes, Williamson Parks and Rec is looking at HVAC opportunities for the field house, as well as converting to LED lighting. Dean says he is currently working on master plans which will include new playgrounds, recreational facilities, new and improved sports fields, and much more.
Hopes and Goals
One goal for the organization is to lower the operating costs of the field house through utilities and to work toward a more sustainable plan. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, several events had been scheduled at the Williamson Field House but had to be cancelled. Dean reports he does plan to reschedule those events.
“We also want to be a destination for businesses to host the meetings and conferences in our facilities. I will also be rolling out a new marketing plan highlighting our capability to host large or small weddings and receptions,” explains Dean.
As for the other properties, Dean says he sees travel ball sports, all-inclusive playgrounds, recreational facilities, and river recreation in the future. He says he realizes people in our communities are starving for entertainment and things to do. In his role as executive director, Dean says he finds himself at the epicenter of creating something great for the city and county, something everyone will be proud of, and something that will attract businesses and families to the area.
“I feel I have identified the needs in the areas of recreation and now my goal is to upgrade our facilities, while working on partnerships with groups such as the Mingo County Commission and other county and municipal organizations to create new opportunities,” says Dean.
Since becoming the Executive Director, Dean has noticed the importance of partnering with other organizations, such as the Tug Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“Wes Wilson, Executive Director for the Tug Valley CVB is great to work with. We share a common goal of providing great events for our people and surrounding areas. We are partnering on many events. The excitement and energy Wes and I share is a force to be reckoned with,” states Dean.
Dean continues to say he is excited to build relationships with local banks, businesses, and the Tug Valley Chamber of Commerce. One organization he is particularly excited to build a relationship with is Williamson Health and Wellness Center.
“Meeting Williamson Health and Wellness Center CEO, Dr. Dino Beckett has been a tremendous blessing. His organization has partnered with Williamson Parks and Rec before and will be partnering more,” reports Dean.
There’s No “I’ in Team
While the Williamson Parks and Recreation Commission makes great strides to improve current facilities and develop new ones, one thing is certain-this must be a team effort. With Executive Director Jarrod Dean, the parks and rec board, and other members of the community working together, there is a great hope and vision to push Williamson in new directions. On the agenda, is offering new opportunities for our residents, as well as tourist activities.
Let’s not just get back to a packed field house, nice tennis courts, and community basketball courts. Let’s get all of that back, plus more! The sky’s the limit for Williamson and Southern WV.
Note: Currently, facilities are not being rented due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After this situation passes, facilities will be available for rental.