If all goes according to the board of directors’ plan, the Sheridan Recreation District will have a new executive director in place by the end of August. That seems like a lengthy hiring process — nearly three months after former director Richard Wright was let go.
The hiring comes at a unique time for the district. SRD board President Don Julian’s term ended this month, and recreation program supervisor Colton Thompson left the district not long before Wright was let go, leaving just Seth Ulvestad and Rich Bridger in the office.
Ulvestad, a recreation program supervisor, has taken over as interim executive director, and Thompson’s position has since been filled by Zach Stewart. Still, very few heads are forced to wear far too many hats during the busiest portion of the SRD schedule.
When it was announced Wright would be let go in early May — just ahead of summer softball and baseball seasons — Julian indicated that the change would come at a critical time for the district.
“We are anxious to continue to serve this community with great vision and passion,” Julian told The Press.
But there doesn’t seem to be much anxiety coming from the SRD board of directors.
Now, Ulvestad has taken care of business as the district moves toward the end of softball and baseball seasons. Maybe his interim tag should be removed as a reward. Bridger and his staff in Kendrick Park have been readily scooping ice cream all summer, despite the construction around the park.
The pool neared capacity when I went for a dip earlier this month. Another positive.
All seems to be running smoothly at the SRD. Caps off to the shorthanded crew.
But now we’re approaching Little Guy Football season and the new school year. Ulvestad continues to build old programs — like LGF — while creating and expanding new programs — like his youth cross-county club.
Again, maybe he’s earned the full-time executive director title. He’s a worthy candidate, at least, and there are surely other applicants with impressive resumes — the board had received a dozen applications as of Tuesday’s board meeting.
What isn’t up for debate, though, is that Ulvestad and his colleagues need help and the weight — and wait — of uncertainty to be released. And recreation in Sheridan needs to keep moving forward and needs an executive director in place soon to ensure that it does.
Sheridan is unique in many ways, and its recreational programming fits into that descriptor. I grew up in a town of more than 50,000 people, and while it’s recreation options were seemingly endless, they weren’t as neatly contained and managed as those in Sheridan.
Having one centralized department that works directly with the city and schools to create programs for both children and adults leaves a number of doors wide open. I think the concept of building a baseball/softball/sports complex — Doubleday — is a direct result of the success and participation in SRD programs.
But we’ve reached a critical juncture in the process. With cuts in education funding, concerns over affordable housing in the area and young folks moving out of the state, taking steps backward in recreation — affordable recreation at that — will only make matters worse.
Sheridan County isn’t in any major trouble at the moment. Again, it’s a unique little piece of Wyoming; that’s why we love it and that’s why some of the concerns around the state aren’t as drastic here. Still, we can’t let complacency take over.
We must embrace change and continue looking forward in making Sheridan wonderful for current and future families, for young folks and old-timers. The Sheridan Recreation District board of directors is in a special place right now to push Sheridan along that path.
I appreciate the board for doing its due diligence if that is in fact what it’s doing. But there’s no need to waste time. Let’s fill the position and keep moving in the right direction.