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County defends Akers and recreation department

By MELINDA WILLIAMS
melinda@southwesttimes.com

Pulaski County Administrator Peter Huber and the board of supervisors threw their support behind the county recreation park and its director, Anthony Akers, Monday night.
The public statement of support at the board’s monthly meeting came as a result of months of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and complaints about the department primarily voiced to the board by Pulaski County resident Brenda Blackburn. Blackburn unsuccessfully attempted to unseat supervisors Chairman Joe Sheffey in 2011.
Huber initiated the discussion near the end of Monday night’s meeting by reading a prepared statement. In the statement, he pointed out that the recreation department has been the subject of 24 FOIA requests in the past 18 months and that state police were involved, but no problems were found.
Before reading his statement, Huber told the board and others present at the meeting “There have been a number of questions that have come up and it’s time to set the record straight as to my feelings about the Pulaski County Recreation Department.”
Blackburn left the meeting early and was not present to hear the statements made by Huber and members of the board.
Following is the full statement made by Huber:
“I am pleased to address concerns brought up at previous board meetings concerning the operation of Randolph Park and the job that Anthony Akers and staff have, and are, doing in serving the citizens of Pulaski County.
“We welcome Freedom of Information Act requests and the recreation department has been the subject of 24 freedom of information act requests over the past 18 months.  These requests along with the involvement of the State police have turned up no problems whatsoever in the department.  Indeed, the county rec and other departments have been audited by an outside auditor every year with no problems found.
“County employees, being human, are going to make mistakes and we regularly implement suggestions and recommendations made by the auditor.  Indeed, the county has misplaced or disposed of one of two Randolph Park pool pass receipt books from the end of the 2012 pool season.  The county staff plans to continue to look for the receipt book, but even without it, we are confident in the sound financial operations of the rec department based on all previous years as well as the current season.
“Anyone who provides this many youth with one of their first employment opportunities is going to experience some mistakes.  I have a general idea how difficult it is to work with youth and satisfy as many parents, youth and citizens as Anthony does.  I would like to publicly commend him for doing an excellent job. His love for the youth of this county, his integrity, his sincerity, his dedication and above all, his ethics are beyond compare.
“I have known Anthony Akers for the past 17 years.  When Anthony came to work for Pulaski County, Central Gym was being used as a storage area for the burned contents of the courthouse fire.   Joe Morgan, previous county administrator, turned Anthony loose to do something with the mess.  Anthony proceeded to clean up the building, rehabilitate the floor, and contracted out the addition to the building.  He and other staff members, as well as volunteers then did the same thing with the construction of Randolph Park, DeHaven Park, and some of our small community parks.
“I used to carry one of those Chinese Fortune Cookie papers that said ‘write your name on hearts not on buildings.’  Anthony must have one of those, too, because, the work he has done on these facilities is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what he had accomplished and continues to accomplish in working with the youth of Pulaski County.
“Today, Anthony is directly responsible for the establishment and operation of after-school programs now offered in each of our five elementary schools in the county, making sure 163 children per day have a place to go after school and before their parents get home.  Anthony organizes the nine-week summer camp providing very affordable daycare to 213 youth with summer activities while also managing park and pool activities at Randolph Park.
“Anthony has made a career of making positive changes in the lives of children and families.  The programs he operates increase the quality of life for all of us and I am very proud of all he has (accomplished) and continues to accomplish.  Anthony Akers and the Pulaski County Recreation Department have my full support and confidence.”
Sheffey agreed with Huber’s statement, adding, “When the property for Randolph Park was given to the county it was just a big area of land, but if you look at Randolph Park today, that’s a jewel of Pulaski County. He said it was the desire of Evelyn Alexander (who donated the land) that the park serve all ages and provide swimming for those in Pulaski and surrounding communities.”
He pointed out elected officials from other jurisdictions often comment on the park and state that they wish they had one like it.
Since Anthony took over the department the recreation leagues have “done extremely well,” with more children participating in more activities, according to Sheffey.
“I feel Anthony has done a remarkable job and I give him my full support,” Sheffey concluded.
Draper District Supervisor Dean Pratt and Robinson District Supervisor Charles Bopp said they think the county is lucky to have Akers.
“I don’t care who you are or what you do, there’s always going to be somebody who’s going to have criticism,” said Bopp. “Anthony, in my opinion, has done excellent … I hope Anthony stays with us for a long time.”
Ingles Supervisor Ranny O’Dell agreed with Huber and the other supervisors’ comments.
Andy McCready of Massie District added, “I’ve known Anthony for quite a long time. He is an outstanding individual. He has put this county and county rec front and center. He has built that department up.
“I have the utmost confidence in Anthony Akers. I am proud to call him a friend. I am proud to have him as an employee of this county,” he added.
McCready said the board always wants citizens to be informed “but being informed and being harassing can get to be a problem. … I think the efforts of some folks, for whatever agenda they have, is particularly disgusting.
“I will continue to support Anthony and I hope our recreation department continues to grow as much over the next 10 to 20 years as it has grown over the last 17 years that Anthony has been with us.”
Referring to the fact Blackburn left before the meeting concluded, McCready said, “I’m sorry to see that not all of our citizens decided to stay so they can hear this.”

59 Responses to County defends Akers and recreation department

  1. Tim Morris

    September 30, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    I have known Anthony for over 30 years. He is a good man! You can tell alot about an adult by how children react to them. If you have been around Anthony and any children, you can see they all love him and he cares about each and every one of them. No way I could remember all those names the way he does, and that makes kids feel special. Anthony, Eddie and John do an excellent job with the recreation department and I appreciate your efforts! Anyone that thinks any of the three are overpaid have lost your mind! None of them have worked 40 hours since they took their positions. Anthony, you have my 1000% support! Thank you for a job well done!

  2. Lisa

    October 1, 2013 at 8:15 am

    I have read all of these slanderous remarks about both of these people and I think that is or should be enough. It looks to me that some have beef about both. I have seen what you think of both parties so you need to pray for both and quit slandering names The way it looks to me is the truth will prevail and words you can’t take back.So, step back and count to ten before you make anymore remarks.

  3. concerned

    October 1, 2013 at 8:49 am

    I would like for Lola to know that there are several people on this website that go by the name concerned and all she is worried about is the proper grammar and spelling. She must be an Anthony Akers worshipper as well.

    • Lola

      October 1, 2013 at 6:02 pm

      While concerned may be the most popular name since Ashley, it is clear from the posts, that the concerned praising Blackburn is the same poster as Blackburn. Same 3rd grade skill level. FYI: Akers has people who respect him. It is safe to say you do not, or you would know the difference between respect and worship. I am simply disgusted at yet another attack on the character of a decent person.

  4. Debbie

    October 1, 2013 at 10:53 am

    My hat is off to the Board of Supervisors! They have managed to make the citizens think there is a cat fight going on — when what is going on is finding out what happens to taxpayer money. 24 Freedom of Information Act requests have yielded information that all of us should know about.

    How professional of Supervisors and bureaucrats to name names, and use words like “disgusting” — I’ll tell you what is disgusting — making a private citizen a 700,000 loan at zero interest and when the loan goes into default, the tax payers get stuck! That is the kind of information you learn when you put in a Freedom of Information Act request in Pulaski County.

    Don’t be fooled, this isn’t about individuals or critisizing the work they have done, this is about the county government thinking they are not answerable to tax payers. Have you heard of sleight of hand? Well, while you are watching the cat fight, keep one hand over your wallet pocket.

    • CC

      October 1, 2013 at 3:45 pm

      Those with reading comprehension skills are in no way mislead by this article. No where does it allude to “a cat fight”. While the Freedom of Information Act is a wonderful tool, like any tool it can be misused. This witch hunt turned up no negative news about Akers. It is very self serving to beat the drums and scream about your right to know but get defensive when your name is released as the requestor. Either we all have the right to know or none of us do. Blackburn has a reputation as a trouble maker. This is a fact. Her constant attempts to cause problems for others while demanding she be left alone, show her to be the worst kind of sore loser.

  5. PC Mom

    October 1, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    After reading the public forum in Sunday’s paper, its obvious why the Blackburn’s are upset.

    I guess I’m just more than a little confused as to why they would think they are qualified to run a concession at Randolph Park. That would be a huge undertaking for anyone. Whoever is running it now are doing an amazing job! If something is not broke, don’t fix it~

  6. Brenda Smith

    October 1, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    Thanks Anthony for being the Christian role model that the children of Pul Co can look up to. You keep up the good work. You are the man!!!

  7. Mike Honaker

    October 2, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    When I returned to the New River Valley in 2006 I was determined to spend my time, energy and resources in making the community in which I lived and worked the best community I could possibly make it, at least as much as depended on me. My philosophy has always been based on sentiments like those of Mother Teresa, who once said, “If you can’t feed a hundred children, then feed just one.” For seven years we have worked through every avenue possible to make better the lives of everyone we possibly could help, from children and teenagers, to senior citizens and aging veterans, and everyone else that has needed encouragement, support or a helping hand. Even while this is taking place, there are always people sitting in the stands of life who, while doing nothing in the community themselves, spend a great deal of their time and energy criticizing what you are trying to accomplish. I have learned that this is just part of a life of service and sacrifice and I certainly am not alone in experiencing this from time to time. Having experienced this often myself, I can imagine that Anthony Akers probably feels the same way at times.

    When Anthony became the Director of the County’s Recreation Department, the Pulaski County’s recreational activities, as well as our equipment and facilities, were either non-existent or dormant or dilapidated. It was a sad state of affairs, to say the least. After growing up here and going off to college, Anthony returned to assume the leadership and stewardship of our county’s recreational programs. Through Anthony’s leadership and initiative, even with very little funding, Anthony brought Pulaski County’s recreational programs and activities out of the proverbial “stone-age” as he brought our recreational programs and facilities up to standards for which we could all be proud. Through Anthony’s hard work, dedication, initiative and compassion, an untold number of children and young people throughout our community have had their lives impacted in an immeasurably positive way by Anthony’s influence and kindness. I know that my own son was coached by Anthony when my son played middle school basketball. Matthias often commented about the positive things that Coach Akers said and did that made him a better person, helped his attitude and made him a better athlete and team-member. Personally, I wish someone like Anthony Akers was coaching my child and your child in every sport they play and at every age in their most impressionable years.
    Anthony Akers is among the most dedicated, honest, trustworthy and dependable men I know. I also have tremendous respect in his faith and his commitment in his relationship with Jesus Christ, as well as the example he sets in both his professional and personal life. I want to express my utmost support and confidence in Anthony and the work he does and the many things he has accomplished in the Pulaski County Recreation Department.

    I am proud of Anthony Akers and what he stands for, and now you know where I stand on this issue as well. Keep up the great work Anthony, there are a whole lot of people who know and appreciate what you do.