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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.”

Comments

comments

59 Responses to County defends Akers and recreation department

  1. Lee Wolfe

    September 25, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    I work for a company that provides a service for the Rec Department, and I will say this about those I work with employed by PC Rec: I can’t find a better group of people to work with. They are always patient when things don’t go perfect, and I’ve seen it first-hand: they put their lives and families on hold many times to make sure our youth has what they need when they need it to play sports, or cheer, etc. I’ve known Anthony for more years than I wish to confess to, and during those years I’ve been overwhelmed at the outreach Anthony and other employees show towards the youth in Pulaski County; something I’d like to see more of! And as far as other citizens who wish to criticize: apparently they’ve never been involved in rec sports or other activities this department provides, or they wouldn’t be so quick to judge!

  2. Brooke Malott

    September 25, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    As a parent of a child who has played on several Pulaski County Rec teams, has used the after school program and the summer camp first, I want to say how wonderful it is that Pulaski County offer’s this. Second Anthony has always been available and works very hard for the children and families here. I hope he knows what a great job he does and I hope the Board of Supervisors continues to stand behind him.

  3. concerned

    September 25, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    I personally feel that Mr. Akers is over paid and not to be trusted. In my opinion he has alot of people fooled and I also have known him for many years. Maybe there is time for change in this county.

    • Randy Webb

      September 26, 2013 at 10:58 am

      So, your concerned? Overpaid? You think we should put a person making 21k a year overseeing that amount of money and not to mention all the children in the county’s well being and safety at stake? Now I’m concerned…..

    • CC

      September 26, 2013 at 11:40 am

      If you have facts to support your position, please provide them. If you only have “personal feelings” you need to keep them yourself. Also why not share your name? It is easy to hide behind a made up name but when you make up accusations you are on dangerous ground.

      • concerned

        September 27, 2013 at 9:22 am

        i have a feeling that concerned knows or is closely related to the woman in the article, this isn’t the first time she or others have raised complaints when things don’t go her way. She believes if it wasnt for the coaches at PCHS and Anthony Akers and whoever else that every kid related to her family would be on scholarship playing D-1 ball somewhere. What a joke. I just want everyone to know that there are 2 people apparently using concerned as their screen name.

    • Anonymous

      September 27, 2013 at 8:47 am

      Do you realize how many hours Anthony works? He does not have a 40-hour a week job. He is constantly at a rec game or at Randolph Park doing something and I am sure that does not scratch the surface of what he does away from the public eye. How can you say he makes too much?? Shame on you!

  4. Concerned

    September 25, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    All I can say is, typical screamer who doesn’t get her way and then runs out when people see through the garbage. Anthony has done a tremendous job for the county and truly cares about the communit and our kids.

  5. Barry Buckner Sr

    September 25, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    I have worked with Anthony Akers as a volunteer for Rec sports for last 8 years! Anthony is an excellent leader and I have great respect for Him!He goes above and beyond for the youth of our county!!!!

  6. Tim Mannon

    September 25, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    I have know Anthony for 30+ years and I have never seen anything but Good come from this man!
    God is working through him!
    Tim Mannon
    Team Mannon Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy

  7. Sports Mom

    September 26, 2013 at 8:03 am

    Both of my children competed in the Rec department sports from the time that they were old enough. I have had a child in one rec sport or another for near 20 years. Mr. Akers has always been friendly to all parents when he is at an event and he does try everything that he can do to help solve problems that any parent may have. The concerns that most of my fellow “sports moms” speak of mostly is the shape of the equipment. Our rec department is in dire need for new equipment. Most teams anymore do fund raising or parents payout of their pocket to by jerseys, and I have seen on occasion where parents have had to purchase safety equipment for their children that would otherwise be borrowed from the league. Once again, I personally feel that the staff does an amazing job.

    • D K

      September 28, 2013 at 3:42 pm

      A lot of your money probably went into Angie Harrell’s pocket if any of your kids were in cheerleading.

      • Sports Mom

        October 7, 2013 at 8:15 am

        @ D K, Yes we did have a child that cheered all four years at the high school; but we were parents who got our money back for items that we did not receive! But, I know of several parents who did not. Heck no we work too hard for our money for her to stick it in her pocket!

  8. memberffca

    September 26, 2013 at 9:30 am

    I wouldn’t put much stock into this considering the SOURCE of the complaints!

  9. LT

    September 26, 2013 at 9:42 am

    For goodness sakes, something good in Pulaski County and someone wants to complain?!? But consider the source of the inquiry. Anthony is a gentleman in every way. I, among other parents, have watched Anthony grow up. So has this person. We are blessed to have such a kind, caring person in this position. The Rec. Depart is not an easy place to be with so many “parents” involved in all the operations Anthony is involved in. Ever tried to be a coach? Multiply that by hundreds and put yourself in his position. Want to complain about something? How about helping CASA or Safe Haven. See how children really live in the real world and help them by complaining about the system. That’s a system to be reckoned with. So, in ending this speech, YOU GO ANTHONY AND MAY GOD CONTINUE TO BLESS PULASKI COUNTY FOR YOUR WORK AND TO BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY FOR YOUR TIME AND EFFORTS. Yeah, his family–do you realize how many hours he has dedicated to the recreation dept. night and day, when he could have been home with his family. Person who started this–how much time have you given away from your family to help this many people?

  10. Sandra Offutt

    September 26, 2013 at 10:16 am

    I do not personally live in Pulaski. However, my brother Tom Boxall does. We literally spent every Sat. at Randolph Park Pool one summer because we just love it there. EXCELLENT Customer Service and Anthony Akers was always onsite greeting customers and making sure things were running efficiently. I support Mr. Akers and his efforts 100%.Parks and Recreation are very fortunate to have him as well as the community.

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