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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. Mindy (Anderson) farmer

    September 27, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    Anthony is my uncle and I have started doing youth sports myself. If I can help my community as much as he has in his community then I might have done something worthwhile with my life. Uncle Anthony is the best thing to ever happen to pulaski county. If it wasn’t for central gym after school who know what I would be doing now I insead of college.

  2. Gil Vice

    September 28, 2013 at 10:52 am

    I am a senior citizen who moved to Pulaski six years ago. In May 2007, I was exploring Randolph Park and met Anthony, who extended a warm welcome. Over the years, I have seen him several times at the pool, and he has greeted me as warmly as that first day years ago. I have observed and admired the summer camp, and admire the job Anthony is doing. Until this article, I was unaware just how much he does. He is an asset for more than just the kids. We should all be glad we have this dedicated public servant.

  3. LT

    September 28, 2013 at 11:32 am

    Interesting all the comments here supporting Anthony Akers. Hooray for the citizens of Pulaski County for standing up for a fine young man. Ruth, thank you for the wonderful upbringing and example you set as a mother. I know how proud you must be as you read these comments. Thank you Anthony and your family for all you have done for Pulaski County.. As noted we need to take note of the source of the situation. Ms. Blackburn is entitled to her own thoughts and beliefs. She is not entitled to try to ruin a young man’s life. I suppose some people have too much spare time on their hands so can think of things to gossip about when that same time could better be used to help Anthony, senior citizens, foster care, nursing homes… well, you get the idea..

  4. Kara Albert

    September 28, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    I know Brenda Blackburn and Anthony Akers both on a personal level. Brenda has done a lot for the community as well as Anthony Akers. So unless you know Brenda on a personal level don’t bash her because she’s honestly a great mom, grandmother, friend and citizen in this community.

  5. Brenda Blackburn

    September 28, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    First of all I was at the board meeting Monday night and I did not say one word about Mr. Akers or any one else. Matter of fact I didn’t even get up and speak. Where Melinda Williams got this information I would like to know. As far as Mr. Akers is concerned I have never mentioned his name form or fashion. That’s right, consider all the sources that I have just read. If you weren’t at the meeting than you have no right to slash no ones name.And as far as my family I think you need to keep your mouths shut. I have no one playing in Pulaski Sports as of now, so where are you coming off at. Read the Patriot put out by Mike Williams and you will see exactly what was said. He is the only one that prints exactly what went on.And, if you want to get personal about it why not start attending the meetings and you will see what goes on.

  6. concerned

    September 28, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    You all want to talk crap about the lady in the paper. I know her personally and she is the one that started Soccer in this county years back. This county did not have soccer and girls didn’t have a sport to play. So her and another lady out of North Carolina formed a group called Dublin Youth Soccer Association and the first year they signed up 48 girls and boys. When her son got in high school she turned it over to the County and look how it has grown. When she turned it over they had 198 children. Yes, she knows what it is to stay up from dusk to dawn and be on the phone 24 hours of day talking to parents taking complaints and praise. So don’t go there about her family. Her son coached my grandkids and he was very concerned and loving to them. I wouldn’t have anyone else. I would ask for my kids to be on his team. He did play college basketball and played very well. So I as a grandparent would appreciate if these complaints are stopped and as you are saying be a Christian and praise instead of battering. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Talk is cheap but LOVE AND PRAISE IS GREAT.

  7. concerned

    September 28, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    I have read all of these comments and it appauls me that people has nothing else to do but put someone down. I also know this lady and her family. They are hard working people and her husband coached my children and now her son coached my grandchildren. So don’t tell me that you know her or her family. I think that they are an asset to the community. I was as at the meeting on Monday night and stayed until the meeting was over. She didn’t even get up and speak up about anything. So Mrs. Williams told the article as though this lady knew they were going to talk about her so she left!I think not. The board did not even bring her name up so I would think that it would be very nice if you get the accuations straight before you start throwing stones. Again TALK IS CHEAP AND YOU CAN’T TAKE IT BACK. Clean out your own back yard before you start cleaning up someone elses

  8. Brenda Blackburn

    September 28, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    First of all I would like to know where the remarks that was in the paper came from. Yes, I left the meeting early but I know for a fact that my name wasn’t mentioned. I did not even get up and speak on Monday Night at the Board Meeting. I have never mentioned Mr. Akers name in no manner. If you all want to know what was really said, you need to go pick you up a copy of the Patriot, a paper put out free from Mike Williams. He puts exactly what has been said at the meeting. As far as my family is concerned they do not need to be brought into this. How would you like for someone to talk about your family members. My son has coached for the past 15 years in all sports. If you haven’t done this don’t kick someone down for taking their time and most of the time their money for the kids in this county to play sports.If you are so quick to critize someone then you need to start coming to the board meetings and you can see what goes on.

    • CC

      September 30, 2013 at 4:27 pm

      “How would you like for someone to talk about your family members.” Everytime you go off on one of your wild goose chases you target someone’s family member. As I recall, each time, your postion has been found to be without merit.

      “If you haven’t done this don’t kick someone down for taking their time and most of the time their money for the kids in this county to play sports” This is exactly what you have done to Mr Akers.

      Might I suggest: the next time someone makes you mad, count to ten and keep your mouth shut. We do not want anymore of your unfounded accusations taking up our time.

  9. concerned

    September 28, 2013 at 10:39 pm

    I would like to talk in favor of Mrs. Blackburn. Whether you know it or not but she is the first person to start Soccer in this county. My children played in her soccer league, it was called Dublin Youth Soccer Association. When it first started they had 48 boys and girls to play. When she finally gave it to the county there were 198 kids playing. She started in early April and finished the last of May. She stayed either on the phone or on the field,so don’t tell her what 24 7 is. Her and her family all love sports and also has done a lot to keep things going. They have spent a lot of their own money to keep uniforms bought.Gas, time, running and a lot of other things. So lets give justice where justice is due and I think here it is due. So remember when you are slashing someones name remember you have one too.

    • Lola

      September 30, 2013 at 6:47 pm

      It is very clear by the lack of proper grammar and spelling errors that concerned is an alias for Ms. Blackburn.

  10. Arthur

    September 30, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    I think Mrs Blackburn needs to learn to read. She obviously can’t write very well and suffice it to say that grammar isn’t her strong point. Nowhere in the SWT article does it say that Brenda Blackburn spoke at the meeting. But her own comments on this page complain that the SWT said she did speak. The article refers to Blackburn as the person that has filed numerous FOIA requests for information about the Rec department. This is a fact. This is true. Why are you so defensive Mrs. Blackburn? Still embarrassed by the 2% of the vote you received the last time you mounted a campaign for the board of supervisors?