ST. GEORGE – The Utah Recreation and Parks Association recognized the St. George Leisure Services Department with three awards — including one of its highest honors for the year — during a City Council meeting Thursday.
The awards were delivered to the department during the meeting by Kim Olsen, executive director for the Utah Recreations and Parks Association.
“We like to recognize the excellence of our peers,” Olsen said.
Olsen went on to describe the awards the Leisure Services Department had won during the association’s annual conference held in St. George last month.
The first award was the “Outstanding Adaptive Program of the Year.” The program Olsen highlighted was the Flying Fish swimming program held at the Sand Hollow Aquatic Center that caters to individuals with special needs.
The program is also supported by the local Elks Lodge 1743, Olsen said.
The second award the city department received was for the “Outstanding Facility of the Year,” which went to the Electric Theater Center.
“You have taken an old, dilapidated area, renovated it and created a cornerstone of the arts program in downtown St. George,” Olsen said.
Since its renovation and opening last August, the Electric Theater Center has come to serve as a place where various arts groups can gather and rent space for their particular needs. Currently, the Southern Utah Arts Guild maintains a gallery at the center. A theater company and other performing and visual arts groups also take advantage of the facility. St. George Mayor Jon Pike recently called the Electric Center “a labor of love for a lot of people.”
While Olsen said the St. George Leisure Services won a gold medal for its work from the National Recreation and Parks Association last year, he said he believed the next award from the Utah-based association was more prestigious, as it came from peers from across the state and not strangers.
“This (award) is for the Outstanding Department of the Year in the class three division,” Olsen said. “It’s basically the highest award we can give to a city.”
Olsen said the whole state looks to St. George for leadership in many areas and that the Leisure Services staff is always willing to share ideas with others.
Pike called the awards well-deserved.
“We have the best parks, recreation and leisure staff,” Pike said.
“(Recreation is) certainly a huge part of our identity,” Pike added, “and people love to live here, work here and recreate here.”
Recently, St. George won an online poll run by KSL.com naming it the “best” city in Utah. When St. George News asked members of the public why they felt St. George qualified as the best city, many referred to the city’s multiple recreation-related opportunities.
Other City Council business
The City Council passed a resolution entering into an interlocal agreement regarding coordination on the Bureau of Land Management’s draft resource management plan.
The agreement allows city officials direct access to issues discussed with the BLM through Washington County.
Previously the city was unable to address certain concerns with the BLM related to the draft resource plan due to not having signed a memorandum of understanding with the federal agency as Washington County had. Without the memorandum, certain issues between the BLM and county would remain confidential and unavailable for city officials to give input on. City officials worry that facets of the BLM’s plans will negatively affect the city’s future if implemented.
“Water, power and transportation in particular,” Pike said. “We are very concerned about these things.”
The resolution passed 3-1, with Councilman Jimmie Hughes being the dissenting vote. Councilwoman Michele Randall was not present at the meeting.
The City Council also approved bids related to the fifth phase of construction at the Little Valley sports fields. This phase of the project involves the construction of two soccer fields with a rugby overlay, four volleyball courts, a parking lot and related facilities.
Items related to the sports fields included a field lighting system for $290,095 and a power line extension for the addition at $57,159.
The council also approved $68,877 for a 60-foot pavilion at the St. James trailhead.
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