Rec changes coming

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By Tom Wilmoth

    Bedford County is poised to take over the city of Bedford’s Recreation Department, but at least one council member isn’t ready to turn it completely over yet.
    During a budget work session held last Tuesday, Councilman C.G. Stanley suggested there be a transition period over several months or even a year, before the town totally gives up that service to the county.
    Currently the city has two full-time employees in its recreation department and both have been told they might lose their job at the end of June.
    Bedford’s reversion agreement with the county calls for the city, once it becomes a town, to turn over its recreation department to the county. That would mean the town’s recreation department would be governed by a volunteer Athletic Association, the model used throughout the county. Each Association is given a part-time county employee to manage that Association.
    The town of Bedford’s Association would be one of the largest in the county, based upon the number of those who register for teams throughout the year. That would mean the part-time employee would be paid around $10,000 to oversee the program.
    “We don’t anticipate any great change for the program,” Michael Stokes, the county’s director of parks and recreation told city council members last week. “We have areas we hope we can improve.”
    Currently the county has 10 different Associations for sports, with the Forest Athletic Association as its largest. Bedford would become the 11th.
    “We like to think this will be an easy transition,” Stokes said. “We do the best we can with what we have where we are.”
    But Stanley said he’s not sure the town will be ready to adopt that model beginning July 1.
    “This doesn’t happen overnight,” Stanley said of forming an Association to govern rec sports in a community. “I’m more inclined to go with a gradual transition.”
    He said there needs to be time to get the proper structure for the Athletic Association in place.
    “We will need to get the right people in the right place,” he said of raising up volunteers. “We owe that much to the kids. I want to make sure it’s the right thing and we have everything in place.
    “My concern is right now we don’t have that in place. I don’t see this happening that quick,” he said.
    County staff believe volunteers will step in quickly to fill the void. “I think you’ll be surprised by the number of volunteers that will come forth,” stated Wyatt Woody, athletics coordinator for the county.

Information meetings to be held

    In cooperation with the Bedford County Parks and Recreation Department, the city of Bedford will host two different opportunities for all interested persons to come and learn more about the proposed Athletic Association for the soon to be town of Bedford.  Staff from both jurisdictions will present information and be available to answer questions about how the Association model works and how it is proposed to be set up for the town. 
    The first session is scheduled for Saturday, May 11 beginning at 10 a.m. in the Bedford Room of the Bedford Central Library.  The second session will be held Thursday, May 16 beginning at 6 p.m. in the Council Chamber at City Hall. 
    The information presented by staff will be identical at both sessions and will be posted online at the city of Bedford Web site (www.bedfordva.gov).  Questions or comments about these sessions may be directed to Bart Warner, assistant city manager via e-mail at bwarner@bedfordva.gov or by telephone at (540) 587-6022.
    Those interested in recreation activities within the city/town are encouraged to attend, participate and learn more about the new proposal for providing these services in the future.