Washington to lead state parks association

2/8/2013

By The Telegram

By The Telegram

John Washington, superintendent for the Garden City Recreation Commission, recently was named president of the Kansas Recreation and Park Association.

Washington was named president Jan. 23 in Manhattan, during the association's annual conference and trade show.

Washington said it is an honor to be elected, and it's also positive for western Kansas because there has never been a president of the association from out here.

"For the first time ever, the KRPA will hold the state conference out here in Dodge City in 2015, and it will remain in the rotation every five years," he said.

For Garden City and southwest Kansas, having a person who lives in the mostly rural region as president of the organization provides a voice that often is drowned out by urban interests.

"Normally, we're just a squeak in the ear. Now you're able to sit down with the spearheads and discuss issues," Washington said. "One of the things that's always lacking is support of recreation and parks in western Kansas. They don't think we have nature out here. It also allows me to work on smaller communities, not just Johnson County or Wichita. My email has been flooded with smaller parks and rec organizations."

The association's 850 voting members selected Washington as president-elect in 2012. Washington will serve a one-year term as president of the KRPA board of directors, the association's governing body. The board is responsible for the supervision, control and direction of the association.

During the president-elect year, Washington said his responsibilities were for advocacy and organizing the annual state conference. This year will entail additional legislative advocacy work, assisting the state director and working a little more on national issues affecting parks and recreation.

KRPA is the recognized voice of advocacy on behalf of parks, recreation and leisure services in Kansas. The nonprofit association represents the needs of park and recreation professionals in the Kansas Statehouse and works with policy-makers as a resource of information and advice regarding issues impacting their profession.

The 21-member KRPA board represents different branches of the profession, including administration, aquatics, marketing/customer service, therapeutic recreation and aging, park and natural resources, park law enforcement, recreation, sports, member-at-large — west, member-at-large — central, and member-at-large — east.

As part of the president's responsibilities, Washington appointed chairs for all the KRPA standing committees, which include awards, citizen board, colleges and universities, conference planning, professional development and public policy.

The association is represented during the legislative session by a professional lobbyist, the executive director and utilizes a public policy committee of KRPA members to provide guidance and influence legislation and regulations. The KRPA website is www.krpa.org.

The Garden City Recreation Commission is an entity created by state statues with its own policy making board and mill levy. Four of its board members are appointed by the Garden City Commission, and one member is selected at large.

The mission of the GCRC is to provide recreational opportunities to enhance the quality of life for the people of the community by promoting social interaction and productive use of leisure time. The GCRC website is www.gcrec.com.

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