This year, the City of Knoxville’s Parks and Recreation Department received a number of state and national awards.
Last month, the Tennessee Recreation and Parks Association (TRPA) named Knoxville Parks and Recreation the recipient of three of its awards:
-- For TRPA’s Four Star Renovated Facility Award in the “$100,000 or less” category, the West Hills Pickleball Courts were selected. In September, Mayor Madeline Rogero and City Council opened the six new pickleball courts, Knoxville’s first outdoor pickleball facility, which replaced two older tennis courts on the east end of West Hills Park. Pickleball is a rising alternative sport that combines tennis, ping-pong and badminton.
-- The recent Google Trekker project, which visually documented Knoxville trails and greenways, earned the TRPA Four Star Marketing Award in the “Digital” category. The project was led by the Knoxville-Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission in partnership with City of Knoxville and Knox County Parks and Recreation departments, Visit Knoxville, CAC AmeriCorps, the Legacy Parks Foundation and Google. The results of this project translate into the ability to digitally explore all trails and greenways within the greater Knoxville region on a computer, tablet or smart phone before physically visiting the actual site.
-- TRPA also awarded its Four Star Marketing Award in the “Campaign” category for Knoxville Parks and Recreation’s effort with the Tennessee River Tour held in April 2015. The Tennessee River Tour was a partnership project with Living Lands and Waters, the Tennessee Valley Authority, Keep Tennessee Beautiful, and many local water quality organizations that piggybacked on the 26th annual Ijams River Rescue. The project sought to clean the Tennessee River and surrounding waterways and raise water quality awareness before going on to six other cities along the river. A record 15 tons of trash were removed during the River Rescue and more than 1,100 volunteers came out to clean Knoxville’s waterways.
Earlier this year, Nikki Crutcher, who was recently named as the City’s new Recreation Superintendent, earned certification as a Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP) by the National Certification Board and the National Recreation and Parks Association. The CPRP certification is granted to parks and recreation professionals who meet eligibility requirements of higher education, work experience, and completion of an examination that tests knowledge in general administration, programming and operations management within the parks and recreation field.
Additionally, the National League of Cities (NLC) gave Knoxville Parks and Recreation’s Kathleen Gibi the “Most Dedicated City Employee” national award for her efforts as the City of Knoxville’s liaison in First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative. Let’s Move! is a national effort to reduce childhood obesity. Gibi has worked with local partners through her communications position to help Knoxville and Knox County be ranked No. 1 in the nation among the NLC’s Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties.
As is tradition, the Knoxville Parks and Recreation Department recently gave out its end-of-the-year internal “Superlative Awards” as well.
Aaron Browning, Athletics Coordinator, was named “Employee of the Year.” In 2015, Browning oversaw the West Hills Pickleball Court renovation, as well as the City’s contract with RecPro to provide online reservations of City facilities and registration in City programs and leagues, and managed Knoxville Parks and Recreation’s Athletics Division.
Other 2015 Knoxville Parks and Recreation employee superlative award recipients were:
Unsung Hero Award - Denise Jones
Ralph Goss Community Service Award - Phil Hatcher
New Program - Dynamic Sports, Daniel Alexander
Special Event - Tennessee River Tour, Kathleen Gibi
“Our department affects so many aspects of our community, and I’m proud that so many of our staff, projects and programs have been recognized as award-winning assets,” said Knoxville Parks and Recreation Director Joe Walsh. “We are always seeking to improve, but it’s nice to know we are making noteworthy impact on so many levels.”
For more information on City of Knoxville Parks and Recreation, visit www.knoxvilletn.gov/recreation.