Parks and rec department plans events for residents


Submitted Photo

Mackenzie Freund, City Editor

The Charleston Parks and Recreation Department’s five main staff members plan out events for Charleston residents of all ages to enjoy.

The parks department comes out with a booklet three times a year that includes about one hundred planned events and classes.

Diane Ratliff, in charge of tourism and special events, said the book comes out on a semester calendar.

The different programs in the book are planned through the different positions on the staff.

Ratliff said most of the events that are planned are ones they have taken from previous years.

“We always take suggestions from the community,” Ratliff said. “When we get a suggestion from the community and offer it, it is sometimes a big hit.”

Dirk Bennett, the athletic supervisor, said some of the past athletic events have been modified to attract more people to the parks department.

“We had a youth football clinic for first and second graders for many years and it was suggested that we make it into an actual flag football league,” Bennett said. “We’re always looking to improve and evaluate and add to it.”

Kaylie Pruett, the recreation supervisor, said she plans most of the events that are not for the tourism or sports departments.

“Every semester I’ll have all of the kids stuff that isn’t sports related, dog classes, special interests, and senior lifestyle events,” Pruett said.

Pruett said some of the ideas she has gotten for programs have come from Pinterest, a social networking site that allows users to save articles onto virtual pinboards.

Bennett said some of the rotary pool events are included in the department.

The parks and rec department is different from a typical park district, as explained by Ratliff.

She said the difference between the department and a park district is the funds that support them.

“We are community funded through municipal fees and we put on programs that are open for everyone,” Ratliff said. “With park districts, you have memberships for that district and you have extra fee’s outside of that area.”

Pruett said she participated in a lot of the sports when she was growing up and the parks department is cost effective.

Bennett said his favorite part about being the athletic supervisor is seeing all the kids and parents show up for the events he has coordinated.

“All of a sudden this thing that you have in your mind or put on a spreadsheet is actually working,” Bennett said.

Ratliff said she has worked for 10 years as the recreation supervisor and the last five years as tourism and special events.

“One of the hardest things about the move to tourism was leaving the kids,” Ratliff said. “Seeing the kids grow up in our programs is a lot of fun.”

Mackenzie Freund can be reached at 5814-2812 or at [email protected]