Commission hires park manager at Higgins Ferry Park

Published 2:46 pm Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A new park manager at Higgins Ferry Park was hired Monday night after members of the Chilton County Commission unanimously voted to offer the position to Jacob Sim.

Sim will fill the position previously filled by Frank Atkinson who was the park manager at Higgins Ferry Park.

Atkinson announced earlier this year he planned to retire and the commission voted to advertise for a park manager at Higgins Ferry Park.

During the May 27 commission meeting, commissioner Shannon Welch suggested asking parks and recreation manager for both Minooka Park and Higgins Ferry Park Gerald Arrington to conduct interviews for his top candidates.

Some of the commissioners expressed concerns during the meeting that commissioners were not going to be the ones interviewing the candidates.

Commissioner Bobby Agee said during the May 27 meeting that he didn’t have a problem with Arrington selecting the top two or three candidates from the list of applicants, but he wanted to visibly see the individuals before hiring them.

“I would just really like to see who I am hiring,” Agee said. “I don’t have a problem with him [Arrington] selecting the top candidates, but I would just like to see the people before we hire them.”

Commissioners voted to schedule a work session for 5 p.m. June 9 for the purpose of interviewing a new park ranger for Higgins Ferry and voting on who to hire at the regularly scheduled commission meeting at 6 p.m.

Commissioners also voted on May 27 to set the new park ranger’s salary at $25,000 plus benefits.

Atkinson’s position was an hourly paid position of roughly $28,000 a year, but Welch thought the new park ranger should become a salaried position.

Some of the commissioners worried about the amount of funding it would take to pay both Arrington and the new park ranger.

Commissioners voted to lower the salary from $28,000 to $25,000 to try and offset the increase in pay for Arrington’s new position.

On Monday, Welch said after commissioners and Arrington conducted interviews, he wanted to make a motion that commissioners hire Sim at the advertised salary.

Commissioner Joseph Parnell seconded the motion with commissioners Joe Headley, Allen Caton, Greg Moore and Welch voting in favor.

Commissioner Bobby Agee abstained from the vote and commissioner Heedy Hayes was absent from Monday’s meeting.

At the May 27 meeting, commissioners voted to hire Arrington as the new parks and recreation manager for both Minooka Park and Higgins Ferry Park at a set salary of $50,000 per year.

Welch introduced the idea for a county parks and recreation manager for Minooka Park and Higgins Ferry Park during the Feb. 10 commission meeting.

Welch told commissioners in February he would like to see the position created to help grow the parks.

On Tuesday, Arrington said Sim has spent some time in Chilton County and is familiar with the area but is originally from Michigan and currently resides in Illinois.

Arrington said Sim has a Bachelor of Science degree in parks and recreation and an associate’s degree in natural resource technology from Lake Superior State University.

“Jacob will be relocating this week and will begin work at Higgins Ferry Park on June 16,” Arrington said.