Thomas takes park and recreation position

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The new Ironton City Parks and Recreation director, Rhett Thomas, has his hands full. There’s painting to be done, lawns to mow, and swings to fix. Now all he needs is the time to catch up.

The former carpenter started on Aug. 6 and is charge of maintaining Ironton’s three parks, Moulton Field, Etna Street and Susan Court.

“I took this job to help the youth and adults of this city,” he said, adding he wants to reorganize and improve the department and its services. To do that, he wants to get the parks like they once were. He said there are a lot of repairs to be done and a lot of things to be replaced. All he needs is time and some volunteers to get it done.

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Currently, he is taking bids on replacing a fence at the Eighth Street Park as well as all the basketball rims.

“A couple of the parks have been repainted,” Thomas said. Recently, a group of volunteers from the Russell Christian Church of painted the fence at the park at Etna and Court streets,” he said. “We really appreciated that. Thank you for coming over.”

Moulton Field Park was recently repainted and swing sets replaced. Thomas is looking at putting a new roof on the shelter building and fixing the back stop at the baseball field.

“Just doing general maintenance on Moulton Field is major,” he said. “It is an everyday process because it’s the biggest of the three parks. Honestly, I’m amazed how much work there is in this job.”

He has been spending a couple of hours a day picking up trash in an effort to bring families and their kids back to the park. He said there are too many people using it but not for the intended use.

“We need to get the riffraff out of there,” Thomas said. “The more we use these places, the more positive it will be for everyone in the community. We need to take it back.”

Thomas said that as a carpenter and a construction worker, he said he could do a lot of the repairs himself.

Thomas grew up in Rock Hill but moved to the city after he married his wife, Melinda, 11 years ago. They have three children, Britney, Brycen, Brae-Leigh.

He said he has lots of fond memories from playing in baseball leagues.

“We had family reunions in the parks, I played a lot of ball over here and I’ve coached a lot,” he said. “I would like to see the parks be what they once were.”

Thomas said he has sat down with the parks and recreation advisory board and Mayor John Elam to develop plans for the parks. Part of that planning was to talk with the school board about doing a poll of the students to see what they want out of the park system.

Among the ideas being floated are a skate park, a water park, more volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, arts and crafts events and more sports tournaments.

“We want some numbers on what the kids really want,” Thomas said. “So we appreciate the school system helping us out on that.”

Thomas said that anyone who would like to volunteer to help out with the parks can give him a call at (740) 532-6224 or the mayor’s office at (740) 532-3833.

“We need help to clean up,” he said. “But you don’t need to go through me to help. If you’re in the park, just pick up some trash. This is your park, so use them and take care of them like it’s your own house.”

Ironton Physical Therapy recently made a donation of a weed cutter to department.

“That was something we were in dire need of,” Thomas said