What were your earliest experiences at Lake Martin?
I drove through Wind Creek State Park on a return trip from a managers’ meeting in the early 90s. I was the manager of Claude D. Kelly State Park in Atmore, Alabama, at the time. I remember the impression of cleanliness at the park and surrounding area and the aesthetic beauty of the Highway 280 median in Alexander City. The Bradford pear trees that used to be planted there were in full bloom. What a sight to behold.
How long have you worked at Wind Creek State Park and what positions have you held here?
I was transferred to Wind Creek in January 1999 at the request of former Superintendent Phillip Easterwood. Phil had been working without an assistant for some time. He needed help, and I needed experience.
What is the best thing about your job?
Watching families grow as they return to the park each year. The parents I have met over the years are now grandparents. Their once-small children are now bringing their children to teach them the values of outdoor activities. The rewards are generational, and they bring a reality to one of the mission statements of the state parks goals: To preserve for future generations …
What is the biggest challenge for you in your job?
Making daily decisions that impact others and trying to make others understand the reason behind those decisions. More and more, the public demands answers to “why can’t I” questions instead of accepting the regulations as written. For the most part, the regulations are written and administered to promote the safety and convenience of all the public and not for individuals. Sometimes, this interferes with what some individuals consider “just having fun.” Kind of like going 70 miles per hour in a 45-miles-per-hour zone; it’s never right, but it may not be as harmful if you are the only one on the road.
What does the future hold for Wind Creek State Park, and how might the local community help to support those projects?
In the immediate future, we are looking at upgrading the playground equipment with help from a LWCF grant and volunteer labor. Also, the advertised Adventure Zip Line is still being considered since the overall state parks funding problems appear to be on the mend. The community can help by supporting legislation that promotes state parks and by continued use of the facilities. The local area needs to be reminded that the users we have at the park have a large economic impact on the Lake Martin area.
How have funding cuts over recent years affected the services offered at the park, and what changes have you and your staff had to make to keep things running smoothly?
This Park has continued to make a small profit for the state parks system. But being a part of a whole, we have had to adjust operational hours and expenses to cover what is needed and hold back on services we would like to offer. You’d be surprised at how well the public will respond if you give them the best accommodation possible with the limited resources available. Like most of us, we just expect effort when we make a reasonable request. 100 percent effort is a valuable amenity that costs nothing to give. We insist all of our staff and volunteers give it to each of our patrons daily.
What is your favorite time of day at the park and why?
Early in the morning when all is quiet except hearing birds sing and smelling the bacon frying.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given and who was it from?
“In your position of authority, never do for one person or group what you are not willing to do for the next. It will get you in trouble every time.” Advice given by Superintendent Hugh Branyon (recently deceased). He hired me as a seasonal worker in 1983 at Gulf State Park and was my mentor until he retired.
Describe a random act of kindness that someone did for you, and how did you pass it on (pay it forward; return the favor)?
There are too many blessings in life to enumerate. The most recent act of kindness was the First Responder Appreciation Supper hosted by the Elks Lodge. The recognition for all first responders was greatly appreciated.
How do you relax at the lake?
It’s tough to relax where you work, but every once in a while, you get to just sit down and take it all in.
What’s the most fun you’ve had at the lake so far?
Watching people (young and old) do something that they have never done before. Catching a fish, putting up a tent, building their first campfire, or jumping off Chimney (Chicken) Rock. I did this for the first time last summer myself to show my grandkids. A woman watching from a boat was impressed. I told her I was pretty impressed myself.
If you could have dinner with any three people from any era, who would they be and why?
Dinner with anybody, any time is good with me. I’m no respecter of persons when it comes to a good meal.
What charities or community service are important to you and why?
Disabled children or lonely seniors. I also have a great respect for caregivers that take on these responsibilities.
What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received and from whom did it come?
“Because I know my Papa,” from my granddaughter when asked what made her think she could get “that” by her Nana.
What is something that no one knows about you?
I relax by playing old video games. The two-button (simple) type, where all you have to do is jump and shoot.