by Krystal Spring
After more than a decade at the helm of Havre's Parks and Recreation Department, Dave Wilson is ready for some playtime of his own.
Wilson has announced he will retire at the end of the year. Havre Mayor Bob Rice said today he received a letter of resignation from Wilson a couple of weeks ago.
Wilson, who's worked for the city for 25 years, said today he's looking forward to retirement.
"I'm moving on," he said.
Wilson declined to comment on his future plans.
Wilson first began working for the city in 1978 as the aquatics director, which was a combined position between the city and Havre Public Schools. In 1986 he became the aquatics and recreation director for the city. When that position was coupled with the parks director position in September 1993, Wilson took it on, making him the city's first parks and recreation director.
City officials said filling Wilson's shoes will be no easy task.
"I really think it's a loss for us," city clerk and finance director Lowell Swenson said Tuesday. "He did a great job over the years. That job has a lot of different aspects that I think people don't realize."
Wilson oversees Havre's 20 maintained parks, the community pool and all the city's recreational activities, which range from Little League baseball to wheelchair basketball.
City Council member and Parks and Recreation Committee chair Pam Hillery said Wilson's experience and expertise managing the city's parks and recreational activities has been an asset to the community.
"(Wilson) had a vision for the parks, and yet he was also able to do the day-to-day things to keep the parks up and going," Hillery said Tuesday. "He was able to do both; that's a skill and a character trait that will be hard to duplicate."
Wilson most recently completed a list of rules for Havre's new community skate park. The Parks and Recreation Committee and some Havre residents commended his efforts at a meeting Monday.
"You've done a great job for the city," Havre resident Charlie Grant said. "You're a good man and a good friend and you'll be missed."
Wilson's efforts in the community haven't gone unnoticed through the years. On May 17, 1999, Havre Mayor Phyllis Leonard and a group of community members planted a grove of trees at Havre High School in Wilson's honor. The "Wilson Grove" was planted to recognize Wilson's efforts to improve the city by his involvement in increasing recreational opportunities for youth and the Havre community.
Swenson said department head positions, like Wilson's, are appointed and filled by the mayor. Rice said after he picks someone to fill the vacated position, the Havre City Council will be asked to confirm his choice.