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Parks director Stocksdale to resign

Linda Stocksdale, director of the Harrison County Park and Recreation Dept. for more than a decade, will retire Friday.
“She has brought a lot of interesting aspects to the parks,” said park board chair Larry Shickles, citing Stocksdale’s efforts in programing, instituting internal measures and restructuring.
Stocksdale’s replacement has not yet been named
“I wish the next person luck,” said Stocksdale.
A search committee has been appointed, Shickles said, which includes board members Len Waite, Bob Stults and Kenneth Weis. “We’re not going to rush. We will take our time finding a quality person,” said Shickles. “I would say the process will take a couple of months.”
The position requires a four-year college degree in recreation or a related field, or a two-year degree plus four years of experience.
Others will handle her duties until a new director is hired, Shickles said, “Managers at each of the parks will step up to the plate, and the park board and people in the office.”
In the meantime, Stocksdale has initiated an update of the park master plan.
“She has begun the process of looking at where we stand as a whole,” he said.
Stocksdale said the master plan should be updated every five years. Questionnaires will be mailed to some 12,000 residents this fall to determine the wishes of the public. A public meeting will likely be held as well, she said. “The board needs citizen’s input.”
Stocksdale, 57, Palmyra, has been in public recreation for 41 years. She started supervising Harrison County’s seven parks 13 years ago, in October 1988. She moved here from Jeffersonville, where she spent 12 years, and prior to that, 16 years with the New Albany park system.
After all those years of working through the summer, she’s now looking forward to a real “summer” vacation, spending time with family and traveling.
“In all my years in recreation, I’ve never had time to do anything in summer,” she said, recalling the motto of an early colleague who characterized the job: “We work while others play.”
Stocksdale added: “It’s been very enjoyable. I would make the same career choice again.”
Her immediate plans include spending some time helping a friend in the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg, Tenn., area. He owns and operates several businesses, including a new shop, Authentic Autographs, in Gatlinburg. “It will be neat and different,” she said.
During her tenure in Harrison County, many visitors from other park systems, including superintendents, have been impressed with the model here.
“They can’t believe what Harrison County has, with the budget and the number of people, and how so many people are supportive of the parks, and how they got the parks,” Stocksdale said, referring to land donations and many hours of volunteer work made to develop the system and keep it going.
When Stocksdale came here in 1988, the county park budget was $418,506, with some $111,958 coming from park user fees and concession profits, and the balance from property taxes.
This year, the budget is $669,592, with an anticipated revenue from sales of $149,611 to help pay the bill.
This year’s budget represents an increase of about 60 percent over 1988’s budget, some five percent less than inflation, and an increase in projected revenue of about 34 percent.
“They have something to be proud of, and I just hope they appreciate what they have,” she said, referring to Harrison County residents.
And that “something” includes:
• Battle of Corydon Memorial Park, slightly more than five acres, mostly wooded, featuring the site of the only Civil War battle fought in Indiana (July 9, 1863). It’s open April 1 through Sept. 30, 8 a.m. until dark. Commemorative markers and plaques recall the events and circumstances of the skirmish between Gen. John Hunt Morgan’s Confederate forces and the Harrison County Home Guard.
• Buffalo Trace Park, Palmyra, a 147-acre park with lake swimming and beach, open from Memorial Day until Labor Day, 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. Fishing, boating, canoeing, shelterhouses, hiking, softball, basketball, tennis, camping and petting zoo;
• Harrison Poolside Park (May and Joe Rhoads Memorial Pool), off S.R. 337 in Corydon, a seven-acre park open from Memorial Day until Labor Day. In-ground pool for swimming and diving, a wading pool plus volleyball, tennis and picnicking;
• Hayswood Nature Reserve, Corydon, a 160-acre half-wooded park open year around with playgrounds, shelterhouses, picnicking, hiking and walking trails, and fishing;
• Noe’s Rest Park, S.R. 111 south of Rosewood near the Ohio River, features preserved trunk of a mammoth Burr oak which fell in 1984, the second largest of its kind in the United States. Small park is open year around, with picnicking, shelterhouse and play area;
• South Harrison Park, Elizabeth, 220-acre park open April 1 through Oct. 31., pool open Memorial Day through Labor Day. Swimming, diving, children’s wading pool, concessions, picnicking, shelterhouses, hiking, basketball, softball, baseball, tennis, shuffleboard and horseshoes; and
• Walter Q. Gresham Memorial Park, Lanesville, open April 1 through Oct. 31, 8 a.m. until dark. Three-acre park, shelterhouse, grills, picnic tables, access to tennis courts, softball.
Each park has a volunteer advisory board, which helps raise funds or obtain grants for special projects or equipment purchases. They plan special events and provide advice to the park director or board, when appropriate.
Other park board directors are Jerry Dryden, Jay Wolfe and Joel Ponder.