Understanding things better
Kim Shahan feels like that lonely soldier in a foxhole, low on food and ammunition and taking incoming shots from all directions.
Shahan is the Director of the Lawton Parks and Recreation Department and while the recent focus has been on youth sports and the lack of maintenence on the fields and declining numbers of participants, he says the job is much more than just coordinating the kids programs.
"That's what the citizens don't understand, that over the years we've been tasked with more and more duties but regardless the council and city management continued to gut our department when it came to personel," he said. "What we need to remember is that the term non-essential department is not such when the people feel otherwise. Just because the city manager feels it's non-essential, that doesn't always reflect the desire of the citizens.
"To many citizens, youth sports are a very important part of the growth and success of our community. We cannot let city managers and the finance manager be the ones to sit back and consider what they feel is essential. The past manager and financial manager didn't care about youth sports and they proceeded to gut my department, all the while adding more duties. In my opinion they wanted us to fail."
The key position, according to Shahan, was that of Recreation Supervisor, but when the past management team cut that job, it not only sent away a solid employee with a good sports background, Stan Prock, it forced Shahan to move other people around to cover other areas that the city manager felt more important than youth spots.
That's why at this moment two clerks are the only employees listed and funded under the Sports/Aquatics Division.
However, there appears a concentrated effort around City Hall to pull a "Statue of Liberty" out of the playbook and at least bolster that division with at least that former Recreation Supervisor position.