Georgia State Park and Historic Site Managers Receive Honors
Posted 1:51 PM on Wednesday, August 17, 2022
GEORGIA, August 15, 2022 — Several Georgia State Park and Historic Site employees were recently honored at their annual managers’ conference held in northern Georgia. Site managers attended an awards ceremony celebrating those who make more than 60 state parks and historic sites exceptional destinations across Georgia. They also attended training sessions and shared insights into park operations. Below are this year’s winners.
Henry Struble Manager of the Year Award
Desmond Timmons, Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park, Pine Mountain
The popularity of Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park skyrocketed under Desmond Timondirection. Desmond worked to reintroduce prescribed burning on Pine Mountain, something that hadn’t been done in over 12 years. He was directly involved in the park’s campground renovations, the Franklin Lake Dam renovations and the addition of 10 acres of interpretive trails, in addition he serves on the Harris County Tourism Committee. Having served over 10 years at Georgia’s largest state park, Desmond is a highly respected senior executive within the Georgia State Park System.
Park Ranger Bravery Reward
Bud Fuller, Reed Bingham State Park, Adel
After heavy rains in April, the Petite Rivière had reached dangerously high levels. Reed Bingham State Park Manager fuller bud received a call from the Cook County Sheriff’s Office advising that a visitor had reported an overturned vessel, a man was down crying for help, and a woman and small child were standing at a tree in the middle of flooded waters. Fuller reacted quickly, and with the help of park worker Tom Daugherty and Cook County Sheriff Doug Hanks, they rescued the boaters. Georgia Department of Natural Resources Game Warden Aaron Powell recovered the overturned vessel. Due to Fuller’s emergency response preparedness and excellent relationship with local authorities, a life-threatening situation was averted.
Most Outstanding Site Operation
Indian Springs State Park, Flovilla
Assistant Director Catherine Darsey, Indian Springs State Park had a bumper year. Central Georgia Park excels in customer service and administrative duties, and staff have completed natural resource projects such as erosion control and invasive plant management. The park’s lakeside Idlewilde Events Center continues to attract even more guests each year for weddings, meetings and other gatherings.
Natural Resource Development Awards
Seminole State Park, Bainbridge
Assistant Director Tyler Simsleadership, Seminole State Park has had exceptional success in protecting longleaf pine and wireframe habitat so crucial to the ecosystem of southern Georgia. Park staff safely burned over 300 acres with prescribed fires, removing ubiquitous species such as suet and invasive species such as sweetgum, Chinese privet and Japanese climbing fern. The park’s focus on improving natural resources also included new signage explaining the importance of the Wiregrass ecosystem throughout the park.
Best Year-Round Programming Award
Fort McAllister State Park, Richmond Hill
In 1864, General Sherman completed his “march to the sea” at Fort McAllister. Today, the property combines Civil War history with traditional state park activities. The park’s interpretive staff welcomed more than 10,000 participants to more than 170 programs last year, including their most successful annual candlelight tour yet. Visitors can also take daily guided tours of the well-preserved fort. Administrator Jason Carter is the division’s primary black powder safety trainer and has brought his team of gunners for demonstrations throughout the state.
Cultural Resource Enhancement Award
SAM Shortline Excursion Train, Cordele
Chris Lockwood and his staff at SAM Shortline Train restored a 1953 power car to its original United States Army Medical Division lettering and car number. Originally built as an army hospital kitchen car, it was converted to an electric car by private owners. SAM Shortline purchased the car in 2003, and now that it’s back in its original colors, it offers veterans another unique historical artifact that calls home to Georgia Veterans State Park.
Customer Service Award
Jamie Madden, Red Top Mountain State Park, Acworth
Red Top Mountain State Park Manager Jamie Madden follows the motto that challenges are not problems, but rather opportunities. Renovations to the park’s beach and campground have resulted in site closures that have required exceptional customer service and flexibility from park staff. To keep her staff informed and prepared, she organized customer service training so everyone could wear the MNR “We Serve” customer service patch. Madden’s desire to help visitors is always a priority.
Best Golf Course of the Year Award
The Creek at Hard Labor Creek State Park, Social Circle
The Creek Golf Course is known for its quality experience in booking golf packages, hosting tournaments, delivering lessons and providing customer service at its clubhouse. This year, The Creek hosted the Georgia High School Association 4A Public School Playoffs, had sections of cart paths repaired, cleared vegetation, repaired tee boxes and sent staff to help out on other courses. state park golf course if needed. The award has been accepted by Course Manager Karl Gross.
Tie – Tallulah Gorge State Park, Tallulah Falls and Wormsloe State Historic Site, Savannah
Despite the lack of staff, Tallulah Gorge employees worked diligently to ensure shelves remained stocked with necessities and souvenirs for visitors. The park clerks are top notch and the manager Lieren Merz closely monitors retail products and inventory, making their gift shop a successful operation. At the historic site of Wormsloe, deputy director Jeri Nokes carefully selects gift shop items to enhance visitors’ experience, dramatically increasing their retail business over the past few years. Directed by Gretchen Greminger, Wormsloe is one of the most photographed and visited historic sites in Savannah, so memorabilia is important to guests. Popular items include hand-blown glass and handcrafted ironwork that reflect the site’s colonial history.