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Brentwood hires high-energy rec manager

| Thursday, June 20, 2013, 12:27 p.m.
Brittany Goncar | South Hills Record
Paula Simmons, 22, is the new recreation manager for Brentwood Borough.

Brentwood is taking a new approach.

Its community park is undergoing an estimated $8 million overhaul, and Paula Simmons, 22, plans to see that the new facility is used to its full potential.

Simmons graduated from Kent State University with a concentration in recreation management this spring. She began her part-time position as the Brentwood recreation manager, earning $16 an hour, on May 20. Simmons will plan future events as the renovations are complete.

“I can start from the ground and build it up,” Simmons said. “If something doesn't work, I won't do it again. If it does work, I'll build off of that.”

The borough received more than a dozen applications.

Simmons had the most experience directly linked to the position, including internships with Peters Township Park, and Recreation Department and Hudson Community Education and Recreation, said Borough Manager George Zboyovsky.

Officials hope to make the position full-time once park renovations are complete, he said.

“When you meet her, you can see her energy and enthusiasm,” Zboyovsky said. “Enthusiasm always goes a long way when you get somebody in a position. When we checked her references, they were just glowing. She's right out of school, but you can sense the responsibility of her and her demeanor with the public.”

The Peters Township native just received her operations certification for the pool, where some changes have taken place. Now when patrons visit the pool they will receive a wristband to indicate that they paid. This prevents them from paying a second time if they visit the concession stand that is now in the air-conditioned Brentwood Civic Center. The outdoor patio is equipped with picnic tables and could occasionally host a local band or children's activity.

Simmons already is working on several programs, including Zumba classes, “dive in” movies at the pool, kettle ball classes and cooking classes, to name a few.

Her plans are to use the borough's recreation facilities, including the Brentwood Civic Center on Park Drive, in addition to the park.

The recreation manager hopes to pull over some of the programs that she used during her internship with Hudson (Ohio) Community Education and Recreation. One of the biggest programs is Jump Start Sports for younger children. The purpose is to teach children fundamental skills in sports, including hockey, basketball and lacrosse after-school programs.

“I'm just getting the gist of what is offered here in the community and what's not,” Simmons said.

The internship also gave Simmons experience partnering with a school district.

Another popular program is a driver's theory class for high school students, which helps decrease insurance costs for new drivers.

A regulation-size dek hockey rink also is part of the Brentwood Park renovation process, which will be the only one of its kind in surrounding communities. With growing hockey trends in the Pittsburgh area, the new addition is set to bring in new leagues.

“With the park being done a lot more will be offered,” Simmons said, “It will be utilized to its full potential. The changes are really good changes.”

Program calendars are pending the completion of park renovations, but Simmons will continue to gather feedback until that point.

The surveys conducted last year are being considered before any changes are made. New surveys will be distributed at the end of the summer. Residents will be able to find an events calendar on the borough's website.

“I'm enjoying getting to know the people of the community,” Simmons said. “That's who I'm serving, so I have to get to know them.”

Brittany Goncar is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5803 or bgoncar@tribweb.com.

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