Whitehalls new parks director not exactly green

 Messenger photo by Dianne Garrett

Jim Seikel, the new Whitehall Parks and Recreation director, is working with his staff to get existing programs in place for the upcoming summer season, as well as researching what can be added in the future.  He hopes to bring a good balance of instructional programs for all ages that will include all levels of activity.

After sorting through several applications over the past three months, and conducting interviews, the Whitehall Parks Commission  has hired a new director.  

Jim Seikel started his job the week of April 21, bringing years of experience to the city.  He comes to Whitehall after seven years as parks director in Twinsburg.    

Seikel grew up in Akron, and graduated from the Ohio State University.  He is proud to be a fourth-generation OSU grad, beginning with his great-grandfather in 1896.  

After earning his bachelor’s degree from OSU, Seikel received his master’s degree in education from Columbus State University in 1994.  

Seikel is the married father of three.  He shared that he tried to convince his oldest son and daughter to go to OSU, but they chose the University of Toledo.  He is hoping they will one day do their undergraduate or masters at alma mater.  He still holds out hope for his youngest, however.

After college, he worked for the City of Akron as a carpenter’s assistant, and for his parents in their Hallmark stores.  

During college he also worked at summer camps during the summer months, which directed his interest toward a career in parks and recreation.  

About two years after college, he went on to be the recreation coordinator and aquatics director in Wooster.  During the last five of his 10-1/2 years there, he served as the recreation supervisor.   

That led him to his first job as a parks and recreation director in Massillon for four years, prior to his stint in Twinsburg.  

Throughout his career, Seikel has also coached high school basketball.  He most recently coached freshman girls in Massillon.

Seikel’s goal in Whitehall is to keep existing programs going, and get them in place for the upcoming summer season.  Even though things are little behind, he is confident it will all come together.  

The new director will be exploring resources to add programs in the future.  He would like to have more instructional programs that would include all levels of active, passive and fitness activities.

During the week of April 28, contractors were working on estimates to move electrical work that runs through the old canteen buildings into the pavilions at Community Park.  

The parks commission wants to tear down the old canteens, but the electrical works have to be moved to the pavilions rather than routed through another source.  Getting rid of those old buildings would clean up park space as well as deter vagrants.

Seikel plans to take a look at the senior center to make sure it is being utilized in every way that would benefit the seniors and the community.  

It is his goal to bring the park system back up to par, see where it fits in the community, and build upon that.  

"There is always room for enhancements," Seikel said.

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