Porter wins state's top parks award

"Jim Porter knows how to build a park.A charter member of the South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District board of commissioners and a parks volunteer since the mid-1970s, Porter was recognized this week for his pivotal role in bringing more soccer fields, baseball diamonds, playground space, and wilderness trails to South Whidbey. On Thursday during a ceremony in Yakima, the Washington Recreation and Parks Association presented Porter its highest honor, the Citation of Merit Award.Usually given to just one parks legislator annually, this year's award will go to two in a tie contest, with Porter being one of the honorees. The association also gives out annual merit awards to students, parks professionals, and lay persons. Jerry Cole, South Whidbey's parks director, said Porter received the award based on the achievements he has made during nearly a quarter century of involvement in South Whidbey parks.Porter said last week that awards like this one are not something he ever expects or thinks about. In fact, he did not even know he was being considered for the honor until he received notification that he had won.I'm pleased and honored to get an award like this, Porter said.Long before South Whidbey had its Community Park on Maxwelton Road, Porter was part of a group of local residents who began raising money and interest for more park space. They received that park space in the early 1980s as a donation from the late Bud Waterman. Almost immediately, Porter and the other volunteers had to begin finding the money to develop it into a community play space.In its early days, the parks district operated out of Porter's insurance office in Langley. Without a parks director, it was up to Porter and his fellow commissioners to deal with daily paperwork and pay the district's bills. Happy to do the work it took to open up recreation space for local children and adults, Porter said the district's decision to hire full-time parks management in the early 1990s, however, was welcome. Porter, who is still a parks commissioner, said he has no plans to leave the board. He said he will probably always be involved with the district in one way or another.I've enjoyed it. It's satisfying to see the progress, he said.Porter comes up for re-election as a parks commissioner in 2001."

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