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Cole to leave parks position

"After working almost six years as the director of the South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District, Jerry Cole called it quits last Friday when he resigned to take a parks position in Port Angeles.Cole is South Whidbey's first and only full-time, paid parks director. He took the job in 1996 and inherited the oversight of a program schedule that included only five summer activities and 40 acres of land that still had not been fully developed into playfields. Cole came to South Whidbey with prior parks experience in Sequim, Utah and Wyoming.Cole worked with the South Whidbey district's board of directors during his tenure to more than double the size of the South Whidbey Community Park and to boost the district's program list to include more than 120 sports camps, sports leagues, art and music events and other activities. Cole also oversaw the construction of new soccer and baseball fields at the park, the construction of the Playground in the Park, the purchase of 70 acres of new property, and the construction of a 20-acre soccer complex.Cole will leave his position July 6 to take a job with the Port Angeles parks and recreation department as a recreation services manager. He said Monday that deciding to take the new job was agonizing.I love this job and I love the people, he said.His new position will give him the opportunity to test his ideas on parks programming. While at South Whidbey, he said, he increased programs without going to taxpayers for more funding. He hopes to do the same at Port Angeles.The new job will also keep him closer to home. A Sequim resident, Cole often stayed overnight in a house the parks district has on its property. His new job is just 12 miles from his house, a commute that will allow him to spend more time with his family.Parks commissioner Curt Gordon said he is sorry to see Cole leave, but said he knows that his new job offers him opportunities the South Whidbey district cannot offer. He said it will probably take about two months to find someone to replace Cole as director.Cole said his only major disappointment while at the parks district was the failure of a 1998 bond issue for building and aquatic center. Cole spearheaded the construction of an aquatic center in Sequim and had hoped to do the same on South Whidbey. He said he believes the community will eventually build a public pool.I would've like to have seen some sort of swimming pool facility, he said.The parks district will begin advertising for a new parks director this week. The position requires applicants to have a degree in parks and recreation. It is expected to pay between $37,000 and $44,000 a year. "

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