Havre Daily News
A woman who has been involved with the Havre Parks and Recreation Department in one way or another for a number of years will become its new director tonight.
Chris Inman said she looks at the job as an opportunity to give back to the community she loves.
Inman will be appointed to the position at tonight's Havre City Council meeting. She has served as interim director since former director Dave Wilson stepped down at the end of the year.
Inman's association with parks and recreation began at age 6, when she joined the Havre Lions Club swim team. She continued swimming through high school and college, and the businesses and people of Havre never failed to support her, she said.
"I was big into athletics," she said. "I did every sport that was available. The people in this community, when I was in sports ... they went out of their way for me. They sent me on trips. They were always there. This is one way I can give back to them and say, 'Thank you, I appreciated everything you did for me while I was in high school and in college.'"
Inman began working at the Havre Community Pool in 1988 as a lifeguard and swim instructor. She moved to Minnesota for a teaching job but returned in 1994 to work as the aquatics director at the pool, a position she has held ever since.
Wilson was her swim coach in high school and was her boss throughout her tenure with the department.
"Dave has done a great job with this department and has taught me a tremendous amount, not only about swimming, but about management skills and budget skills and how to deal with the public," she said.
Inman said she wants to continue Wilson's efforts to landscape and improve the city's 22 parks. This summer, she said, the department will finish up projects at the Deaconess, North Elks and Sixth Avenue Memorial parks.
"There are a lot of little projects that we're going to finish," she said. "Next summer we can tackle bigger projects."
Inman also plans to continue the city's celebration of Arbor Day. She is a member of the TURF board, the city's urban forestry committee. More than 600 seedlings will be planted at area schools beginning on Thursday, and an all-day plant-ing involving students from Lincoln-McKinley Primary and St. Jude Thaddeus schools will take place at Pepin Park on April 25.
The city's trees are an important asset that need to be watched over, and Inman is considering a few ways to do this better.
"We have no tree ordinance, even though we're working on it," she said. "I'd like to see us get a tree district. I'd like to see us get a city arborist. I would like to see us do something. Our boulevard trees are very old, and if something happens to them we have no money to replace them."
A tree district would be similar to the mosquito district and would raise money to be used in case the city's trees were hit by Dutch elm disease or a beetle infestation, she said.
"It's something I'm thinking about," Inman said. "Is it feasible? I'm not sure. It's just something I'd like to get people thinking about."
The city's recreation programs will get under way again this summer, with signups beginning on May 31, Inman said. Swimming lessons will be available at the pool, and there will be volleyball and basketball programs as well. Havre youth baseball and fast-pitch softball leagues are starting up, and youth soccer will begin in June, she said. Inman also said she wants to add to the list of special events scheduled throughout the summer at Pepin Park.
She said the support she experienced as a youth continues today.
"This community is the most supportive of our youth and recreational programs," said Inman, who coaches the Lions swim team and the Havre High School boys and girls swim teams. "People here in Havre are very fortunate. These local businesses are always willing to give to the youth and the recreational programs, and I think that's one of the things that makes Havre such a great place to live. Everybody's here to help."
The Havre High girls team won a sixth straight Class A state championship this winter and the boys placed second at state.
People may not know the amount of work the Parks and Recreation Department does year-round, she said. City workers do more than take care of the pool and mow grass - they plant and replant trees, grind stumps, build fence, pour concrete, clean restrooms, haul garbage, manage the rec programs and perform a number of other tasks to keep things running smoothly. Inman said a large amount of the credit goes to maintenance supervisor Kris Bakke.
"He's the one you see out in the parks doing the work," she said. "He's the one that keeps the parks green. He busts his butt out there in the summer. I go out there when I can to help, but he really does a superb job."
Havre Mayor Bob Rice said the city's parks are in great hands with Inman and Bakke at their respective helms.
"I feel really good with the two of them there," he said.
Rice called Bakke a "jack of all trades." Inman and her workers showed the kind of effort they are willing to put into their work by cleaning up the city's softball fields, he said.
"I know she'll do a good job," Rice said of Inman's new position. "She's got the experience and the knowledge to do it. I have the utmost confidence in her."
Council member Allen "Woody" Woodwick, who chairs the county's Parks and Recreation Committee, said he supports Rice's decision to appoint Inman.
"I think she'll do a fantastic job," he said. "Chris has been involved with the department for quite a few years now. She comes highly recommended from her predecessor."
Council member Pam Hillery, who chaired the committee last year, said she has confidence in Inman.
"I think she has a great attitude, and I think she can do a lot," she said. "I think this is a real positive step, and I'm looking forward to seeing what she can do for the city in terms of parks and recreation."
Council member Emily Mayer Lossing, a member of the committee, also said Inman is a good choice.
"I think she will do an excellent job," Mayer Lossing said. "She's a very hard worker. She's knowledgeable about the parks and how they should operate. I have every confidence in her ability, knowledge, expertise and experience. She's a very nice person and I know she'll do great."