The city’s new park director oversees the programs that benefited him as a child News – Bakersfield, California

Rick Anthony’s new job has a lot of old memories.

The 55-year-old grew up in Bakersfield and spent the next 30 years on the East Coast after graduating from South High and Bakersfield College. After graduating from college, he joined the Air Force and later settled in Maryland, where he ran his own business, married and raised four children. For the past ten years he has lived in An Alendal County, a parish of about 500,000 people. He headed the recreation and park sector. Chesapeake Bay.

Now, as the new Director of Recreation and Parks in Bakersfield, my life has changed.

“I feel like everything in my life led to it,” said Anthony, whose first day in town was earlier this month.

Wonderful memories

Growing up across from South High, Anthony recognized his childhood memories and formative experiences of his time as a tribute to his success as an adult. He remembered the days he’d spent playing on the then open South High Campus, cycling down the school corridor, and playing soccer with friends on the front lawn. He also spent time in Plants Park, learned to swim and participated in a summer recreational program.

“Those were wonderful memories of how I grew up. Looking back at where my life is now, the experience has been very helpful, ”said Anthony.

Anthony had always planned to return to Bakersfield one day, but said the battle with throat cancer a year ago and the COVID-19 pandemic had changed his mind. (He is now fully recovered from treatment.)

Fortunately, Bakersfield’s former Leisure and Park Director Diane Hoover had retired and opened her position with the city in late 2020, and Anthony threw a hat on the ring. ..

On his return to Bakersfield, he was also part of the return of a black man who grew up in Bakersfield, had success elsewhere and is now back to return and improve his hometown.

His BC soccer teammate Michael Stewart, who continued to play in the NFL, is now the chief soccer coach at Bakersfield High, and R. Todd Little John, who continued to coach at the college level, recently became the chief soccer coach for BC. It was.

In the latter half of her career, there was no deliberate effort to get home within a few years, but Little John focused on helping the younger generation, who all came back and shared what they had learned. He said he felt he had a similar wish.

“There’s a lot to learn to take home and do,” said Little John, who lived as an assistant coach for college football before returning to Bakersfield a year ago.

“It was difficult, there were all challenges. We had to scratch our butts, ”said Little John of the three men’s collective experience. “But we can identify the young people and what they are experiencing now.”

Anthony said he was eager to work with his old friends in his new job.

“We’re all excited … and the fact that we’re all African American in this era and era is really inspiring. We certainly have a passion for sports and children. We talked about working together and coming together to do some things, ”said Anthony.

Another old friend is retired Bakersfield Police Chief Lyle Martin. The two were close friends in high school and played soccer together.

“I thought it was a very good job on the part of the city,” said Martin.

Anthony’s family has a record of the history and commitment of the Bakersfield ward, Martin said. His father, Bernard Anthony, is a pastor and past president of the NAACP in Bakersfield, and his uncles Ralph and Oscar Anthony are also involved in community activities and efforts.

Martin said he looks forward to working with Anthony on mentoring programs and activities for children in the Police Activity League, which he is still involved in. His work.

“He has a way of recognizing situations that are very creative in problem solving. I remember it as a child and now as an adult, ”said Martin.

New challenges, vision

Upon his success in Maryland, Anthony said he put three separate recreational programs together and eventually merged them into one organization that is now thriving with lots of volunteers and money. He also highlighted his work with the coastal community to provide inland access to beaches and water, listen to the people, build community trust and make changes within the organization. He said he was proud.

He admits he faces a unique challenge in Bakersfield that he has not encountered on the East Coast. There is a homeless situation. Another reason is drought and potential water scarcity, which can affect the operation of spray parks, as well as landscaping and irrigation of green spaces.

Christian Craig, Bakersfield’s city manager, said Anthony was selected from around 10 candidates for the position in a national poll.

“Rick noticed. He has a very interesting background working in the private sector and as a civil servant for the past decade, ”said Craig.

Anthony’s career in the Maryland county government began as a county jail clerk. He then held several other positions before assuming command of the recreation and parks office, according to the Capital Gazette, which covered Anne Arundel County. Early in his career, he also felled trees in side performances and eventually became a certified arborist who owned and operated tree care services for many years.

According to Craig, Anthony’s first major mission is to oversee the $ 10 million spending on Major N funding to help tackle the year-long postponement of facility and park maintenance.

Since then, Craig has looked forward to taking a fresh look at the entire sector, its activities and programs aimed at harnessing community centers and aquatic life.

“Bakersfield Parks are unique, but historically there are other programs that the city has not been able to invest in,” said Craig.

Anthony remembers his youth when the high school campus was like a playground, and his long-term vision was to expand children’s opportunities by using existing facilities without spending money on new ones. A building that says that after hours it could open a school for a recreational program. It was what he ran in his Maryland department.

“We programmed all schools in the district. After 3pm they became our school as a community center, ”he said.

On short notice, Anthony said his focus was on knowing his people and departments. He said he was already impressed with the passion and work ethic of the employees. The workload of the staff has increased year by year, and the resources and staff have been relatively flat.

Taking the lessons of playing soccer in BC, he said, “Nothing happens without a team. We need a great team. “

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