Less than two years after being mired in a scandal that led to arrests, indictments and felony convictions, the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department has been named the best in this part of the state by the Georgia Recreation and Parks Association.
Director James Worsley acknowledged that he inherited a troubled department when he came to Columbus in 2011.
Former director Tony Adams had not long before been convicted of defrauding the city, a felony. Adams established a private bank account into which he deposited cash grants from Nike and funds that should have gone to city coffers. Two others were also convicted and fined for their roles in an elite basketball program run amok.
"We inherited a severe employee morale challenge and a serious public trust challenge," Worsley said. "Every day we work to serve the citizens of Muscogee County and continue raising the bar of excellence for ourselves."
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The department's designation as the best in District 3 puts it atop 40 counties and cities such as Thomasville, Valdosta, Albany and Americus.
Two employees, Becky Glisson and Holli Browder, and two volunteers, Lillian Scarborough and Irene Pate, were honored for their work, and three programs, CampFit4Fun, Princess Within Program and the City-Wide Easter Egg hunt, were named best of their kind in the district.
"We couldn't be more proud of the new course set by our parks and recreation department," said Mayor Teresa Tomlinson. "Our entire parks and rec staff and Director James Worsley are to be commended for their accomplishments."