Parks commission creates new position

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

By Samantha Jones

The Eureka Springs Parks and Recreation Commission has hired a new employee.

At the commission’s Dec. 15 meeting, interim director Scott Miskiel said he’d like the commission to consider creating a new position for the grounds and natural resources manager. Miskiel addressed the issue during the director’s comments, saying the position would include “various responsibilities that will enable us to better coordinate the things like trails, maintenance and road maintenance.”

“It will supervise some of the gardening issues in town and so much more, and I know we’ll go into executive session about the specifics of that position but I’m really excited about the prospect of this because of the things that this position will bring to the table,” Miskiel said. “I look forward to going into executive session and hopefully coming out of it with the commission having approved this position.”

The Arkansas Freedom of Information Act outlines specific guidelines for public bodies meeting in executive session.

“(E)xecutive sessions will be permitted only for the purpose of considering employment, appointment, promotion, demotion, disciplining, or resignation of any public officer or employee,” the act says, with the only exception being for matters related to the security of a public water system or utility system. “The specific purpose of the executive session shall be announced in public before going into executive session.”

During new business, chairwoman Ruth Hager suggested that the commission discuss and approve the new position in open session and then go into executive session to address hiring someone for the position. Commissioner Kevin Ruehle asked if the commission would rather “have the conversation about the position first in executive session in the context of everything else and then come back out and approve it.”

Hager agreed to go into executive session and Miskiel said the commission had to give a specific reason for the executive session. Miskiel described three reasons to hold the executive session: to approve the new grounds and natural resources manager position, to hire someone for that position and to promote office employee Nicky Boyette from part time to full time.

The commission then moved into executive session to discuss all three issues. After meeting for 33 minutes, the commission adjourned the executive session and Ruehle moved to “approve the grounds and natural resources manager position and authorize the interim director to make an offer to the candidate.” The commission unanimously approved the motion.

In a phone interview on Dec. 22, Miskiel said the grounds and natural resource manager is Dave Renko.

“His resume and background speaks for itself. It seems like everyone knows him,” Miskiel said. “He’s a long-time resident of Eureka Springs. A lot of the trails at Lake Leatherwood he actually built or helped build, and he’s environmentally friendly.”

Ruehle then moved to approve the promotion of Boyette from part time to full time at the same pay rate, and the commission unanimously agreed to do so.

In other business, Miskiel told the commission that the Visa credit card belonging to former director Justin Huss was destroyed because “the card company does require an individual’s name on it, not just a position.” Miskiel said the credit card company asked for him and Hager to sign a letter authorizing a new credit card with his name on it and the commission unanimously agreed to approve the letter.

The commission’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19, at The Auditorium.

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  • Question: The discussion of a new positio should not have been handled in Executive Session. There is no privacy required to discuss the parameters of a new job. I believe it was another violation of the Open Meetings Act by the Parks Commission - is there any oversight here?

    -- Posted by LamontR on Thu, Dec 24, 2020, at 4:03 PM
  • Lamont you've been here long enough to know that answer

    -- Posted by Two6pac on Sat, Jan 2, 2021, at 6:00 PM
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