February 29, 2012

New Belgrade recreation director begins work

BELGRADE -- Valencia Schubert spent her first two days as the new recreation director meeting children and their parents and learning about the programs offered at the community center.

click image to enlarge

Valencia Schubert is the new recreation director at the Belgrade Community Center for All Seasons.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

Schubert, former director of the Children's Discovery Museum in Augusta, looked comfortable in her tiny office at the Belgrade Community Center for All Seasons. She started the job Monday.

"I'm trying to become familiar with all that and meet the residents of Belgrade," Schubert said Tuesday. "I'm trying to say hello to everyone who comes through the door."

Linda Bacon, chairwoman of the Belgrade Board of Parks & Recreation, said Schubert brings creativity to the position and years of experience working with young people and serving the public. Bacon said Schubert's skill at coordinating volunteers, developing and launching new programs and engaging the public will serve Belgrade's recreation mission.

"These skills and capabilities are exactly what we need," Bacon said. "Our priority includes building on successful programs developed over the last several years."

Schubert, who works full time, will be paid $30,000 a year with benefits. The recreation program employs two people for winter programs and up to seven people for programs in the summer.

Bacon said the center is a community gathering place and an asset to be shared by all townspeople. Located on the shore of Great Pond, it includes public access to swimming areas in the summer months and access to the ice in the winter.

The center houses a public library and has an ongoing schedule of programs including afterschool enrichment programs, clay class, basketball, ping pong clubs and exercise.

Other attractions include the fire department's bean supper, concerts and craft shows.

Bacon said that in recent years there have been more programs, and conseqently more money coming in.

She said that the proposed 2012 budget continues the aim of lowering the amount of money from the town that the center needs to run, with an eventual goal of making the center self-sustaining.

In 2011, the center's recreation budget was $101,770, but the actual cost of delivering programming was $24,409, because revenues were $77,361.

Bacon said the 2012 recreation programming budget has increased to $139,302 to include Camp Loon for teens, pay for new activities, scholarships and an adjustment to staffing.

She said two staff members had to be compensated when they took on more responsibilities after the dismissal of former recreation director Jessica Moore in late November.

Bacon said Moore's dismissal came as a shock. There wasn't any indication that Moore's contract wouldn't be renewed, she said at the time.

Moore had said she lost her job over a confrontation she had with Town Manager Gregory Gill.

Residents will go to the polls on March 16 to vote on requests for $100,000 to fix the center's roof; $150,000 to buy adjacent land and buildings to gain a right of way to Great Pond; $59,907 to support the operating budget, refinish the floor, buy a new sign and install new electrical outlets; and $139,302 for programs.

Schubert wouldn't comment on the increases in the 2012 budget, but she encouraged residents to vote or stop by the Town Office for an absentee ballot.

She said the center is a "spectacular facility" worthy of town support.

"I'm excited to be part of a place where people gather and build community ties and look forward to bring forward opportunities for people of all ages," Schubert said.

Mechele Cooper -- 621-5663

mcooper@centralmaine.com

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