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By Kay Kirkland, Special Projects Coordinator, City of Enterprise
Fresh off a year as president of the Alabama Recreation and Parks
Association, Billy Powell is energized and looking forward to an
action-packed 2020 at home.
Powell, who has served as the Enterprise Parks and Recreation
director for the past 22 years, recently turned over the reins of the
ARPA to a new leader. He will continue to serve on the
organization’s board and help to move forward some of the longterm
projects he and others started on the state level.
But with the ambitious ARPA agenda behind him, he’s also
excited to sharpen his focus on an eventful year in Enterprise.
The EPRD playbook includes hosting the Special Olympics April
17, the Children’s Festival in the Park May 2, the Alabama State
Games June 12-14, the Dixie Girls Softball tournament July 10-
14, the annual Youth Summer Camp and “Spooky in the Park” in
If that’s not enough, Powell and his staff will be taking care of the
175-acre Enterprise Recreational Complex and six other parks,
eight baseball fields, six softball fields, two soccer fields, eight
practice fields, the Jug Brown Recreation Center complex, the
Moose Hope Gym, the Skate Park, Aviator Monument Park and
the Fort Rucker Appreciation Park. The department also
landscapes and provides lawn care for city buildings and grounds,
and assists other city departments preparing for and implementing
special events and almost all other city-related activities.
The lineup also features pickleball, weekend travel ball activities,
adult and youth church league sports, adult kickball … the list
In addition to Recreational activities and responsibilities, this past
year Powell took over the management of the Civic Center and
Farmers Market and those activities and events as well.
Powell admitted that the department already has a full schedule of
work for the staff, which translates into offerings for the public to
enjoy and to help improve health, hone skills and make great
family memories. However, he and his staff never stop thinking of
and planning ways to make the program better, to bring new
opportunities to the public.
That’s one reason Powell believes his year as ARPA president was
“I’m honored to have had the opportunity to lead the ARPA at a
time when we were involved in some groundbreaking initiatives,”
Powell said last week as he and ARPA Executive Director Natalie
Norman reflected on the year.
“I’m also glad I had a chance to learn so many new things and
gain leadership experience along the way,” said Powell, who
represented Alabama at the National Recreation and Parks
Association Convention in Baltimore. “It was a wonderful
experience that allowed me to receive top-notch training and
network with recreation professionals from all over the country.”
Powell met with other state presidents, who shared practices that
work best for their communities and that could benefit P&R
departments in Alabama, as well.
“We may implement some of those ideas right here in Enterprise,”
Under Powell’s leadership, the Alabama organization set the
standard, however, for promoting safety within its youth sports
programs. Departments nationwide expect to follow Alabama’s
Norman explained that Alabama was the first state to pass an act
addressing public concerns about sports injuries. The Coach
Safely Foundation pushed for passage of the Coach Safely Act,
which was advocated by coach Bill Clark of UAB, coach Nick
Saban of the University of Alabama, coach Willie Slater of
Tuskegee University and Dr. Mike Goodlet, team physician to
Auburn University. The law seeks to provide coaches and parents
in youth sports with critical education, tools and resources to
prevent and recognize sports-related injuries.
“Billy has always had the perspective that safety within our
recreation programs is of utmost importance,” Norman said.
“Since it provides an extra layer of protection for our kids, the law
was easy for Billy and our awesome board of directors to
ARPA was the first to partner with the Coach Safely Foundation
and the Alabama Department of Public Health, which was charged
with administering the law.
“This is going to have a long-lasting effect,” Norman said. “We
believe this will have a nationwide impact as other states, over a
period of years, establish similar laws. We are pleased that we can
be a part of that history.”
Powell said the ARPA recognized that the ratio of sports injuries is
“That can be attributed to the fact that we are seeing more
aggressive play, but it’s primarily because departments are
offering more and more opportunities to play,” he said.
With more activity comes more risk, he noted.
“We have hundreds of thousands of children age 14 and under
participating in our programs throughout the state. As we’ve said
many times, recreation professionals and youth sports coaches and
volunteers have a great influence on the youth we serve. We try to
instill pride, good citizenship, a sense of fair play and
responsibility,” Powell said. “And now, it’s more important than
ever to also instill in both our youth and adult leaders the lifelong
safety practices that can prevent needless serious injuries.”
Powell praised the P&R directors and staff members in Alabama
who stepped up to meet the safety training and awareness
requirements of the Coach Safely Act, which was passed in 2018
by the State Legislature. Most have already implemented it in their
communities and therefore were able to pass on their knowledge
and advice to the other states.
“It was really rewarding to be able to share with the rest of the
country what steps we had taken to help prevent and recognize
injuries,” Powell said. “It’s a serious issue that we must address to
protect our kids. It’s not that P&R staff or coaches were not
already aware of the possibility of injuries.
“All of us have had to deal with that, but this Act gives us more
clearly defined and additional practices that we can implement
first, for prevention, and second, to improve the ability to
recognize injuries before they worsen or cause permanent
problems or life-threatening situations.”
During the process of implementing the training, Powell and the
ARPA put extra emphasis on establishing partnerships.
“As a result of the Coach Safely program, we’ve cultivated a great
relationship with the Alabama Education System. We will work on
how we can have a better method of communication between the
youth sports programs and the schools in the Alabama
communities where our municipalities, county governments and
state youth programs operate,” Powell explained. “We believe the
improved communication will help minimize heath issues because
school nurses and even teachers will be able to watch for signs or
symptoms of an injury or worsening injury.”
The ARPA also worked with the school systems about policies
concerning the use of and sharing of facilities, which will be
mutually beneficial for all entities involved.
Powell is pleased about the ARPA’s relationship with the Alabama
League of Municipalities, the Alabama Department of Economic
and Community Affairs and many other organizations or agencies.
Reaching out beyond the ARPA membership, the ARPA has
worked with these agencies to make connections between ARPA
programs and some of the smaller cities or communities that do
not have organized recreation programs.
“We met with mayors and other community leaders to see how we
can help create recreation activities or help the communities better
utilize playgrounds or other facilities they may already have,”
Norman also pointed out that Powell was a “great assist” in
establishing a government affairs position to help the organization
stay informed about the legislative platform and network with
agencies that can positively influence parks and recreation
programs in the state. She said the addition of the consultant was a
goal of Powell’s and the ARPA leaders who recognized the
importance of having a voice, a legislative presence, in the policymaking
and lawmaking process.
“With this addition, our voice is louder,” Norman said.
Powell is proud of the achievements of the ARPA during the past
year, but he said they couldn’t have been done without Norman.
The former Montgomery Parks and Recreation assistant athletic
superintendent is an “exceptional” leader in the ARPA’s daily
“Her insight is such a great asset for the ARPA,” he said. “The
value she brings to the team shows every day in how hard she
works and the commitment she makes to this organization and to
Norman said she enjoyed working with Powell last year. She’s
known him as a colleague and a friend for a number of years.
“Billy is a great professional,” she said. “He’s a visionary, and he
provided the kind of leadership and vision that’s necessary to
move things forward, to develop the goals that we collectively
have for ARPA.”
Norman said many goals were accomplished, but some cannot be
completed in a year. “We made a lot of strides in the organization
that will continue into years to come,” she said, expressing
confidence that new president Gary Minor of Tuscaloosa will
continue and build upon the important programs.
“It’s really been a blessing to have the benefit of Billy’s
leadership,” Norman said. “And it’s a blessing for the city of
Enterprise to enjoy his leadership each and every day.”
Enterprise Mayor William E. Cooper also congratulated Powell on
a successful year as ARPA president. He said Powell was able to
accomplish the state goals while never neglecting his commitment
“We appreciate the job Billy does for this city every day, and we
are proud of his achievements in the state during the past year,”
Cooper said. “We knew that he would lead the ARPA in the same
goal-oriented, conscientious way that has made him a superb
leader of our recreation department for over 20 years.”
Powell said serving as ARPA president this past year helped reenergize
him and reminded him that the work done by recreation
professionals is important.
“It helps mold the young people into the adults they become, so
we should never take for granted the influence that our efforts, our
behavior and our leadership have on the generations of young
people who go through our programs,” he said.
Just around the corner, Powell, his staff and coaching volunteers
will have lots of young people to serve:
Thousands of youngsters will enjoy the Children’s Festival in the
Park May 2.
The Alabama State Games could bring in anywhere from 300 to
1,000 participants as Enterprise hosts track and field competitions
and, most likely, the softball tournaments as well.
More than 40 teams of all age divisions in Dixie Girls Softball will
invade Enterprise in July for their state tournament.
“This will be the third time within the last six years we are to host
all age divisions at one location,” Powell said. “We are the only
city in Alabama that has ever hosted all age divisions in one
Already under way is the youth league spring sports. Powell said
590 youth signed up for baseball and another 200 for softball. That
doesn’t include the adult and youth church league, the adult
kickball league and pickleball participants.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” he said. “But when we can put a
smile on the faces of youngsters, adults, families — whether they
are picnicking at the park, playing at the splash pad, having a
family reunion under one of the park pavilions, practicing on the
skateboard, playing baseball or softball or basketball, or getting
exercise on the walking trail — then we’re doing our job; and it’s