Deborah Lavery Powers
A day in the work life of Jay Robertson, our City’s Park and Recreation Manager, might find him involved in any of the 21 essential functions listed in his job description, but no matter what else he is doing, his mind is never far from working on the Special Events aspect of his responsibilities. It’s through these Special Events that Parks and Recreation is able to “give the most back to the
community” and so Jay dedicates some part of almost every day to these projects.
Let’s first introduce Mr. Robertson and the 21 essential functions of his job and then talk more about the Special Events.
Jay came to Fernandina Beach — from New Hampshire –when he was in sixth grade. He finished high school here, and went on to the University of Florida, fully intent on earning a degree in Sports Management. But the idea of a sports management career, as such, was set aside once Jay spent his Freshman summer working for the City as a summer camp counselor. By the end of that summer, Jay was sitting at his supervisor’s desk asking how best to go forward if he wanted to apply for a full time job in our Parks and Recreation Department upon graduation. The advice he received was to seek a degree in Recreation, Parks and Tourism. So he did just that, graduating in 2002. He’s been working for the City ever since — starting as Youth Program Supervisor and working his way up to Park and Recreation Manager. With the aforementioned 21 essential functions all listed in his job description!
These essential functions all fall under his overall responsibility of planning, organizing and directing the activities and operations of the Recreation Division. As his job description details, his skilled managerial work includes overseeing the athletic programs, the Atlantic Avenue, Peck and MLK Centers, and the playgrounds and programming for citizens of all ages — with all the budgeting, staff meetings, personnel actions, staff training, and facility and safety responsibilities that such a job description demands. He is also responsible for the supervision of several of the seven divisions under the general direction and supervision of Nan Voit, the Director of Parks and Recreation.
Mr. Robertson advises that Ms. Voit encourages her staff to be “as creative as we like as long as we work within the confines of our budget.” The increased number of, and
enhancements to, the existing Special Events are a result of that encouragement.
Among the Special Events which Jay plans, organizes and directs are the Community Yard Sales, the Halloween Carnival, The Christmas Tree Lighting Celebration, and
the Winter Wonderland Carnival. A few words about each:
The Atlantic Avenue Recreation Center was a very busy place during the two and a half hours of the 2012 Halloween Carnival. More than 600 families attended! Game tables were lined up along the walls and there was a hayride for one and all, as well.
The 2012 Winter Wonderland Carnival will also be set up at the Atlantic Avenue Center. Saturday, December 15th, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. With games again lining the walls.
But this time, Santa on the stage will be the main attraction rather than October’s Halloween hayride!
We can all visualize what happens at a Christmas Tree Lighting Celebration without being given too many details– but we might not envision Santa coming down Centre
Street on a fire truck as being part of it. Or pirates toasting marshmallows, either. But both happen here in Fernandina Beach at the lighting celebration which occurs
on the Saturday following Thanksgiving each year.
2012 was the second year the department sponsored spring and fall Community Yard Sales. Outside spaces rented for $15 each; premium inside spaces – which
included a table and chairs – went for $40. Think about joining the fun as a seller (or a buyer) when the next Sale comes around in early March! Some 40-50 sellers
participated this fall.
There are many more Special Events each year than the ones mentioned above. Jay will be announcing them in the Fernandina Observer as they come along in 2013. So be looking
for words about the Rib Cook-Off, Family Barbecues, Children’s Festivities and more (new ones are in the planning stages!) Matter of fact, there is an event being
sponsored by the Recreation Division almost every month
of the year.
Putting on each event requires the assistance of many people, especially just before and on the event day, and Jay has very experienced folks working with him every time — all the Parks and Recreation exempt employees! Special kudos to each and every one — and to all the volunteers who join them to make each event a success!
As part of the City’s endeavor to streamline its procedures, the Recreation Division just took over the permitting process for organizations interested in sponsoring events/
activities in the City. Jay calls this new offering a “one stop shop” for organizers, making the process easier and more efficient for everyone.
In talking about his job, Mr. Robertson said: “Our department takes pride in what we do for our community – and in our putting together programs that we hope will improve the quality of life for our citizens.”
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of profiles focusing on City of Fernandina Beach employees. After a career in adult education, where writing, course design and development were her “beat”, Deborah is now enjoying the world of freelancing. And volunteering. We thank Deborah Powers for her contribution.
December 14, 2012 8:12 p.m.