Judi Nicholson, the city’s recreation director for nearly the last decade, has resigned and will serve her last day in the position today (Friday).
“It basically came down to philosophical differences between city management and the recreation director,” city manager John Connet said Thursday. A letter from Nicholson said she would be resigning effective 5 p.m. Friday. She could not immediately be reached.
Nicholson has been director of City of Clinton’s Recreation and Parks Department since 2003. She began her career in recreation in 1984, serving as recreation director in Roseboro before going to Fayetteville in 1987 to become a recreation center supervisor. Upon returning to Sampson County and taking the city position, recreation programs and attendance grew.
Connet said temporary measures would be taken before the position is filled on a permanent basis. City staff will meet with the Recreation Advisory Board on Monday to discuss the situation and the City Council will likely further develop a more formal course of action in August.
“I would say that we hope to have a more formalized plan within the next two weeks,” said Connet. The City Council will hold its next regular meeting Aug. 7.
A member of both the North Carolina Recreation and Parks Association and National Recreation and Parks Association, just last year, Nicholson was recognized by the state association as recipient of the Jack Swede Frauson Professional Award for outstanding work and accomplishments in parks and recreation in association with a parks and recreation board or commission.
Nicholson was lauded by city officials “for the dedication and integrity she demonstrates in her work for the city, the community, and department staff.” She was credited with “working hard to create an environment where every individual has the opportunity to play and enjoy recreation in a safe, clean, happy environment.”
Through the years, most sports programs have grown and new programs have been created under her direction. Nicholson has also applied for, and received, numerous grants that saw, among other things, the Sampson Center renovated, benches, walkways, picnic tables and playground equipment added to various facilities and ballfields restructured and realigned. Other grants saw a soccer complex, including four soccer fields with lighting, come to fruition at Royal Lane Park, as well as a half-mile mulch walking trail, five workout stations and two wooden bridges constructed.
In addition to overseeing many programs, she was a participant in many, including local runs and paddle trips coordinated with Sampson County Friends of Waterways.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at email@example.com.