The Pine Bluff Parks and Recreation Commission voted Monday at its regular monthly meeting to hire April Layher, an enforcement analyst with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality in Little Rock, as its new director.
Commission Chairwoman Kami Hunt said that if Layher accepts the position, she will begin her duties after the beginning of the new year. Hunt said Layher is well qualified for the position.
“She has a vast amount of experience with outdoor recreation,” Hunt said. “She has worked with the Delta Rivers Nature Center and is a longtime member of the Bayou Bartholomew Alliance.”
Hunt said the commission offered Layher an annual salary of $47,000 for the duration of a 90-day probationary period that will be bumped up to $49,000 per year if Layher successfully completes the probation period.
“She [Layher] has many connections which will provide the Parks and Recreation Department with partnership opportunities with different entities as well as grant opportunities,” Hunt said. “She has ideas for a dog park as well as canoeing and kayaking; allowing us to diversify from the usual basketball, baseball and softball.”
Hunt said she sought legal advice from attorney Thomas Brown on behalf of the commission to find out how it should respond to a letter from John D. Coulter, attorney for former Parks Director Angela Parker. Coulter was retained by Parker to represent her against the commission and the city of Pine Bluff in reference to her September termination.
“He advised that we not do anything until we find out how Parker is going to proceed,” Hunt said. “If she files a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission we will not need legal representation but if she files a lawsuit then we would need legal counsel.”
The commission voted to authorize Gus Rivera, Pine Bluff Country Club tennis pro, to apply for grants to provide funding for a new tennis program at the Bloom Tennis Center in Central Park. The grants would go toward remodeling of the courts and the installation of security cameras at the facility.