With the new year, Galt Parks and Recreation Director Armando Solis used February’s monthly Parks and Rec meeting to give new commissioners an overview of how the department is organized, as well as introduce commissioners to division supervisors.

Beginning with a brief history of how Parks & Rec positions have come and gone, Solis said that currently there are four main division supervisors under his leadership. Armando Morales is parks maintenance supervisor, Monica Lopez is the recreation supervisor, Jackie Garcia is the special events manager and Leslie Sheets is the administrative assistant.

Special events/Galt Market

As the special events manager, Garcia and her staff support all citywide special events and engages with promoters who want to bring outside events to the city.

“These organizers will come to us with many types of events that they’re interested in hosting, and our staff, including me, will assist them with any type of aspects of their events that are related to public property,” Garcia told commissioners.

Special events staff will assist event planners with their applications and provide information and help regarding insurance and collaboration with police, fire, county health and Alcoholic Beverage Control, as well as communicating with community members that may be affected by the event.

“That needs to be part of that brainstorming to make their event a success in our community,” Garcia said.

In addition to the outside events, Garcia’s staff manages and oversees all citywide special events, such as the Galt Winter Bird Festival, Independence Day Celebration and Lighting of the Night.

Garcia also manages the Galt Market.

“That is run every week,” Garcia said. “We are operating Monday through Thursday, cleaning on Monday, getting it ready for Tuesday and Wednesday and then cleaning on Thursday to get it ready for the following week. So every Tuesday and Wednesday, our staff is working hard out there to make sure that it’s kept up, and it’s still appealing for the next week. And we also are ensuring that we’re providing exceptional customer service to our vendors and our customers that are coming through.”

Garcia’s staff keeps in close communication with each vendor regarding the rules and regulations of the market and making sure the vendors are following those rules.

One of the ways Garcia and her team help to promote the Galt Market is by advertising outside the Galt area and by holding special events during market days. Past events have included March to Health, Spring Break Carnival, Photos with Santa and celebrating National Farmers Market week.

Parks Maintenance

Morales and his crew are responsible for 21 parks, which constitute 60 acres to maintain.

Anything that “falls in the park”, Morales’ team is in charge of, including sports field prep for games for high school softball, soccer, and recreation t-ball as well as watching for pesky gopher holes.

“Basically we do all the maintenance, which consists of pretty much the blowing, the trimming of the vegetation, trees, the sprinklers, valves, laterals, backflows, pumps, repairs of irrigation clocks. We also maintain our playgrounds. We do quarterly inspections on playgrounds,” Morales said. “We also have park inspection [for] the sidewalks, benches, etc., anything that falls in the park.”

Although Galt Youth Baseball maintains the infields at both Meadowview and Harvey parks, city crews do help with outfield upkeep and the connected park areas.

Morales gave kudos to local organizations that have stepped up to help his crew. Several parks have been adopted by organizations, helping to ease the load.

After landscape company Crossroads canceled their services last November, Morales’ crew has stepped up to take over all of those responsibilities, as well.

“The 6.5 acres of open space and trail, we pretty much do the weeding,” Morales said. “Again, if there’s anything that involves irrigation, we do it. The 23 acres of streetscapes, we also do the weeding, maintenance and vegetation trimming. And the five acres of the city landscape, which is City Hall, PD, stuff like that, we do the mowing, weeding, trimming, the sprinklers, laterals, and so on and so forth.”

In conjunction with the Public Works Department, Morales’ other responsibilities include parks building repair partitions in the restrooms, painting, repairing park lighting and small equipment repair. And Morales’ crew helps where needed for special events, helping to set up and tear down.

All of this is done with only five full time and 11 part-time employees.

After his presentation, Commissioner Sharlyn Miller thanked Morales for his positive attitude and engagement with the community.

“My mom got him over at Walker Park, so I just wanted to tell him that I appreciate that he engages with the citizens,” Miller said. “And I feel like that’s going above and beyond his duty statement. So I think it’s great that he’s building relationships while he’s taking care of all this. So, good job.”

Solis called Morales an exceptional employee and said that the city was lucky to have him.

Commission Chair Ernie Cason agreed.

“I’d second that, because I believe that ever since Armando has taken over the responsibility of the manicuring and overseeing the parks, it’s just been so much better than that contract that we had outsourced,” Cason said. “And I’ve heard comments from people in my neighborhood, and they’re much appreciative. And even in the colder climate, you see more and more activity happening in the parks. And I think that’s a testament to people feeling safe, and they feel like it’s a place they want to be. So I think that’s a huge accomplishment.”

Commissioner John McNamara complimented Morales and his team as well.

“Yeah, I’d like to add, I take my son, he is four, over to Roundstone Park. And for the last couple times we’ve been there, it looks really, really nice,” McNamara said. “And the times before that, you know, the grass was longer grown and it kind of took away from it. But now, it’s nice and it just adds to the enjoyment. Not only just look good, but it really when you’re there, using the facilities, it really does add to the enjoyment. So your crew has done a really, really good job. So thank you for that.”

Recreation

Lopez reported that she is in charge of aquatics, preschool, seniors, both after school programs (ACES and SOAR), summer camp, sports tournaments, special interest programs and, now, COVID testing.

Lopez and her team also manage city sports programs, including adult softball, youth basketball, swim lessons, lap swim, open public swim and Galt Gators, the city’s competitive swim team. Also in charge of managing activities within the aquatic center, Lopez’ team administers over pool rentals and parties.

Her division offers lifeguard training and other Red Cross classes, including CPR and first aid training from time to time.

Although the pandemic has caused many programs to go into hiatus, Lopez’ team normally offers special interest classes, such as egg decorating, theater camps, art classes and several fitness classes.

The recreation division also serves the senior community, helping facilitate the Senior Club and their activities and meetings. The division also coordinates with the Meals on Wheels program.

City Tots, the city-run preschool program, is managed by Lopez, as is SOAR, the city’s after school program, which is held at three elementary school sites, Lake Canyon, Marengo and River Oaks elementary schools. The city teams up with the Galt Joint Union Elementary School District to staff the grant-funded ACES after school program, which takes place at Valley Oaks and Greer elementary schools and McCaffrey Middle School.

Recreation coordinates the Star Program, which offers monthly activities for teens and adults with special needs.

Due to COVID restrictions, recreation is limited to what it’s offering at this time.

Right now, they are offering Tai Chi Wednesday mornings outside at Galt Community Park, theater camps for kids, and a limited Meals on Wheels program that comes once a week, rather than every weekday.

Administration

Sheets is responsible for all administrative staff, but more daunting, she processes all paperwork for the Parks and Recreation Department. From department contracts to reservations, Sheets’ team has their eye on all that goes on in that department, including insurance compliance, purchase orders, requests for proposals, schedules, grant submissions, reimbursement requests, purchasing, including capital equipment purchases, procurement procedures, updating the standard operations manual, reservations for facility rentals, and revenue collected for park facility uses and recreation program fees.

Due to the pandemic, Sheets only has one part-time office assistant.