City Manager Craig Stephenson is pleased to announce that Eric Newell has been named to fill the vacant position of Parks and Recreation Director for the City of Ponca City. Stephenson stated, “We conducted a national search and evaluated individuals through multiple processes in order to fill this position. I look forward to Eric taking over the reins of the Park and Recreation Department, as he brings a wealth of knowledge and work and life experiences that will be beneficial to the City of Ponca City and our community.”
Newell received a Bachelor of Science degree in Recreation from Greenville College in Greenville, Illinois and a Master’s of Science degree in Recreation from the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho. He also graduated from the National Recreation and Parks Association’s Director School in Wheeling, West Virginia.
He is a Certified Parks and Recreation Professional, Aquatic Facility Operator, Lifeguard, Water Safety Instructor, and is certified in the use of First Aid, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, and Automated External Defibrillators. Newell received the 2016 Idaho Recreation and Park Association Professional Recreation Award, the 2011 Idaho Recreation and Park Association Community Garden Outstanding Park, Facility and Special Use Award, the 2008 City of Moscow CHAMPS Rookie of the Year Award, the 2007 Idaho Recreation and Parks Association Graduate Student of the Year Award, and the 2004 Starbucks Coffee Company Manager of the Quarter Award.
Newell’s professional experience includes working for the City of Moscow, Idaho as Recreation Supervisor for Youth Programs and Aquatics, from 2007 to 2017, and working for the Associated Students University of Idaho Campus as the Recreation Center Graduate Assistant of Operations, from 2006 to 2007. As the Parks and Recreation Director for the City of Ponca City, Eric will be in charge of Park Maintenance and Recreation.
Park Maintenance maintains Tree City USA certification, edges 45 miles of arterial roadway, and increases shrub and perennial plantings to reduce annual plantings. Park Maintenance provides ground maintenance for 28 parks, Lake Ponca Recreational Area, AMBUC Pool, Wentz Camp and Pool, Senior Citizen Center, Unity Gym, Cann Memorial Gardens, Veterans Plaza, City Hall, Library, Marland’s Grand Home, and Marland Estate, as well as the Pioneer Woman Museum through a state contract.
Recreation provides health and wellness programs, such as the Daddy Long Legs 5K Fun Run/Walk, Kaleidoscope 5K Kolor Run, Pickleball Tournament, Youth Fishing Clinic, Senior Center Veteran’s Day Luncheon, Annual Older American Month activities, Medicare Part D Appointments, AMBUC Pool Summer Sizzler Swim Meet, Full Moon Over Wentz Camp Free Swim, Dog Daze of Summer, and 2M2L Back to School Bash. They also offer 4th-8th Grade Girls Basketball, Girls and Coed Volleyball, Jazzercise, Summer Tennis, and Pickleball, as well as programming at the Senior Center, Ambuc Pool, Wentz Camp, and Unity Gym. Recreation provides support for many annual community events such as the Herb Festival, Festival of Angels, Christmas Parade, Fourth of July, Battle of the Burger, Cruzin Grand, Oktoberfest, and Standing Bear Pow Wow.
Newell stated, “My family and I are very excited to join the Ponca City community. We look forward to seeing the community in the parks, facilities, and recreation programs. I am humbled to have the opportunity to lead this department into the future.”
Newell begins his new position on April 3.