Scott Marshall will -- again -- face a stiff challenge as he tries to reshape and reinvigorate another dysfunctional Beaufort County department.
If he can put his organizational skills to use at the county's Department of Parks and Leisure Services as well as he did at the Board of Elections and Registration, we should see long-overdue improvement in the operations there.
As much as PALS needs the attention, it is a shame to see Marshall leave the elections office after four years. His attention to detail, ability to see around the corner, and his prompt and informed interactions with the public and elected leaders has turned around the elections office.
Those attributes have long been needed at the county's parks and recreation department. They should trump Marshall's lack of experience in public recreation. If he hires the right people with recreational backgrounds -- as well as energy and pride in a job well done -- his lack of professional experience in that arena should not be a problem.
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County administrator Gary Kubic said, "Scott is the perfect candidate for this position. He is familiar with Beaufort County but will be able to look at the PALS Department with a fresh set of eyes. He will be able to enter his new position and really take charge."
Kubic himself bears some responsibility for the department's consistent failings.
It has been without a leader for two years.
For the better part of two decades, its directors have been a procession of short-timers unable to transform the department's culture. It has had full-timers who treated the job like a part-time one, and well-intentioned people ill-equipped to lead the department's disparate programs. The department's procedures for handling money have been investigated, and proven to be lacking. Its ability to work with private entities and municipal governments has been checkered, at best. An out-of-state consultant recently called the department "dysfunctional" and said its staff "must be held more accountable." Its coordination and maintenance of fields has long been a problem for parents and coaches. Its ability to meet the different needs of different communities has long been a sore point.
That is a lot of baggage for a department that is so important.
It has an operating budget of $3.5 million and about 32 employees.
It offers programs that touch every community, and every age level. Baseball, soccer, football, flag football, cheerleading, swimming and summer camps are among its many offerings, all of which come with different constituencies, partnerships and facility needs.
Beaufort County has invested heavily in public recreation in terms of buildings, public fields, personnel and programs. It must have better administration of that investment. We trust Marshall can provide that.