2021 Award Winners Announced!
2021 “William V. Haskell” Distinguished Professional
of the Year Award Winner
Robin Cogger, Director, York Parks & Recreation Department
Robin Cogger has worked for the York Parks & Recreation Department for over 30 years, beginning as a camp counselor as a college student. During this time, she is held many positions, including Special Events Coordinator, Recreation Coordinator, Assistant Director, Director of the Senior Center, and her current role as the Department’s Director. York manages Mount Agamenticus and over 10,000 acres of a conservation region, the famous Nubble Lighthouse and gift shop, maintains academic athletic fields, oversees the town’s lifeguard program and beach bath houses, hosts over 4 road races and challenges annually, manages the Center for Active Living for 50+ community members and has added an ice rink to its facilities this winter. Because of all these moving parts and more, York Parks & Recreation needs a strong leader, who leads by example and this is Robin.
Robin can be found saying any of these phases on a regular basis “how can we make it happen?”, “how does that engage our community”, “how can we make it better?” and encourages group brainstorming during weekly staff meetings to “spitball ideas”. Visit our office in York’s and you will likely hear “hey, what do you think of this?” and programs are developed from there.
Major projects that have been developed during Robin’s time at York include the Bog Road Fields Complex, the Nubble Gift Shop, the Long Sands Bath House and plans for expanding facilities at Mount Agamenticus. Plus, Robin created community traditions like the Annual Charlie Memorial Basketball Classic (which ran for 30 years, finishing in 2020), our annual road race series (Four on the 4th, York Days, Turkey Trot etc.), holiday events like Springtime Surprises, Breakfast with Santa and the Polar Express.
“William V. Haskell” Distinguished Professional of the Year Award
William V. Haskell served the MRPA from its inception and was director of the Presque Isle Parks and Recreation Department from 1946-1981.
- Employment History/Experience: The nominee should have a minimum of ten years working within the Recreation Field and at least a three-year period should have been within the state of Maine.
- Education and Certification: The candidate should have a degree in Recreation, or a related field. Additional consideration will be given to those professionals who have earned higher degrees and/or who have become certified in Parks & Recreation or Therapeutic Recreation.
- Professional Affiliation: Candidates must maintain membership in the MRPA. Any additional affiliations, such as NRPA, will hold value.
- Leadership Contribution: Candidates should display qualities of leadership in MRPA and/or NRPA by serving on the Executive Board or by making other professional contributions such as a committee chairperson or committee member.
- Administrative & Program Development: Candidate should have demonstrated outstanding performance on a community level, through innovative programming, facility development and civic involvement
- Learn More about William Haskell
2020 – Hillary Hallett (Eastern Recreation), 2019 – Lisa Thompson (Wescustogo Hall & Community Center), 2018 – Karyn MacNeill (Yarmouth), 2017- Debbie Gendreau (Bangor), 2016 – Denise LeBlanc (Skowhegan), 2015 – Linda Brooks (Standish), Tina LeBlanc (Wells), Lucky D’Ascanio (Falmouth), Steve Balboni (Bath), Marcel Blouin (Sanford), Tracy Willette (Bangor), Deb Smith (South Portland), Michael Martin (Brewer), Doug Beck (Auburn), Eric Seekins (Oakland), Marie Carmichael (Houlton), Don Brewer (Portland), Cindy Hazelton (Gorham), Mike Boies (Woodland), Pam LeDuc (Topsham), Dr. Bill Eckart (UMaine Machias), Norm Poirer (Orono), Ken Hanscom (Brewer), Jim Toner (Waterville), Marcia Noyes (Yarmouth)
2021 “Dr. Bill Eckart” Young Professional Award Winner
Amelia Meier, Saco Parks and Recreation Department
Amelia Meier has worked for the City of Saco for 9 years and has had a few different roles throughout her time here. She currently is the City’s Wellness Coordinator and the Saco Parks and Recreation Department’s Community Outreach Coordinator. Two of the largest components of her job include building programs and providing opportunities for the senior community, as well as, putting on special events for families and participants of all ages! She has worked with the 50+ group for the past five years, and truly values the importance of building a sense of community for this age group, and for everyone around Saco. In addition, Amelia has recently focused much of her work on promoting health-conscious and eco-conscious practices at SPR and in the city of Saco.
Amelia is originally from Colorado but made her way to the East Coast and graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2010 with a bachelors in Recreation Management. She is passionate about traveling and seeing the world, and enjoys camping, hiking, and cooking. Her varied interests and personal focus on health and the environment have also influenced some of the innovative programming she has spearheaded in our department and city-wide.
“Dr. Bill Eckart” Young Professional Award
Dr. William Eckart retired from the University of Maine at Machias in 2011 after 31 years as Professor of Recreation Management. During his tenure, he built the program into one of the most respected programs in the country, and it was Maine’s only nationally accredited recreation degree program. Dr. Eckart was an active member of MRPA, serving as Treasurer on the Board of Directors, spearheading the professional certification program, and managing membership.
- Employment History/Experience: The nominee should have minimum of three years working within the Recreation Field and at least a two-year period should have been within the state of Maine, with no more than ten years experience.
- Education: The candidate should have a degree in the field of Recreation, or a related field. Additional consideration will be given to those professionals who have become certified in Parks & Recreation or Therapeutic Recreation.
- Professional Affiliation: Candidates must maintain membership in MRPA. Any additional affiliations will hold value.
- Program Development: Candidates should have demonstrated outstanding performance on a community level through innovative programming, partnerships and civic involvement.
- Professional Involvement: Candidates should exhibit networking skills, and be involved with local and regional recreational issues and committees within MRPA.
2020 – Gary Collello (Bridgton Recreation), 2019 – Erica Dube (Saco Parks & Recreation), 2018 – Tyler Stewart (Old Orchard Beach), 2017 – Jason Hanken (Lewiston). 2016 – Nicole Welch (Old Orchard Beach), 2015 – Julio Santiago (Gorham) Sabrina Best (South Portland), Anthony Johnson (Freeport), Kate Harris (Falmouth), Angela O’Connor (Kennebunkport), Tammy Leger (Kennebunk), Alan Grady (Gorham), Shelly Abbott (Hampden), Jen DeRice (So. Portland), Lucky D’Ascanio (Falmouth), Lisa Thompson (So Portland)
2021 Facilities of Merit Award Winner
Auburn Senior Community Center
The Auburn Senior Community Center (ASCC) was originally a Parks garage that was no longer being used from 2014-2018. The local senior groups approached the City requesting a portion of the building be converted into a Senior Center so the 50+ groups had a designated home vs. the gym at the Rec center. In 2018 using $125,000 CIP funds, one third of the old garage was transformed into a 30×60 single function room, with storage room, kitchen, and bathrooms for about 80 people. After a successful year of increased programming and participation levels, the request to use CDBG funds to convert the whole building into a large banquet hall which would serve as the home for the senior groups up to 300 individuals was pitched and accepted by the City of Auburn. Phase 2 of the ASCC used $450,000 of CDBG funding to create a large 120×60 space with the ability to pull a partition and breakdown into 2 spaces. The grand opening for the new ASCC was in November 2019 and up until March 2020 the space was booked consistently for senior programming along with local meetings, events, and rentals. When the Pandemic hit this space was quickly transformed into the Food Distribution center for the community and housed the Grab N Go food program ran by the Recreation dept. The program quickly grew to serving over 450 individuals with weekly Grab n Go Grocery Boxes throughout the 2020 year. This facility was once again transformed, this time into a grocery warehouse serving those with food insecurities in the community until November of 2020. As programming is slowly being opened back up for the Senior population this facility will be booked and once again filled with grateful and appreciative seniors, community groups and rentals.
Facilities of Merit Award
- A significant recreation facility established within the last two years
- Shows the project overview, design, plan, and priority of need
- Demonstrates an increase in recreational opportunities – including types of uses
- Local commitment to the project
- Accessibility to users
- Demonstrates innovation and creativity
2020- The Bangor Municipal Golf Course (Bangor), The Wescustogo Community Center (North Yarmouth), Kennebunkport Parks & Recreation Community Center, 2019- Bath Pump Track (Bath) & Bangor Pickleball Courts (Bangor), 2018 – Zorach Fountain (Bath) & John H Rich Jr. & Doris Rich Memorial Beach (Standish), 2017 – Sargent Family Community Center (Presque Isle), 2017 – Bog Road Athletic Complex – (York), 2017 – Broad Cove Reserve (Cumbland), Donnabeth Lippman Park (Windham), Mason-Motz Center (Falmouth), “Just for Kids” Community Playgrouond (Houlton), The Waterhouse Center (Kennebunk), Westbrook Community Center, Wainwright Rec. Complex (SoPo), Johnson Field (Standish), Bangor Waterfront, Yarmouth Westside Trail, Bangor Armory,The Ballpark (Old Orchard Beach), Saco Community Center, Gorham Municipal Center
2021 Citizen Volunteer of the Year Award Winners
Joe McKenney, Biddeford
Joe has been very active in his community. He is a small businessperson (local photographer) who has donated countless hours in support of the Recreation Department. He is also active with the Heart of Biddeford, Friends of Clifford Park and Dog Park Committee. He began service with the Recreation Commission in 2009 and eventually became chair. He still holds that position. He volunteers to help maintain Clifford Park, and is chair of the Dog Park Committee. He was instrumental in the development, fundraising and management of the Dog Park. He also assists us with special events as a volunteer and often donates his professional services at our events.
Citizen Volunteer of the Year Award
- Contributes to the well-being of recreation within the State of Maine
- A community volunteer who supports the development and creation of recreation programs, facilities or services
- Is not a paid employee of a department
- Length of involvement at the local, multi-town, or state level
- Diversity of involvement, contributions, and achievements
- Letters of support from the community
- Civic involvement
- Moral character
2020 – Ron St. Pierre and David Mansfield (Bangor), 2019 – Lawrence Kovacs (Bath), 2018 – Jamie Dorr (Bath), 2017 – Lynn Hynes (Yarmouth), 2016 – Matt Libby (Bath), Rob Washburn (Skowhegan), Kenny Fickett (Gorham), Ted Hellier (South Portland), Sharri MacDonald & Linda Mailhot (Old Orchard Beach), David Lindemann (Hampden), Keith Gray (Yarmouth), Matthew Schilmoeller (Orono)
2021 Outstanding Parks Professional Award Winner
Kevin Bailey, Windham Parks & Recreation
It is with pleasure that I nominate our Parks Maintenance Foreman for this award, as I feel strongly that he is worthy of being honored. When I began my position in Windham in June 2015, Kevin was employed for 30 hours during the summer months and 15-20 hours during the winter months. It became quickly apparent that he made the most of the limited time he was allotted for general inspection and maintenance at 9 facilities totaling approximately 500 acres. During the FY16 budget process, the council listened to the long list of what Kevin attempted to accomplish with limited hours, and his position was elevated to full-time on a year-round basis. Since that time, his hours have been increased from 32-40 hours/week, which has been relatively easy to justify as his list of achievements continues to grow. Kevin diligently attends to his tasks independently each day and takes great personal pride in the parks and trails facilities that he oversees. Whereas in the early years of his position here (he has been employed since 2008), his focus was essentially on mowing and trash pick-up at each location, he has advanced far beyond that. His job description now requires him to be more directly involved in park planning, trail construction, completing or coordinating capital projects, and facility management. He also works closely with sub-contractors and supervises seasonal park laborers or community service volunteers. Recruiting seasonal help has been a challenge for the last two summers, so Kevin just picks up the slack and gets the job done. His winter duties include managing 2 ice skating rinks, plowing parking lots to keep our parks open and accessible, and grooming trails for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Being a life-long resident of the town of Windham, he is motivated to provide stellar service to the community, and he is always thinking about ways to improve what we offer. He is the face of the department in our parks and on our trails, and is friendly and caring, while also seeking ways to encourage people to be good stewards of our facilities. He has a very creative mind and has assisted the staff in problem-solving or identifying good solutions to issues that arise. He is also known to come up with unique program ideas and then will help in any way possible to get it done, whether it is constructing a life-size photo frame for the Summerfest Committee or rehabbing a donated utility trailer for use at our special events. Kevin prefers to be a behind-the-scenes type of employee and is quite humble when it comes to acknowledging the contributions he makes to our department and to the town. However, his co-workers recognize the very valuable role he plays in contributing to any successes we achieve. Kevin has accepted additional opportunities that have been provided to him, such as participating in SMART meetings for topics that apply to his job duties or attending the Playground Certification course offered through MRPA. He is the essence of a team player and will often aid the town’s Buildings and Ground crew when he realizes they are short-staffed. I believe Kevin assists us in advancing the professionalism of Parks and Recreation by the dedication he exhibits in providing quality outdoor recreation experiences to the residents of Windham.
Outstanding Parks Professional Award
- Employment History/Experience: The nominee should have a minimum of 10 years working full time in the parks and/or facilities profession and at least a five-year period should have been within the State of Maine.
- Education: Priority is given to candidates with a degree in Parks & Recreation, or a related field.
- Additional consideration will be given to those professionals who have become certified in Parks & Recreation (CPRP), Sports Field Management (CSFM), Horticulture (CPH) or certification in related field.
- Professional Affiliation: Candidates must maintain membership in MRPA. Any additional affiliations will hold value.
- Professional Involvement: Distinctive leadership as a parks manager, support staff crew leader, park supervisor, or park ranger in which his/her dedicated service has advanced the organization’s mission or vision.
2020 John “Linky” Erskine (South Portland), 2019 – Jay Astle (Brunswick), 2018 – John Kelley (Bangor), 2017 – Rick, Perruzzi (South Portland), 2016 -Zac Wiest (Yarmouth)
Selected by the MRPA Board of Directors and presented to a Maine elected official or other Maine citizen (serving at the local, state or federal level) who, through their support of park and recreation services or policies at the Local, State or National level, has significantly enhanced the lives of the people of the State of Maine.
Senator Olympia Snowe, Senator Susan Collins
Questions? Contact Awards Committee Chair Lisa Thompson at email@example.com