Last Week, March 5th Gary Minor

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Last week Rotarians welcomed Mr. Gary Minor, Director of PARA. He began by commending Rotary for the great amount of young people in our club, and cited the importance of recruiting in order to carry on the good works of the previous generations in many of our Service Organizations. He noted that The Rotary Club had an edge on that compared to others in our area!

He introduced us to the newest PARA Facility, the Faucett Center in Northport, at 13040 Eugenia Faucett Drive between Rose Blvd. and Hwy 171.

Try out the center in March for free! This is a state of the art facility that offers a climbing wall, pools, exercise facilities and community rooms.

PARA’s mission and goal is to enrich the community with exciting recreational and cultural opportunities. When people relocate to an area, Employment is the #1 reason, and recreational and cultural opportunities fall second. Having these components in a community attracts businesses and people to the area.

PARA manages Ole’ Colony Golf Course, all the recreational facilities in the area, like Sokol Park, Bowers Park and also houses the Arts Council. They have two large events that they sponsor each year – the West Alabama Christmas Parade and July Jubilee. PARA employees 90 full-time year round employees and that number increases to 350 in the summer. They have seen an increase in membership of 22% over the last 5 years, and 60% over the last 10 years. People are staying close to home and enjoying their own community more.

PARA is funded by Northport, Tuscaloosa, and the County Commission. Membership Fees and donations account for about 28% of their budget. They

have a goal to make Tuscaloosa the best place in the country to live, so they want to improve the quality of life here with more programs and facilities. The City Walk is still in development , but will offer a beautiful walkway through the City of Tuscaloosa beginning at Rosedale and ending at Jaycee Park. PARA is constantly working to improve the beauty of the area with these types of projects. Another project is the Dog Park which will be at Sokol . There is a project in place currently to turn the McAbee Center into a Senior Center through a partnership with Focus.

PARA has p[partnerships with the Tuscaloosa Tourism & Sports Commission(TTSC), YMCA, Focus, Community Foundation of W. Alabama, Tuscaloosa Tennis Association and Kiwanis. Through these partnerships they are able to determine projects for the good of our citizens, as well as visitors to our area. The development of Sokol Park for Football and Soccer, and Bowers for Softball will allow enough new fields for our local teams as well as tournaments that TTSC works to attract to the area. Tourism is the 3rd largest industry in Tuscaloosa County. Tourists to our area result in dollars for our city that the citizens do not have to pay. The project will provide 9 regulation Softball Fields at Bowers Park, and 18 Regulation multi-purpose Fields at Sokol for Soccer, Lacrosse, Ultimate Frisbee Tournaments, etc. This is needed because Tuscaloosa falls below the national average for a community of our size. We want to be the City of Champions for our youth as well!

PARA has recently received a grant that will further enhance the Queen City Walking Trail (recently installed a bridge near the library on Jack Warner Parkway), make improvements to Bowers Pool, and some money from the City of Tuscaloosa will provide new gym floors at Belk, McAbee, and Phelps Centers.

The Rotarian of the week was Anthony Holloman, and he was introduced by Dr. Charles Nash. 



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