By Justin Cox
Killeen Daily Herald
Ever hear the phrase "There's always next season"? Chicago Cub fans certainly have.
So has Jerry Bark. But he's a Detroit Tigers fan.
But his relationship to the phrase has nothing to do with his obsession with the Tigers.
No, for Jerry, there's always a next season, and it's usually happening soon.
Jerry Bark serves as the Parks and Recreation Director for the city of Harker Heights.
That's the department that handles all the recreation activities for both youth and adults. Bark said his department is a jack of all trades.
"We're the catch-all department," Bark said. "(Our department) handles the maintenance for all the city's facilities, we do all the special events, from Easter to Christmas to Halloween. We do a little bit of everything."
Bark is excited about a recent agreement between the city and Killeen Independent School District, a joint use agreement in which the city will be able to take advantage of the school's five-acre park to help conduct additional programming.
Bark has a special interest in seeing the city's parks succeeding: his two boys, Tanner 14, a freshman at Ellison and Tyler, 11. He takes care of them with his wife of 16 years, Eva.
Bark has been in charge of what he calls his biggest accomplishment, the beginning of the city's new Outdoor Athletic Facility, which has recently been approved by the city council, and is going forward in the first stages of development.
"It's a huge advancement for our parks and recreation department," Bark said. "We currently have ball fields, but they're spread out all over town. We've recently did away with our other fields because the police department is being built on those fields. I'm extremely excited about this.
The $3 million project will be located on 62 acres land and is funded in the city's 2006 certificates of obligation. The design phase will begin once an architectural/design firm is chosen. There is no timetable for any phase of the project as of yet, but Bark said one is expected to come from the winner of the bid contract.
Bark said the new facility will allow the parks and recreation department many more options for programming.
"It's going to allow us a lot more flexibility in our programming," Bark said. "When you build a new facility, you get more participants."
Bark said that seeing the department succeed so much gives him a tremendous sense of fulfillment.
"I don't think about my own history through the parks and recreation department," he said. "But it is good to know that we're able to accomplish certain things. It's a complete team effort with everything we do here at parks and rec. Not one person can run any special event by themselves. It's a string of volunteers."
He said his children really get a kick out of the opportunities the programs provide.
"I think it means more to my kids than anything," he said. "I coach our youth league basketball team over here, and my 11 year old says to me, Dad, when are we going over to your gym?' He translates it as mine, personally, so I think that's kind of unique."
When he's not working, Bark said you can find him at the house, laying in his hammock.
Maybe he's waiting for next season to start.
Contact Justin Cox at firstname.lastname@example.org