Opelika Parks and Recreation Wins Big

Members of Opelika Parks and Recreation rose with the two honors the team received from ARPA Jan. 31.



Opelika Parks and Recreation took home two awards at the Jan. 31 Alabama Recreation and Parks Association’s (ARPA) conference in Orange Beach.

Opelika Parks and Recreation was named the 2022 Agency of the Year. This award recognizes exemplary agencies in the state that have made contributions to parks and recreation programs on the local, state, regional or national level.

Bobby Nix (left) and Pam Driver (right) of Opelika Parks and Recreation are part of the team that won two awards at the annual Alabama Recreation and Parks Association (ARPA) conference in Orange Beach, Alabama, last week.

Opelika’s Champions Academy received the award for Innovative Program of the Year. This award honors programs that demonstrate exceptional innovation in design, presentation and implementation in the parks and recreation field.

Covington Area Manager Bobby Nix created Champions Academy to help equip seventh-, eighth- and ninth-grade young men with the character and skills necessary to thrive and contribute to our community.

Additionally, Opelika Parks and Recreation Public Relations Coordinator Laura Leigh Chesser was named president of ARPA. Chesser will lead the 520-member organization during her one-year term.

“I am excited about the recognitions received by our department at this year’s ARPA State Conference — Laura Leigh Chesser for being elected president of ARPA for 2023 and Bobby Nix for the Innovative Program award,” said Opelika Parks and Recreation Director Sam Bailey. “It is also a great honor that for the first time ever, the Opelika Parks and Recreation Department was recognized as Agency of the Year in the state of Alabama.”

Opelika’s first Park Board began functioning on May 15, 1946, making the Opelika Parks and Recreation Department one of the oldest municipal recreation departments in the state of Alabama. Since that time, the department has grown to include 33 full-time employees, 200 part-time employees and 500 volunteers. They provide more than 100 different programs, events and activities each year.

“The Opelika Parks and Recreation Department has been an invaluable member of the Alabama Recreation and Parks Association for more than 30 years,” said Natalie Norman, ARPA executive director. “These awards reflect the tangible difference they are making in their community. We greatly appreciate all that.


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