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Henderson announces retirement from GBRC
GBRC director leaving after 40 years of service
_diann henderson and board members.jpg
GBRC Executive Director Diann Henderson, center, discusses the Sports Complex project with board members Dr. Teri Turkle Huslig,left, and Sue Cooper, right, as the board toured the complex last spring. Henderson will be retiring at the end of October after 40 years with the GBRC. - photo by Daniel Kiewel

After more than four decades with the Great Bend Recreation Commission, Executive Director Diann Henderson announced her upcoming retirement to the GBRC board Monday afternoon.

Henderson’s announcement came following a 13-minute executive session at Monday’s board meeting to discuss non-elected personnel. Acting board chairperson Dr. Jonathan Pike read the notice to the board. 

“This notice will fulfill the obligation of her employment agreement with the commission,” Pike said. “She is planning to retire Oct. 31, 2022, after 40 years of outstanding service to the Recreation Commission, and to the community.”

Following the announcement, board members present all lauded Henderson for her years of service to the Rec Commission.

“I just really appreciate your service and your leadership,” board member Dr. Teri Turkle-Huslig said.

“Thank you so much for all you’ve done over the years in leading this organization,” said board member Randy Goering. “It’s been a great story, too – starting in an entry level position, and advancing up the ladder and taking each step of the way very well.”

Board member Sue Cooper praised the fact that Henderson has been such a fixture with the organization. “A lot of us don’t remember the Rec without you.”

Pike also recalled having been a participant in Rec classes early in Henderson’s tenure, and said, “It’s been a privilege to experience your efforts and service on numerous different levels. Thank you.”

A release Tuesday afternoon announcing retirement also praised her leadership efforts. It reads:

“Diann Henderson has distinguished herself within the park and recreation industry for 40 years. She has elevated the level of recreation within Great Bend with innovative recreation programs and services, guidance, and leadership in the development of new recreation/park facilities and playgrounds. 

“Her recreation leadership abilities extend beyond the boundaries of Great Bend. She has served as an elected board official for the Kansas Recreation and Park Association, serving Kansas municipal park and recreation departments and Recreation Commissions across the state. She served as KRPA President; served on the Midwest Region Park and Recreation Council; was a past Kansas delegate for the KRPA Legislative Forum in Washington DC; served on the KRPA Recreation Branch Board for 8 years; chaired the formation of KRPA Administrative Branch; and reinstated the KRPA Advocacy Committee.

“She has been the recipient of numerous accolades: KRPA Distinguished Professional Award, KRPA Distinguished Fellow Award, KRPA Special Service Award, and KRPA Award for Excellence in Recreation Programming for the Lion’s Mural Project. She was instrumental in the formation of two recreation commissions. In its formative years, was a chairperson of the Hoisington Recreation Commission and a design committee member for the Hoisington Activity Center. Under her guidance, the Great Bend Recreation Commission received the Blue Cross Blue Shield Blue Chip Award for supporting healthy lifestyles through programs, policies, and community wide events. The Great Bend Chamber of Commerce awarded their Legacy Award to the Great Bend Recreation Commission in 2019.”

GBRC Board meeting at a glance:

Here’s a quick look at what the Great Bend Recreation Commission board did Monday afternoon:

Assistant Director Chris Umphres gave a report on baseball and softball tournaments held at facilities including the Sports Complex in May and June. The USSSA Softball tournament June 10-12 drew 64 teams across 159 games. Umphres noted the economic benefit this tournament, and tournaments like it, bring to the city, pointing out some local retailers sold out of different items as a result of last weekend’s tournament.

Aquatics and Enrichment Director Megan Hammeke noted the Rec has begun summer swim lessons. She said there are still openings in the 10:30-11 a.m., 11-11:30 a.m., and 6-6:30 p.m. time slots in each of the upcoming sessions.

Enrichment and Activity Center Director Garet Fitzpatrick provided updates on the summer Kids’ Day Out enrichment day programs. Upcoming programs include trips to the Kansas Wetlands Education Center and the Rolling Hills Zoo near Salina. He said participation has been strong so far in summer enrichment programs.

The board approved a bid from Adams Brown Strategic Allies and CPAs to provide audit services for the 2022-2023 fiscal year, with options for the 2023-24 and 2024-25 fiscal years. The 2022-23 bid includes an audit of $6,450 with an additional $500 fee for the filing of a Form 990 for the Great Bend Recreation Commission Foundation. The optional additional years include a fee of $6,780 for 2023-24, and $7,120 for 2024-25, with the additional $500 Form 990 fee each year.

As part of the budget process, the board approved a notice to exceed the Revenue Neutral Rate in 2022-23. Executive Director Diann Henderson noted that with the board having increased its maximum budget authority the previous year to accommodate wage increases, this allows the board leeway, should valuations necessitate an increase in taxes levied. Henderson expects to see initial estimated valuations from the Barton County Treasurer around June 15.

The board set July and August dates for the upcoming 2022-2023 budget sessions. The monthly board meeting in July was moved to Monday, July 18, and will include the official budget work session. The August meeting was moved to Aug. 22 to coincide with the official budget hearing, as well as the notice to exceed RNR hearing.