City’s ‘outstanding’ Parks & Recreation Department earns top award

Covington Parks and Recreation Department, from left to right: Susannah Whitehouse, Covington Parks & Recreation summer intern; Ben Oldiges, Parks and Recreation Manager; Alicia Chappell, Recreational Program Coordinator; and Greg Stacy, Park Project Coordinator.

COVINGTON, Ky. –. From the Jack-O-Lantern Festival that’s attended by hundreds of Covington families and children, to the welcoming Christmas program at City Hall, the popular pickleball games, disc golf, Young Galileo Nights, Easter egg hunt, youth soccer, Urban Hike Series, Movie Nights, Pups at the Pool, KSO concerts at Devou Park, softball league, and more, we know here in The Cov that the City’s Parks & Recreation Department engages the community in an array of free quality activities and programs. Last week, it was made known throughout the Commonwealth that they’re at the top of their game.

Last Wednesday, the City’s Parks & Recreation Department’s small but dynamic team made their way to Bowling Green for the Kentucky Recreation and Parks Society’s (KRPS) annual conference where they accepted one of the organization’s top honors: “Outstanding Department Award – Class 1.”

Each year, KRPS recognizes a recreation department or agency (federal, state, local, university, private, or church) that has demonstrated outstanding contributions in leisure services, shown innovative and inclusive programs, and demonstrated outstanding achievement in one or more areas in all facets of parks and recreation programs. It’s a meaningful acknowledgement that Covington Parks & Recreation Manager Ben Oldiges likens to “winning your conference championship,” thanks to a talented and hardworking “team.”

“It’s all because of the team we have here,” said Oldiges. “There have been a lot of challenges over the last three years – the pandemic and lots of staff turnover – but we have a really good team in place right now. This past year, everybody really worked hard, buckled down, and put in extra hours to make our department well-rounded and inclusive to as many people as possible.”

Recreation programs can be a tricky thing, Oldiges said. For instance, what works in Erlanger doesn’t necessarily work in Covington, and vice versa. You’ve got to “gauge the pulse of the city,” he said.

“Alicia Chappell, our Recreational Program Coordinator, has been great with that,” Oldiges said. “She came on board this year and hit the ground running. And Greg Stacy, our Park Project Coordinator, facilitated a lot of the projects and was willing to jump in and assist her. Truly, last year we got more projects done than this division has ever done.”

City Manager Ken Smith praised the City’s Parks & Recreation staff on a job well done.

“They do a tremendous job programing year-round activities for our citizens while overseeing our pools and numerous parks,” said Smith. “They accomplish their mission with limited personnel and resources because of their passion and dedication.  We are thrilled that KRPS has recognized them as the Outstanding Department of the Year. Well deserved.”

Proud and humbled by the whole experience, Oldiges casts a wide net of gratitude and acknowledgement. 

“It’s really about every department in the City,” said Oldiges. “When you think about our operations – all the way from Neighborhood Services to the City Manager, IT, Public Works, Police and Fire making sure our events our safe, Economic Development helping us promote different things and brainstorming, and Communications helping promote the programs – you see that this is really a City of Covington award.”


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