Hall County's new director of Parks and Leisure Services said the job was an opportunity that he couldn't refuse.
The Hall County Board of Commissioners announced Friday afternoon that Greg Walker has been appointed as director of the county's parks department. Walker, who has spent a total of nearly 20 years as director of parks and recreation in three Georgia counties, currently is heading up Pickens County's parks department.
"I think Hall County's got one of the premiere park departments in the state and the opportunity to be involved in that was too much to pass up," Walker said Friday night. "I think it'll be just a great place to work. I just think I'd like to be a part of the growing process and serving the citizens of Hall County."
Tom Oliver, chairman of the Hall County commission, said Walker's hiring represents that the county is serious about hiring quality staff.
"I think what we're saying in Hall County is that we're trying to bring in as highly professional people as we can find," Oliver said Friday. "We're trying to recognize the changing environment in Hall County and that we're going to have to compete on a national level. We're just trying to find the best people we can for the jobs."
Charley Nix, Human Resources director for Hall County, said Walker was one of two or three finalists identified from a pool of some two dozen serious applicants. The search to fill the position took about 2 1/2 months, he said. Nix said Walker was a "really strong candidate" because of his 20 years of experience in directing parks departments, as well as his proximity. He said Walker also seemed very enthusiastic and motivated.
"We felt like he would fit in really well with our objectives and where we wanted to go with the parks," Nix said.
County Commissioner Steve Gailey, who represents North Hall, said he was impressed with Walker's "hands-on" attitude when he met with the potential parks director.
"I liked him. He seemed like a real nice guy and a real hands-on individual," Gailey said. "I think he's had to operate hands on because that's what he's had to do" in a very small county like Pickens County.
Walker met with staff members of the Hall County parks department last week in an informal meeting and will begin his new position on July 14.
He plans to commute about an hour from Jasper until he can sell his home there.
"As a department head I think it's important that you live in the county you serve," he said. "As soon as I sell my house, I will be moving to Hall County and enrolling my children in Hall County schools and becoming a Hall Countian."
He and his wife, Paula, have two children, a 9-year-old daughter named Kaycee Lee Walker and a 7-year-old son named Ripken Aaron Walker.
Walker also has directed departments in Wayne and Ware counties. He has a bachelor's degree from California State University and is certified as a park and recreation professional. He has served on various park and recreation associations, including on the state and national levels.
Walker replaces Deborah Mockus, who served as Hall's parks director for five years until mid-March. She is now city administrator for Arcade in Jackson County. Mockus later said she felt "betrayed" when Hall County officials suggested she leave her position, but county officials said they recommended she explore new positions due to her inadequate job performance.
Bob Gentile, assistant director of Hall County Parks and Leisure Services, has been running the department in the interim.The Hall County Board of Commissioners has appointed a new director of parks and leisure services.
Greg Walker will begin with Hall County officially on July 14.
Walker has served nearly 20 years as director of parks and recreation in three other Georgia counties: Wayne, Ware and Pickens.
He has also served on various park and recreation associations. He currently serves as the National Recreation & Park Association Georgia Representative for GRPA.