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Long-time parks director will be missed

Parks and Recreation employee Lisa McCoy with former director Mike Turk. Photo submitted (click for larger version)
December 08, 2010 - Friends, family, and co-workers held a surprise retirement party for former Parks and Recreation Director Mike Turk at Fountains Golf and Banquet Center Saturday night.

"The party was great," Turk said. "It was great to see all the employees there, my friends and my family."

He said the event was put on by his "wonderful wife" Sheila and kids.

"My wife made a comment that some of the personnel in the parks and rec. department did a lot to put the event on," Mike said. "I said 'oh that was easy for them because they did such a great job on any program or event they worked on in the township. It probably wasn't even work to them and I appreciate what they did."

The employees felt the same way about their former boss.

"I always appreciated Mike. He was definitely a good boss to work for," said Lisa McCoy, Recreation Specialist. "He was fair, understanding and always had faith in his employees."

Jeff Morris, Recreation Programmer agreed.

"Mike was a great person to work for. Always patient, calm and took time to listen. He was very unselfish and genuinely recognized the importance of his coworkers," Morris said. "We will miss him a lot."

Recreation Supervisor Kelly Hyer, said Turk's retirement was "well deserved."

"He put a lot of years in and seems very happy," she said.

Turk retired from the township earlier this year after nearly 35 years of service. After being laid off from Fisher Body in 1976 and going back to school, there was a job opening as a park worker, so he took the position.

He started to work his way up the ladder to Park Foreman, Park Superintendent, and then to Chief of Parks in the mid to late 80's. Around 1995 he became the assistant parks and recreation director, and then took over as head director in 2001.

Turk said there were signs the economy was starting to struggle, when he first took over, which is why they tried to cut down the number of programs they had and work with the main programs.

"Because of the economy, we had to be careful of what we started and had to make sure we made the current programs even better for the township residents," he said. "We did get the Spray Park (at Clintonwood Park) built, that was one thing that was a great accomplishment, not just for me but for the department and township. It brought a lot to the kids in the township."

Turk was born in Pontiac, but grew up in Springfield Township and graduated from Clarkston High School in 1971.

"Mike Turk was an honored employee, a great individual, worked real hard at his job and he will really be missed," Supervisor Dave Wagner said.

Trustee Mark Petterson agreed.

"His expertise has helped all of our parks and recreation," Petterson said. "I'm sad to see him go, but I know he's starting a new chapter in his life and I truly wish him all the best."

Turk said he is only "retired" from the township, but his work days are not over yet.

"After the holidays I'm going to go out and see what I can come up with," he said. "I'll be working somewhere."

As far as the future of the parks and rec. department, Turk expressed concern due to the "general thought and consensus" of the Township Board. He said Parks and Rec. is the number one target when the economy goes bad.

"Parks and Recreation provides such a great thing not only for the township, but for anywhere in the world you need parks and recreation to relieve stress (and) stay physically fit. It's a lot more important than people think," he said.

"People expect that in the parks, especially this Township. We've always had a great parks and recreation department. It would be a shame to reduce it in a way to not provide a good alternative for young kids."

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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