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Pendleton Parks and Rec director to retire at the end of January

Antonio Sierra

East Oregonian

Published on November 6, 2017 4:52PM

After 26 years in the Pendleton Parks and Recreation Department, director Donnie Cook is retiring from the city Jan. 31.

Cook, 58, said Monday that his retirement was due to “personal reasons,” but declined to go into specifics. He added that he was leaving the city under good circumstances and praised City Manager Robb Corbett’s leadership.

“The city has been very, very good to me,” he said.

When former director Dave Byrd retired in 2013, Corbett elevated Cook, then the parks superintendent, to department head.

The city is now advertising the position on its website. The new director will oversee 22 parks, the city’s recreational programming, the Pendleton Family Aquatic Center, the Pendleton River Parkway and Olney Cemetery.

Outside of the department’s usual maintenance and activities, the new director will inherit projects the city’s already set in motion. Beginning in May, the city will begin enforcing a smoking ban in parks after a six-month educational period. The spring will also bring the installation of three new playgrounds into city parks after safety concerns spurred the removal of several play structures last year.

Cook said he would be willing to stay on in a part-time capacity after his retirement to aid the department during the transition.

“I do have a lot of institutional knowledge that no one else has,” he said.

Corbett said he collected input from the parks and recreation staff on the type of manager they would want, but he’s also looking for someone with longterm planning abilities and communication skills.

According to the city’s job advertisement, the city is requiring the new director to have a bachelor’s degree and five years of relevant management experience or “a satisfactory equivalent combination of education and experience.” The new director will earn between $80,268–$107,208. Cook earns $92,068.

Another wrinkle for the new employee is whether the parks and recreation director will also act as parks superintendent. Cook has filled both positions since his promotion, but Corbett said department staff told him it’s more work than one person can fill. Corbett said he’ll discuss the situation with the new hire and make a decision afterward.

Corbett doesn’t have a set start date for the incoming director, but he does expect it to happen before Cook’s retirement to ensure a smooth transition. The application period will close Nov. 15.


Contact Antonio Sierra at asierra@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0836.


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