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Mikel honored by state parks, rec group

The Alabama Recreation and Parks Association (ARPA) recognized Andalusia Department of Leisure Services director Dwight Mikel with its professional of the year award Tuesday night.

ARPA president Tommy Agee, a former Auburn Tiger and a former Dallas Cowboy, presented the Jim Spain Award to Mikel in an awards ceremony held at Perdido Beach Resort in Orange Beach. The award is presented to individuals who have at least 10 years of experience and have exhibited leadership or innovation in parks and rec.

“Dwight Mikel clearly is one of the best-qualified and experienced recreation directors in the state of Alabama,” Mayor Earl Johnson said. “The fact that his statewide association recognized him last night with the annual award confirms that point. Dwight is another example of the many employees we have for the City of Andalusia who do a wonderful job and are outstanding in their fields.”

Mikel first worked for the city’s recreation programs as a teen. After college, he returned to Andalusia in 1978 and was named the department’s assistant director. He was named director of the department in 1992.

Under his direction the department has grown from a staff of three, to 37 full-time and 48 seasonal employees.

In their nomination, his employees wrote that Mikel has assisted in acquiring grants from the Alabama Forestry Commission, ADECA, and the Alabama Department of Transportation and Bureau of Travel & Tourism.

“He is responsible for developing and implementing a vision plan for the Leisure Service Department, and he has planned well,” the nomination stated. “A job that once required the overseeing of a ball field and three cemeteries has grown into a multi-faceted department. The Department of Leisure Services now includes the Andalusia Public Library, Adult Activity Center, Coleman Pool, Park, and Field, Cooper Pool and Park, 12 youth sports ball fields, three adult softball fields, a multipurpose field, five parks, three cemeteries, Lake Armstrong, and the Evans Barnes Golf Course.

“He has been instrumental in several new facilities including the senior nutrition center, Johnson Park skate facility, the Dream Park, the newly-renovated Robert Horry Park, the Robinson Park walking trail and the Power Plant Farmers Market. The latest addition to the Andalusia Park facilities is a memorial park in honor of Sallie M. Kirkpatrick, the nomination stated. The seven-acre park includes a pavilion that will seat 250, a pond, and serenity garden. A playground will be added in the project’s second phase.

In addition to his responsibilities and activities as cirector, Mikel has been the district Babe Ruth commissioner and is currently the assistant state commissioner for Babe Ruth Baseball and is state commissioner for Babe Ruth Softball.

His department has coordinated many district, state and regional baseball and softball tournaments.

“If you had the pleasure of visiting us at our 2007 13-15 Year Old Babe Ruth World Series, you can tell Dwight is a planner,” the nomination stated. “Due largely in part to his planning, the tournament was a huge success for both our community and our guests.”

He has secured the 12 and under Softball Babe Ruth World Series for 2011.

“If you know him, you know he is a strong believer in doing everything first class or not at all,” the nomination stated.