Pelham City Council holds interviews for Parks and Recreation Advisory Board appointment

Published 10:19 am Thursday, June 20, 2024

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By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

PELHAM – The Pelham City Council carried out the initial interviews of the four candidates seeking to fill the vacant position on the Pelham Parks and Recreation Advisory Board on Monday, June 17.

In its operation, the Pelham Parks and Recreation Advisory Board makes recommendations on the provision of diverse recreation services and programs and also provides feedback on the planning for capital projects and park maintenance. The board also makes recommendations on fiscal matters and department policies, procedures and operations. All board members are volunteers.

The interviews are the first official step that the Council must take in filling the vacant board position that was created by the selection of Michael Harris to the City Council in March.

As stipulated by the Council, the interviews consisted of three questions and followed the style of all other interviews the Council carries out in the filling of positions.

Each candidate was asked the same list of questions and all candidates were sequestered away from the public session until it was time for their interview to take place.

The candidates for the position were as follows:

  • Daniela Deluca
  • Ashlyn Kortman
  • Michael Ingram
  • Pam Crawford

Deluca, a resident of Pelham since 2013, first moved to the city 11 years ago from New Mexico. Deluca is the mother of two sons, who first attended the now closed Valley Elementary School and are now preparing to start another year at Pelham High School. As part of her interview, Deluca described how her sons’ involvement in Boy Scouts has driven her own community involvement.

“I have been involved with the Boy Scouts (Troop) 404 where we did a cleanup of the Pelham City Park,” Deluca said. “We have also worked with the Pelham Senior Center and we helped make the flag retirement box with the American Legion Post 555, they are the sponsor of Troop 404. I have (also) done the Pelham Palooza.”

In addition to that involvement, and other aid she has presented to other community events, Deluca also described her own use and enjoyment of the city’s venues as an inspiring avenue toward her seeking the position.

“I walk every day at Pelham City Park—it has been my safe haven—I adore it there and have got to know a lot of people,” Deluca said. “I have just been so enamored at this explosion in Pelham and of the growth here. Even since 2020, seeing how much this city has been into the parks and recreation has just blown me away.”

Although passionate about the position, and having held past positions on school improvement councils, Deluca further described her experience as being one primarily based in the education of students.

Kortman, a recent resident to Pelham who moved into the Crosscreek neighborhood of the city, was second to be interviewed.

Previously a lifelong resident of Hoover, before graduating from Auburn University in 2023 with a degree in Natural Resource Management, Kortman currently holds a position with Terracon Consultants in Hoover as an environmental scientist. Among her primary interests related to the parks system is the identification, management and removal of invasive species.

“I was hoping to contribute my knowledge I’ve gained through my career to the Parks and Rec Department,” Kortman said.

A recent resident of the city, Kortman acknowledged that she had not yet had an opportunity to volunteer or attend any events hosted by the Pelham Parks and Recreation department.

Kortman primarily cited her want to get involved in her community as the primary reason for her application the position, citing her previous attachment to Hoover and a desire to create such ties and memories in Pelham.

“Both me and my husband really love going to the different parks—Carrol Park, we have four dogs and it is a really good place for them,” Kortman said. “The Pelham City Park is a wonderful park as well.”

The third candidate interviewed, Ingram is a newly married native of the Helena area and attended his interview one day after returning from his honeymoon.

“Me and my wife have bought a house in the Stonehaven neighborhood,” Ingram said. “I was raised in the area, I went to Pelham High School for a few years before Helena was built. I love the greater Birmingham Area, growing up in Helena and we are really excited to start our lives together in Pelham. This opportunity opened up and I was just excited to apply and throw my name in the hat and see what happens.”

Ingram described his primary experience with parks and recreation as having been on the receiving end and as someone who enjoyed the parks and sports programs as a kid.

“My personal involvement through parks and recreation has really been on the growing up side,” Ingram said. “Most people think of kids play ball and I think those are some of my fondest memories growing up. One of the coolest things about living in Pelham—even if just for a couple of months now—is seeing the ways in which Parks and Recreation has expanded their offerings.”

When asked about what elements he looked forward to the most about the position should he be chosen, Ingram highlighted the ability to converse with the community and finding creative ways to continue moving forward.

“I just love being a soundboard for ideas and bringing new ideas to the table,” he said.

The final candidate interviewed was Pam Crawford, another recent addition to the city of Pelham who moved to the area six months ago from the Atlanta area. However, Crawford has become familiar to the area as she has regularly visited her family in the Pelham area for the past 18 years.

“In Atlanta, I was pretty active in a lot of different organizations,” Crawford said. “I came to city hall and talked to Mr. Seale and have been very active in seeking out things in the community. I wanted to see if there was something I could give back to the community with my experience (gained) in Atlanta.”

Crawford has become a familiar face along Pelham residents at Parks and Recreation events since moving to the area—and described taking classes at the Pelham Recreation Center, attending the community yard sale, Paws in the Park, movie night, two ribbon cuttings and having visited every city park the city has to offer and having done as much as possible.

“I’ve also been active in the Pelham Garden Club and the Pelham Public Library,” Crawford said. “I’m helping the Garden Club with communications—we started talking about that at their last meeting.”

She further described her background as having aided in a variety of coordinator positions, fundraising efforts, and being the mother of an active family that regularly took part in park and city events.

“I find that with this experience I have a well-rounded background,” Crawford said. “I’ve served on boards in Atlanta, I’ve also been a team-mom so I know what people are going through from a coach’s perspective. I’ve been a volunteer coordinator—I was the swim team volunteer coordinator for a very large Atlanta area swim team. I feel like based on all of the different pots that I’ve had my hands in, that I would be a good fit for the Parks and Recreation Board if you choose me to help.”

Following the conclusion of the interviews, the Pelham City Council turned in their scores and comments to Pelham City Clerk and Treasurer Tom Seale, and did not make further public comment about any of the interviews or the scoring of the candidates.

A final decision as to who will fill the position is expected to be announced at the next regularly scheduled City Council meeting on Monday, July 1 or at a forthcoming meeting to follow.