First Town Hall recreation kids’ soccer game and, according to a Facebook post by Dawn Sonnier, there were “no uniforms, no refs, no goals and no [county] representation.”
Sonnier posted this information on Monday, Sept. 30. Her post elicited a firestorm of negative comments from upset parents and others who wondered why they were paying $40 for services and support that had, at least prior to the game, failed to materialize.
A subsequent Facebook post by Denise Sandlin De Rivera clarified that county reps showed up later and put equipment, without uniforms, in a storage shed.
Contacted on Thursday, Oct. 1, Kyla Brown, Riverside County Regional Park & Open Space Park and Recreation Chief, noted county staff were trying to catch up after a series of personnel changes impacted recreation delivery. First was the decision of Town Hall recreation coordinator Richard Mozeleski not to renew his contract when it expired. A new coordinator is presently being vetted. Brown estimated it could take as long as two weeks to a month to have the new coordinator in place. Second was the recent appointment of Marquese Howard as interim area manager to replace Ronald Donis. Howard, who has been with the county for over 10 years, is only three weeks into his new interim position.
Brown, apologized for county missteps. On Friday, Oct. 2 she stated in an email, “New equipment will be at the school today for the games. Uniforms should be in place by Monday. We are all working as a team to resolve the issues with the program and will be providing some additional items to the kids to make up for our blunders. We appreciate all of the parents, coaches and volunteers that are pitching in to help get this season put together. We are committed to continuing sports programs in Idyllwild.”
Howard confirmed soccer uniforms would be delivered Monday, Oct. 5, and is coming to Idyllwild on Monday to speak with coaches and Town Hall personnel. When asked who is going to guarantee that these kinds of missteps won’t happen again, Howard said, “That would be me. I have to be the one responsible. Moving forward I can guarantee you will not see these problems happening with the basketball and future sports programs.” He said he will be meeting with parents directly. “I need to understand what has historically been happening and how we can best address recent problems.” Howard is planning to survey parents and others connected with Town Hall recreation either through a Town Hall meeting, written survey or both. “It’s important we meet expectations,” he said.
Bo Dagnall and wife Ginger have children in the recreation program and are usually actively involved in either coaching or managing several of the offered sports. Reached by telephone just as he was boarding a plane, Dagnall noted that over the four years he has been involved, recreation delivery, including scheduling and timely payment to sports coordinators has steadily deteriorated. “When Jeremy Teeguarden was sports coordinator everything was predictable and consistent,” he said. “Things just ran well. Uniforms and equipment were there. Schedules were clear. Since then problems have grown. I just want things to be OK. My wish list is to have a sports program that is predictable and transparent. We need to know when sports start and stop, where the money is and how much we have.”
He said he is hoping that Howard will take an activist role and make sure the Town Hall programs function as intended.
Howard stopped by the Town Crier at the end of the day on Monday and emphasized that he will be taking an active role in improving recreation delivery and clarifying recreation funding issues.
Note: When contacted by telephone on Tuesday morning, Howard related that although the uniforms did arrive in Idyllwild on Monday, they were not passed out because the games were cancelled by rain. He said he would be in Idyllwild on Tuesday to see that the uniforms were properly distributed.