By Travis Gulbrandson
Vermillion’s Parks & Recreation department has a new director, and he wants area citizens to know he is ready to work.
“We’re open to input from the community, and I’ve tried to express that to the user groups that I’ve gone to,” said Jim Goblirsch. “Don’t be afraid to ask for something. You can’t get it if you don’t ask for it.”
Goblirsch, who takes over for longtime parks and rec director David Nelson, comes to Vermillion from Casper, WY, where he was recreation supervisor.
“I mainly dealt with pools and special events, and some sports leagues. So, this is really kind of what I’ve been gearing myself toward throughout my professional career,” he said.
Along with the major projects already in development, such as the soccer complex and aquatic center, Goblirsch said he is looking forward to taking on a variety of smaller projects, as well.
Some of these involve various forms of maintenance – “just revitalizing the existing parks” – he said.
“I think some of those projects were put on hold, per se, and I think Mr. Nelson did that just because he wanted to have the new individual put their footprint on it,” Goblirsch said.
“Many of the parks here aren’t irrigated, and we’d like to have some form of irrigation in them, as well, so that they have lush, green grass when you go to them, as opposed to the dry, crusty grass that you had last year. It isn’t as inviting,” he said.
Ultimately, projects like these will attract new users to the parks, Goblirsch said.
“I’ve met a lot of people, and I’ve seen a lot of facilities,” he said. “This isn’t a major metropolitan area, but there is more than 130 acres of park land that they take care of. They just need a little bit of renovation.
“We want to keep the historic value if we can … but we also want to update it and get the modern, safe amenities, from making it handicapped-accessible to quality lighting,” he said.
Goblirsch first began working in the parks system as a college student in 1989.
“I went to school to become an ag teacher. The time I was in school was kind of when the farm crisis hit pretty hard,” he said. “They were cutting ag jobs everywhere, at least in the schools.”
After he transferred to South Dakota State University, Goblirsch began working for the parks department in Brookings.
“I liked working with kids, I liked organizing things, so I moved into the program up there,” he said. “It just kind of blossomed out of necessity.”
Upon graduating in 1992, Goblirsch worked for about six years at the Human Services Center as a recreational therapist. This was followed by another six-year stint as a recreation program coordinator in Sioux Falls.
He then worked as community education director for the Canton School District, and served as recreation supervisor for the City of Caspar since 2007.
Goblirsch was offered his new in January after a lengthy interview process. He began work on Feb. 25.
“I thought (Vermillion) would be a good fit,” he said.
Goblirsch comes to Vermillion with his wife Karen, a chart utilization nurse, and their three children, all of whom he said are ready to take part in the recreational activities the community has to offer.
“We’re looking forward to that aspect of it, and just becoming a part of the USD culture in that regard,” he said.
He said he is most looking forward to implementing new programs from their inception to their completion.
“We want to build quality facilities in quality locations for the people of Vermillion and the surrounding communities,” he said.
Goblirsch also wanted to be sure members of the community know they can approach him with their ideas and concerns.
“I’m out in the community,” he said. “I’m not just sitting at a desk here. I have three kids – 8, 10 and 13 – and we use the swimming pool. They do play soccer, they do play baseball and softball. It’s not just someone who’s administrating, we’re also users of it.”