Green River Star -

By David Martin
Editor 

Roosa remembers 33 years with city

 

Misty Springer/City of Green River

Brenda Roosa stands with the Green River City Council last week as they honored her for her 33 years of service to the city.

One of Green River's first parks and recreation employees bids adieu to the city, retiring after 33 years of service to the city.

Brenda Roosa, a longtime supervisor at the Green River Recreation Center, originally started with the city in 1981, years before ground was broken for the recreation center. Roosa said at that time, the department had just been formulated and initially consisted of two people, the director and herself, the department's secretary.

"It was started from just nothing," she said.

Large sums of money still came in as a result of the economic boom that started in Sweetwater County during the 1970s and City Hall would open six months after Roosa was hired. At that time, Roosa said the Expedition Island Pavilion served as the city's recreation center. Newly remodeled, the building was used as a recreation center during the week, then rented out for events on the weekends after portable basketball hoops and other equipment was moved out of the main hall.

The building's weight room was located in the room now used for storage behind the stage while saunas and locker rooms were in the space now occupied by the commercial kitchen.

The department eventually consisted of four people, Roosa included, with many of the staffers helping out in the multitude of responsibilities given to them, from writing and designing the program brochures to taking attendance at the Pavillion.

Initially, a recreation center was planned that would have cost the city $7 million, more than $15 million today according to an inflation calculation on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.

However, during the planning phases of the project, the local economy fell into a recession. Roosa said plans were revisited, with the school district providing some bond issue funding to build a pool at the recreation center, fostering a partnership between the city and school district.

"Randy Walker did his whole curriculum for the first five years there," she said.

Shortly before the Green River Recreation Center opened, the recreation supervisor position opened up. Roosa said she was interested in the job, but coming from a union family, was conflicted about applying to be a supervisor. Ultimately, she submitted her application at what she described as the "final hour," and was eventually promoted one month after the recreation center opened.

Her role at the recreation center was more geared towards the facilities and scheduling responsibilities. Programs would eventually be handled by Lisa Maes, a former parks and recreation employee who now serves on the Green River City Council. Roosa said the arraignment worked for several years, until the job responsibilities involved with Maes position required the position to be split amongst more supervisors.

During those first few years, the center started offering roller skating, after purchasing roller skates from the roller rink that had recently gone out of business. Roosa said few people were interested in skating during the first two years they offered it at the center.

After that however, its popularity exploded, resulting in instances where tickets were sold in advance to avoid having the gym crowded with roughly 400 skaters.

While keeping people from flooding the gym during skating time was an easy task, keeping the center's leaky roof from flooding the gym wasn't. For about 20 years, the recreation center's roof was infamous for leaking. It was ultimately corrected in 2005 with a $2 million investment from the city, however the roof did serve as Roosa's nemesis after one early fix resulted in more problems.

"That roof was my nightmare for 25 years," she said.

The fix in question inadvertently created a bowl on the roof, allowing water to collect above the gym. The weight of the water eventually opened up a portion of the roof, allowing it to drain into the gym.

"It was raining in the gym," Roosa said. "We lost more than half of the ceiling tiles."

The flood resulted in canceling all of the events in the gym, including the popular roller skating, much to the dismay of many young skaters. The floor warped as well and would eventually be replaced. There was a silver lining for some of the patrons after the flood however. When the water was cleaned up and activities resumed in the gym, Roosa said skaters found the warped portions of gym floor amusing to skate over.

Other building issues would provide challenges for Roosa as well. Initially, the center offered outdoor ice skating on the patio.

This ended because the water used in creating the ice rink caused the building's east wing to settle more than it should have. Roosa said they created more drainages for water and built a minigolf course after ice skating ended.

However, dealing with those issues isn't what Roosa considers to be her major achievement while employed at the city. She feels working with the many part time workers she had the opportunity to develop and train is the most memorable part of her time in the parks and recreation department.

Throughout much of the recreation center's life, Roosa said a majority of the employees were part time high school workers, many of whom would work between two and four years before moving on to something else. While the larger number of fulltime employees now working at the recreation center, as well as within the parks and recreation department, creates a vested interest in the organization, she said she enjoyed working with a great number of people.

After announcing her retirement on Facebook, many of those part time employees she had worked with during the years sent her messages of support and congratulations.

While most assume retirement means taking it easy and having more free time, Roosa will continue to be busy with a number of personal projects. Roosa was elected to the Sweetwater County School District No. 2 Board of Trustees two years and currently serves as the vice-chairman. She also sells Mary Kay products as well, having done so since 2006.

"I found I like (Mary Kay's) philosophy of faith first, family second and career third," Roosa said.

Roosa also plans to run in the Boise Marathon this year. Her training begins in February and plans to take part in a half marathon in Thanksgiving Point, Utah April 25. Roosa said she ran her first marathon in Steamboat, Colo. last year and has run the half marathon in Thanksgiving Point three times already.

She initially became interested in running when her sister, who lives in the town, said the half-marathon, which was used as a fundraiser for the local museum, would be a fun way to support it.

Family will also play a large role in Roosa's future plans. She said she wants to spend more time being a grandmother to her two-year-old granddaughter and will help plan her daughter's upcoming wedding.

She also said she plans to travel more with her husband in the coming years.

 

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