By Conrad Dudderar
Casey Barnett thought something was up Wednesday morning, Aug. 17 when Yukon seniors she hadn’t seen in a while and former staff began showing up at the Dale Robertson Center.
The City of Yukon recreation facility, 1200 Lakeshore, has been Barnett’s “home away from home” for the past 17 years.
A copious quantity of well-wishers arrived for a sentimental sendoff to Barnett, who has been promoted from Dale Robertson Center manager to Yukon Parks & Recreation assistant director.
“I’ve pretty much grown up with the people here,” Barnett said. “They’ve been a part of my life for so long. They’ve helped give me confidence and helped make me be the person I am today.
“There’s no way I’d be able to take this step without everything I’ve learned from all the people at the DRC. I’m eternally grateful.”
A 1997 Yukon High School graduate, Barnett began working at the Dale Robertson Center in 2005 after the City of Yukon took over management of Yukon’s senior center from the Salvation Army.
She was the senior center’s assistant director and director for a few years before being promoted to DRC supervisor and then manager. The center offers a full program with daily activities and classes for Yukon residents ages 55 years and above.
Barnett is ready for her new supervisory role at the YPR administration office (532 W Main), but knows she’ll return often to check on the crew at the DRC. The center’s new manager is Andrew Hooks and assistant manager is April Taylor.
“I know I will visit and keep in touch,” she said. “The people who come to the Dale Robertson Center are more than just patrons or customers. They’re family.
“We’ve become part of each other’s lives.”
In her new position, Barnett looks forward to making an even greater impact on Yukon Parks & Recreation.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to make a difference on a larger scale,” she said. “I’m excited about keeping our department running smoothly. Part of that is honoring the programs that the people before me put into place.
“Our parks and recreation department is one of the best in the state. I want us to continue to grow and ‘set the bar.”
Barnett credited former longtime YPR Director Jan Scott, who she called “such a huge influence and mentor.”
“Jan always has had a zest for parks and recreation,” Barnett said.
Scott had a simple mantra that Barnett embraced – “Make sure people are having fun – and go the extra mile to make that happen.”
Indeed, Barnett and fellow DRC staff members have worked hard to create an “atmosphere of joy” for Yukon seniors.
Although she spent 17 years at the Robertson Center, Barnett’s experience in Yukon Parks & Recreation began more than two decades ago.
After graduating from YHS, she majored in sports management at Principia College in Elsah, Ill. While in college, she worked a couple summers in the YPR kids’ camp.
Now YPR’s longest-serving employee, Barnett is grateful for the support from the “great” DRC staff members and program participants.
“I know very well we would never have been able to accomplish what we’ve accomplished here if it weren’t for my co-workers, seniors and volunteers who’ve helped along the way,” Barnett said.
“So many wonderful people have been part of this center for so long. I’ll always cherish the fond memories of all the employees and patrons, who have had such an influence on this center and on me.”