Shawnee County Parks + Recreation honored with KRPA awards
The awards will be presented during a luncheon on Feb. 2. Awards and awardees include:
Distinguished Professional: Randy Luebbe, deputy director, SCP+R
Distinguished Elected Official: Shelly Buhler, Shawnee County commissioner
Distinguished Public Service: Dawn McWilliams, CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Topeka
Branch Award for Sports: Darren Tolin, sports supervisor, SCP+RLuebbe has spent his entire 32-year career with SCP+R. He has worked in every area of recreation and was instrumental in the 2012 consolidation of the City of Topeka and Shawnee County parks and recreation departments. He has played key roles in the development of facilities including the renovations of the Lake Shawnee Tennis and Shawnee North Tennis Complexes, the Shawnee North Community Center, the Lake Shawnee swim beach, the Shawnee North baseball/softball complex and the construction of the Shawnee North Family Aquatic Center and Lake Shawnee Girls Softball Complex. He had a key role in the development of SCP+R’s Master Plan. He has also led the Shawnee County Parks and Recreation Foundation and the Shawnee County Baseball Hall of Fame. He has helped oversee and establish some the department’s signature events including the Spirit of Kansas Fourth of July Celebration, Winter Wonderland and Huff ‘n Puff Balloon Festival. He was at one time a Certified Professional in KRPA and has worked with numerous community groups both as a volunteer and in developing partnerships between groups and SCP+R. Commissioner Buhler is a staunch advocate of parks and recreation. She, along with fellow commissioner Bob Archer (then a city council member) led the effort to combine the city and county parks departments. She has been present for and has supported nearly every major addition or improvement within SCP+R for more than a decade. When she was Mayor of Rossville, she led the community effort to build the Rossville Community Pool along with the pool's bath house and the Buhler Recreation Center in the pool complex. In her 13 years as a County Commissioner, she has supported or shepherded SCP+R projects including the 7.2 mile Lake Shawnee Trail addition, the state-of-the-art Bettis Family Sports Complex and many smaller projects. As chair of the commission in 2016, she was part of a commission that supported the complete rebuilding of two baseball/softball fields in Dornwood Park, the addition of a new spray park in Dornwood Park and the addition of a popular new fitness loop trail at Shawnee North Community Park which required cooperation of federal, state and local government to fund and construct.
McWilliams was cited for being a master of pulling together agencies in innovative partnerships to serve youth. She gained national attention for a partnership involving leasing from SCP+R the Juan "Poppy" Abbott Center and working with the Board of County Commissioners and local school districts to turn the aging structure into a center for teens. It is now viewed as a model site for clubs throughout the nation. It is cited for the growth of its average attendance. The programs offered by Boys and Girls Club help teens develop a sense of responsibility, manners, self-discipline and self-esteem.
###Shawnee County Parks + Recreation includes nearly 50 miles of trails, 2,625 acres of parks and 320 annual days of sporting activities. In addition, the department offers recreation programs, educational programs and golf. A combination of tax dollars, user fees and private donations enables Shawnee County Parks and Recreation to offer parks, sporting and aquatic facilities with state-of-the-art features, and beautiful, nationally recognized gardens.