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Honey retires after 37 years with rec department

Posted on Tuesday, March 14, 2017 at 8:43 am

The retiring Rickey Honey discusses issues of the upcoming baseball season with the new Fayetteville Recreation Director, Chris Mitchell. Honey retires after working with the department for 37 years.
Staff photo by Paul Henry

After 37 years with the City of Fayetteville, Rickey Honey, director of Parks and Recreation, is retiring, effective March 31st.

Honey turns over the director’s position to the head of maintenance, Chris Mitchell, who has worked with the recreation department for seven years.

“I’m really excited to see Chris take over the job,” Honey said. “He’s got years of experience and knows the program well. I can say I’ve never had one complaint on him; he’s very deserving. I feel like I’m leaving the recreation department in good hands.

“Chris is already in place running the department,” added Honey. “I’ll be here until the end of the month during the transition, but I want him to know I’ll do anything I can to help him at any time.

“It’s time for a change,” he said. “Chris is young and will bring some new ideas to the table. It helps to take a fresh look at things.”

Honey said he is appreciative of the support he has received over the years.

“I’ve been very blessed,” he continued. “My family and community have always supported me. My wife, Jo Ellen, and I together have four children, eleven grandchildren and another on the way. It’s time I spend more time with them. There’s some traveling we’d like to do, and there’s a couple college softball games we want to attend. I’ve got a new set of golf clubs coming, and I’m intending on putting them to use.

“I’ve also been fortunate to have great support from the past and present mayors, aldermen and the citizens of Fayetteville,” Honey said. “We all have to work together. Without any one of those, things just don’t happen. I owe a lot to a lot of people, but I especially want to thank Lynn Wampler – he gave me my start in the recreation department years ago. Lynn is a tremendous manager. He had a never-ending work ethic, and one of the most important things he taught me was ‘listen to people and be willing to accept ideas’.

“I also appreciate the work Scott Collins is doing,” he continued. “Scott has an understanding of the importance of recreation to the community, as well as its growth. Industries look carefully at the recreation facilities when looking into expansion. We’ve gotten a lot accomplished working together.”


Changes in recreation

“Recreation today has changed. I had a professor tell me years ago that ‘Recreation is anything we do away for work that’s legal’ – at the time, I didn’t realize how profound that was, but as I’ve gotten older and we’ve expanded, I realize more how true that is.

“I’m most proud to have served the community,” added Honey. “I’m tickled with the new pool and the way the swim team has grown. We’re still one of the few communities who has an adult softball league. Youth soccer continues to grow; we need a soccer complex today.

“We’ve had a very low turnover of personnel through the years,” he noted. “Brenda Sharp has been here 21 years; that means a lot to me.”

“Not all the changes I’ve seen have been good,” Honey stated. “Nothing seems as easy as it was at one time. Parents have taken the game away from the kids. Where we rarely ever had a problem at a game during the course of the season, now it’s weekly issues. It’s caused a real decline in officials and umpires. It’s hard to get anyone to do it, but I sincerely appreciate all of those who have worked with us through the years.

“Travel ball has had a big impact,” he continued. “I’m personally not in favor of travel ball, especially under the age of 13. I’ve seen so many good athletes burn out just as they should be coming into their prime.

“But, I don’t want to close on a negative note,” said Honey. “I’m a lucky man to have had the opportunities I’ve had in the community I grew up in. Please know how much I appreciate Fayetteville and Lincoln County and the support I’ve been given through the years.”