Benton names new director for parks

John Eckart was introduced Monday night as the new parks director for the city of Benton parks department.
Eckart expressed his appreciation to the council, Mayor David Mattingly and the selection committee for the opportunity before him.
"Benton has promise," Eckart said. "There are a lot of good things in place, but we have lots more to do."
Eckart graduated from Russellville High School and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in finance and economics from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 2004.
While at UALR, he received Sunbelt All-Conference honors in cross country track and field.
He served on the staff of the athletics department under Chris Peterson. His duties involved faulty operations and serving as assistant sports information director.
In 2005, Eckart moved to Miami, Fla., where he was employed at Florida International University as assistant athletic director of facilities and operations for three years. His responsibilities included game management and all groundskeeping maintenance. During his tenure at FIU, he oversaw a $35 million football stadium construction project and was responsible for six athletic facilities.
For the past four years, Eckart was the owner of his own consulting firm focusing on providing small business clients with a quality sales force. Eckart also served on the Miami-Dade Sports Commission.
Eckart and his wife, Tonya, along with their two children, will be relocating to Benton. His first day of work is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 17.
Alderman Bill Donnor thanked all the individuals who served on the selection and review committees for narrowing the candidate field and ultimately determining the selection of Eckart. Donnor also expressed appreciation to Robert Edwards, who served as interim director of the parks department following the retirement of Curtis McCormack.
Immediately following the council meeting, a workshop was called to create a parks committee component of the Benton City Council. In this workshop, Alderman Steve Lee was selected as chairman of the newly formed panel. Aldermen Kerry Murphy, David Sparks, Doug Stracener and Brad Moore also will serve on the committee.
In other business before the council, aldermen unanimously approved a resolution to accept a bid for the construction of a drainage improvement project in the Fox Ridge subdivision. Cosse Construction of Little Rock was awarded the contract at $173,558. Aldermen Murphy, Lee, Stracener, Sparks, Moore, Donnor, Frank Baptist, Charles Cunningham and Jerry Ponder voted for the resolution. Alderman Joe Lee Richards was absent.
All council meetings are open to the public.