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November 24, 2012

Salem hires new parks and rec director

SALEM — The city’s new parks, recreation and community services director is on the job not even a week after being officially hired.

The City Council last week voted 9-1 to approve Mayor Kim Driscoll’s appointment of Karen Partanen, who most recently worked as the facilities operations manager for the city of Palm Beach Gardens in Florida. On Wednesday, Partanen celebrated with the three students who won this year’s Thanksgiving coloring contest by taking photos with them.

She was one of the judges for the contest along with Recreation Supervisor Tim Short and Council on Aging Activities Coordinator Fay Ventouris. Earlier this week, she spent time getting to know her new staff.

The only councilor to vote against Partanen’s appointment was Michael Sosnowski, who typically doesn’t vote for out-of-town candidates. Councilor Paul Prevey was absent at the meeting.

Partanen will replace Doug Bollen, who left the department after 10 years this summer to take a job with the Boy & Girls Club of Greater Salem.

She was selected from 16 applicants, eight of whom were interviewed for the job. Partanen’s annual salary will be $80,580, according to the city’s human resources department.

Partanen said she is looking forward to working with the different areas of the department from the Council on Aging, recreation programs and the golf course.

“I know I have very big shoes to fill, and I hope to maintain the same quality of services and programs that the previous director set the standard for,” she said. “I am here to serve the residents and am looking forward to meeting the different neighborhood groups and organizations.”

Driscoll said the department is one of the city’s largest and requires skills in personnel management, facility maintenance, capital planning and budget development. “Her experience really tipped the scales in her favor with respect to this position,” she said.

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