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Wirtz is P and Rs new recreation chief

by: Cliff Newell, 
Jan Wirtz is the new recreation supervisor for the Lake Oswego Parks & Recreation Department.

In her career as a director for city recreation programs, Jan Wirtz has just about done it all.

But as the new recreation supervisor for the city of Lake Oswego's Parks and Recreation Department, she gets to do something completely different.

'I've never been in charge of a farm before!' said Wirtz, who will be overseeing the many activities at Luscher Farm. 'I can't believe the way this city has taken over that project and what they've done with it. It exemplifies what cities should do with parks.'

Wirtz will be doing so much more, too, as she succeeds Terri Fackrell, who has taken a position in Springfield. Wirtz will be overseeing city cultural programs (arts, languages, dance, cooking, music) and youth programs (McKenzie Teen Lounge, ASAP for junior high kids, Youth Action Council, and the Mom's Club for preschoolers).

Such a schedule demands a strong background in recreation, and Wirtz definitely has it.

Wirtz was born and raised in Long Beach, Calif., then moved to Oregon in 1977 and worked for the next three decades in the North Clackamas Parks and Recreation Dept. Starting out as a swimming and water aerobics instructor, Wirtz gradually expanded her recreation expertise over the years, eventually becoming coordinator for the North Clackamas Parks District.

'I had some great mentors along the way,' said Wirtz, including Mike Hennelly, formerly of the Lake Oswego Parks and Recreation Department.

In 2006 Wirtz and her husband Robert moved to Texas, where she was supervisor for the Copell Parks and Recreation Department.

But the chance to come back to Oregon was too good to pass up.

'When I was in Texas my mother sent me an article about the parks department in Lake Oswego,' Wirtz said. 'I decided to move back to Oregon. It has worked out really, really nicely.'

Wirtz is especially happy to see the commitment to teenagers in Lake Oswego.

'Sometimes it's the age group that is forgotten,' she said. 'Here there is a real strong interest. We (including youth coordinator Cydney Winslow) want to have more and more kids coming to our teen lounge.'

Right now it is Luscher Farm, with its many programs, that has Wirtz fascinated - the community gardens, Tilth, Friends of the Clematis, Community Supported Agriculture and even the Friends of Pheasants Society, which is another new activity for Wirtz.

'There's the dog park, youth sports and the farm itself working to provide organic sustenance,' Wirtz said.

She plans to become well acquainted with the Lake Oswego community before adding her own ideas to the recreation program.

'I want to get to know our staff and their interests,' Wirtz said. 'I want to get to know the community and establish relations.'