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A fresh start

MAC looks to live up to new reputation


by: JEFF WILSON/THE PIONEER - With a solid background in aquatics, new recreation director Gregg Markwardt looks to give the community more stuff to do.The potential is limitless. Joe McHaney knows that.

There is so much that the executive director of the Madras Aquatic Center wants to do with the facility he runs, he needs a little help.

Enter Gregg Markwardt.

Markwardt has joined the MAC staff as the new recreation director and the pair have a long list of things they would like to accomplish.

“We understand we have a lot of work to do,” McHaney said. “We know that we need to prove ourselves. We know it’s not going to happen overnight.”

Markwardt comes to the MAC with a background rich in aquatics and recreation. He is also full of ideas that he feels will be good for the MAC and the people in the community and was drawn to Madras because of that.

“Pretty much the opportunity for people to enjoy what we have to offer here,” Markwardt said. “This aquatic facility, it’s phenomenal; it’s better than most of the ones in Portland. The surrounding area, the ball parks, the Cove, there’s so much potential.”

“That’s probably the most exciting part. What we have right now and what we are doing is really good, but there’s so much potential,” Markwardt said. “There is so much potential for this town to be involved in recreationally. Anything that brings people together, the community together where they are having fun, to me, is recreation.”

A native of Gladstone, Markwardt, 34, has ties to Madras and wants nothing more than to see the MAC as the hub of activity in the community.

“Gregg brings a very high level of professionalism and expectations with him. We are both pretty excited about what we can do,” McHaney said. “We are just trying to lay the framework. There have been a couple of years where we kind of just scuffled around here a little bit. I think we are ready to pave the road a little bit and try to sustain this. What we want to do, we want to do well. We want to create a good experience for people.”

There are a lot of things Markwardt would like to see implemented right away. There is an energy and a desire to get as many things going as possible.

But there is also a measure of restraint, one that is surely needed at the beginning of any project.

It is easy to get ahead of one’s self and ruin everything for, well, everybody.

“Not expanding too fast, that’s one of the things we’ve talked about,” Markwardt said. “There are a lot of things, ideas we have, that we’d like to do. And we will get there. But for now, it’s better to do 10 things right than 20 things badly. And that’s a priority for us.”

Basically, the programs that are already in place will stay in place, maybe with a few tweaks here and there. The new programs and ideas will come along when they have been fully researched and fully decided they are ready to go.

Markwardt said his vision goes far beyond just sports that require a ball to be played or a field to be played in.

He sees a time, in the next year or two, when the MAC will, through and with help from other outlets like the county, the high school or the city, not only sponsor and run basketball and softball leagues, but host movies and concerts in parks, anything to get people excited and involved in the community.

At the top of the agenda is a youth flag football league that is slated to kick off this fall, followed by adult and youth soccer leagues. There are plenty of ideas being thrown around, including how to implement them all.

“Quality programs, that’s my main focus,” Markwardt said. “I want people to feel like they are really getting a good value for their tax dollars and the registration fee, to the point where they sign up, they show up and they enjoy themselves. There’s not a lot of red tape and headaches.”

That process should get a little easier this fall, when the MAC has new software installed that will upgrade its website. The upgrade will streamline the look of the site, but even better, make it more user-friendly.

“We are going to do a complete overhaul of our online registration process,” McHaney said. “I think that gets the immediate attention. We want to make it very convenient for the patrons to use the recreation stuff, and we believe we are going to sink some money into a system that’s going to allow for that.”

The dream is to make the MAC the hub of recreation in Jefferson County, a one-stop-shop, if you will. Schedules of events, registration information, way to pay for activities, who is coaching what, where and what time practices and games are being held — all of it will be available online.

The hope is that an easier process will lead to more participants.

“You could schedule your kid’s entire summer of activities in one night while sitting on the couch,” Markwardt said. “We want it to be that easy.”

The overall plan is a bold one and it will take time get everything in place. But once that happens, the community will really benefit.

“I think the big thing that the MAC has missed out on, is that it just hasn’t followed through on what it said it was going to do in the past,” McHaney said. “We want to create a situation where (that doesn’t happen). I’m excited to see what the next few years are going to bring."



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