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Accreditation is rare for agencies like Tualatin Hills Parks & Recreation District.

FILE PHOTO - Children race at a Sunday Parkways event, hosted by the Tualatin Hills Parks & Recreation District.The Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District has earned accreditation from the national Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies, known as CAPRA.

The news came Monday. The parks district is one of just four CAPRA-accredited park and recreation providers in Oregon.

Nationally, only 155 agencies — less than 2 percent of providers — are accredited.

"This is a significant milestone," said Jerry Jones Jr., president of the board of directors, known as THPRD. "The 151 standards that accreditation requires are all indicators that THPRD is an agency that is acting strategically and responsibly on behalf of Beaverton-area residents."

The district went through a long process to obtain accreditation, including a self-review in April, followed by preparing and documenting its compliance with the CAPRA standards. In June, three CAPRA representatives completed a peer review of the district's application materials.

"This valuable process has made us a better agency," said Doug Menke, THPRD general manager. "We've reviewed, updated and documented plans that will guide our long-term operations and make us more effective at providing high-quality programs and services."

National accreditation is considered a feather in the cap for public agencies.

"It's a wonderful way to show residents that we're acting with their best interests in mind," Menke said. "We are responsibly going about our long-term planning, developing new programs, protecting natural resources and expanding opportunities for indoor and outdoor recreation."

CAPRA is sponsored by the National Recreation & Park Association, which is currently holding its annual conference in the New Orleans.

In related news, the local parks district also has been selected as a finalist in its category for an NRPA Gold Medal Award. On Tuesday, a parks and recreation service in Grand Prairie, Texas, was announced as the winner.

This is the second straight year that the parks district has been a finalist.

Formed in 1955, THPRD is the largest special park district in Oregon, spanning 50 square miles and serving an estimated 240,000 residents in the greater Beaverton area.

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