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During the summer months, Cameron Clark almost always has a detailed checklist in his pocket.
He checks it often as he travels throughout the City of Bristol Tennessee, making his way from Steele Creek Golf Course to Downtown Center – and all points in between. Mowing parks, maintaining the golf course and ballfields, keeping city facilities in good working order, and supervising 21 employees who assist him on a daily basis are all part of his job duties as Parks & Facilities Supervisor. That’s plenty to keep anyone busy, but Cameron also plays a major role in bringing special events – like the annual Sounds of Summer concert series and the upcoming Star-Spangled July 4th Celebration – to Bristol.
“We try to pre-stage areas so that we have one less thing to do on the day of an event,” he said, noting that outdoor events often require barricades to close public streets and fencing to provide safe areas for pedestrians. “Every event is different, so it helps to have a list of what’s required.”
He has a hand in preparing for outdoor concerts, community festivals, holiday parades, and other events that bring people together. Something as complicated as setting up a portable stage equipped with hydraulics or as simple as putting up tables at the State Street Farmer’s Market all fall under his long list of duties. He’s spent a good deal of time in Anderson Park in recent weeks, helping to remove a tree that was felled by wind, replacing lights, making minor repairs to permanent structures, and making sure the park is ready to welcome thousands of guests on Independence Day. He has a team helping him, of course, but its his responsibility to make sure each task is completed.
Cameron grew up in Bristol and graduated from Sullivan Central High School in 2007, then went to work for Tennessee Avenue Baptist Church. He joined the city three years later as part of a temporary mowing crew. Since then, he’s done a little bit of everything – from collecting trash to maintaining ballfields at Whitetop Creek Park - during his13-year tenure with the city. He also found time to earn a degree in Heating and Air Conditioning from Ashworth Online College, then put that expertise to good use by servicing/repairing units in city buildings for a time.
More recently, he’s taken leadership courses through the University of Tennessee’s Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS). These classes combined with his own experiences in the workplace have helped him develop his own management style that is crucial to the success of his supervisory position, he said.
“Just about everybody has had a manager they don’t want to be like and a manager they do what to be like,” he said. “I try to be a working leader. I had a boss a long time ago who would stop, he might tell me what I was doing wrong, and then he would drive away. I always try to get out of the truck and not just talk to people through the window. I might not be able to stay until a project is completed, but I want to at least help for a little while. I never want to send anyone to do something that I haven’t done myself.”
When he’s not officially on duty, Cameron stays busy on the five-acre mini farm that his family recently purchased. In addition to a garden, he and his wife, Melissa, are raising goats, chickens, rabbits and three children – 11-year old Juliet; Emma, age 8; and 6-year-old Lincoln.
Much of their time is spent outside, reinforcing Cameron ‘s pledge to never leave the region that has always been home. You might find them collecting eggs or tending to crops on the farm or playing softball and baseball, both of which Cameron has coached, or exploring the open road on his Harley motorcycle. They spend a fair amount of time at city parks, too, becoming just another Bristol family enjoying all the city has to offer.
“The most rewarding part of my job is right there,” he said, nodding toward a family enjoying a picnic in Anderson Park. “When I see a family having lunch in the park or kids running around and having a good time on the playground, that makes me feel good about my job.”
Shout out to Cameron Clark, a Bristol native who plays an integral role in maintaining Bristol’s public spaces and preparing for the special events that bring our community together throughout the year. As we celebrate National Parks & Recreation Month, we are proud to honor Cameron – and his entire crew – as another great example of #bristolatwork.