A new director for the Pine Bluff Parks and Recreation Department has been hired, and a committee of the Pine Bluff City Council recommended that the city obligate $65,000 to help pay for a festival in December.


At a meeting of the council’s Public Works Committee Tuesday, Pine Bluff Mayor Shirley Washington announced that Samuel Glover, a Pine Bluff native who is returning to the city, has been hired and will begin his new duties next week.


Glover replaces Zach Lewis, whom the mayor previously hired but who resigned to accept another job.


She said city officials went back through the applications they had received and found Glover stood out.


“He wants to be part of the community and help the community move forward,” Washington said.


On the subject of parks, Alderman Steven Mays, chairman of the committee, complained that the bathrooms at the city’s parks are locked on the weekends, and Washington said that problem will be addressed.


“We have 21 parks and that’s too many,” she said.


That issue will be covered in the city’s master plan, which is currently being developed.


Regarding funds for the Christmas event, Washington said that as a part of the Go Forward Pine Bluff Delta Celebration Series of Events and Festivals, an event called Mistletoe Magic will take place from Dec. 6-9 at Saracen Landing.


Included in the events will be an ice skating rink, a Christmas market, outdoor kitchen and other family-oriented attractions.


Ryan Watley, the CEO of Go Forward Pine Bluff, said the money is needed now to lock in attractions such as the skating rink and others.


New Christmas lights and trees will also be placed on Main Street and at Lake Saracen, and Washington said that with the events taking place before schools adjourn for the Christmas holiday, she hopes that children will come in groups to enjoy the skating rink.


Alderman Win Trafford moved that the committee recommend that the full council approve the appropriation request when it meets at 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 6. Mays seconded the motion. The third member of the committee, Alderman Bruce Lockett, had walked out of the room for a few minutes before the vote was taken.


Also Tuesday, the committee was told that the city is in the process of notifying property owners in the area of West 35th Avenue that the street will be closed between Juniper and Bay Streets in an effort to reduce illegal dumping which has taken place on 35th Avenue.