CF Park Director Hebert Broadcasts Pension Plans | Entrance web page
CHIPPEWA FALLS – In his nearly ten-year tenure as director of parks, recreation and forestry at Chippewa Falls, Dick Hebert has overseen plans to modernize Erickson Park, add a new small animal building in Irvine Park, build Chippewa Riverfront Park, and make countless upgrades for other parks like adding pickleball courts or a disc golf course.
“There was a lot of success, a lot of improvement,” said Hebert. “I calculated that we received $ 13 million in grants and donations. The community has provided so much support not only with money but also with time. “
Hebert, who will be 61 next month, has announced that he will be retiring on March 31 and doing a 37-year run in the park department.
Mayor Greg Hoffman joked that while he received Hebert’s retirement letter, he may not accept it. Hoffman said the city will begin the hiring process later this month or early January.
“We want this person to work by his side and learn the ropes,” said Hoffman. “There will be big shoes to fill.”
Hoffman said it was challenging to replace him because the town-born Hebert has so many close links with the community.
“He’s always done a great job and worked hard for the community,” said Hoffman. “We achieved a lot and Dick was very committed. I will be sad to see him go because he has such deep knowledge. “
Beth Arnberg, who has served on the city’s Parks Board since 2008 and is now chairman of the board, said people don’t see all aspects of Hebert’s job. Not only does he make sure the parks and recreational leagues work, but he has mastered challenges like fighting the ash drill in trees. Every year he coordinates the construction and demolition of the Christmas village, which is a huge undertaking with numerous volunteers. He ensures that the municipal pool is in operation and that all seasonal staff are hired.
“Dick is a wonderful guy and he did a wonderful job running parks, recreation, and forestry,” said Arneberg. “Dick knows how to get people to agree on things. He is a match. He just knows everyone and knew the community. He was great to work with and I’m sad to see him go. “
Hebert grew up in Chippewa Falls and graduated from McDonell High School. During his visit to UW-La Crosse, he took a course on leisure management and liked it.
“The teacher thought I was perfect for the park and recreation area,” he said. “It was really a perfect fit for me.”
Hebert returned to Chippewa Falls and joined the park division in the spring of 1984. By the time he retires in March, he will have completed a full 37 years in the department. When park director Bill Faherty retired in 2011, Hebert was promoted to take his place.
Before he became director, Hebert was in charge of football, basketball and softball.
He decided to retire now as his wife Karen had an expanded role in the
Rotary, which includes more travel, and plans to travel with it. The Heberts became festival master and festival master of the October 2007 festival.
“I thought now is the time,” he said of his decision to retire. “I know I will continue to serve the community in some ways.”
For the past several years, he has served on the Optimist Club, the American Red Cross Board, the Pure Water Days Board, the Indianhead Special Olympics Management Team, and the Badger All-Sports Officials Association.
Erickson Park was an underutilized area adjacent to Irvine Park when Ron Bakken and Hebert began plans to redevelop the land. The project included adding handicap docks, boat and kayak launches, bathroom buildings, pavilions and parking lots, as well as the construction of a pedestrian and bicycle bridge connecting the two parks. The entire project cost about $ 2 million. The park opened in May 2018 with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
“Dick does a really good job of getting people to get things done,” said Bakken. “Writing the scholarship, the paperwork, he did it all himself. I knew he loved his job. “
The parks department raised nearly $ 4 million for the 13,500-square-foot small animal building that houses maras, lemurs, coatimundi, and a capuchin monkey. The Parks Board hired architects CBS Squared Inc. in early 2012 to design a new building to serve as a welcoming center, home for artifact displays, and recent animal displays.
The old building was demolished in September 2015 and the new building opened in June 2016.
In retrospect, Hebert is amazed at the amount of money raised in just a couple of years, including gifts from people who grew up in Chippewa Falls, left after graduating from local schools, and never returned to the community.
“It shows how much Irvine Park means to the people,” said Hebert. “We are so happy to have Irvine Park. It’s a special place. “
As Hebert steps down from the role and is proud of his accomplishments, he admits that there is still more to be done. He began plans to overhaul Marshall Park, including major improvements to the skate park. The Parks Board has just completed a master plan for the redevelopment of Flag Hill in the southwest corner of Irvine Park, which includes replacing the bathroom building and pavilions. These projects go to the next park director.