CLINTON -- In the lobby of the Clinton Recreation building stands a human-sized trophy with the etching "National Youth Football League, Pigskin Tournament Champions 2007."
The trophy, a point of pride for Clinton Recreation staff members, is also a testament to how much the recreation department has grown over the last 20 years.
Clinton Recreation Director LeeAnn Powell was recognized in April by the city council for her role in that growth and for her 20 years of service to the City of Clinton.
"I never thought I would be with Clinton City for so long," Powell said. "Now I'm glad I have been."
Clinton City Manager Dennis Cluff said that when he started working for the city, three years after Powell, the recreation department was more of a volunteer group that did things "by the seat of their pants."
Powell was a full-time staffer and she coordinated with a handful of volunteer coaches.
Now, Clinton Recreation is headed up by three full-time and three part-time employees, and it hires hundreds of volunteer coaches and paid coordinators each summer to run the city's vast programs. These include softball for adults; baseball, basketball, football, soccer for kids of all ages; a fishing club; a farmers market; Heritage Days and many other programs.
"I am really pleased with the growth of Heritage Days," Powell said. "It's a big community event with growing popularity. It's been really fun to watch."
Ruth Collard, Clinton's assistant recreation director, who has also worked for the department for 20 years, attributes the department's success to Powell's nurturing and empowering management style.
"What's really nice about LeeAnn is she lets you get done what you need to get done," Collard said. "It's harmonious ... and we've tried to pass that onto all the kids who have worked for us. We're the best recreation department because we actually care about what we do. It's not just a job for us."
Powell grew up in Oregon but attended Ricks College in Idaho, followed by Utah State University. After pursuing a master's degree in parks and recreation management at the University of Oregon, Powell took her first job at the Magna Recreation Center.
From there, she took the job at Clinton Recreation in 1990, when Clinton's population was 8,000. Now a bustling city of 22,000, the recreation department has tried to keep up with the needs of the growing city.
Under Powell's leadership, Clinton Recreation has also enjoyed ongoing support from city staff, council members and Clinton residents.
"She and her staff have been recognized by the state," Cluff said. "She has overseen it all and as the director, any achievement of her staff reflects on her."
Powell said her time with Clinton City has been most rewarding because she is helping create great memories for the participants.
"It's great knowing you're part of creating great memories for kids," Powell said. "I've fallen in love with the people here. I can't imagine myself anywhere else."