Panama City Beach Welcomes New Parks and Recreation Director - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Panama City Beach Welcomes New Parks and Recreation Director

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Just in time for one of the busiest seasons beach side, Panama City Beach brings on a new face as Parks and Recreation Director.

News 13 caught up with him on his very first day on the job and he's taken off running.

His name is Jim Ponek and his official title is Leisure Services Director. From Frank Brown Park to the Aaron Bessant Amphitheater, this is his domain and he's already got ideas to make a good thing greater.

"I'm really into the sports tourism part of it and I think that will help because I think there are a lot of things we can look at, like bringing some beach volley ball tournaments, and maybe some beach soccer tournaments and some other types of tournaments...maybe look at building some more facilities down the road," said Ponek.

Ponek comes to PCB from Ridgecrest, California, where he spent 13 years as their Parks and Recreation Director.

The father of three is looking forward to focusing on expanding sports programs for local residents, as well as bringing in new types of tournaments.

On his first day on the job, Ponek had his hands full taking on the USSSA Military World Softball Tournament.

Softball encompasses one of the biggest draws to Frank Brown Park and it's quickly becoming a world premier facility.

While Ponek is looking to make positive changes where they are due to facilities at Frank Brown, the conservation park trails and other facilities, he said Thursday was about getting his feet wet and introducing him and his family to the world's most beautiful beaches.

"There's a lot going on in this place. It's like "holy moly, what did I get myself into?" This is a lot going on…(and this is) day one. Looking forward to the next few months, learning everything about staff and all the operations that we've got going on. What a beautiful place," he said.

Ponek is replacing former Director, Mary Carmichael, who retired this past July.