Craig Russell receives statewide award
by Margaret Anderson
Special to The Star
Jan 14, 2014 | 1218 views |  0 comments | 40 40 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Craig Russell has worked with the city for 30 years. Photo: Anita Kilgore/The Jacksonville News
Craig Russell has worked with the city for 30 years. Photo: Anita Kilgore/The Jacksonville News
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Craig Russell was recently presented a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Alabama Parks and Recreation Department District IV. The prestigious award is given annually to someone who has been a longtime member of the department and has made a significant difference in the community.

Russell has worked with and for the youth of Piedmont since he was teenager himself. He was 18, had just graduated from Piedmont High School and was looking for a job when he went to city hall and asked if any  were available.

There was one, but it was only temporary. He was told it would last through the summer, about six to eight weeks. It didn’t matter to Russell. It was a job and he was delighted to have it.

That temporary job lasted three years, and those three years have now turned into 30.

He worked days and studied electronic technology at Ayers State nights.

The first 10 years Russell worked for the city he was parks and recreation manager, which meant that he was responsible for maintenance over the ball fields.

He’s been facilities manager for parks and recreation for the past 20 years.

“I love being around kids,” he said. “It’s a matter of seeing them smile and getting to swim, play ball and do all the things kids like to do.”

Russell said he grew up playing ball in Piedmont and it’s has a lasting impression on him.

“I want to enrich the lives of other kids by doing the same thing to help them,” he said. “When I accepted the award, I told them that I’m honored to be a part of kids’ lives for all these years and see them enjoy life through recreation.”

Russell, a certified pool operator, said he expects to spend a lot of time at the city’s new aquatic pool, seeing that it’s properly maintained.

Russell is district director of Dixie Youth Baseball. In that position, he helps with state tournaments.

His interest in sports includes golf. He has a 10 handicap. His favorite place to golf is the Cherokee Country Club.

Russell is married to the former Tina Stewart, who is a pharmacy technician at Alaco Pharmacy. His daughter, Kay Lynn, 19, is a sophomore at Jacksonville State University and is in the national guard.

He has a stepson, Jonathan Danford, 22, and a stepdaughter, Haley Danford, 20, both of Piedmont. He has a 1-year-old step grandchild, Brayligh Danford.

Russell was born and grew up in Piedmont. His parents are Madge (Messer) Russell and the late Mack Russell. His siblings are Jeff Russell and Cindy Page, both of Piedmont.

Three Chihuahuas round out his family -- Pinky, Ginger and Oscar. He and Pinky share the same birthday -- Feb. 20.

Russell is a member of the Church of Christ where he leads singing and teaches a junior high Bible school class.

Contact Margaret at pollya922@gmail.com.
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Craig Russell receives statewide award by Margaret Anderson
Special to The Star

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