Wicomico Co. Recreation, Parks & Tourism experiencing short staffing issues
WICOMICO COUNTY, Md. – Wicomico County Recreation, Parks & Tourism officials say more people than ever are visiting the county’s parks. But, they also say they are in need of more hands on deck in a big way.
“We’ve had real difficulty in finding qualified, capable staff that want to work. That’s a challenge, I think, in almost every industry across the board. People are having a hard time finding labor. So, we’re experiencing that,” said Wicomico County Recreation, Parks & Tourism Director Steve Miller.
Miller says currently, his department is seeing about a 33% decrease in manpower. He says that’s putting a strain on maintenance. That’s because normally they rely on a team of four to six inmates per day to help with keeping the parks clean. “We’ve relied on a reliable inmate crew that would work with our parks employees that would help pick up trash and help keep our parks clean. They have not been available to us in our parks since the pandemic started,” said Miller. “It’s great that people are using the parks, but it’s our responsibility to keep them up, and that’s becoming a bigger challenge,” said Miller.
The short staffing is also making it more difficult to keep up with helping people and organizations to host events at parks. “We’ve seen that as well, where more events are happening outside. That takes a toll on the staff. It adds to the regular stuff in preparing a facility, the clean up after the event, and the staffing during the event in many cases.”
Miller says the need for staff is also impacting operations at the Wicomico County Youth and Civic Center. Many of the team members who run concessions there have left. Now the crew is largely made of new hires, according to Miller. He points to the Alabama concert that happened in July, which was the largest grossing show in Civic Center history. “So, you can imagine when you’re doing a massive event like that and you’ve got all new people, that’s a challenge. We tapped into volunteer groups for that. We couldn’t have done it without volunteer groups. We had probably about 50 volunteers out there that night,” said Miller.
Miller says he encourages people to take a look at the jobs available in the county. He says that need is only going to grow in the coming months. “We only see that getting bigger, because the further we come out of the pandemic – and hopefully recover fully here at some point with all the variants and things are going on – the more and more events are going to come back. In some cases we’re starting from scratch,” said Miller.