After a three-month search, the town has selected a new Trails and Outdoor Recreation Coordinator to replace Mary McMullen, who resigned last fall to spend more time with her family.
Tasha McIntyre, a graduate of Rutgers State University in New Jersey, will assume her new duties on Monday, Jan. 10.
“I’m excited and I’m looking forward to the challenges of the job,” McIntyre said.
McIntyre was chosen after a long and exhausting interview process by a town committee that included Tourism and Recreation Director Cameron Davis, former town counselor Andy Romance, Tonto National Forest Recreation Officer Chelsie Muise and town recreation officer Mary Wolf who took over McMullen’s duties after she stepped down.
Davis is certain the town has found the perfect replacement for McMullen who he recalls “was our superstar in parks and recreation.”
McIntyre, he says, “has excellent people skills, a fantastic attitude and will be the perfect fit for the job.
“She also has great contacts in the Valley, which was something we were looking for.”
Prior to signing on with the town, McIntyre worked for 1-1/2 years as the program manager at Whispering Hope Ranch outside of Christopher Creek.
The Ranch hosts special needs children and their families in a rustic, ranch style setting and offers retreat experiences and programs designed to nurture interactions between campers and the ranch animals.
“I did almost everything there,” said McIntyre. “I planned programs, did arts and crafts, led hikes and recreational activities and solicited business.”
Davis agrees saying, “She did everything including taking out the garbage.”
McIntyre and Davis are like minded in that the experience of working at the ranch helped prepare her for her new job as trails and recreation coordinator. Her main focus in working for the town will be to build on the Payson Area Trails System (PATS) begun by McMullen, the town’s first outdoor recreation and trails employee.
PATS is an in-progress interconnecting trails system utilizing detached pathways, existing sidewalks and bike lanes to form a hiking and biking network.
The interior pathways will eventually connect with Forest Service roads and trails on Payson’s periphery.
“I know a big part of my job will be to expand the exterior trail system,” McIntyre said.
Those trails include American Gulch, Goat Camp, Peach Loop, Peach Orchard, Monument Peak and others.
When McMullen resigned in September 2010, she admitted she had concerns about the future of PATS, mostly because of the economic woes the town is suffering.
But, she said, “I have no doubts PATS will continue to be supported by our town, construction will eventually finish and Payson residents will reap the benefits of an interconnecting trails system for generations.”
In addition to McIntyre continuing to build on PATS, which was originally spearheaded by Romance, McIntyre will oversee a myriad of town offerings including children’s fishing programs, trail hikes, wildlife watching workshops, women’s fly-fishing classes and Dutch oven cooking.
She also plans on adding some of her own programs.
“Maybe something like the Jazz on the Rocks they have in Sedona and possibly Renaissance festivals,” she said.
McIntyre describes herself as “an Air Force brat” saying she was born in Phoenix but because of her father’s military career she traveled the world, seldom staying in one spot for more than a few years.
At Rutgers, a university she became familiar with while her father was stationed on the East coast, she earned a bachelors degree in liberal arts and sciences.