Government go-getters

Jim Pryor, the director of Forsyth County Parks and Recreation, says he “lets [the citizens] drive the process of who we are and what we have [in the parks].” KATHLEEN STURGEON/Herald

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Jim Pryor likes projects.

It’s a good trait for the 45-year-old to have, as he is the current director of Forsyth County Parks and Recreation.

“I enjoy the whole aspect of planning for a project. Getting the community involved and excited about it, developing what the community needs and then building it and watching people use it,” Pryor said. “I call it the planning paradigm. I really enjoy being able to take a project from a concept idea and take it all the way through to an end product and then operate it.”

However, working in a parks and recreation department wasn’t his first plan.

Pryor attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with an original goal of working in college athletics. But, while in the program, he met other students and professionals working in the parks and recreation field, which is when he switched his focus.

Since then, Pryor has worked as director of parks and recreation at two other locations, including Brunswick County and Kernersville, both in North Carolina.

While he and his wife, Margaret Ann, and their two children, Campbell and Lilah, enjoyed North Carolina, Pryor said he always wanted to move back closer to where he grew up in Peachtree Corners.

When the position in Forsyth County was offered to him in October 2014, he happily accepted, saying it “kind of happened when I least expected it. It worked out perfectly.”

Forsyth is just another on Pryor’s list of top-20 growing counties in America that he’s worked at. And it has developed into a great place, he said.

“I’m the kind of person who likes to be a part of growth and something moving forward,” Pryor said. “I’ve been able to do a lot of projects in my lifetime and they’re all different and unique. But it’s been great being here because people love recreation and quality of life.”

Although he has had to deal with his fair share of growing pains with previous jobs, including fighting to get resources, Pryor said those issues don’t exist in Forsyth County. He said he often has to pinch himself because he’s had to raise as much as 75 percent of the funds needed for projects at previous jobs. Working in a county where the Board of Commissioners approve projects that are $9 or $10 million is sometimes hard to believe.

“Forsyth County is very special with what we have going on here,” Pryor said. “I’ve never seen a place where the citizens love quality of life and recreation as much as they do here. They’re willing to put forth the resources and use it. It comes with high demands and expectations, but I do feel a sense of appreciation here of what we have.”

Even with the level of cooperation he receives in Forsyth County, Pryor said he’s not the type to come into a position that’s already developed and just simply manage it.

That’s why he’s working so hard on creating the county’s comprehensive plan.

“There is no better way to start out as a director than to do the big blueprint for your system right out of the chute because everything you do is based around it,” Pryor said. “The way things grow around here, you have to plan for the future or you get left behind on the curb. We’re trying to get ahead of the curve with this and hopefully plan out our parks system to where one day, when the county is fully built out, we have a system that meets the needs of the community. We won’t say ‘I wish I had this piece of land I can’t get,’ or ‘I wish I could build this so we have to tear something down.’ I really want it to be an efficient system in the end.”

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