Bridgewater’s parks and rec director retires

Carol Pickings-Anthony steps down from position after 30 years


KELSEY POWER PHOTO Carol Pickings-Anthony talks about her career from her comfortable home beside Fancy Lake.


Retirement is supposed to be a period of well-deserved rest and relaxation, but Carol Pickings-Anthony, always an active person, is hoping it will involve more time swinging golf clubs and sweeping curling brooms.

The director of parks, recreation and culture with the Town of Bridgewater is putting a cap on her 30-year career March 27.

That is her official retirement date, but she’s already taking vacation from February 6 until then.

“I had the opportunity when I was off with a broken leg to reflect and decided I needed to reduce some stress in my life,” said Ms Pickings-Anthony. “I have a decent pension so I decided it’s time to go.”

She broke her leg this past August after slipping on a hill, ending up with a cast for eight weeks. The break required four screws and a permanent plate.

“I messed up the first of the curling season, the rest of my golf season, did a bunch of physio and got moving,” she said.

Curling and golfing are her main athletic activities, but she also enjoys going for walks and canoeing on Fancy Lake in front of her home.

“I’ve always had an active lifestyle,” she said.

She was raised in Upper Lahave and attended Centre School, where she participated in soccer, field hockey, basketball, volleyball and track.

“In Grade 6 we played on the junior high basketball team because there wasn’t enough of the high school interested in playing,” she said of her first official introduction to competitive sports.

But it was volunteer work in the community that led her to enroll in the bachelor of arts program at the school of recreation and physical education at Acadia University in 1977.

“I was active in athletics, I was active in the guiding movement – Brownies, Guides and Rangers – and did a little bit of travelling and very much enjoyed working with people and seeing people active and moving, getting involved with stepping up and supporting their communities,” said Ms Pickings-Anthony.

After graduating she worked in recreation for the Municipality of Lunenburg for a year and a half, followed by becoming the recreation director for the Town of Lunenburg for two and a half years. She applied for the job in Bridgewater in 1984, when the position opened up, and has successfully dedicated 30 years to it since.

“I enjoyed my work,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of fun and met a lot of interesting people. It was great to be there and see the community grow.”

Her job developed along with the town. When she was a teenager, the job title was arena commission and recreation director. When the town did some downsizing in 1996, Ms Pickings-Anthony was presented with the task of managing Brookside Cemetery and DesBrisay Museums staff. Culture was added to the department’s title at that time.

“It got much busier,” she said.

She pointed to the development of the new Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre as a highlight of her career.

“I was on the original planning committee as a resource person from the get-go, writing the proposals for funding,” she said.

She has enjoyed seeing the town expand with new businesses and she praised the parkland development projects.

“You have to balance your work with your play, as, if not, you don’t have a very good life,” she said in support of the Generations Active Park plan in particular.

Ms Pickings-Anthony was involved with the active transportation committee among others.

In 2008 she won an outstanding volunteer award for her participation with Recreation Nova Scotia, where she has served on the board and acted as president.

“Any contact I’ve had with Carol has been absolutely excellent, and she’s been a good representative for our town over the years,” said Deputy Mayor Bill McInnis.

“She’s a long-term employee who’s getting a deserved retirement. I doubt she’s going to retire, though. She’ll find something to do. She’s fairly ambitious.”

In fact, Ms Pickings-Anthony has already started her next project.

Her husband Greg Anthony has his own business, Greg Anthony’s Burner Service, which deals with replaceing furnaces and servicing furnaces and oil tanks. It’s recently expanded into plumbing.

“I’ve been doing his books since the day he started and so I decided I can focus on that and have lots of time to spend with family and friends,” said Ms Pickings-Anthony, who mentioned she used to do this at 10 p.m. after returning from meetings with council.

She’s also a mother of two grown children and a 10-year-old cat named Bailly. Her oldest son is a commercial roofer and her youngest has a red seal in the same industry as his father. He’s basically running the business due to his father’s illness.

“He had chronic lymphocytic leukemia and so he’s not doing any heavy work but he’s out with Josh today doing some oversight and helping where he can,” she said. “He’s in remission. He only has 48 per cent of his heart functioning so he can’t do a whole lot, but he’s doing good.”

The two plan on continuing to spend more time together and escaping on a golf trip with family in Arizona soon.

“She’ll be missed, and we wish her all the best in retirement,” said Deputy Mayor Bill McInnis.

Sandy Mair-Dodman, usually the program coordinator with the department is acting as the director for the time being. The department will make more solid staffing decisions later.

“I quite enjoy living on the beautiful South Shore,” said Ms Pickings-Anthony. “Hopefully I’ve retired in time to maintain my healthy lifestyle, to keep on going for many years to come.”

As originally published in LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin

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