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Roanoke Rapids Parks and Recreation Director John Simeon is retiring effective June 1, City Manager Kelly Traynham announced during her report to the city council Tuesday.

“We are currently recruiting for our next parks and recreation director,” she said. “John Simeon is retiring after 30 years of creditable experience. He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge and makes his job look so easy. He’s not going to be easy to replace. He will be very fondly remembered for his role in the city.”

Simeon started with the city in November of 1995 and worked his way through the department to become the director, a position he has held since December 1, 2009.

Following the meeting he said, “It’s been a great pleasure to work with our community. I think our community is a strong community that believes in recreation and in our youth and I hope that will continue. I hope that the city can move forward and continue to grow and provide optimal opportunities for our community for parks and recreational activities in the future.”

He said he will “dearly miss” working for the city. “I’ve been coming to the same office now for almost 30 years. It’ll be quite a change for me but it’s a good change and I’m looking forward to spending more time with my family.”

Throughout his career Simeon said his family has been supportive of him. “Even when I’m not home at night, when I’m gone to athletic fields or special events on holidays. They’ve been really great and supportive and now I get to be a part of that with them and I really look forward to that.”

Traynham said the first round of candidate reviews will take place by the end of the month. The position will be open until filled. 

Traynham also noted the city’s employment numbers are rebounding. “We are really showing signs of recovery from struggles economically and things like that over time but with our vacancy levels at this time we’re down to five vacant positions citywide.”

Those five vacancies are certified positions within the police department and the fire department. “This is really a big deal because when we went to single digits we were excited about it but now we’re down to one hand counting. It’s very good for us,” she said.