A longtime Union resident, who once worked as a seasonal maintenance worker for the city’s parks department, is now heading the department.
Chad Pohlmann took over as parks director Monday, Feb. 24. After serving in the Marine Corps from 2000-2005, Pohlmann came home to primarily mow lawns for the department in 2005 and 2006.
Pohlmann, who also served in the National Guard from 2008-17, went on to college, with help from GI Bill money. He graduated from Lindenwood University with a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s in school administration.
For the last six years, Pohlmann taught at the alternative high school in the Rockwood School District. He worked with students who had fallen behind because of various disciplinary, medical, social and emotional reasons, to help them make up lost credits. He said leaving the job for the parks director position was tough.
“It was awesome,” he said of the job. “I loved where I was at. I really connected with the students. There was a lot of freedom and flexibility in how we educate.”
While teaching, Pohlmann coached girls lacrosse at Lafayette High School. He also stayed involved in the Union community, serving as a member of the city’s park advisory board since 2013. The board worked with the city on projects like developing Veterans Memorial Park and introducing programs like pickleball.
Quite a bit of disconnect exists between Pohlmann’s stint as a maintenance employee and his current position as director, but having experience in other positions in the department can be helpful, he said.
“I think it helps having worked in maintenance, having spent time on the park board,” he said. “I’m starting with a good base of knowledge.”
Working as parks director will help continue a lifetime of service, Pohlmann said. He also long enjoyed being involved with sports and recreation.
“I’m very, very connected to my community, and this was the perfect opportunity for me,” he said. “I couldn’t pass it up. I’m very excited about the path I’ve been set on.”
At his first park advisory board meeting as director, Pohlmann said wanting to spend more time with his three daughters was also a factor in taking the job.
Pohlmann looks to, at least initially, continue the work of previous director Angela Lairmore, who left Union in early December 2019 to take a similar job with the city of Owensville. He added that the full-time staff of around eight people, particularly program coordinator Angie Breeden and maintenance supervisor Scott Piontek, help the department excel.
Pohlmann also looks to bring some consistency to the parks department leadership, which has had several directors since Pohlmann has been on the board.
“The department right now is doing so great,” he said. “I’m very lucky right now to come into such an efficient and well run department.”
Among the key issues coming up for the parks department will be taking over more space in the city auditorium, as most city staff moves to the new city hall, which is expected to happen in October 2020. While exactly what will be done with the auditorium isn’t set in stone, Pohlmann expects to see positive improvements.
“The hope is too create an even better experience for that event center,” he said.
The parks department is involved with several upcoming events, including the March 7 Rummage Sale, the April 4 Kite Fest and Founders Day June 6.
City Administrator Russell Rost said Pohlmann’s previous experience with the city is valuable.
“He’s been on our parks committee since 2013, so this is not a person who is coming in with his feet cold,” Rost said at a planning and zoning commission meeting on Pohlmann’s first day. “He’s going to hit the ground running.”