Melissa DuBois will officially start Thursday as City of Salem Parks and Recreation Director. The office is housed in Salem Community Center @ the Armory. It has been empty since May, with the departure of Tye Lydon, who took a similar position near St. Louis.
A 1998 Salem High School graduate, DuBois holds a degree in communications from Evangel University, where she also spent time in intramural sports, as well as the yearbook staff.
She spoke with excitement about the prospect of continuing the programs already offered by the parks and recreation system, as well as possible new plans.
In recent years DuBois has been the district wellness coordinator for Salem R-80 and North Wood R-IV school districts. Until her hire as the parks director, she was serving as the after-school program coordinator, an extension of the Healthy Schools Healthy Communities grant.
In the roles, she helped grow current programs already in place. One such program is Panther Elite at North Wood R-IV. JC Flores started the program originally, and with assistance of the HSHC grant, an obstacle course was constructed at the school. Salem Middle School now has a completed course and Tiger Elite program. Bobcat Elite at Dent-Phelps R-III began in 2018, and is currently installing an obstacle course; and Oak Hill also participates in the Elite program.
Other healthy initiatives include water-bottle filling stations at various schools, as well as the community center.
DuBois fondly remembers her days as a child in Salem, and participating in sports that were offered by the Lions Club at that time.
“I still have my first t-ball team shirt,” she laughed. “I was excited for every softball season, and played until about eighth grade.”
In addition she was a basketball player and cheerleader at Salem High School.
“Youth sports are important,” she says. “It helps build a community and helps build confidence in youth. I still have relationships that began in youth sports. Not only does it help youth in the present, but it breeds a lifelong love of being active, it isn’t just a competition.”
The position as parks and recreation director is not just the organizer of youth sports.
“We have a large retirement community that needs to be reached also. We need to utilize our parks and the areas they provide for various events that could bring people to Salem,” she said.
DuBois is looking forward to working alongside the park board to bring new, innovative ideas to Salem. One such idea is bringing a youth tennis program back to Salem. She is working on a possible football fundamentals camp in the spring to replace the lost flag football season this fall.
DuBois commended Don Smith as the interim parks and recreation director, who served from May through October of this year. She, in a combined effort with Jared Patterson, oversaw the T-ball/softball program. Eric Wood was the manager of the pool.
A positive relationship between the City of Salem and Council for a Healthy Dent County is important to maintain, DuBois said.
With HDC building a new gymnasium, she hopes there could be a chance for more ball teams using the facilities, including Al Brown fields and the gymnasiums.
The park board is working on options for the newly acquired soccer field land, located off of Franklin Street, as well.
“We can grow our community through our parks,” said DuBois.
Melissa (Curley) DuBois has been married to husband, Greg, for 15 years. They have three children, Kaiden, 13; Sylis, 10; and Krie, 2. She has a photography business and enjoys sporting events watching her sons, nephews and other family play.