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Behind the Tap Spotlight: Recreation Coordinator Jep Palmer

Meet Recreation Coordinator Jep Palmer. If you have visited one of CCWA’s recreation areas or community use buildings, you’ve seen his ‘office’. He is responsible for the operation and upkeep of CCWA’s Shamrock/Blalock and J.W. Smith reservoir recreation areas, and the Shamrock and J.W. Smith Community Use Buildings (CUBS). This includes interacting with and monitoring visitors to the properties, tracking and collecting related usage fees, building and park area maintenance, interior gravel roads and parking lots, and grounds maintenance upkeep.

Jep and Recreation Area Assistant Jacob Cannon make up CCWA’s full time recreation staff. During the busy public recreation season that runs March – October, they add three seasonal recreation area care takers. Jep and Jacob work split shifts seven days a week in order to ensure coverage is provided at each reservoir. While Jep and Jacob handle the majority of the maintenance tasks, recreation area caretakers are responsible for closing the reservoirs and counting daily visitor revenue.

Jep also issues adjoining landowner permits, coordinates, schedules and oversees the public access to Shoal Creek Reservoir and fall public archery deer hunts on the Huie Site property. Plus, he coordinates employee access to the reservoirs and archery deer hunting on the property. He also assists with the maintenance and upkeep of the Melvin Newman Wetlands Center trail and area. When Shamrock or J.W. Smith CUBs are booked for an event, it is Jep and Jacob’s job to make sure that renters have access to the buildings and leave at the appropriate hour.

Jep loves working outdoors, seeing people enjoy the outdoors and our facilities. One perk of his job is getting to enjoy the beauty and serenity of sunrises and sunsets at the reservoirs.

When asked the biggest challenges he faces, he says “Dealing with our small staff along with requests and issues that go hand in hand with the public/visitors.”

Unpredictable and varying work schedule and hours also come with the job. “Public access can begin as early as 5:30 a.m. and end at 11 p.m., often later if visitors /renters fail to exit on time,” he says.

The pandemic definitely impacted Jep’s job. “The original shut down of course curtailed usage of the buildings and areas, however once we reopened the reservoirs areas May 6, 2020, we experienced near record attendance,” he says. “This year attendance is going well. The CUB rentals have resumed, and the upcoming schedules are very busy on weekends.”

Jep has seen a lot over his 33 years as an employee. Each year seems to bring at least a few things that might unnerve a less seasoned employee. Regardless of what comes his way, he takes it all in stride interjecting his trademark sense of humor. “Dealing with the public is like a box of chocolates….you never know what you are going to get,” he laughs. #waterprofessional