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EL PASO - El Paso's new recreation director is busy getting ready for spring sports, but he promises to keep programs the city now offers while expanding others.

"I want to work with what we already have and build a foundation from that," said Brandon Martin, who promised to learn about the community and programs before making changes. "I will keep the current programs running, and then work on others."

The 2000 Eureka High School graduate became the city's new recreation director this week, following more than a month of interviews and background checks.

"Everybody will be really happy with him," said Mayor Herb Arbuckle. "He's going to be a real asset to this town."

Martin fills a position left vacant since October, when his predecessor was accused of embezzlement.

Martin, a 2005 Greenville College graduate who majored in recreational sports, served as the Pontiac Community Center recreation supervisor for the past 10 months.

In Pontiac he developed and coordinated recreation activities for participants from ranging from preschoolers to senior citizens. He managed adult fitness classes, children's sports and senior citizen trips.

With spring and summer around the corner, one of Martin's first concerns will be hiring temporary, part-time staff. He estimates filling 30 to 40 positions, including hiring an aquatic supervisor, umpires and lifeguards and a possible summer intern.

Martin said he already he is busy managing the before- and after-school programs and preparing for softball and baseball.

He said he believes his biggest challenge is learning the organization and incorporating his beliefs into the system.

"I'm looking forward to working with little kids," said Martin. "I love to see them on the fields outside my office and seeing them and senior citizens have fun with the program."

Councilman Tim Porth said the selection process took more than a month and included 45 applicants.

"This was one of the most intensive interview processes we've conducted," said Porth. "There's no question he will do a good job."

El Paso has been without a recreation director since October. That's when former director John Jones was charged with forgery and embezzling more than $20,000 from the Inter-Community Soccer League, which serves El Paso, Eureka and surrounding communities. Jones was treasurer for the not-for-profit league.

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