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Larson hired as parks and rec director

The city of Bemidji has chosen its parks and recreation director.

Marcia Larson, 37, now the city administrator in Blackduck, was offered and has accepted the position. Her starting salary will be $60,100, according to Bemidji City Manager John Chattin.

The city of Bemidji is anticipating a starting date of April 14.

Larson was selected as the top choice over Barry Dodd, the parks and recreation director in Fairfield, Iowa, after both were interviewed by committee on Friday.

Larson was the unanimous choice, Chattin said.

"The one thing that stood out to me was that she has a passion to want to do parks," Chattin said.

Larson obtained a bachelor's degree in recreation from Kent Stat University in Ohio in 1994 and obtained a master's degree in public administration from the University of North Dakota in 1998.

Larson was hired as the Blackduck city administrator in July 2000 after leaving her job with the parks department in Grand Forks, N.D.

She said she was not actively looking for a new job this winter, but decided to apply for the city of Bemidji opening once she heard about it from a friend, Larson said.

"I've enjoyed working with Blackduck very much," she said. "It would have taken a parks and recreation job with the city of Bemidji to pull me away."

Larson lives near Blackduck with her husband and daughter.

The city of Bemidji has not had a parks head since Dan Haluptzok retired as the parks and recreation superintendent on Oct. 30 after 36 years of working for the city. Once the position was vacant, the Bemidji city staff and City Council considered the future of the parks and recreation department and decided to adjust the job requirements and responsibilities of the position, creating a parks and recreation director, who must have at least a four-year degree, rather than a superintendent.

The two finalists were interviewed Friday by Chattin, Finance Director Ron Eischens, Public Works Director Andy Mack and three members of the Parks and Trails Commission: Mary Auger, Dave Smith and Jerry Downs, who also is a city councilor.