Like all Parks in the State System, Chester State Park has experienced the personnel freeze necessitated by State budget constraints. So at the moment, newly appointed Park Manager John Wells is operating with only one part-time support person, a crackerjack camp host couple, and community volunteers when he can get them. Still, Mr. Wells took the time necessary on Wednesday, February 9th, to do a CarolinaConsidered interview and even to show me around the Park.
[A parenthetic comment here about Park personnel response to budget constraints. Tight budgets have challenged South Carolina’s State Park System for as long as I have been doing these interviews. However, I’ve yet to hear a word of complaint about the lack of funding or lack of personnel. On or off the record!
Park managers and their assistants instead talk about the resultant challenges in a positive way, and about opportunities to show how well they can do under existing conditions. Before coming to South Carolina, I spent many years in Washington, D.C., and have had far too much first-hand experience with federal bureaucracies and federal bureaucrats. I therefore have been most pleasantly surprised to see, in contrast, how South Carolina State Park personnel have responded to tight budget conditions. This, of course, includes Chester’s Manager, John Wells.]
We began the interview, as usual with some personal background. Mr. Wells was born and raised in Darlington, South Carolina. Listen to his description of his childhood there. As well as his description of his training at Clemson University.
Mr. Wells only recently arrived at Chester State Park. But he brought with him many years of experience within the Park Service. Equally important, that experienced included assignment to parks in all parts of the State. Large parks; small parks. Mountain parks; coastal parks. Have a listen.
By this point in the interview, Mr. Wells was getting anxious to talk about “his” Park. The topic I’d told him we would be focusing on during our conversation. Especially interesting here, I think, is his explanation of the relationship between the Park and the Chester community. Now, I’ve already cautioned you about Mr. Wells’ assessment of the fishing in the lake here …..
At the conclusion of our conversation I asked Mr. Wells about the future of Chester State Park. Lots of improvements being made here, even now, and more to come. Be sure to notice that huge barbeque pit behind the Meeting Building. South Carolina barbeque on that scale would be something!
Thanks again to Mr. John Wells, Park Manager at Chester State Park, for your time and description of this Park.