By Terry Rogers
On Monday, January 9, Milford City Council recognized Ralph “RJ” Skinner, Jr., for his outstanding service to the department. Brad Dennehy, Director of Parks & Recreation, presented Mr. Skinner with a certificate for his accomplishments and said that he was one of the “hardest working staff members in the department.”
“RJ first came to work for the City of Milford as a temporary employee for the Solid Waste Department as a refuse collector,” Mr. Dennehy said. “Within six months, a full-time position came open in Parks and Recreation. RJ applied for the position of Park Technician and was selected. Over the past few years, RJ has worked closely with the former Park Superintendent, Don MacMIllan, former Director, Gary Emory, and over the past couple of years, myself. He has been ‘hands-on’ in the department for the last few yeas, supervising seasonal work crews, maintenance of all park lands and general operations. Over this time frame, he ahs continued to seek further training and educational opportunities. He was a natural fit to take over as Park Superintendent.”
Mr. Skinner says that his position with the sanitation department was supposed to be temporary, but he was let go soon after hiring as he did not have a CDL. Human Resources in the City helped him find a temporary seasonal position for one month in the Parks and Recreation Department.
“The position was only supposed to be one month,” Mr. Skinner said. “Gary took me out to the field and there was a guy there who was doing donuts on one of the mowers. Gary told him if he ever saw him do it again, he would pull him from the mower. A few days later, I rode with Gary to Marshall’s Pond and when we pulled up, the guy was doing it again. Gary told him to get off the mower and that he was forbidden from riding it again. We finished up there, the guy got in the passenger seat of the truck and I got in the back. We were almost back to the yard when the guy told the driver to pull over and that he quit. The guy looked at me and said ‘Get up here. You are in the front seat now.” Mr. Skinner said he never saw the man again but would like to thank him for not following the rules so that he could move into a permanent position.
Mr. Dennehy said that one of the best attributes about Mr. Skinner is that he is dedicated. He goes above and beyond what is asked of him, really enjoying serving the residents of Milford. He says that Mr. Skinner is passionate about parks, recreation and the City.
“We continually get compliments about how positive and friendly RJ is,” Mr. Dennehy said. “If he is not out taking care of our park lands, you will find him in the gym assisting with our recreational programs, particularly the basketball program.” Mr. Skinner says that he handles the scoreboard for the Youth Basketball League. He has an eleven year-old step son and eight-year-old stepdaughter as well as two boys of his own, ages three and six months.
Mr. Skinner says that he loves being outside and working with the public. He says that his energy can sometimes annoy his co-workers as he is very passionate about what he does.
“Even when I was on the trash truck, they would say ‘RJ, will you slow down,’” Mr. Skinner said. “I would be jumping off running to the next can and then have to stand and wait for the truck to catch up. I actually outran the trash truck and would be like ‘is that as fast as you can go?’ I get annoyed when people make excuses for not doing things. If they need me to come in on a Saturday and water plants because the volunteers can’t get to it, I’ll do it. I feel that is my job.”
Growing up in the Long Neck area of Millsboro, Mr. Skinner said that he struggled. His father was not in the picture and his mother died when he was in his early 20s. He began hanging out with the wrong crowd and getting into trouble. He graduated from Sussex Central High School in 2005 and had few career goals.
“Then I met a girl and she turned me around,” Mr. Skinner said. “When I got the job with the City, I knew I could make a difference so I set my mind to doing it. By working hard, I moved up the ladder and am now a Park Tech I with an increase in pay, benefits and a more prestigious job. I actually told Gary at one time I was going to leave because I needed full-time since I now had a family to take care of. Then, this position came open and Gary knew it would be perfect for me, so here I am.” At 29 years’ old, Mr. Skinner is the youngest person in the Parks & Recreation Department to move up so quickly.
Mr. Skinner says that he cannot take full credit for his success. He says that he may have ideas, but it is his crew that makes those ideas happen. He said he loves knowing he is doing something that makes a difference to others.
“Milford is a wonderful place to live and work,” Mr. Skinner said. “I love doing what I do and giving back to a community that is so appreciative for what we do.”