Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Then along came Mary

Austin Crofts honored for years of service


By MEGAN THOMAS
Express Staff Writer

Throughout her time with the Recreation District, Mary Austin Crofts worked to unveil recreation projects, like the Wood River Trails. Express file photo

There?s something about Mary.

?Mary isn?t most people,? Len Harlig remarked.

?I don?t see a bike rider or a trail runner that I don?t think of you,? Harry Rinker said.

And Hailey Mayor Susan McBryant added, ?Mary has proven to be an inspiration to our community.?

These aren?t ordinary compli-ments, but then again Mary Austin Crofts has not been an ordinary mem-ber of the community. As the execu-tive director of the Blaine County Recreation District for the last 20 years, Austin Crofts has worked to endlessly enhance recreation opportunities and access throughout the county.

After leading the Recreation District accomplishments for the last two decades, Austin Crofts decided to begin a new chapter in her life.

?It couldn?t be a more perfect time for a little change and to support my husband, after he has supported me after all these years,? she explained.

Austin Crofts, her husband, Kim Crofts, and their two dogs are moving to Panama this Friday, where they will live for the next year.

In honor of her retirement well wishers from the community turned out to bid adieu to the longtime ex-ecutive director of the Blaine County Recreation District during a reception held Monday, Aug. 16 at the Community Campus in Hailey.

Austin Crofts chose to have the reception at the Community Campus in order to showcase one of her most recent accomplishments. The campus, once the Old Wood River High School, has been transformed into a growing center for community organizations.

Throughout the ceremony, speakers paid tribute to Austin Crofts and the many projects she helped to bring to fruition.

?She made the community better for all of us,? said Dick Hare, a mem-ber of the Galena Advisory Commit-tee.

Austin Crofts? work with the District began in 1984.

?I was looking for an organization that would make a difference in peo-ple?s lives,? Austin Crofts explained.

From her first year with the Dis-trict, Austin Crofts worked to make a difference in the community, begin-ning with the first mile of paved trail in the valley.

?So what if it doesn?t go anywhere, where else are you going to start,? she recalled telling others while advocating to pave the first mile of the trail system.

And thus began the Wood River Trail system. Austin Crofts considers the paved trails, extending over 22 miles, her favorite project. Her im-pressive list of accomplishments runs almost as long as the trail system itself.

Through her time as executive director, Austin Crofts guided the district in opening the Blaine County Aquatic Center, establishing the North Valley Trails and the Harriman Trail, operating and bringing power to Galena Lodge, founding the Wood River Little League, opening the Community Campus, overseeing summer youth programs and establishing parks throughout the county.

When asked what she would like to see the district accomplish in the next 20 years, Austin Crofts ex-plained that she would like to see everything in the 10-year plan accomplished. She also hopes the net-work of trails will ?extend from Stanley all the way to Carey with access to all canyons, rivers, streams and other trails along the way.? Most importantly, she emphasized the importance of preserving access that the District has worked to obtain.

?Together we?ve performed miracles, there?s still a lot more miracles to happen. Let?s get on with it,? Aus-tin Crofts concluded.




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