Park Superintendent, Dave Jackson said, "It is an honor for us. We don't get these too often because there are over 50 parks. We do our best. Every once in a while, things come together and we have an exceptional year and that's what we had in 2011-2012." Jackson incorporated a little humor in his presentation. "We don't get too excited about winning an award around here. It's really no big deal. We just go about our day to day jobs doing excellent things, hoping maybe we'll get recognized," Jackson said with his "fun glasses" on that read 2012.
Jackson commended the staff and community for helping the park be so successful. "Mayor Jean Pace and city employees have a great partnership with the park. Mayor Pace has been one of our greatest supporters over the years, and truly understands the importance of tourism in the state of Arkansas," Jackson said. Her support goes back to the 1970s when she played a role in having the Frisco caboose donated and began beautifying the park as a member of the Garden Club. Her support continues today by allowing city maintenance workers to assist the park when needed, and the police department to patrol the park, keeping it safe for visitors.
"We have some of the friendliest, most professional and knowledgeable consultants in Arkansas which really enjoy helping travelers spend their money and time in our great state. Our gift shop, managed by Adam Davis, had record sales last year, in excess of $100,000. Our maintenance staff keeps the grounds immaculate and does a great job," Jackson said.
State Parks Director, Greg Butts said, "It is our pleasure to be here to recognize Dave and all the park staff for their outstanding accomplishments this last fiscal year. Every year, we meet as a staff and look collectively at all the 52 state parks. Mammoth Spring State Park competes with 10 other parks in the region. There are five regions and five awards, then an overall winner. We look at everything from serving visitors, customer comments, educational programs, budget management and revenue management. Overall, there are approximately 10 categories. We score those and Mammoth Spring did some outstanding things. Every employee in the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, their job is just as important as everyone else. It takes all of us pulling in the same direction, as it does running a city. This last year, Dave and all the staff, along with their partnership with the city, have accomplished great things," Butts said.
Region Two Supervisor, Tony Perrin said the park is one of his favorites. "Mammoth Spring State Park has so much to offer. The amount of railroad, civil war and early settler's history is rich, and there is recreation and ball teams. This park embodies what Arkansas State Parks are all about."
John Brown, Manager of Operations for Arkansas State Parks, said, "I'm honored to be here today. I've been in the State Parks system for 35 years, and I have the responsibility to run 52 state parks. This is what I get to come to, this beautiful resource in Mammoth Spring. Mammoth Spring State Park received this award because of the people working to make it great. The leaders of this park and Dave have vision and good leadership. They couldn't get this award without the help of the community." The parks are judged on their community efforts, hospitality, revenue, maintenance and programs. "I am proud of each and every one of you. Keep up the good work and I know one day, you will receive the overall award."
Mammoth Spring is designated as a Natural Landmark by the National Park Service. Because Mammoth Spring is the largest spring in Arkansas and one of the largest in the world, receives special care. Flow data and water quality tests are gathered, monitored and compared monthly. When problems arise, Mammoth Spring State Park staff is quick to notify appropriate agencies to resolve potential problems. The 1866 Frisco Depot Museum is listed on the National Register of Historic Sites. A revised detailed inventory and documentation of the museum collection began in the last fiscal year. The work included taking measurements, photographing, recording details and determining future plans.
Many maintenance and repairs and renovations were completed at the Welcome Center in the last fiscal year, including repainting the interior and exterior, carpentry work and plumbing repairs. Other park improvements included flower beds at the Cannon Plaza, resealing and restriping the parking area at the overlook, new benches, and cutting dead trees and planting new ones. Many compliments were received from visitors during the year praising the appearance of the grounds and cleanliness of the restrooms.
Visits to the Mammoth Spring State Park are expected to increase when the new Aquatic Center, which is near the park, opens early next year.