News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

SPRD forced to lay off most staff

Sisters Park & Recreation District will lay off 18 of its 21 employees including six full-time staff, two part-time staff and 10 temporary seasonal staff.

Executive Director Jennifer Holland said the layoff will be effective starting April 6.

“Like many businesses, the district has been hit hard by COVID-19,” Holland said. “We have had to cancel all programs and events as of March 16 in compliance with guidance issued by the State of Oregon and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). With our activities closed indefinitely, I decided, in consultation with the board of directors, that this is the only viable course of action to ensure the long-term financial stability of the district.

“The decision to lay off almost our entire staff team was one of the most difficult decisions I ever made in my career,” Holland said. “In the seven short months that I have worked at Sisters Park & Recreation District, I can say that staff here are some of the most caring, compassionate and creative people I have ever worked with.”

By officially laying off employees, SPRD hopes to eliminate barriers for individuals to apply for unemployment insurance. SPRD will also be cashing out accrued paid time off for affected employees and reimbursing up to two months of COBRA health insurance premiums.

Program cancellations to date include preschool, youth and adult recreation classes and Sisters Annual Lacrosse Invitational (SALI). All SPRD facilities including the bike park, skate park and disc golf park are closed until April 28. SPRD is prepared to extend or shorten these closures based on direction from the State of Oregon and the CDC.

“We appreciate the community support we have received during this challenging time,” stated Holland. “While we’ve had to extensively reduce our organization, we are committed to resuming operations as soon as possible once the mandates are eased or lifted.”

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