SOMERSET – Somerset County’s new director of parks and trails is a Somerset native and experienced grant writer who says she has “always had a passion for the outdoors.”

The Somerset County Board of Commissioners approved the hiring of Lindsay Pyle, who was previously a community and economic development program manager at the Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission, during its meeting Tuesday morning. Her first day on the job will be March 18.

“I’m just really excited to get started here soon, and I’ll be happy to be back in my hometown,” Pyle, a Somerset Area High School graduate, told The Tribune-Democrat on Tuesday. “I grew up in Somerset County, so I’m very familiar with the trails in the county. It’s definitely something that’s a passion of mine.”

Pyle said she has “written probably close to a million dollars worth of grant funding” on the federal, state and local levels during her four years at SAPDC.Agencies she said she has dealt with in that capacity include the Appalachian Regional Commission, the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

Pyle was hired in part because of her experience applying for grants, according to Commissioner Gerald Walker, who said after Tuesday’s meeting that he “knew that this job was going to lean heavily toward applying for grants and administering those grants – local, state and federal.”

When Pyle’s predecessor, Brett Hollern, was hired 21 years ago, most of his job duties involved building and maintaining the Somerset County section of the Great Allegheny Passage, a 150-mile rail-trail from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Maryland, Walker said.

In recent years, however, Hollern’s duties have shifted. 

Walker said Hollern told him that 80 percent of his time is now spent handling administrative tasks, with just 20 percent spent maintaining the county’s parks and trails. Thus, the commissioner said, administration is “going to become a huge part of Lindsay’s day-to-day operations.”

Pyle will likely handle duties related to a number of ongoing recreation-related projects in Somerset County, including construction at Somerset Lake, work on the county’s section of the 1,300-mile Sept. 11th National Memorial Trail and ongoing maintenance of the county’s section of the Great Allegheny Passage.

Pyle is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown who majored in geography and environmental studies, she said. She will earn $45,000 per year.

Mark Pesto is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkPesto.

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