MOUNTAIN TOP – The newly appointed acting director of the state Bureau of Parks, Dave Kemmerer, lives in Mountain Top and has worked his way up through the ranks, starting out as a labor foreman in 1974.
Kemmerer, 61, was assistant director of the bureau and was elevated to the top position by Rick Allan, secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources – the agency that oversees the parks bureau.
The director's position became open when John Norbeck resigned amid some controversy. The Associated Press reported Norbeck was forced out this week because he questioned whether Gov. Tom Corbett is making plans to allow mining, quarrying or timbering on or below the lands.
Allan, a Wilkes-Barre native who will be in White Haven on Monday for a groundbreaking ceremony for a 9.7-mile link to a network of trails, said Kemmerer was an obvious choice to jump in and lead the bureau.
"We're hoping that things can get back on track real quick," Allan said. "The entire staff has been rallying around him."
Allan said any time someone leaves a position like bureau director, there are questions and concerns.
He said Norbeck was not dismissed – that he resigned his position.
Allan said he will look at several people who have "excellent track records here at the bureau" to be fair, but he said Kemmerer has a great background for the position.
Kemmerer said he has "a lot of loyalty" to the bureau.
"It's been a great career," he said. "It's a great service we provide to people – recreating in the outdoors."
Kemmerer said he worked as park manager at Nescopeck, Lehigh Gorge and Beltzville state parks before becoming regional manager for the eastern part of state through 2004. Since 2005 he has served as the bureau's assistant director.
Kemmerer said he has always enjoyed the interaction with the field, rather than being confined to an office setting. He said that as acting director, he will perform more executive-type duties and work out of the Harrisburg central office.
As assistant director Kemmerer was in charge of operations, budget and infrastructure.
Allan said Kemmerer is well-suited to his new role managing the daily activities of the entire bureau.
"Dave has best the handle of anybody on staffing and infrastructure needs. He knows the intricate nature of all of our parks," he said.