Inevitably, J.D. Paul's out-of-town friends ask, "So, what is there to do in Hayden?"
A Hayden resident for 16 years, Paul answers with a long list of activities, including racecar rallies, running races, seasonal festivals, sports and exercise classes.
Paul teaches a weekly Hapkido self-defense class.
As the new Parks and Recreation supervisor for the town of Hayden, Paul, 24, plans to add activities to the list while making sure existing programs remain strong.
The town hired Paul earlier this month as part of its effort to merge Parks and Recreation programs into one department. Paul's full-time job replaces the part-time position of recreation coordinator, which Lindsay Heer held for five years.
"I want people to know I'm here," Paul said. "If anybody has any ideas, they should come in right away so we can get that rolling."
Although there were other good candidates with extensive experience in certain areas, Paul is "well-rounded" with skills in multiple areas, Town Manager Russ Martin said.
Paul's background includes six years of working in maintenance with the public works department -- a job he started part-time after graduating from Hayden High School in 1999. It wasn't long before he realized he wanted to stay in Hayden.
"I'm kind of a hometown guy," he said. "I really like the town and people."
Paul walks into the supervisor job just in time to start working with the Recreation Board to devise a budget for projects and programs in the upcoming year, including construction of sports fields in Dry Creek Park.
He also will help with plans and grant requests to develop more fields and amenities in the park -- a community project that will be a "huge" part of his job, he said.
In addition to technical skills, Paul brings to the job a positive mindset from his work in martial arts -- "a huge, huge part of my life," he said.
A class at Colorado Mountain College in Steamboat Springs introduced Paul to martial arts and Hapkido, a Korean style of fighting. He went on to earn a black belt in the American Hapkido Association and teaches the discipline at the college as well as in Hayden.
Paul's dedication to the sport -- which extends into every aspect of his life -- sometimes gets him weird looks, he said.
Paul believes in the "old theory" of martial arts, which emphasizes development of the mind and spirit in addition to competition.
His practice has taught him how to live a satisfied simple life that is not focused on material or financial gain.
"It's allowed me to bring a fresh breath into everything I do," he said.
-- To reach Tamera Manzanares, call 871-4204 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.