Council tabs Minnesota native as Mitchell's new Parks and Recreation director

Kevin Nelson, of Austin, Minnesota, will bring over 20 years of experience to the role

The Mitchell Recreation Center. (Republic file photo)
Shown here is the Mitchell Recreation Center, one of the city facilities that is overseen by the Parks and Recreation director.
Republic file photo

MITCHELL — The city found its match in Kevin Nelson to lead Mitchell’s Parks and Recreation Department as the new director.

On Monday night, the Mitchell City Council approved hiring Nelson, a Minnesota native, who recently emerged among a large pool of applicants as the ideal candidate for the Parks and Recreation director position.

Mitchell Mayor Bob Everson, who was among the city officials responsible for interviewing and recommending candidates, pointed to Nelson’s extensive experience in the Parks and Recreation field as an attribute that made him stand out from the rest.

“There were a lot of qualified candidates, and that was the toughest part of narrowing it down,” Everson said during Monday’s meeting.

Everson said there were 20 applicants vying for the job. The committee made up of city officials and several council members narrowed the field down to four after conducting interviews, and ultimately tabbed Nelson.


Nelson replaces former Parks and Recreation Director Nathan Powell, who resigned from the role in December and transitioned into a similar position in Norfolk, Nebraska. Since Powell resigned after spending five years as the department head, the city has been without a Parks and Recreation director for about two months.

For Nelson, the new job will be familiar territory, considering he is currently the Parks and Recreation director for the city of Austin, Minnesota, which has a population of about 10,000 more than Mitchell. He’s set to begin his new role with the city on March 7.

City Administrator Stephanie Ellwein – also part of the hiring committee – highlighted Nelson’s 22 years of managerial experience as another key accolade that stood out.

“He was also the executive director for Perham’s community center,” Ellwein said.

Among the key responsibilities that come with the role are overseeing the city’s parks, sports facilities, youth activities and recreation areas along Lake Mitchell. With the recent change to eliminate the golf and cemetery supervisor, Nelson will also be tasked to oversee the city’s golf course and cemetery.

As the city hones in on constructing a wetland along Firesteel Creek to reduce the phosphorus and sediment in the algae-ridden Lake Mitchell, along with inching closer to dredging the body of water, Everson said he will look to Nelson to help advance those efforts with recreation opportunities in mind.

Ellwein said Nelson has some experience with lake work. While Nelson is a Minnesota native, Everson noted his wife was raised in Mitchell.

“He also had some experience in a lake improvement district, so the city thought that would be a very good fit,” Ellwein said.

Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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