The Hereford Zone Recreation and Parks Council has two new leaders who took completely different paths to North County. They are responsible for more than 70 sports and activity programs offered in the Hereford Zone.
Maria Bieneman, 30, the new community supervisor, grew up in a sports family in Sparks. She and her five siblings knew how to throw, kick and bounce a ball almost before they could walk. Her father, Buzz Battaglia, was president of the Cockeysville Recreation Council for years.
The new activities coordinator, Jim Jones, 61, spent 17 years at the Space Telescope Science Institute at Johns Hopkins University, evaluating scientists' proposals to use the Hubble telescope.
He took a job with Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks when he lived in Owings Mills, and the Northwest Regional Park was constructed in his neighborhood in 2002. He was later hired to be the park's operations manager.
Bieneman and Jones started their new jobs on March 1. They replace Kara Burman who is now community supervisor at Catonsville Recreation Council. They join administrative aide Donna King, a mainstay at the Hereford rec office for seven years.
"My main philosophy is that everything we do is for the kids," said Bieneman who lives in Cockeysville. "Kara did a great job here. I think it will take me a year to go through each season and understand everything."
She is in charge of three recreation councils. Hereford includes Hereford High and Hereford Middle schools, as well as Sparks and Fifth District elementary schools. Both Prettyboy and Seventh District elementary schools have their own recreation councils.
As activities coordinator, Jones oversees the council's staff of 17 who unlock gyms for games, paint boundary lines on fields and turn on lights at the middle school and high school fields.
"Maria seems to be on top of things. She's been very responsive and understanding," said Richard Butt, Hereford Zone Recreation and Parks Council president. "James has taken control of the staff and I think his life experience makes him capable of the role he's in."
Last year, some 11,225 registrants participated in everything from baseball, softball, wrestling, soccer, lacrosse and football, to drama, dance and cheerleading.
While most registrants are students, the three recreation councils offer programs for adults in tennis, basketball, volleyball, softball, tae kwon do, square dancing and zumba.