By Alex Lippa
---- — PLAISTOW— The second-floor office at Town Hall has been Christina Cruz’s for nearly a year. Last night, it was announced she would be staying there for the foreseeable future.
Cruz, 39, was introduced as the permanent recreation director at the selectmen’s meeting last night. She had been serving as the interim director since June after Carli Mallette resigned for medical reasons.
“I am just absolutely thrilled,” Cruz said. “I can’t wait to officially start and move forward with the program.”
She beat out Timberlane Regional High School athletic secretary Dianne Nye for the position. The permanent post is a 40-hour-a-week job. Cruz said she didn’t yet know what her pay would be, but Town Manager Sean Fitzgerald previously said the salary would be at least $16 per hour.
The decision was made by a committee, including Fitzgerald, Selectmen John Sherman and Daniel Poliquin, and Recreation Commission members Susan Sherman and Kristin Lewis-Savage. Fourteen candidates applied for the position.
“It was a very difficult decision,” Fitzgerald said. “Both were stellar candidates, but Christina has an impeccable record of service to the town as an employee.”
Cruz also has worked in town as a part-time dispatcher with the police department.
Prior to coming to Plaistow, she was the program coordinator at the Haverhill (Mass.) Boys and Girls Club for five years and worked at the Lawrence Boys and Girls Club as the girls club director.
Cruz said one of the first things she hopes to do is to get to know the staff better.
“We have a fantastic staff around me,” she said. “Now, I want to know every little aspect of what we do and evaluate where we can make changes.”
Her biggest immediate task, she said, is gearing up for summer.
“I am now going to be gearing up for the youth summer recreation program,” she said. “This year, we’re going to try to bring new and exciting trips to town.”
Also on Cruz’s list of goals are programs for families.
“I want to focus on a low cost plan to the town,” Cruz said. “I want to promote community involvement and make programs more affordable for families.”
She said she hopes to implement a Family Fun Fitness day, which would incorporate volunteers from area gyms and others with athletic backgrounds to help promote healthy lifestyles.
“We want to get families up and moving,” Cruz said. “Not only would it be a healthy activity, it would promote family fun and be an opportunity for families to spend time together.”