Friends of Cossar honor State Park Manager Rich Ross with retirement event

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 25, 2016


Friends of Cossar honor State Park Manager Rich Ross with retirement event

The Friends of Cossar State Park invite the public to join in honoring  Cossar State Park Manager Rich Ross of Oakland for the 26 years of service he has provided the Cossar Park community.  The reception will be held from 2-4 p.m. on Feb. 13 at the Cossar State Park Visitor’s Center. Ross officially retires on Jan. 31.  
Ross joined the Cossar Park staff as a Park Ranger in 1990. He has served as manager for the last 10 years.  
Ross grew up in the shadow of the Park, playing there as a child, and watching the Park as it was being developed and roads being built. An avid outdoorsman, the role of Ranger and Manager of Cossar was a natural and perfect fit for Ross.
Ross praised the Friends of Cossar organization.
“Cossar State Park is one of only two or three State Parks which has a support group like Friends.  Without them, many of our activities wouldn’t be possible. Even before the group became official about 10 years ago, the Oakland community and the Cossar campers worked to help us host special events here. We have some of the longest running community activities in our Halloween Haunted Trails and our Easter Egg hunt.  Both of those events have been going on for 25-30 years. The Friends are now working on updating our Putt-Putt Golf Course,” he said.
He said that his favorite part of his career at the Park has been “meeting new people and making life-long friends.  Just helping people when they needed something.”  The toughest part of the job for him was “keeping things up-to-date” with reduced budgets.  During Ross’ tenure, there was a recommendation to close several State Parks, including  Cossar.  The surrounding communities, the county and the Cossar camping community battled that and Cossar has continued to be one of the busiest in cabin rentals in the State Park system.  Cossar also offers more than 80 camping pads and 2.5 miles of hiking trails plus other amenities.
“I’m not sure people realize how important this Park is to our county and our town.  It brings in thousands of people every year.  Many of them have built week-end homes and even retired here to enjoy the resources of our Park and Enid Lake.  This Park is a large part of the future well-being of the area and I encourage people to take advantage of the great outdoors and the resources of Cossar State Park. There are no harder working or better people than the people I’ve had a chance to work with here.  Everyone employed here gives their best and I am proud to have been a part of it,” Ross said.
“My family gathers at Cossar Park every year for a week.  There are about 30 of us and we’ve done this for about 30 years.  Richard has made sure that our stay is wonderful.  I’m on the Board of the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks now, but he’s been doing this for many years before I was appointed.  He has managed through some of the toughest financial times and held the park together.  Cossar has some of the highest occupancy rates in the Park system.  I hate to see him leave.  We are getting ready to do some upgrades there and I’m sorry he won’t be there to reap the benefits of those.  He has done a fine job,“ said Bill Cossar of Charleston.
“As both a frequent camper and as a retired member and former President of the Yalobusha County Board of Supervisors, I can say that Cossar State Park is a better place today than it was the day Rich stepped up to the position of Manager.  Rich built on the work of those who came before him and knew to be successful meant working outside of his job description.  He could run the office in the absence of the office staff, clean the cabins if necessary or was often on the working end of a shovel.  He did what needed to be done for the park and to help out his employees.  The real accolade for Rich is the love and respect the employees there at the park have for him. I wish for Rich a very fulfilling retirement,“ said Tommy Vaughn of Water Valley.
Coach Bob Tyler, who now serves as Director of the Yalobusha County Economic Development and Tourism District, said that Cossar State Park is vital for economic development process of Yalobusha County.  “When we are recruiting new industry or working with expansion of businesses, we love to show them Cossar State Park.  It is a real plus.
“I am glad for Richard on his retirement and congratulate him, but at the same time I regret he is leaving.  He has been an outstanding manager in terms of both the upkeep of the park and the great customer service he and his staff provide when they are hosting Mississippians and people from outside the state.  Personally, I will miss him.  We are so fortunate he has served us this way, but it is not surprising.  He comes from an outstanding family.  His father, Richard, Sr., was a great man and a great leader in our area.  We love his mother, Margaret, and his siblings.  He has made them proud with his diligent and outstanding service,” Tyler said.
Ross is the son of Margaret Ross of Oakland and the late Richard Ross Sr.  Ross and his wife, Jennifer, live in Oakland just a few miles from the Park and will continue to be involved in the Park through active membership in the Cossar Friends organization. They look forward to sharing the Park activities with their new granddaughter, Madi, as they did with their sons, Richard and Bailey.  Richard, who serves as Game Warden in the area, and his wife, Meagan, live in the Scobey area with their daughter, Madi.  Bailey maintains his Oakland address while working across the country as a supervisor in the pipeline industry.

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