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Breaking from tradition, Mayor Tom Dolan has named a woman to head the city's Parks and Recreation Department.

Nancy Shay, the 42-year-old director of the Alta Canyon Rec-rea-tion Center, takes over the helm Sept. 6, marking the first time in the history of 101-year-old Sandy that a woman has been put in charge of a municipal department, according to city officials."It's about time!" said Judy Bell, the lone female on the city's seven-member City Council.

Shay's appointment was endorsed unanimously by the council. She moves from a small quasi-public organization that spends about $1.5 million a year and has a payroll of eight full-time employees to one with 24 full-time and 140 seasonal workers and a $2.3 million budget.

The city's Parks and Recreation Department is responsible for main-taining about 200 acres of green space and ball fields. It sponsors assorted sports programs that cater to thousands of Sandy residents.

Shay said her first move will be putting the separate parks and recreation divisions under one roof at Sandy's former City Hall, an old schoolhouse at 440 E. 8680 South. The divisions are now at different locations.

"We want it so that people have to call only one phone number," she said.

Shay said she will also concentrate on starting a citywide trails system, a project the city budgeted $50,000 for this year. And she will preside over construction of a new senior-citizens center for which groundbreaking will occur sometime within the next nine months.

Councilman Bryant Anderson called Shay an ideal choice to replace Mike Shea, who was fired by Dolan for "philosophical differences," according to Anderson.

"She's good at managing budgets, she puts in a lot of hours, she knows the community."

Shay has been director of the popular recreation center for 10 years, presiding over its rapid growth in southeast Sandy where its services run the gamut from day care to various sports leagues. She is a former intramural-sports director for the University of Utah and holds a master's degree in physical education from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and an undergraduate degree from Illinois State University.

Though Dolan's otherwise all-male cabinet meetings are attended by Susan Weidauer, the city's municipal judge, Shay's presence as a female department director remains a new wrinkle in city government. She said she will downplay that fact, however.

"I think it's good there's some different perspective," she said. "But I usually don't look at men or women in that sense. I just look at them as people and whether they can do a good job."