SOUTH PLAINFIELD The South Plainfield Recreation Commission voted unanimously to hire Elizabeth Yarus as Recreation Director for South Plainfield at the Sept. 17 monthly recreation committee meeting. A rigorous selection process narrowed the search to a handful of candidates over the past six months and committee members voted to make the final decision. Yarus will officially take over the position on Oct 1.
“It was an arduous process, and we’re happy to have someone of Elizabeth Yarus’ caliber join us.” said Bill Cochrane, President of the South Plainfield Recreation Commission. “It was a unanimous decision as far as the committee was concerned, and we expect good things.”
Former Recreation Director Kevin Hughes resigned from his position on Feb. 20 after being arrested and charged with theft, financial facilitation and forgery. During the investigation, it was discovered that Hughes allegedly stole in excess of $75,000 from the South Plainfield Recreation Department between July 2013 and February 2019. In addition, it is alleged that Hughes collected fees meant for the South Plainfield Recreation Department for various recreation and travel teams, utilizing the funds and forging invoices for his own personal use.
South Plainfield resident Gregory Hoffman has held the position of Interim Recreation Director since March 11 while the committee searched for Hughes’ replacement, partnering with Jersey Professional Managers to assist. Originally, thirty-six candidates were identified over the past six months. Interviews were conducted with potential candidates for the position and the selection process narrowed the search.
“The committee did a wonderful job in selecting Elizabeth,” said Glenn Cullen, South Plainfield Administrator. “She’s going to be a tremendous asset to the borough’s youth and programs. I think she’ll be a great asset to the town.”
Yarus has had an extensive career in recreation and aquatics.
“I grew up in recreation,” said Yarus. “As a kid, my father helped get the recreation department in North Brunswick off the ground. He specialized in aquatics, and we built parks when I was a kid. I was always a part of it and I grew up in that. So I’ve always had a part in recreation in one way or another.”
As a teen, Yarus was a life guard and eventually became an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) as a young adult. Yarus graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in Philosophy. Highly involved in the North Brunswick community, Yarus worked nearly a decade in North Brunswick Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services as a Recreation Program Specialist, before which she worked as Supervisor of Aquatic Program part-time. Yarus eventually became Rutgers' Coordinator of Instructional Swim Program and then Aquatics Coordinator.
While South Plainfield prepares to break ground for the construction of a nearly $2.5 million community pool renovation, Yarus' expertise in aquatics is an essential asset, according to Cullen.
“Elizabeth has extensive experience in recreation and you couldn’t have a stronger aquatics background,” said Cullen. “She brings a wealth of experience in aquatics and recreation. I’m sure she’ll do a fantastic job.”
“So my main focus has always been aquatics, but I’ve always done a little bit of everything in recreation,” said Yarus. “At Rutgers I ran a pretty large operating budget and I ran the instructional program across the free facilities for the public. I have wanted to come back to recreation, so here I am.”
A Milltown resident, married for sixteen years with three sons ages thirteen, eleven and eight years old, Yarus’ family is active in sports and recreation in her hometown. Yarus says she understands the needs of the community she will serve.
“It seems like South Plainfield has a lot of amazing things happening here and really one of my first priorities is to share them with the community,” said Yarus. “I pointed out to the committee that if you look through the web and try to find out about what South Plainfield Recreation does and is, there really isn’t a lot of information."
Yarus says she will to bring her vast experience and new ideas to the position.
"I would like to be able to update the information that is being put out to the public and really be able to let people know all that we do here so everyone can take advantage of the wonderful programs,” said Yarus. "I'm excited to start this new adventure as the Recreation Director for the Borough of South Plainfield!"