Sean McElhone has been the superintendent at Lake James State Park since July of 2007. He served as superintendent at Fort Fisher State Recreation Area in New Hanover County prior to coming to Lake James. A native of Pittsburgh, Pa., he earned an associate degree in forest technology and a bachelor’s degree in recreation and parks management, both from Penn State University in 2000. Sean was an intern at Mount Mitchell State Park before joining the state parks system in 2000 as a ranger at Hammocks Beach State Park. He was also a senior ranger at Jones Lake State Park. Sean and his wife Sarah have twin four-year old boys, Aidan and Dylan and a two-year old daughter, Caitlin. State park rangers are responsible for public safety, resource management, visitor services and environmental education programming, recreation areas and natural areas. Rangers are required to have an associate or bachelor’s degree and must undergo training in basic law enforcement, medical first response, search and rescue, wildlife suppression, natural resource management, interpretive skills and environmental education. Superintendents are no exception. In fact they must have all of the above training and then some.
Sean took over at Lake James State Park at a time of great change. Since his arrival in 2007 the park has com- pleted its first phase of construction of the new Paddy’s Creek Area. Facilities at the new park include a 700- foot swimming beach, concession stand, 6,000 square foot bathhouse, two picnic shelters, individual picnic sites, over 6 miles of hiking trails, and a 450 space parking lot. The Paddy’s Creek Area encompasses almost 3,000 acres of undeveloped open space and 30 miles of the beautiful Lake James shoreline.