Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

County Park board adjusts committees and elects officers

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

Performing a bit of “housekeeping,” the Porter County Parks and Recreation Board designated new titles to two parks committees.

At Thursday’s meeting, Parks Board President Rich Hudson changed the name of Land Acquisition Committee to Development and Land Acquisition. Hudson also renamed the Maintenance and Construction Committee to simply the Construction Committee.

The switch in names for the Land Acquisition Committee stirred the attention of former parks board member Charlotte Read and her husband Herbert Read, both of Chesterton, who gave their comments from the audience.

Charlotte asked the board to reconsider naming the committee Development and Land Acquisition. She said she would like to see it called the Land Acquisition and Land Management committee instead as it more accurately describes its actions and purpose.

Herb Read expressed concerns similar to his wife’s, saying he found the switch in names “somewhat disturbing” and suggested the board consider dividing land development and land acquisition into separate committees. He said having a separate committee for acquisition could be beneficial to the overall goals of the parks board.

“Land acquisition should be the (board’s) number one priority,” he said.

Herb Read said land development is going to be picking up again in another year or two and the board should begin thinking on how land acquisition is to be used.

As a committee member of the Indiana Heritage Trust, a program established by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Charlotte Read recommended the board apply for a grant from that organization and also the Lake Michigan Coastal Fund.

She said Indiana Heritage Trust gives money to use for those interested in purchasing land for the purpose of conservation. The funds for the grants come from the sale or renewal of environmental license plates.

If the board does win money from the Lake Michigan Coastal Fund, part of that could be used for the Brincka-Cross property in Furnessville.

Parks board member Annetta Jones after the meeting said the board is always willing to look at options where there may be some money available and said she was grateful for citizens like the Reads to inform them about these opportunities.

In other matters, little was reported by the committees who generally agreed this is a “slow” time of year. Parks Manager Matt Howton reported the parks staff touched up painting and drywall at the superintendent’s residence at Sunset Hill Farm County Park.

Recreation Supervisor Gayle O’Connor and Parks Supervisor Mike Howton reported briefly on Santa Nights at Sunset Hill Farm. Interim Superintendent Mike Howton said there were between 50 and 70 who visited Santa on Dec. 12 and Dec. 19. The turnout was lower than in previous years, he said, but he was still pleased with the success of the Winter Lights Night which drew in nearly 3,500 people.

2010 Elections

The board held annual elections at the start of Thurday’s meeting. Rich Hudson was voted in once again as president. Ruth Jarnecke will be the board’s vice-president for this year. Former board member Christine Aylesworth served as vice-president in 2009.

The board formally welcomed newest member Rebecca Tomerlin, of Valparaiso, who has taken a post previously filled by Aylesworth. Tomerlin was appointed by the Porter Council at their reorganization meeting earlier this month.

It was incorrectly reported in the Chesterton Tribune that Tomerlin would be replacing Parks board member James Perkins who was appointed by the county council in 2008. Perkins said he has two years remaining on his term. Outgoing member Aylesworth’s seat became vacant when she did not seek a subsequent term.

Tomerlin showed great enthusiasm during the meeting as she willingly agreed to serve on the Brincka-Cross and Master Plan committees.

Superintendent Applications Being Reviewed

A total of 50 applications for the Parks Superintendent position have been officially received by the board.

The board reported it will start reviewing the applications at an executive session on Jan. 26 at the Porter County Administration building. No word has been given on when the board expects to announce its decision.

Howton said the board will still have to decide if the new superintendent will reside at Sunset Hill Farm. Former Parks Superintendent Ed Melendez occupied the residence until his resignation effective Dec. 31 of last year.

In other action, the board approved the resignation of Parks Department Secretary Karen Owens who announced in a letter she plans to leave the department next Friday, Jan. 29.

Howton said the parks staff will share the duties of department secretary and parks superintendent until the board fills the vacant positions.

 

 

 Posted 1/22/2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

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