By VICKI URBANIK
Former Porter County Republican Party Chair Michael Aylesworth has been
named the new director of an Indiana Department of Environmental Management
regional office serving 10 counties east of here.
Aylesworth, of Boone Township, assumed the post of director for IDEM’s
northern regional office on June 1. The office, located in South Bend,
serves DeKalb, Elkhart, Fulton, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Marshall, Noble, St.
Joseph, Starke, and Steuben counties.
In addition to its main Indianapolis office, IDEM has two regional offices
in the state, one of which is in Merrillville serving Northwest Indiana.
Aylesworth is a former county council member and commissioner and long-time
chair of the county Republican Party. He has extensive experience in farming
and most recently worked as executive director of the Porter County Builders
He said he left the PCBA when the group ran out of funds to pay his position
after its new building project cost more than expected. So, he said, he sent
his resume to the state government and later got a call about the opening at
Gov. Mitch Daniels, a Republican who ended 12 years of Democrat control of
the state administration when he took office in January, earlier this year
appointed another Porter County resident, Thomas Easterly, to the top post
at IDEM. Aylesworth said he never met Easterly until he was interviewed for
the IDEM job.
IDEM’s regional offices provide access to local permits, inspection reports,
and general environmental information; gives local compliance and technical
assistance to industries and groups starting to build, expand, or diversify
their plants; and initiates public outreach programs on environmental
issues, according to the IDEM website.
Aylesworth said while some of his duties at IDEM are new territory for him,
he has more experience in environmental issues than what many people may
think. He has served on a variety of agricultural-related boards and
commissions that deal with pesticide use, soil erosion, and runoff, all
issues that the IDEM handles.
He said one of his goals is to help improve IDEM’s internal problem of not
responding in a timely manner on permits, compliance and other issues. “I
believe in timeliness, transparency, and consistency,” he said.
Aylesworth said his overall goal is to carry out IDEM’s mission of
protecting the environment. He said IDEM wants to work closely with
regulated businesses and industries, but if there is someone intentionally
polluting, “we’re going to slam them.”
He described the northern region as very much like Northwest Indiana, with
its mix of old, abandoned industrial sites, largely in the South Bend area,
and agricultural areas.
Aylesworth said at least for the time being, he intends to remain living in
Porter County, though there is a possibility he and his wife, Delores, will
move closer to the Indiana Toll Road. Delores works as a Porter County