Chesterton Tribune



County prioritizes finding permanent home for Sunset Hill animals

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The Porter County Park Board decided at its meeting Thursday night to prioritize finding a permanent home for the farm animals at Sunset Hill Farm County Park.

Park Board member Craig Kenworthy raised concerns about permanent housing for the animals amid discussions about a croquet group which has approached the board about using space at Sunset Hill Farm.

Kenworthy suggested the board make a deadline for itself to remedy the issue and was in agreement with member Canright in saying no other group should be given space at Sunset Hill Farm until the animals--which include horses, goats, rabbits, ducks, chickens, and turkeys--have a dedicated space.

“I don’t think it’s a good location where they are,” Canright said. “I just want to have a location where we’re proud of the way the animals are being taken care of.” Kenworthy had said at a former meeting that the current housing for the animals looks more like a petting zoo than a farm.

Nichole Schaefer-Murray, program director at Sunset Hill Farm told the board she already has two or three suggestions for where the animals can go, and she can send a proposal right away. Board President Rich Hudson offered to meet with her before the next meeting to ensure that everything is in order. The board hopes to consider the proposals and decide on a solution in March.

Schaefer-Murray said the animal program operates an educational program at Sunset Hill Farm Park hosting school groups and summer camps. Those who visit the park learn about the animals and about conservation, and summer campers learn to care for the animals.

She hopes the program can eventually expand to also house cows and sheep. Finding a permanent space for the existing animals will put an end to several years of waiting and make these plans possible, she said.

Parks Foundation

In other business, the Parks Foundation is still accepting donations for its Stockings for Summer Camp project. Enrollment in county summer programs such as Camp Funset increases every year, and each year children from families in need require assistance from the Parks Foundation’s scholarship endowment to participate in the programs.

The Porter County Community Foundation is matching every dollar donated. Checks payable to: Porter County Parks Foundation, P.O. Box 428, Valparaiso, IN 46384. E-mail questions to


The Illiana Garden Railway Society (IGRS) is still awaiting a response to its application for 501c3 non-profit status. In the meantime, the group has created fundraising brochures and plans to start participating in local train shows. The group plans to relocate an outdoor model railway layout to a site south of the pond in Sunset Hill Park.

IGRS has also put up its annual Christmas display at Porter County Public Library’s Valparaiso branch. IGRS President David Ransem thanked the library for providing space again. “We always get a good response and appreciate the library having us every December,” he said.



Posted 12/14/2017




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