By JEFF SCHULTZ
The barnyard at
Sunset Hill Farm County Park will be getting a few new residents this year.
The Porter County
Park Board on Thursday voted 6-0 in favor of a new collection plan by the
farm animal committee to purchase ducks, turkeys and rabbits.
All of which fit
the constraints of the current facilities, Parks Superintendent Walter
Lenckos said. The parks will not however be getting swans this year as
originally planned, he said.
Board member Craig
Kenworthy said he felt the committee had “done a stellar presentation” on
the new policy to the board.
The farm animal
committee includes veterinarian Larry McAffee, Washington Park Zoo Director
Jamie Huss, associates of the Porter County Animal Shelter Toni Bianchi and
Kate Vanderlin, horse specialist Kathy Sutton, and career farmer Roy Wilson.
No one from the committee was present at Thursday’s meeting.
Kenworthy and board
member George “Drew” Armstrong said they know the animal farm program had
experienced problems in the past. The park faced criticism during last
fall’s budget hearing from former County Council member Jim Polarek for
housing a Holstein steer that had an ailment causing it to limp and which
The County Council
voted 4-3 to keep the animal program and allotted $10,000 for the program in
“We’ve learned from
the past and are preparing for the future,” Armstrong said
Kenworthy said he’d
prefer to see animals “in the prime of their lives, not in the downturn” and
that the animals should be taken to market at the end of their lives.
“In agriculture, 90
percent of the time the animal ends up on someone’s plate,” he said.
The farm presently
has chickens and two ponies, Lenckos said, which have been popular in
children’s educational programs.
board discussed the potential of housing a staff member or someone from the
Indiana Dunes State Park or Dunes National Lakeshore in two homesites within
the new expansion for Brincka-Cross Gardens. Also included in the
proposal was putting a park staff member in a park-owned house at the
campground entrance to Sunset Hill Park on 700N.
The park department
has previously allowed park workers to
reside in its residences in park units including Brookdale
and Sunset Hill Farm in Liberty Township.
said it was brought up in a master planning session that the parks could
offer the residence to an employee from the state or national park who would
in return assist with nature programs.
Kenworthy said he
had his concerns that offering a residence in addition to a salary to
park staff would cause problems and member Annetta Jones said the
properties could be leased for rent.
Armstrong said he
felt putting someone in the houses would be setting precedent.
Board member David
Canright disagreed, saying it won’t be a precedent because the parks
department has had employees reside on property before. “We’ve been doing
this for a long time,” he said.
would only be for this year and Canright said board members
could make a change after that if they feel the need to.
A vote of 4-2 was
made in favor of Lenckos discussing the matter with the state and national
parks. Dissenting were Kenworthy and Jones. In favor were Canright,
Armstrong, member Tom Schnabel and board president Rich Hudson.
In other business
-- Lenckos said
one-third of registrations for Camp FUNset filled up on the first day of
sign-ups, and half were new families. The camp will now include Fridays in
its schedule, which has generated a positive response, he said. “This will
allow for field trips and overnights. It’s going to be a great time this
-- The board
received $35,640 its annual share of the venue funds from the County Tourism
Bureau. Lenckos said he plans to collaborate with two other venues -- Expo
Center and the Memorial Opera House -- on new programming.
-- The board voted
6-0 to proceed with soil bore testing at Aukiki Park, to be done by K + S
Engineering for $6,200.
-- The Porter
County Parks Foundation presented the board with its proposed budget for the
year. The Foundation wishes to put $25,000 toward the purchase of a new
lighted sign for Sunset Hill Farm on the corner of U.S. 6 and Meridian Rd.,
which would replace the current wooden sign, $50,000 toward a barn and
developing a pasture at Sunset Hill Farm for the farm animal programs,
$2,000 toward newsletters supporting Sunset Hill Farm projects and the
proposed migratory bird sanctuary, and $300 for a plaque honoring Jack and
-- Jim Sweeney of
the Izaak Walton League Porter County Chapter said the public is invited to
a Family Nature Night, which begins around 6 p.m. at Brummitt Elementary
School on Tuesday, March 10. He said there may be an opportunity to partner
with the parks department for future events.