Chesterton Tribune

Ruth Jarnecke agrees to remain on county Park Board

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The Porter County Park Board has received its replacement member for the recently-departed Ruth Jarnecke.

It’s Ruth Jarnecke.

In a surprising move, the board’s vice president asked for reinstatement, and received it from the county commissioners, less than a month after resigning.

She will be back on the board for the 6:30 p.m. meeting of the board tonight.

Jarnecke said the reason she came back was ultimately the same reason she decided to leave.

“Because the barn didn’t get started on Oct. 1,” Jarnecke said.

She said the stress and tension from not meeting the Oct. 1 mark that was discussed for breaking ground on the “Raise the Barn” project at Sunset Hill Farm caused her blood pressure to rise and she questioned whether she wanted to sacrifice her health for the project.

“Then when I simmered down some, I had second thoughts,” Jarnecke said. “As the only remaining member of the park department that had contact with the project’s biggest donor, I personally want to see it started. I am just frustrated not to see it started.”

Jarnecke, who also serves on the board of the Porter County Parks Foundation that is jointly promoting “Raise the Barn”, said it has been 11 years since the project began and she just wants to see a product at the park. She said she understands there are problems finding funding for the ideal barn, but the foundation board has proposed to build a simple barn that leaves the option to add-on when funding becomes available.

“I am just trying to respect the donor’s wishes,” Jarnecke said. “It has been a long time and we need some construction to show for it. They need something out there for programs for the children.”

Porter County Park Superintendent Walter Lenckos said he is grateful for Jarnecke and the foundation’s partnership and that he looks forward to providing the county with a barn that will become a destination for residents.

“Mrs. Jarnecke and the members of the Porter County Parks Foundation have been incredibly valuable partners in developing the concept of the Barn at Sunset Hill Farm County Park,” Lenckos said. “Our department will continue to work with the foundation, our community members and our funders to develop and construct a building that will serve as a first-class outdoor and environmental education center, feature green and sustainable design elements, allow us to facilitate our rapidly growing programs and provide a gathering place for the people of Porter County.”

Master Plan progressing

Lenckos reported that the information gathering by Leisure Vision for the park system’s five-year master plan is progressing well.

He said the firm has already conducted all of the staff interviews and is preparing the questionnaire’s for the public input portion based on the results of those interviews. The company will soon be seeking the input of Porter County residents through mail, e-mail and telephone to gauge what the public desires from the system.

Lenckos said things are still on schedule for the park board to receive a preliminary report from Leisure Vision at its December meeting.


Posted 11/3/2011