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