By KEVIN NEVERS
After more than two years of discussion, delay, negotiation,
and compromise, the Chesterton Town Council has hired a town manager.
At their meeting Tuesday night, members voted 5-0 to give the
nod to Charles Bernard Doyle. Call him Bernie.
“We interviewed four excellent candidates,” said Member Jim
Ton, R-1st, who spearheaded the move to hire a town manager immediately
after the ballot referendum on city status failed in November 2006. “But C.
Bernard Doyle has the training, the management skills, and other talents
needed to best serve the town.”
A synopsis of Doyle’s background:
•Raised in Valparaiso, with a degree in history and geography
in 1984 from Valparaiso University.
•U.S. Air Force, 1972-75, trained as a structural and
aerospace firefighter and rescue technician, with service in the Strategic
Air Command in Wyoming and Tactical Air Command with NATO forces in England.
•Stints in the business world: 1976-78, lab manager of Doyle
Optical in Michigan City; 1983-84, flight operations manager and public
affairs with Crescent Helicopters Inc. in Chicago; 1985-89, air safety
operations, firefighter and medic, communications and disaster management
with the Indianapolis Airport Authority.
•National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior,
1990-07, where he served in a variety of positions including
cultural-natural resource manager, chief ranger, and anti-terrorism planner
at facilities in Indiana, Hawaii, Mississippi, and Alaska, and most recently
as supervisory park ranger and chief of operations at the USS Arizona
Memorial in Honolulu.
Or as Doyle summarized his background in an interview with
the Chesterton Tribune, “My skill sets have been fostered in
multi-faceted department oversight, budgeting, team development, large-scope
project planning and oversight, tiered supervision, capital development and
cost recovery, large-scale emergency management, long-range planning, public
affairs, and communication.”
Oh yeah. To this astonishingly diverse resume Doyle also adds
his experience as a commercial airplane, helicopter, and seaplane pilot.
“I’m honored to be selected from such a highly qualified
field of candidates,” Doyle told the Tribune. “Any public service
position is a privilege and an opportunity to leave a lasting legacy behind
towards the betterment of the public we serve. And I can’t think of a better
situation at this time in my life than to be home again with the challenge
to help Chesterton. Chesterton is a wonderful place to live.”
Doyle emphasized that he has a lot of learning to do—names,
faces, responsibilities—and that he has every intention of moving slowly in
his first days and weeks on the job. “I hope I can measure up to the
expectations of the town,” he said. “We’ll be taking this one step at a
time, as we’re breaking new ground. The important element is that the Town
Council and I are committed to the betterment of the community and preparing
Chesterton for the next growth cycle while continuing to provide quality
essential services. It’s all about building relationships, establishing
trust and communication. Leadership-wise, I will follow a policy of
inclusiveness, transparency, and collaborative management that works well
with multiple managers from a variety of backgrounds, disciplines, and
On the subject of economic development—one of the key duties
in his job description—Doyle said that he expects to work closely with
department heads, the Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce, the Porter
County Convention, Recreation, and Visitors Commission, and all other
stakeholders. “Economic development is everybody’s business. There is no
silver bullet, no magic wand waving. One person cannot and shouldn’t be
solely responsible for economic development. It’s a team sport, and as with
any team it needs coaches for different aspects of development, working
towards a common end under a strong leader.”
Doyle does have a few ideas, however:
•Updating the Chesterton Zoning Ordinance and Comprehensive
Plan. “We will be seeking input from the department heads, employees, and
the community to bring them up to date as viable planning tools for future
growth,” Doyle said.
•Thinking beyond the steel mills and creating an environment
for clean, green, light industry. “This will help strengthen our tax base
while providing more sustainable jobs for the community,” Doyle said. “A
state of the art medical center could be a partial solution, like a Mayo
Clinic. Our location is perfect for a variety of light industries that
wouldn’t conflict with the small-town atmosphere those of us sought when
moving or remaining here.”
•Developing attractions for out-of-towners, like a railroad
or shipping museum and bed-and-breakfasts. Doyle also wants to improve the
Downtown infrastructure—new sidewalks and landscaping, spruced up
storefronts—to “successfully recruit healthy unique retailers to the
Downtown for both day and evening services, especially the evening.”
“Accountability between municipal employees, the Town
Council, and the Town Manager is essential to effective, government,” Doyle
added. “I want Chesterton residents to see me as a conduit to the department
heads and Town Council. People in small towns everywhere have the same
problems. They may have different accents, different fashions, but they have
the same problems. I’ll make sure those problems are aired and then
Doyle will earn a salary of $68,000 per year and will receive
$250 per month to pay the lease on his personal vehicle, which will be used
as well for municipal business.
But the council has not yet pinpointed the accounts and funds
from which Doyle will be paid. Members did vote 5-0 to approve on its first
reading an ordinance which would make this distribution: $50,000 from CEDIT
funds, $12,500 from the Sanitary Sewer Utility, and $5,500 from the General
Fund. But Member Sharon Darnell, D-4th, expressed a concern that at a
minimum, and for the sake of fairness, the Stormwater Utility should also
The council will re-consider that ordinance—or a different
version of it—at its next meeting, Feb. 9.
Member Jeff Trout thanked Ton and LeAnn McCrum of the
Northwest Indiana Small Business Development Center for their work in
refining the job description and necessary skill sets, in drafting the job
notice, and in preparing members for interviewing candidates.