Chesterton Tribune

Chesterton town manager hired; meet Bernie Doyle

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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 temperaments.”

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 hopefully solved.”


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 pony up.

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.


Posted 1/28/2009