Chesterton Tribune

Born Learning Trail, memorial garden eyed for Hawthorne Park

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The Porter Park Board agreed Tuesday a master plan needs to be developed to coordinate Hawthorne Park’s existing, planned and suggested uses including a memorial garden.

Lack of a plan didn’t stop the board from endorsing the concept of, but not the specific location for, a Chesterton/Porter Rotary Club Born Learning Trail like the one recently dedicated at Dogwood Park in Chesterton.

The trail uses 10 interactive stations in an outdoor setting to empower and educate children to promote early literacy. The project is co-sponsored by the United Way Success by 6 and the Parents As Teachers programs.

Rotary president Chuck Parkinson and past president Jim Anton showed the Porter Park Board a brief video presentation about the Born Trail. “I love it,” said board member Becky Maranto.

Board president Rondi Wightman initially said she preferred that the men return with their request in the spring, but Parkinson said all they were seeking at this time was authorization to work with park superintendent Jim Miller to find a recommended location, possibly even in another town park.

With that done, said Anton, the Rotary could earmark a trail for Porter and put it in later. The club purchases and installs the materials at its own cost and supplies the labor to the extent the Park Department wishes. The project includes optional stenciling on sidewalks adjacent to some of the Born Trail stations.

Memorial garden advances

The Park Board voted to develop a memorial garden at Hawthorne in cooperation with the Porter Fire Department and a professional landscape designer. Wightman later announced the Village Tavern in downtown Porter has donated $1,000 toward construction of the new garden.

The Park Board is working on a memorial for the late Bud Tilden, a Porter civic leader and friend of the parks, but now the project also will include an area to remember hometown hero Spc. Jim Butz, a Porter native and town firefighter who was killed in Afghanistan and laid to rest here.

The respective families will be consulted about their preferences, and board member Patty Raffin said the community can have input once the park’s options and opportunities are established. A goal is that the garden be accessible to all.

Fire Department assistant chief Jay Craig told board members to count the firefighters in. “It will be our honor to work on anything to support (Butz’s) sacrifice.”

Craig said the Fire Department is considering erecting its own memorial to fallen military and emergency responders as well.

Perfect Pint, perfect event

Craig was present on behalf of firefighters to commend the Park Board for the teamwork departments showed with event organizers Leroy’s Hot Stuff and Pat’s Liquors to put on this past Saturday’s inaugural Porter’s Perfect Pint brewfest, a fundraiser for the Park and Fire departments.

A steering committee will meet next week to determine how much money was raised; over 200 cars were parked at Hawthorne for the event. Thanked was Jack Kashak, present Tuesday, for his contributions.

Board member Jessie Campaniello thanked Liz Tilden, Leroy Flores, the Fire Department and others involved for their vision in launching Porter’s Perfect Pint.

On another matter, the free family-fun Boo Bash is set for Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m. at Hawthorne’s community building. Halloween costume judging for ages infant to 13 will begin at 2 p.m. Prizes will be awarded and refreshments will be served.

Also Tuesday:

• Superintendent Miller was given permission to hire a seasonal employee to work November to April 1.

• The board OK’d a one-year contract for $550 with Ryan Fire Protection; McDaniel Fire Systems, the current company that maintains the community building’s fire-suppression system, quoted $1,273.

• Miller said the town is requesting that the Park Department reduce its 2011 appropriation by $4,517. Wightman said she’s asked the park’s attorney about the request.

• By unanimous vote the board approved the free Feb. 11 rental of the community building by a Relay for Life team for a public bunco party/fundraiser. One hundred percent of the proceeds will be collected by the team for the American Cancer Society.



Posted 10/19/2011