Porter Park Department superintendent Jim Miller last night rescinded a
letter of resignation he previously submitted.
“I want to continue on and serve the people of Porter like I have,” he told
the Park Board. After the meeting Miller said, “I didn’t want to retire in
the first place” and declined further comment.
Miller has served as park superintendent for 24 years. His wife, Stephanie,
who has been park administrator for 20 years, also submitted a letter of
resignation made public in June but confirmed Tuesday she hasn’t rescinded
During public comment last night prior to Jim Miller’s announcement,
resident Karen Pisowicz spoke. “I think our parks are absolutely gorgeous,
used all the time, and I would hope everyone would rethink and not make him
do what he’s going to do, Stephanie too.”
Pisowicz’s remarks were greeted with applause from people in the audience.
Former Park Board member Becky Maranto later added, “I want to thank Jim for
rescinding his resignation from the Park Department.”
The matter came to light at the June 19 Park Board meeting when member
Jessie Campaniello congratulated the Millers on their planned Dec. 31
retirement; Stephanie Miller replied that announcement was premature, and
Jim Miller said nothing was firm with him.
However, board president Rondi Wightman said both resignations were accepted
at a June 4 executive session.
The Park Board is in the process of researching other park organizational
structures, and members are reviewing their department’s employee job
descriptions in advance of a meeting to discuss possible changes.
Wightman commented after last night’s meeting, “It’s not job performance at
all. (It’s about) how can we take the current positions and change so
programming is moved off the board.” She said she is spending 30-40 hours
per week related to park programming.
Wightman said while those projects --- festivals, a concert series and the
Duneland Seniors group reorganizing among them --- all are good things, new
projects are board-driven rather than by staff.
John Beckman formerly was involved with public management for 10 years and
currently is spearheading a restoration of the Little Calumet River area
north of Porter’s Hawthorne Park.
Last night during public comment he encouraged the Park Board to be
progressive and proactive about a possible dynamic change in park
management, but he also cautioned that the board would be better off before
making major changes to allow park stakeholders to participate and be
involved in that process through public informational meetings.
In other business Tuesday:
• Liz Tilden and Leroy Flores were granted board permission to have a large
tent erected for approximately one week at Hawthorne for the Oct. 6 Porter’s
Perfect Pint festival, and for other daily events and benefits at the park
during that time. The approval includes a $450 rental fee for the community
building Oct. 6. The board urged the pair to keep the Park Department
updated on specific plans.
• The Park Board heard a tentative request to allow parking on vacant
park-owned property at Waverly Road and Lincoln Street for May 18, 2013 when
the Hawthorne gazebo may be rented for an outdoor wedding. Board members
asked for time to get a better idea when planned drainage improvements and
trail construction along Waverly, Lincoln and through Hawthorne are slated
• Wightman said she and board member Patty Raffin recently walked the areas
to be disturbed accompanied by town officials. Raffin said the new drainage
design is aesthetically pleasing and won’t tear up the park. Public Works
superintendent Brenda Brueckheimer said everyone is excited about the
revised plans and thanked the Park Board for its patience.
• Wightman previewed the Aug. 29 Health and Wellness Fair at the Hawthorne
community building from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. hosted by the Duneland Senior
Center. Free screenings, health assessments, and 36 vendors will be on hand;
flu shots will be available as well as Fire Rescue information, door prizes
and refreshments. “I’m overwhelmed frankly with the response,” said
• Stephanie Miller reported the six-week summer children’s park program came
in under its $700 budget and saw 84 children ages 5 through 10 registered.
The Park Board also appropriated to donations $360 in registration fees
collected from 18 children who attended two youth cooking sessions featuring
guest chefs, a cook-off and basic kitchen safety.
• Jim Miller said despite this summer’s heat and drought, 27 newly planted
trees are doing well at Hawthorne.
• Maranto was granted permission for the Chesterton Pop Warner cheerleading
program to use the community building’s lower level for five hours one day
between Sept. 10 and 14 to accept delivery and do distribution of cookie
dough. A rental fee was waived.
• Beckman of the Izaak Walton League, Porter County Chapter was approved to
use a community building room Sept. 15 beginning at 9 a.m. to conduct a
program for Scout troops and youth groups.