Chesterton Tribune

 
 

Lafayette's loss is Porter's gain as Bugajski hired for parks director

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By PAULENE POPARAD

The Porter Park Board hired its first director of parks Tuesday following a reorganization of staff.

Unanimously approved was the selection of Brian Bugajski, who’s currently with the Community Development Department of Lafayette where he’s been a project manager/planner since 2008. Bugajski was not in attendance last night.

His anticipated start date with Porter is in early February. That and his salary are being negotiated. The latter carries a yearly range of $40,000 to $48,000 in the adopted 2013 salary ordinance.

Board president Rondi Wightman said after the meeting that the Park Board had developed a job description and wish list for the ideal candidate they were seeking; more than 30 applicants were considered and several interviewed over the last month.

“Many of the candidates had one or two of the identified qualifications. Brian not only possessed all the skills on the ‘wish list’, but he has many years of municipal experience, hands-on park maintenance experience, supervisory experience, strong interpersonal and management skills, project coordination, community outreach and computer literacy and software competency,” Wightman explained.

Bugajski earned his undergraduate degree, a Bachelor of Arts in History, from Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselear, and his Master of Science in Historic Preservation from Ball State University in Muncie.

Bugajski follows 24-year Porter park superintendent Jim Miller, who was named Tuesday to the newly created position of trails/parks/facilities specialist with an annual salary of $40,000 this year.

In other business, Wightman was pleased to announce that Porter Public Works superintendent Brenda Brueckheimer and fire chief Lewis Craig Sr. supervised installation of an ice skating rink in Hawthorne Park west of the community building. “It was such a surprise; I so publicly want to thank everybody who came out to do this today.”

Pending next week’s predicted cold snap actually materializing, skating will begin when the rink water freezes. Last year it never froze long enough to allow skating at Hawthorne as planned.

Assistant Porter fire chief Jay Craig asked for and was granted Park Board permission for himself and Porter police officer Scott Cornelison to periodically train Harley and Kilo, their respective fire and police dogs, in the vacant lower level of the community building while the search for a tenant goes on. Some training equipment also will be stored there.

Approved was renewal of use of the community building twice a month by the Lakeshore Drifters 4H Club except for July/August. Group members donate their time to help with Park Department events and projects.

Wightman announced 2012 income from rental of Park Department facilities increased over 2011 by about $3,000 to $33,015 last year.

Barricades block Ackerman Drive in Hawthorne Park to allow construction of long-awaited drainage upgrades that began recently. The work is preliminary to construction, likely next year, of the Orchard Pedway hike/bike trail down Waverly Road with a leg through Hawthorne.

Upon completion a park master plan will be developed including a memorial garden area.

Welcomed last night were new Park Board members Ross LeBleu and Jeff Bailey. LeBleu, who was elected vice-president during annual reorganization, is from a small Louisiana community and said he finds Porter’s small-town feel and character appealing after living here 3 1/2 years. Bailey, now a 30-year resident, said, “My goal is to serve the town and the people of this town as diligently as I can.”

The men, who Wightman and holdover Park Board member Patty Raffin said were very helpful after being thrown into the director’s hiring process at a hectic time, replace outgoing board members Jessie Campaniello and Nikki Crist.

Campaniello last night commended Wightman and Raffin for the good job they do and offered to help the new board members during their transition.

Crist, who served one year only, was absent but by letter said it was a difficult decision to resign and cited health issues as the reason. As for the Park Department, “I know there are many more wonderful things to come.”

Wightman thanked the women for their service as well as former Town Council park liaison Rob Pomeroy, who is replaced this year by council member Jeannine Virtue. The audience was invited to stay after the meeting and share a cake in honor of Campaniello, Crist and Pomeroy.

In closing remarks Bailly thanked former 20-year park administrator Stephanie Miller for her service. Miller retired from the park position Dec. 31. The Town Council conducted an open house for her last week.

 

 

Posted 1/16/2013