Chesterton Tribune

Rotary pitches campaign for educational park walks to Porter

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The Chesterton/Porter Rotary Club wants children to be physically active and mentally engaged. That’s why it’s partnering with the Porter County United Way to bring 10-station educational walks to Duneland-area parks.

A walk recently was installed at Dogwood Park in Chesterton with a ribbon-cutting yet to be scheduled, and Rotary member Jim Anton told the Porter Park Board on Tuesday the club wants to install one at Hawthorne Park this fall.

Eventually, Anton said the Rotary hopes to sponsor an educational walk in Burns Harbor, too.

He explained the signs are attached to posts that parallel a park sidewalk, each sign having an activity related to topics like counting or the alphabet to educate and empower kids. The posts are typically 20 feet apart, and additional stations can be installed if desired.

Porter’s Park Board was enthusiastic about the program. “This sounds like a really neat idea,” said president Rondi Wightman.

Approval was delayed, however, pending members visiting the completed walks at Dogwood, Woodland Park in Portage and in Valparaiso. The matter will be revisited at the Oct. 18 Porter board meeting.

Where to put the walk at Hawthorne will have to be determined, said member Patty Raffin, especially in light of long-term plans for both the Orchard Pedestrian Way hike/bike trail and a major drainage project to be installed through the 20-acre park.

Pat Carlisle of Chesterton, representing the United Way, said eight educational walks have been installed regionally with additional requests coming in. “It’s really phenomenal.” The United Way is using money it received to promote early childhood development through its Success by 6 initiative.

The Rotary will provide the signs/posts and labor as needed to install them, and help maintain the sign faces, according to Anton.

Grant funds new trees

Park superintendent Jim Miller announced a grant he prepared and submitted was accepted by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry to remove eight ash trees at Hawthorne affected by the Emerald ash borer, and to plant a variety of 27 native trees there including 10 new hawthornes.

Miller said during his tenure 55 trees have been planted so far.

The grant will reimburse the Park Board for up to $6,220 in expenses including having Four Seasons Nursery provide and plant the trees. The Park Department will remove the ash trees and administer the grant to total $3,110 in in-kind services toward the project.

The Park Board authorized Miller to proceed and thanked him for his efforts. He said the park will need to upfront the $6,220 so the board agreed to ask the Porter Redevelopment Commission for a temporary loan. The RDC next meets Sept. 27. Alternatively, the Town Council will be asked for CEDIT money.

In a related matter, park administrator Stephanie Miller said the Izaak Walton League donated $1,000 for native seeds to be planted this Saturday morning by volunteers restoring Hawthorne’s areas near the Little Calumet River.

Giant movies, Perfect Pints

Voting 3-0 with member Becky Maranto absent, the Park Board approved the use of the Hawthorne baseball diamond where the comedy/drama “The Sandlot” will be shown on a 30-foot outdoor movie screen Sept. 30.

Elka Nelson, who’s rented the community building and grounds, made the request. The free family event is sponsored by Elka for Porter and The Committee to Elect Greg Stinson; both are candidates for Porter Town Council.

Nelson said there will be free food, beverages, a raffle, a free photo booth and the first 200 people attending will receive a pumpkin. The event runs 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. and the movie begins at approximately 7 p.m. A town assembly permit was approved and security will be present.

In case of bad weather the refreshments and activities will be moved indoors. As for the movie, Nelson said she has one year for the film company to show it so she would donate the showing to the park if it can’t take place Sept. 30.

The Park Board also discussed updated plans for the Oct. 15 Porter’s Perfect Pint brewfest with 20 specialty brewers slated to bring their beers to Hawthorne. Liz Tilden and Leroy Flores are sponsoring the event as a fundraiser for the Porter Park and Fire Departments.

Raffin relayed a request from Porter’s Branding Leadership Team promotional group that recently sponsored a contest to decorate Adirondack chairs with a Porter theme. The BLT wants to display the decorated chairs at Porter’s Perfect Pint, said Raffin, as well as raffle one in the silent auction but keep that money for the BLT itself.

The board voted unanimously not to allow the BLT to raffle a chair and directed that the group ask Tilden and Flores whether the BLT can display the decorated chairs at their event.

Bud’s Buddies organizing

The Park Board approved application materials for persons wishing to join Bud’s Buddies, a new friends of Porter parks group created as a living legacy for the late William “Bud” Tilden, a long-time Porter volunteer, civic leader and business owner who donated $5,000 to the Park Department.

Wightman said working with the Tilden family a history of Bud’s involvement was completed. Son Craig Tilden and granddaughter Corinne Peffers attended Tuesday’s meeting.

Bud’s Buddies will suggest ways to use the donated money, report annually to the Tilden family and help be stewards of Porter parks’ natural resources. Membership applications will be posted on the Town of Porter website or at of Porter Park Department.

On another matter, Raffin said attorney Robert Harper has been retained by the Park Board as its legal counsel after the new town attorney declined to represent the park. The Town Council has offered to give the Park Board $2,000 for its legal fees through 2011.



Posted 9/21/2011