Park district organizes for year

Seneca County Park District board members wrapped up 2012 and reorganized for the new year at their meeting Wednesday.

Board member Jim Nordholt said the district is carrying over $41,067 from last year.

“That’s unremarkable, and as we expected,” Nordholt said.

But board member Roland Zimmerman noted for the benefit of visitors to the meeting that the park district must carry over almost its entire budget each year because its sole income is received in early December.

“If we do not carry over all of our payday money, we do not have operating funds for the next year,” he said. “We only have one payday and that’s the first week of December every year because we have no other revenue source other than cash from the rent of farmland.”

During the board’s reorganizational meeting, Zimmerman moved to the position of chairman, and Carl Miller was elected vice chairman. According to the board’s by-laws, the vice chairman takes over as chairman the following year.

Due to the resignation of last year’s chairman, Russ Rife, at the end his term, Roy Zinn is continuing in the office of past chairman.

Director Pat Obringer was rehired at a salary of $7,200 a year, and volunteer secretary Judy Arnold was reappointed.

The county auditor and treasurer were appointed to the board as ex-officio members as required by state law.

Nordholt said the board is taking letters of interest from people who would like to serve on the volunteer board in Rife’s spot. Anyone interested should send a letter to the park office, 109 S. Washington St., Suite 2003, Tiffin, OH 44883, or call the office at (419) 447-8091 by Tuesday.

Nordholt said applicant names are to be sent to Judge Jay Meyer of Seneca County Probate Court, who makes the appointment. Board members serve three-year terms. The board meets at 7 p.m. the second Wednesday of the month and for special meetings as needed.

The sole applicant so far is Bill McAllister of Fostoria, who served as director of Gear Family YMCA, Fostoria, for 18 years, and is retiring from a regional YMCA job at the end of January. McAllister attended Wednesday’s meeting.

Also during the meeting, the board rehired Linda Rose as program director for $325 per month and as teacher/administrator for Out & About Preschool at $350 per month. Teacher assistant Tammy Vargo also was rehired for the preschool at $275 per month.

Zimmerman praised Rose’s success with the self-sustaining nature-based preschool, one of two schools of its kind east of the Mississippi River.

“I want to publicly thank her for what she has accomplished there,” he said. “The park district has zero funding to help her in this particular program.”

Rose said spots in the preschool remain in demand. The class is full now, and parents have children on waiting lists.

The size of the class is limited to 15 students because the building has only one bathroom available. She said she could increase class size if the preschool could get a variance on the restroom requirement. She said another option would be to add an afternoon class.

The board directed Obringer and Rose to check into the appeals process.

Rose said there has not been a fee increase since the program started six years ago, and she is considering raising fees next year.

Also, the board heard a presentation from Eagle Scout candidate Alec Wagner, a Columbian/Sentinel student who is planning to build a bridge over a ravine at the new Mercy Hospital Nature Preserve as his project.

Wagner is seeking the donation of lumber and other materials for the project.

Mercy preserve’s committee chairwoman Kathern Gase announced the park’s grand opening has been scheduled for 5 p.m. April 25.

At Steyer Nature Preserve, Miller reported, a stone road has been completed with a grant of more than $11,000 from the Ohio Department of Transportation, and Obringer said a new sign made from recycled lumber is to be placed at the hunters’ parking lot using a portion of a $6,000 grant from Ottawa, Sandusky, Seneca Joint Solid Waste District.

At Bowen Nature Preserve, Nordholt said, a property swap is making progress. The park district is trading a portion of land to an adjacent land owner in exchange for a 30-foot strip of land that separates West Lodi Church from Bowen preserve.

Zinn said the park district’s second log cabin renovation project has been idled until spring. He said volunteers put in more 2,300 hours last year. He also noted he drove more than 3,000 miles as a volunteer for the parks, which is less than many other volunteers drive.

In other business, the board:

Passed a resolution increasing the Supplies Fund by $6,000 to accommodate an OSS sign grant.

Heard the annual volunteer recognition dinner is to be March 13. Silent auction donations are requested by the February Friends meeting.

Heard a presentation from Mike Brown, who was hired by the Friends of the Seneca County Park District to update the park district website.

Heard Oktober Fest profits last year were $12,234.

Heard a work day is planned for 9 a.m. Saturday at Garlo Heritage Nature Preserve.

The board’s next meeting is 7 p.m. Feb. 13, preceded by a Friends meeting at 6 p.m., in the basement conference room of the RTA Building in downtown Tiffin.