$1.3M bequested to county parks

Seneca County Park District’s board Tuesday accepted a bequest of more than $1.3 million to its endowment fund to be used for special projects.

The bequest from the late Robert Teach, of Republic, who died Jan. 31, was made to the endowment fund, and interest earned from the principal can be used for park projects but not for operating expenses.

“It’s exciting news,” said Sarah Betts, executive director of the park district. “Robert’s gift was a truly thoughtful, well-planned donation for the future of parks and the many people we serve.”

Speaking for everyone involved with the park district, she said, “We are extremely grateful for the generosity of Mr. Teach.”

Betts said Teach had the foresight to invest an initial sum of money and allow it to grow, and that investment is establishing his legacy with parks and the people of the county. The bequest was $1,365,000.

“We are going to be calling back the people that were on the Grant Funds Committee to meet and discuss how to handle the fund and determine how much may be allotted each year,” Betts said. “It will vary from year to year, depending on the amount of interest earned.”

In 2014, the SCPD board established the Seneca County Park District Endowment Fund in cooperation with Tiffin Community Foundation as a way to promote contributions to the park district that would provide long-term financial security for programs, property and projects that support the district’s mission.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the board approved a job description for the park board’s chairperson.

Betts said no applications have been received for the Community Parks Grant Program, a competitive grant program that provides funds for community parks in Seneca County. The application deadline is May 1.

In her report, Betts said Seneca Regional Planning Commission’s Active Transportation Steering Committee conducted a two-day meeting to begin planning for bikeways and walkways throughout the county and connections to other county bikeways. Another meeting is planned in April to discuss historic sites and corner stones to include in the plan.

Plans are moving forward on offering Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist training this fall in conjunction with the Franciscan Earth Literacy Center. Betts said Ohio State University Extension, which operates the program, is planning to contact the local Extension office and FELC before an orientation takes place. After the orientation, if the plan is approved at the state level, the local class can be advertised.

Nature Preserves Manager Troy Gibson reported mowing preparations are in place for the coming season and volunteer applications are available for people interested, equipment and log books are ready for use and eye safety and hearing protection supplies are ready for use.

Gibson said volunteer James Coffman continues to maintain purple martin gourds and bluebird houses, and he recently placed chickadee nest boxes at Garlo Heritage Nature Preserve.

The board meets at 8:30 a.m. May 8 at the park office, 3362 S. TR 151.