Starke County Officials Hoping to Make Visible Park Improvements with Stellar Finalist Funding

Starke County officials hope to make a visible impact on the county’s park facilities as a result of last year’s Stellar efforts. Constellation of Starke will get about $333,000 for being a finalist region in last year’s Stellar Communities Designation Program.

Executive committee member Marty Lucas reminded the county park board last week that it might be able to get some modest amount out of that. “My personal opinion, anyway, for what it’s worth, is that we should get some things that are kind of visible,” Lucas said. “I don’t know if you’ve been to North Judson and seen the mural. That’s a good example, one that didn’t cost a ton of money and it made something happen that people could see.”

Rik Ritzler is a member of both the Constellation of Starke executive committee and the park board. He and Lucas noted that there will be some restrictions on that money, but they hoped that Stellar program officials would let it be used to get to work on some projects. “I’m going to definitely twist his arm that we need to quit hiring consultants for a while and actually do something,” Lucas said.

“Right,” Ritzler agreed. “We have the park board plan. We have the county plan. We have all these plans that we need. Let us implement some of them.”

Constellation of Starke lost out on the actual Stellar designation to Marshall County Crossroads, and plans are in the works to apply again this year. It would make the region eligible for millions of dollars in state and federal grants.

In other business last week, Starke County Park Board President Richard Ballard and Secretary Rosemary Rose expressed willingness to continue serving in those positions, but members agreed to hold off on the formal reorganization until more members were present.