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Sat 13

Chris Rowlands

August 13 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Tue 16

Intro To Nature Journaling

August 16 @ 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Thu 18

Imaginature Playgroup

August 18 @ 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Thu 18

Imaginature Playgroup

August 18 @ 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Sat 20

Summer Stroll

August 20 @ 9:30 am - 11:00 am

Full History – The Beginning

JOHNNY APPLESEED METROPOLITAN PARK DISTRICT

 

FOREWORD

 In 1969, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources published a study on recreation areas and open space throughout the State of Ohio. The results showed that Allen County had one of the smallest areas of recreation for its population. The study was brought to the attention of the Allen County Commissioners by members of the Allen Soil Conservation Service and provided the initial thrust for the establishment of the Johnny Appleseed Metropolitan Park District.

In 1970 the Allen County Commissioners, James Shafer, Richard Thompson, and Robert Townsend, Jr., appointed a group of concerned citizens to a Park Advisory Board. Ann Nunley (Lauer) was elected chairman. This Board of 21 people was charged with the responsibility of determining the interest in parks of Allen County residents, plus initiating a plan for development and funding of potential park areas.

The Board members, Dale Archer, Rita Blanchard, John R. Blymyer, Art J. Chatroo, Gene Cornwell, John R. Evans, Fred Gooding, Frank Hackman, Ruth Kreher, Capt. Mike Kipick, Ron Kunz, Ann Nunley (Lauer), Bruce Plumb, James Rex, Mike Smith, Richard Smith, Roland Smith, Chuck Wells, Jack Wetherill, Charles Williams, Furl Williams and three ex-officio members, Richard Schroeder, Dorothy Beers and Barbara Schively (Saeger), spent two years interacting with the community to determine the general feelings of the public relating to park interests.

In January 1972 the Allen County Commissioners, on the recommendation of the Park Advisory Board, engaged James M. Jennings Associates, Area Economics Consultants from Columbus, Ohio, to conduct a three-month feasibility study of a Metropolitan Park District in Allen County. The cost of the study  was $1,999.

The findings of the study were:

  1.  There was a severe lack of park land in Allen County;
  2. There was a wealth of natural, scenic, historic and open space areas suitable for park purposes;
  3. There was a wide-spread interest in forming a Park District as soon as possible.

The firm recommended that the people proceed with the actions necessary to establish a Metropolitan Park District in Allen County.

The first step was to file an application with the Probate Court, which was done on June 5, 1972. The application was prepared by County Prosecutor Lawrence Huffman and signed by Shawnee Township Trustee Wendell Bowsher.

 

ESTABLISHMENT OF THE PARK DISTRICT

On June 28, 1972, a public hearing was held at the Allen County Courthouse with Probate Judge David O. Steiner presiding. After hearing arguments for and against the establishment of a Park District, Judge Steiner ruled that a Park District, including all of Allen County except Beaverdam and Delphos, was in the best interest of the citizens of Allen County. This action marked the establishment of the Park District named “The Johnny Appleseed Metropolitan Park District” by the people of Allen County.

The basis for Park Districts in the State of Ohio is found in the Ohio Revised Code, Chapter 1545. This section of the code deals with the procedures and guidelines in the formation and governing of a Park District. Upon the creation of a Park District, the Probate Judge appoints a Board of three Park Commissioners. A total of eighteen applications with resumes were received. Judge Steiner appointed Ann Nunley (Lauer), Calvin R. Kiracofe, and Brian Wheeler to terms of one year, two years, and three years respectively as the first Park Board. These Commissioners took office on July 10, 1972, and served for twenty, nine, and six years respectively. Commissioners are bonded and serve without pay.

DUTIES OF THE PARK COMMISSIONERS

One of the first tasks of the newly appointed Commissioners was to establish the “Goals and Objectives” of the Park District. These Goals and Objectives were adopted in December 1972:

  1. To acquire lands of unique characteristics for conversion into reserves, directed toward conservation of natural resources;
  2.  To create and promote the use of parks for the benefit of this and future generations;
  3. To provide educational programs to stimulate an appreciation for the wonders and bounties of nature and to promote sound ecological principles;
  4. To maintain an inventory of natural areas and to keep informed of the various programs available to implement these goals and objectives.

These goals and objectives remain the same today and provide the framework for Park District policies and decisions.

OPERATIONS OF THE PARK DISTRICT

The Ohio Revised Code mandates that the County Auditor and Treasurer are ex-officio members of the Park Board. Richard Ditto was the County Auditor and Herbert McElwain was the County Treasurer in 1972. John R. Evans volunteered his services as Legal Counsel.

1545.07 Board of park commissioners; employees.  The commissioners appointed in accordance with section 1545.07 of the Revised Code shall constitute the board of park commissioners of the park district. Such board shall be a body politic and corporate, and may sue and be sued as provided in sections 1545.01 to 1545.28, inclusive, of the Revised Code. Such board may employ a secretary and such other employees as are necessary in the performance of the powers conferred in such sections. For the purposes of acquiring, planning, developing, protecting, maintaining, or improving lands and facilities thereon under section 1545.11 of the Revised Code, and for other types of assistance which it finds necessary in carrying out its duties under Chapter 1545 of the Revised Code, the board may hire and contract for professional, technical, consulting, and other special services, and may purchase goods. In procuring any goods, the board shall contract as a contracting authority under sections 307.86 to 307.91, inclusive, of the Revised Code, to the same extent and with the same limitations as a board of county commissioners. In procuring services, the board shall contract in the manner and under procedures established by the bylaws of the board as required in section 1545.09 of the Revised Code.

The Park District logo was designed by Orvis Skolos, the winner of a contest sponsored by the Art Association to select a logo for the Park District.

The first Park Board met wherever the Commissioners could find space, from the Court House steps to the Legal Counsel’s office, to the unoccupied Ottawa Valley Hospital, to space provided by Spyker Enterprises for $30 per month.

As a political subdivision of the State of Ohio, the Park District is eligible for a share of the Local Government Funds dispersed by the County Budget Commission. The first year the Park District received $6,300 from the Local Government Fund. This was the major source of funding for 1972.

The first Metropolitan Park in Allen County was McLean Teddy Bear Park, named by the Lima Area Jaycees for Mr. McLean, who gave a teddy bear to every child hospitalized overnight in Allen County. Originally twenty acres of woods used as a pilot program by the Advisory Board, the area was increased to 42.5 acres when the County Commissioners added 22.5 acres of meadow. The Park Commissioners entered into a contract with the Allen County Commissioners for a 99-year lease for control, development, and supervision of this area.

The Park staff as of October 1972 consisted of one full-time employee.  With the assistance of the Lima Area Jaycees, the Lima Junior Service League, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Shawnee Lions’ Club, and other volunteer groups and individuals, the supervisor developed McLean Teddy Bear for use as a park.

The number of visitors to McLean Teddy Bear Park proved that the community would appreciate and support parks.

On July 16, 1973, through President Richard Nixon’s “Legacy of Parks Program”, the Park District acquired 162 acres of under-utilized Federal property from the Lima Army Modification Center, which became Heritage Park. Eighty-one acres of this land were returned to the Modification Center for expansion, leaving the park on Reed Road its present size of 81 acres of woods, trails, ponds, and picnic facilities.

With the addition of the land and the acquisition of Federal funds and grants, the Park District made impressive progress. In 1974, a full-time secretary was hired to replace a part-time high school business student who had been the acting secretary.

 In 1975, the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) permitted the Park Board to employ a director, naturalist, ranger, and later a program specialist , and two park managers .

The Park Commissioners placed the Park District’s first levy attempt on the ballot in June, 1976. The ½ mill levy failed.

A jewel was added to the Park District in 1977 when the Park District acquired 182 acres of woods through a bequest by Florence Kendrick and a Land and Water Conservation Fund grant. The park, due to funding limitations, would remain unopened until years later.

A second ½ levy was attempted in June of 1978. Though additional support was garnered, the levy failed.

On April 30, 1979, the Park District acquired a small but important site on Agerter Road in Amanda Township. This three-acre access to the Auglaize River provides facilities for canoeing, boating, and fishing.

A third levy was attempted for support of the Park District in November 1979. The ½ mill levy once again failed.

Henry Koch, a Bath Township resident, donated ten acres of woodland adjacent to McLean Teddy Bear Park in 1980. The Park Commissioners then purchased 3.5 acres which included a house, bringing the park to  55.5 acres and the site of the Park District Office.

A reduction in CETA funds and the failure of a park levy forced the Park Board to downsize in 1980.

Despite financial difficulties, the Park District continued to increase in size. In 1982, the Park Commissioners entered into a contract with the Allen County Commissioners and opened the Allen County Farm Park on Slabtown Road and State Route 81 East. This 45 acre park is open by reservation only and features a large restored barn for groups of up to 225 people. An antique-variety apple orchard honoring Park Volunteer Naturalist William Lippincott, volleyball, horseshoes, playground equipment, and a large barbecue pit make this park a popular site for family reunions and group activities.

In 1982 the federal CETA program was terminated. A 1 mill levy was placed on the November 1982 general election ballot and was narrowly defeated. With the defeat, the Park Commissioners were forced to close the gates to the parks. Only one full-time employee, a Park Manager/Ranger was retained for security and maintenance and a secretary was employed for one day a week. The Park Commissioners kept a close watch on all property while they sought public support and stressed the importance of a viable, funded park district.

On June 3, 1983, a ten-year 1/3 mill levy was passed overwhelmingly on behalf of the Park District. This voter support made it possible to re-open the parks and employ a full time director and   secretary and begin to seek other qualified employees. Park attendance increased enormously during 1983 with great demand for nature programs and a variety of outdoor recreation activities.

 Kendrick Woods was developed through a Land and Water Conservation Grant, along with corporate and private donations. The Park District purchased an additional 25 acres in 1985 and opened Kendrick Woods in 1987, the largest contiguous wooded area in the five surrounding counties.

The McElroy Environmental Education Center, an addition to the office at 2355 Ada Road in 1988, enabled the staff to present nature programs in the Center when the weather was not suitable for scheduled outdoor programs. The Park Commissioners meet in this facility, as do the trustees of the Park District Foundation of Allen County, which was established in 1987 to provide the Park District with funds for land acquisition, capital improvements and Park District events and programs not covered by Park District levy income.

To celebrate its 75th anniversary in 1990, the Lima Rotary Club constructed a Riverwalk along the Ottawa River from the Collett Street Recreation Area in the City of Lima south to Heritage Park on Reed Road. The Riverwalk features 5.1 miles of a paved hike/bike trail and is operated cooperatively by the City of Lima and the Johnny Appleseed Metropolitan Park District.

On December 20, 1990, the Allen County Commissioners and the Park Commissioners entered into a long-term lease of the 136 County-owned acres of land adjacent to the 89-acre Lima Lake, which had been abandoned in 1951.

On January 7, 1991, Lima City Council voted to deed the Lima Lake Reservoir to the Park District and the 225-acre Ottawa Metro Park on State Route 81 east of Lima was created. The Park District obtained a Waterways Safety Fund Grant and immediately began construction of a boat ramp, restroom facilities, driveway and parking lots. The park opened in 1994. A large shelter house was constructed in 1995.

 The City of Delphos was annexed to the Park District through a petition drive in 1991 and Kendrick Woods Metro Park grew by 11 acres through the purchase of a wetland area east of Defiance Trail.

In 1992, the City of Lima launched a campaign to initiate metro-government in Allen County and proposed a merger proposal by which the Lima City Parks, Recreation and Forestry Divisions would be absorbed by the Johnny Appleseed Metropolitan Park District. The proposal included a demand to raise the Park District’s county-wide property tax levy to .95 mills to cover part of the additional operational costs. The Park District Commissioners rejected the proposal due to the conflict of missions as proscribed by the Ohio Revised Code for municipal recreation systems and metropolitan park districts (ORC 755 and 1545, respectively). Due to the confusion and misinformation presented to the citizens of Allen County by the City of Lima, ¾ mill levies were defeated in both May and November of 1992.

In May of 1993, Allen County voters approved a ten-year, 3/4 mill levy to maintain and improve  the Park District following a campaign to inform voters of the facts regarding the prior year’s merger proposal from the City of Lima.

As part of the 1993 levy, the Cooperative Park Improvement Grant Program was started in 1994. Political subdivisions across Allen County received funding through the Johnny Appleseed Metropolitan Park District for capital improvements in their community parks. $100,000 per year was dedicated to the program, which made remarkable improvements in city, village and township parks throughout Allen County.

On July 1, 1996, the Park Commissioners signed a management agreement with the Ohio Historical Society for operation and maintenance of 11½ acres of Fort Amanda State Memorial on State Route 198 southwest of Lima. This area provides picnic facilities restrooms, hiking trails and a overlook to the Auglaize River, as well as a 50 ft. high gray granite monument telling the story of the 1812 Fort.

1997 saw the extension of the Rotary Riverwalk into Heritage Park with the construction of a one kilometer loop at the West End of the park. In addition, the Kiracofe Prairie was dedicated at Kendrick Woods Metro Park. The prairie is a restored/planted prairie to educate visitors regarding the importance of native prairie grasses and flowers in our area prior to and after settlement.

Phase 2 of the Ottawa Metro Park development started in 1997 as well and included the five acre swimming lake and beach, beach house and a second large shelter for reservations. The new facilities opened in 1998.

The Lippincott Bird Sanctuary, a 37 acre natural area, was donated to the Park District by William Lippincott in 1998.

In 1999, the Johnny Appleseed Metropolitan Park District Commissioners entered into agreement with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to manage the Deep Cut Historical area on the Miami Erie canal. The 8.5 acre site is the deepest excavation on the entire length of canal from Lake Erie to the Ohio River.

Also in 1999, the Park District received a $28,500 NatureWorks grant toward the development of the Ottawa Metro Park campground. Both the campground and the amphitheater were opened in 2001

The Village of Beaverdam was annexed to the Park District in 2001.

The 10 year, ¾ mill replacement levy was passed by the voters of Allen County by a 2:1 margin in the Spring of 2003, showing the overwhelming support of a strong Park District for Allen County.

Eighteen acres of land was purchased from Allen County and added to the Allen County Farm Park in 2003. The acreage is used by the Allen Horses in Harness Club that partners with the Park District for special events, including the biennial Apple Festival. A Recreational Trails Grant of $26,900 was also received and used to build the bridle trail, driveway and parking lot at the Allen County Farm Park.

A Clean Ohio Fund grant was received in 2003 in the amount of $421,125 to purchase eighty additional acres adjacent to McLean Teddy Bear Park, bringing the total park acreage to 135.5.

An additional 58.8 acres of land was purchased adjacent to the Ottawa Metro Park in 2004 and was designated to be developed as a working historical farm. The Evans Arboretum, named for John Evans who served as a long term legal advisor for the Park District, was dedicated in 2004.

The Lippincott Bird Sanctuary was dedicated and opened in 2005.

2006 was a busy year for the Park District. Two additions were made to Kendrick Woods Metro Park. 52.5 acres along St. Rt. 81 and the Auglaize River were purchased and shortly thereafter an adjacent 58.5 acres was offered and purchased. These were the first parcels east of the Auglaize River to be added to Kendrick Woods Metro Park.

The Motter Metro Park was established near Bluffton Ohio through a Clean Ohio Fund Grant of $166,500 for the purchase of 55 acres along the Little Riley Creek.

Also in 2006, conceptual plans for the Lauer Historical Farm in the Ottawa Metro Park were presented. Unfortunately, the Ohio Legislature announced the passage of a bill that eliminated tangible personal property taxes which in turn cut the Park District’s budget by 19% and the plans were put on hold.

A $78,000 Clean Ohio Trails Fund grant was received for the improvement of the towpath trail along the Miami Erie Canal from Deep Cut Historical Park to Spencerville. In addition, a $1.4 million Clean Ohio Fund grant was received to extend the Riverwalk from Lima to the Ottawa Metro Park. The Rotary Club of Lima donated nearly $400,000 as a local match for the grant.

In 2007, the Park Commissioners purchased the former 50 acre well field from the City of Delphos after a lengthy court battle. The land is located on St. Rt. 66 at the West End of Kendrick Woods Metro Park.

The Veterans Committee and the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center honored the Park District in 2010 by dedicating the Veteran’s Freedom Flag Monument and trusting staff to care for it. The monument is the largest known stationary flag in the country.

An additional and adjacent 50 acre parcel was purchased in 2010 at the Motter Metro Park with a Clean Ohio Fund Grant of $262,500. The Motter family donated the local match for this grant.

In May of 2013, Allen County voters overwhelmingly passed the ¾ mill levy by a margin of three to one, proving once again the value of the parks to our citizens. Due to ongoing and increasing budget cuts from the State of Ohio the ¾ mill levy was generating only 70% of what it initially produced in 1993.

Another parcel of land was offered to the Park District adjacent to Kendrick Woods and the Auglaize River in 2014. The Park District applied for and received a Clean Ohio Fund Grant in the amount of $324,500 and purchased the property along Zion Church Road.

Work began on the most recent park in 2014 following the receipt of generous bequest by Carole Hermon. 71 acres of woodlands were purchased and developed in American Township on N. Wapak Rd. The Park District also received a $461,305 Clean Ohio Fund grant for the purchase and development of the Hermon Woodlands Metro Park. The park was dedicated and opened in 2016.

The Commissioners of the Johnny Appleseed Metropolitan Park District placed an additional ¾ mill levy on the May, 2015 ballot to make up for state budget cuts and local property devaluation. The levy passed by a 55% margin and will be collected for eight years, the expiration to match that of the existing ¾ mill levy in 2023.

The Park District has made steady progress since its creation in 1972. Annual attendance figures exceed 760,000 visitors. In 2020, attendance numbers exceeded 900,000, the highest annual attendance ever for the Park District. There are approximately 1500 acres in the park system broken into fifteen different areas plus the Riverwalk.

The current Board of Park Commissioners governing these 13 areas are Dr. Robert K.Antibus, Kevin P. Bruin and Donna M. Creamer.

The Johnny Appleseed Metropolitan Park District is a comprehensive system of natural areas and preserves in Allen County, carefully planned to retain the natural features and to serve all of the people of the county.

 

Chronology of Events

 

1969    The Ohio Department of Natural Resources published a study on recreation and open space             throughout Ohio, brought to the attention of the Allen County Commissioners by the Allen Soil Conservation District.

1970    The Allen County Commissioners appointed a group of concerned citizens to a Park Advisory  Board.

1972    A three-month feasibility study of a Metropolitan Park District by James M. Jennings Associates, Columbus, Ohio.

1972    Application for a Park District made to the Probate Court. Park District established June 30, 1972.

1972    McLean Teddy Bear Park established through long term lease by Allen County Commissioners-20 acres, then increased to 42.5 acres.

1973    Heritage Park (162 acres) established via deed from U.S. Government

1974    Park District logo designed by Orvis Skolos.

1975    Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) permitted the Park Board to employ key personnel.

1976   June: First attempt to pass a ½ mill levy for the Park District: Failed

1977   45 acres at Allen County Farm Park acquired with long term lease by the Allen County Commissioners

1977   Kendrick Woods original land (182 acres)  purchase through $211,000 bequest and $111,500 LWCF Grant along with conservation easements of 20, 5, and 7.1 acres.

1978   June: Second attempt to pass a ½ mill levy for the Park District: Failed

1978   81 acres of Heritage Metro Park was re-conveyed to the Federal government for the Lima Army Tank Plant test track

1979    Access to Auglaize River at Agerter Road established.

1979   November: Third attempt to pass a ½ mill levy for the Park District: Failed

1980   McLean Teddy Bear Park expanded to 56 acres through 10 acre donation by Henry Koch and 3.5 acre purchase by Park District (site of current office)

1982    Allen County Farm Park opened.

1982   November: Fourth attempt to pass a 1 mill levy for the Park District: Failed

1983    June: Fourth attempt to pass a 1/3 mill levy: Passed

1984   $2,500 grant awarded by Wells Fargo for a physical fitness trail in Heritage Park

1985   25 acres of land purchased at Kendrick Woods for development of shelters, restrooms, etc.

1986   Kendrick Woods-Purchased conservation easements of  12.6 and 9.8 acres

1987    Kendrick Woods Metro Park opened

1987    Park District Foundation of Allen County established.

1988   McElroy Environmental Education Center added to the Park District Office

1990    Riverwalk established.

1991    Ottawa Metro Park established.

1991   Kendrick Woods-Purchased 11acre Meyer property

1991    City of Delphos became part of Park District.

1992    Establishment of Johnny Appleseed Yarn Spinners storytelling group

1992   Ottawa Metro Park construction began for entry, boat ramp, parking, fishing deck and restroom with a $129,500 Ohio Waterways Safety Fund Grant

1992   ¾ mill levies failed in May and November

1993    A ten-year 3/4 mill levy passed in May.

1996    Ft. Amanda State Memorial added to Park District

1997    Planned second phase developments to Ottawa Metro Park. A $105,000 NatureWorks grant was received for the beach house

1997   Heritage Park bikeway 1 kilometer loop added to Riverwalk

1997   Kiracofe Prairie dedicated at Kendrick Woods

1998   Opened Ottawa Metro Park Beach

1998   37.09-acre Lippincott Bird Sanctuary bequeathed to Park District

1998   Retrofitted all reservable shelters with electric service

1999   $28,500 NatureWorks grant for Ottawa Metro Park campground

1999   8.5-acre Deep Cut Historical Park leased to Park District from ODNR Division of Water

1999   92.5 acre Settlemire property purchased at Kendrick Woods

2000   Water debate with Delphos goes to court

2000   Ottawa Metro Park campground / amphitheater construction started

2001   Completed Ottawa Metro Park campground

2001   Annexed Beaverdam to Park District

2002   Celebrated Park District’s 30th Anniversary

2002   Opened Ottawa Metro Park campground

2003   Purchased 18 additional acres at Allen County Farm Park

2003   Received $421,125 Clean Ohio Fund grant and purchased Pickrell Farm, an 80 acre addition to McLean Teddy Bear Park

2003   Opened Bridle Trail at Allen County Farm Park with a $26,900 Recreational Trails Fund grant

2003   With a 2 to 1 margin, Allen County citizens approved a replacement ¾ mill levy

2004   Completed Evens Arboretum at Ottawa Metro Park and dedicated July 17, 2004

2004   Park District acquired the 58.8 acre Roberts Property adjacent to the Ottawa Metro Park to become the Lauer Historical Farm

2004   Renovation of North Barn at Allen County Farm Park

2005   Opened the Lippincott Bird Sanctuary

2006   The Park District Foundation revitalized – strategic plan implemented, endowment fund created

2006   Huber Property acquired, 52.5 acres, adjacent to Auglaize River & Kendrick Woods

2006   Matthews Property acquired, 58.5 acres, adjacent to Auglaize River & Kendrick Woods

2006   Lauer Historical Farm Park conceptual plan announced

2006   $78,000 Clean Ohio Trails Fund grant received for Deep Cut to Spencerville Trail

2006   55-acre Motter parcel in Bluffton added to Park District through $166,500 Clean Ohio Fund grant

2006   $1.4 Million Clean Ohio Fund grant received to extend Rotary Riverwalk to Lauer Historical Farm and Ottawa Metro Park

2007   Park District hosts Lima Exchange Club event: Healing Fields at Ottawa Metro Park

2007   Park District celebrates 35th Anniversary with all-day event at Ottawa Metro Park

2007   Kendrick Woods: Purchased 50 acre (Delphos Well field) on St. Rt. 66

2010   Veterans Freedom Flag Monument dedicated

2010   Motter Metro Park: Purchased 50 acres with $262,500 Clean Ohio Fund Grant

2013   A ¾ mill replacement levy passed by a three to one margin.

2014   Kendrick Woods: Purchased 61.3 acres (Stockton Property) with $324,500 Clean Ohio Fund Grant

2014   Hermon Woodlands Metro Park (71 acres) purchased with a bequest from Carole Hermon and a $461,305 Clean Ohio Fund Grant

2015   An additional ¾ mill levy passed with a 55% voter approval

2016   The Hermon Woodlands Metro Park is opened in May

2016   Evans Archery Range completed with a gift from Richard B. (Dick) Evans

2017   Construction begins o the Lauer Historical Farm

2017   Renovations begin on the South Barn at the Allen County Farm Park

2018   Renovations complete on the south Barn at Allen County Farm Park

2018   Park District commissions The Barn Artist (Scott Hagan) to design and paint a new bicentennial logo on the south end of the barn, facing State Route 81

2018   Park District begins and finishes Phase I construction of the Miami and Erie Canal Towpath Trail, Spencerville north corp. line to Zion Church Road

2018   Wetland development project conceptualized for Motter Metro Park in partnership with the Nature Conservancy

2018   Lauer Historical Farm dedication and open house (August)

2018   Park District commissions the BEETLE (Bringing Environmental Education To Learners Everywhere) mobile environmental education unit as part of a second donation from Richard (Dick) Evans

2019   Park District begins and finishes Phase II construction of the Miami and Erie Canal Towpath Trail, Zion Church Road to south corp. line of Delphos

2019   Park District begins development of the Stockton property (purchase in 2014) for the enhancement of trail opportunities as part of Kendrick Woods, $143,366 Clean Ohio Fund Grant

2019   Park District designs and installs interpretive trail signage at Motter Metro Park, $35,581 Clean Ohio Fund Grant

2019    Donation of 50 acres of land on Sunderland Road from Herbert and Elfie Beil

2019    Donation of 23 acres of land adjacent to Kendrick Woods, Krendl Family

2019    Purchase of 12 acres, (Osting Property) for access to the Miami and Erie Canal Towpath Trail, $169,526, Clean Ohio Fund Grant for purchase and development

2019   Purchase of 60.9 Acres, (Lowry Farm) as parkland in southeastern Allen County, $408,937, Clean Ohio Fund Grant for purchase and development

2019    New Playground installed at McLean Teddy Bear Park, National Demonstration Site, $40,000 OPRA and Gametime Playground Grant

2019    Inaugural Lauer Farms 1944 World War II Living History Event (October)

2020    Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit the World.

2020    Dedication of Robert K. Antibus Trail Access (formerly Osting Property) (July)

2020    Dedication of Haver Ridge Metro Park (formerly Lowry Farm) (September)

2021    Construction of new Park District office begins

Park District Commissioners

Brian Wheeler 1972 – 1977
Calin Kiracofe 1972 – 1981
Ann Nunley Lauer 1972 – 1991
Sharon Bressler 1978 – 1980
Dr. Stephen CaJacob 1981 – 1989
Warren Jacobs 1982 – 1993
Donald Jolley 1990 – 1992
Nancy Steiner 1992 – 2012
Peter Green 1993 – 2004
Dr. Robert Antibus 1994 – Present
Kevin Bruin 2005 – Present
Cathy Ahman 2013 – 2016
Donna Creamer 2017 – Present

Park District Foundation of Allen County Trustees

Ann Nunley Lauer 1987 – 1995
Warren Jacobs 1987 – 1993
Dr. Stephen CaJacob 1987 – 1989
Lee Lichtenfels 1987 – 1990
Richard Evans 1987 – 1990
Harold Sehnert 1988 – 1992
Wendell Freeland 1988 – 1994
Sharon Bresler 1988 – 1992
Charles Hutchinson 1988 – 1995
Donald Jolley 1990 – 1992
Robert Townsend, Jr. 1991 – 1995
Nancy R. Steiner 1992 – 2012
Peter Green 1993 – 2004
Dr. Robert Antibus 1994 – Present
Kevin Bruin 2005 – Present
Cathy Ahman- 2013 – 2016
Richard Rudolph 2013 – 2016
Max Stover 2013 – 2015
John Hoffman 2013 – 2016
Donna Creamer 2017 – Present

DIRECTORS

William Jency Brown 1975 – 1982
Kevin L. Haver 1983 – 2020
Tyler B. Black 2020 – Present

 PROBATE JUDGES

David O. Steiner 1965 – 1974
David R. Kinworthy 1974 – 2006
Glenn Derryberry 2007 – 2021
Todd Kohlreiser 2021 – Present

LEGAL ADVISORS

John R. Evans 1972 – 1985
Lawrence Huffman 1986 – 1987
Richard Warren 1987 – 1988
Donald Witter 1989 – 1991
 Dale Vandemark 1992 – Present 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The residents of Allen County have been served by caring and interested Probate Judges, dedicated Park Commissioners, and by a well-trained and professional staff. They have also benefited from the selfless services by hundreds of volunteers who have worked on the levies, volunteered as trail guides, program assistants and as special events workers.

This history is updated as of 2021 with a tremendous future ahead for the Johnny Appleseed Metropolitan Park District. The Commissioners and Staff deeply appreciate the citizens of Allen County for their ongoing support of the Park District.