Mehaffie sworn in as DCP board member

By Ryan Berry

DailyAdvocate.com

GREENVILLE – The Darke County Parks (DCP) is celebrating the addition of Darryl Mehaffie as its newest DCP Board Commissioner. Mehaffie was sworn in by Judge Jason Aslinger on Tuesday.

Mehaffie has been active in the community on numerous boards and organizations for many years, including the Darke County Agricultural Society, Edison State Community College and Darke County Center for the Arts (DCCA).

“This is a new journey for me,” Mehaffie said. “I’m excited about it. MaryAnn would say ‘you did it again Darryl, but I understand.’” His wife of 48 years, MaryAnn Mehaffie, passed away in January of this year. He continued, “I’m so looking forward to this. No one realizes what a great area this is out there.” He cited the 15 parks that are available and also the activities DCP presents for the community, including Prairie Days. “What I saw Saturday and Sunday with young people and their families is unreal. We need to promote this more publicly.”

Although a relationship has already been started between two of his boards, DCP and DCCA, through the Darke County Art Trail, Mehaffie is steadfast in continuing that relationship.

Roger Van Frank, DCP executive director, is excited to welcome Mehaffie to the board where he will join Tina White and Mike Henderson. “Darryl has a wealth of information and knowledge of the history of Darke County. This is just a great opportunity for us to have a great leader within our park district realm. Darryl has been so supportive over the years to me and to the park district,” said Van Frank.

Mehaffie replaces retiring board member Jon Cook, a 16-year veteran of the board. Cook was proud of his time on the board and his seven or eight volunteer years as a photographer for DCP prior to his appointment. He said, “It’s been rewarding in the fact that I’ve seen the growth of the parks.”

He has helped guide the park through the good times and some of the bad economic times, but also has a fondness for what they were able to accomplish. One of the biggest accomplishments during his tenure was the development of the trails that stretch from Bradford to Greenville City Park. Although it’s one of his most memorable accomplishments, there was another accomplishment that put a smile on his face. “Actually, the other thing is the development of the employees at the park district. It’s been rewarding to see their growth. We have one of the most cohesive, and they work so well together, now. We challenged them during COVID to think outside the box. They stepped up to the plate. We did a lot of things with video to keep the kids involved, as well as the parents involved. We created things where parents could pick up a box and do some programming with their kids.”

Although Cook is leaving the board, he has plans to continue being involved with DCP.

Van Frank praised his board and the responsibility they have. “This is an up-paid position. The only thing they get is a pat on the back once in a blue moon.” They are responsible for monitoring the fiscal reports as well as helping with the strategic plan for the district.

The director’s praise wasn’t limited to his board. “It all starts with the probate judge of the county, Judge (Jason) Aslinger. His support is also extremely important. He has to approve if we acquire or are gifted land from individuals. He is the one to determine whether or not it is appropriate for the park to acquire that land,” said Van Frank. He gave the acquisition of Bear’s Mill as an example. “Judge Aslinger has been an absolute supporter of the Park District since I’ve been here.”

The support of local governments and the community is also invaluable. Van Frank said, “We wouldn’t exist without it. We’re supported by two ½ mill levies. Both of the levies are critical to the operation of the park. Without that local community input from the people themselves, we would not exist.” Because of that support, Van Frank said they are able to host events like Prairie Days. “It’s our give back to the community. It’s our way of saying thanks to the families and the kids and all of those that support us throughout the course of the year.”

He concluded, “I would be remise if I didn’t say thank you to our volunteers, not only those that are just on the board, but the volunteers that come out. There were hundreds at Prairie Days. Thousands of people came out on Saturday and Sunday.”

The public is invited to attend their board meetings held on the second Thursday of each month at 4 p.m., at the Nature Education Center, Shawnee Prairie.

To contact Daily Advocate Editor Ryan Berry, email [email protected]