Can’t do it without help


By Roger Van Frank

Darke County Parks

Fifty years ago, then Probate Judge the Honorable Edward Williams created the Darke County Park District in 1972. The first parcel of land gifted by Frances Carpenter was Coppess Nature Sanctuary, a 32-acre woodland that was the catalyst for the Darke County Parks creation. Today more than 15 parks and over 1000 acres make up the Park District. Plans for limited growth are still being made which is why Bears Mill was accepted as the most recent park in April of 2021. It is important for our future generations and our stewards of tomorrow to learn about the local history. This Park District is charged with preservation and conservation for the county. Its mission statement reads: The Mission of Darke County Park District is to acquire and preserve land areas possessing special natural and historical features and to manage and maintain these resources for the benefit of its residents through appropriate education and passive recreational programs and activities. This mission statement has been in place for over 50 years and still guides the three-person Park Board of Commissioners who volunteer at the request of the current Probate Judge of the County, the Honorable Jason Aslinger.

Recently I had the opportunity to spend some time with a long-time friend that is currently working in another county Park District. I really felt honored when they said the purpose of the visit was to come and get some tips and pointers on what makes this Park District successful. During our visit I realized that after almost 20 years of being at Darke County Parks how fortunate I have been to have been surrounded by so many people that really care about this county and the Park District. Sometimes we just don’t take enough time to stop and smell the roses!

I could not begin to name all, that have been involved in the success of our district and its growth. Friends of the Parks, Staff of the district, and daily volunteers are the keys to our success. I would be remiss if not to mention the entire Darke County population especially since the passing of our ½ mill levy in 2020. This millage is critical to the success of our district. I am once again amazed at the number of volunteers that help us and create that idea of it taking a “community” to make it successful. These individuals take ownership in the Park District as they too have expectations to make their own lives better and to give back to the community.

I will be retiring December 31, 2022 and wish to see this Park District thrive and grow so as to continue to make this a better community. I have received compliments from many but I must pass them to those that really make it all happen. I look forward to meeting my replacement if I have not already met them! I am encouraged by what I am seeing in our most recent growth and gifts. I want to see the Endowment of all the Friends groups grow. It has already tripled in my tenure and I would really like to see a constant steady growth over the next 25 years.

My friend paid me the ultimate compliment when we went to lunch on that chilly March day, “You certainly have made an impact in this community, Rog” and my reply was “Can’t do it without all the help”.

REMEMBER, The Benefits of Parks and Recreation are Endless!

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