Proposed reduction in Paxton park board members will appear on ballot

PAXTON — Local voters will be asked on next spring’s election ballot to decide whether the Paxton Park District’s board of commissioners should be reduced from seven to five members.

The board voted during its monthly meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 19, to place the question on the March 20 primary election ballot. Recreation Director Neal McKenry said the referendum will be binding rather than advisory, meaning that the decision of voters will stand.

McKenry said the board would like to reduce the number of commissioners because of continuing struggles in keeping the seven seats filled.

“The past several years, the board has had one seat out of the seven vacant more often than having them all filled,” McKenry said. “It has been this way for as long as anyone can remember. The board has always had its core, consistent members, but there’s also usually been a revolving door with one to two of the seats constantly changing or being vacant.

“Having a consistent board with continuity, filled with community members who want to be on the board — as opposed to being on the board because they feel they have to — would be the ideal situation. This goal can be better realized with five board seats instead of seven. Hopefully, the voting public will share these sentiments, as well, come March.”

The board currently has one vacant seat, after Nicci Greenlee resigned as a commissioner in November. Greenlee resigned because she moved out of Paxton — and one of the requirements for serving as a commissioner is to live in Paxton. It was in August 2016 when Greenlee was appointed to fill a vacant seat.

Greenlee and the board’s president, Steve Sample, were each elected to two-year terms last April, while Bobby Kinnaird, who was appointed to a vacancy in April 2016, was sworn-in last April to a four-year term. Amber King, Kaye Harper and Brad Ecker — the board’s vice president — were each elected to four-year terms in April 2015.

Last May, the board approved Sample’s nomination of Denver “D.C.” Piatt to serve as a board member to fill former president Brad Strebeck’s vacated seat. Strebeck attended his final meeting the previous March.

Kinnaird’s term expires in April 2021. All other terms expire in April 2019. 

Other business
Also at the Dec. 19 meeting:

➜ The board approved an updated policy prohibiting sexual harassment among park district employees. The policy, which all government entities in the state must pass before Jan. 15, “updates and details the definition of sexual harassment, the procedure for reporting an allegation, the consequences of a violation and the consequences for falsifying a report,” McKenry said.

➜ The board discussed plans for the 2018 Paxton Community Sale at Coady Park. However, nothing will be decided until the January meeting, “when a lengthier discussion will take place,” McKenry said.

➜ McKenry said he would soon begin soliciting bids for new siding and a new roof for the swimming pool’s mechanical shed, as well as new gutters on the pool’s bathhouse. “Any qualified and interested companies or individuals who may be interested ... can feel free to reach out to the park district,” McKenry said. The park district may be reached at 217-379-4203. 

➜ McKenry said 306 kids had been registered for the park district’s youth basketball program — a 16 percent increase from last season. Boys in junior high school who are interested in participating in the program still have until Jan. 23 to register.

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