For the Troy Daily News
MIAMI COUNTY — The Miami County Park District is celebrating its golden anniversary today.
The Miami County Park District was established in 1967 as a 1545 (Ohio Revised Code), and Probate Judge Samuel Foust appointed the first board members on May 15, 1967, which officially established the Miami County Park District.
The first board in 1967 consisted of Tom Wheeler, J. Richard Gaier and Norman C. Arnold.
The first park was the F.L. Blankenship Riverside Sanctuary in Covington. The 5-acre park sits along the Stillwater River. A bicentennial time capsule was buried on the property. The land was donated in 1970 and opened in 1975. There are now 15 parks and 10.5 miles of bikeway in the Miami County Park District system. The largest park is Lost Creek Reserve in Troy with 457 acres.
The park district is currently funded by a 1.1 mill levy, which was last time renewed in 2009, according to marketing manager Amanda Smith.
The Miami County Park District is governed by a three-member Board of Park Commissioners appointed by the Probate Court judge of Miami County. Each serves without pay for a three year term, and the term of one member expires each year. Regular Board of Park Commission meetings are held monthly and are open to the public. The board establishes all policies, rules, hiring and firings, approves developments, land acquisitions and controls all funds. Current Board members include John A.Wannemacher, president (board member for 44 years), Douglas Haines, vice president; and Robert Malarkey, member-at-large.
The mission of the park district continues to be to conserve natural resources and enrich the quality of life for the people of Miami County through stewardship, environmental education, outdoor experiences and passive leisure activities, Smith said.
“The Miami County Park District will continue to connect people with nature and contribute to quality of life through responsible conservation and stewardship,” she said.
Protection of natural resources through preservation and management will continue to be the primary purpose of the organization, according to Smith.
“Maintaining healthy open spaces and native habitats improves water and air quality and provides an economic impact to the community,” she said.
Smith said the park district also intends to protect and share cultural resources, while promoting the importance of the natural and agricultural heritage within Miami County.
The park district has established an outstanding environmental education program designed to increase appreciation and understanding of nature and land stewardship, Smith said.
The program will continue to educate children in Miami County with extensive school-based curriculum, field-trips to park locations and hands-on activities, she said.
“There will also be new learning experiences and initiatives designed to better connect individuals and families with nature,” she said.
She said the park district will explore and promote partnership opportunities with schools, local businesses and outside agencies to continue providing extraordinary educational programs and services.
The park district has an exemplary reputation for stewardship of natural landscapes and for clean, safe and well-maintained facilities, Smith said. She said the park district is also providing personal connections with individual residents, families and the entire community through high-quality public programs and special events. There will be an emphasis on programs, education and partnerships to promote health and wellness by encouraging outdoor activity and lifestyle improvements, Smith said.
“The park district intends to offer an variety of outdoor experiences that will build stronger connections with nature and contribute to the social, economic and environmental well-being in Miami County,” Smith said.