The Herald Bulletin

December 30, 2010

2010's Top Stories: Parks officials make cases against city

By Dave Stafford
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — The new year of 2010 brought the firing of Anderson Parks and Recreation Superintendent Fred Reese Jr. in January. As the year came to an end, Reese won a judgment of more than $54,000 against the city, which is contesting the order. The case continues, as do a number of cases against the city involving parks officials.

Park Board President Darin Foltz sued after Mayor Kris Ockomon called a hearing to remove him. Parks business manager Teresa Spencer sued interim Superintendent John Gates after he suspended her for two days. Courts have blocked further action against Foltz and Spencer.

The year also ended with state police investigating hundreds of dollars reported missing from youth football and other cash funds. Finger-pointing among park department officials has become commonplace at Park Board meetings.

So went a tumultuous year for the Anderson Department of Parks and Recreation, which has lost nearly three-quarters of its city funding — and the bulk of its work force — in the past two years.

But the parks also had some worthy accomplishments. A complex land conversion allowed a slice of Shadyside Park to be sold to Prairie Farms Dairy for an expansion that preserves about 160 jobs. The city will take possession of Crawford Field at 25th Street and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to compensate for the lost land at Shadyside.

Also this year, the parks were the beneficiaries of a community effort in which hundreds of volunteers provided much-needed care in a weekend service blitz.