By JIM MAURER
STAFF WRITER

The Hancock Park District received about $25,069 in insurance payment for damages incurred in May when vandals broke into a ranger station at Riverbend Recreation Area and stole a truck.

Shortly after midnight on May 15, vandals broke into the station through a skylight and stole a 2015 Ford F-150 four-wheel drive pickup truck. The truck, which was totaled, was later found in the Blanchard River.

The payment covers the truck, items stolen from the truck and repairs to the maintenance building, according to a report by Director Gary Pruitt to the park district board.

No arrests have been made in connection with the incident.

A dedication ceremony for the Mariann D. Younger Memorial Pavilion at Riverbend Recreation Area will be held at 2 p.m. Sept. 9.

The family designated funds from an account managed by The Community Foundation to construct the enclosed shelterhouse.

A gazebo near Brugeman Lodge in the same park also was funded by the family. Mrs. Younger died July 17, 2016.

The 25th anniversary of the Richard “Doc” Phillips Discovery Center at Oakwoods Nature Preserve will be celebrated during an open house Sept. 22. Family members will be invited as part of the event. Phillips, a biology teacher at Findlay High School, was a naturalist and friend of the park district.

He wrote a weekly column, “In Nature’s Realm,” that appeared regularly in The Courier from 1957 through 1993.

When the park district asked him to recommend a location to put a nature preserve, Phillips suggested the area around Shank Lake.

In September 1984, park commissioners approved the acquisition of Oakwoods Nature Preserve, which opened to the public on Oct. 13, 1985.

While he attended the ground breaking ceremony, the center was dedicated on Sept. 24, 1994, 10 months after his death.

Separately, the board approved a resolution to appropriate $17,815 for crack filling, seal coating and striping various parking lots in park district properties including: Oakwoods Nature Preserve, Litzenberg Memorial Woods, Riverside Park, Liberty Landing and Riverbend Recreation Area.

Clean-Line Sealing and Striping, Findlay, will do the work.

“While crack filling, seal coating and patching work is included at some locations, striping is needed at all locations to clearly delineate designated parking spaces and traffic lanes,” Pruitt said in his report.

Separately, Pruitt said the park district has about $84,000 in a state metroparks grant account which will be used next year to repave and restripe the parking lot in Big Oaks Activity Area at Riverbend Recreation Area.

Park district Commissioner Ed Ingold suggested Jim Abrams, a retired wildlife officer who writes a weekly column for The Courier, meet with staff to discuss plans for land adjacent to Oakwoods which was previously rented to farmers.

Plans are being developed for a conservation area.

The board previously agreed to seek a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant, and other grants if necessary, to fund development of park district-owned property. The proposed development was announced in March.

It will include 2.3 miles of walking paths, grassland (35.4 acres), wetland (42.1 acres), woodland (14.5 acres) and tree buffer/windbreak (15.9 acres).

Following Tuesday’s meeting, the board and staff visited community parks in Benton Ridge, McComb and Van Buren to meet with officials and view projects funded with park district-provided community park improvement grant money.

Maurer: 419-427-8420
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