Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

January 13, 2013

Dieterich park district to be re-activated

Bill Grimes
Effingham Daily News

DIETERICH — While Dieterich voters approved a park district 45 years ago, the district has not been collecting tax dollars for 44 of those  years. But Village Clerk Brittny Gipson hopes that changes this year.

In an effort to provide funds for programming and maintenance, the district is being re-activated with a full slate of candidates on the ballot for the April 9 consolidated election.

Gipson said the village had been splitting maintenance costs with the Unit 30 school district on the park the two entities have shared for decades.

"But they don't have any money, and we don't have any money," Gipson said. "Having an active park district will enable us to keep up with the costs of keeping up the park and offer more programming in the community."

Park district funds would also be used to buy equipment and, possibly, refurbish the tennis courts.

Gipson admitted it wasn't easy to find five people willing to serve on a park board.

"We had two people who said they wanted to do it, but didn't circulate their (nominating) petitions," she said. "So, Sarah (French) and I got our husbands to put their names on the ballot."

Sarah French is the Dieterich village treasurer. Her husband, Mike, and Gipson's husband, Nicholas, are two of the five on the ballot. Other candidates for the five-member board are Vicki Winterrowd, David Faller and Rachel Meinhart.

Winterrowd has single-handedly ran the village's summer baseball and softball programs for several years on a volunteer basis. She said bringing back the park district will help bring about more organized programs.

"I am just hoping we can make it more organized," she said. "I would like to expand our programs with more helping hands who can give us more opportunity to sponsor different activities.

"I have been doing it by myself for four or five years," Winterrowd added. "I will be happy to get more people involved."

While the projected burden on district taxpayers as a result of a rejuvenated park district was unavailable, entities, such as park districts, are typically a miniscule portion of the average property tax bill.

The original board was formed after Dieterich voters approved a referendum 96-33 on Nov. 7, 1967. Original board members were Dale Galloway, Reynold Redman, George and W.W. Steppe and Cedric Wright.

Wright is the only surviving member of the original board.

Gipson said old-timers have told her the district stopped collecting taxes after one year because of area opposition.

"Some of the farmers pitched a fit that their taxes went up," she said.

Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, or at bill.grimes@effinghamdailynews.com