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Park district looks at legislation issues

Published: Friday, May 2, 2014 4:31 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, May 2, 2014 4:36 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Photo contributed)
Princeton Park District representatives Dick Volker (from left), Elaine Russell, State Sen. Darin LaHood, Tammy Lange and Gene Englehart are pictured at the April 29 annual Illinois Association of Park Districts Legislative Day in Springfield. The Princeton Park District representatives also met with State Rep. Don Moffitt.

PRINCETON —Open meeting requirements and training, along with the retention and destruction of local records, were among the topics discussed when Princeton Park District representatives met recently with state legislators.

Princeton Park District representatives met last week with State Sen. Darin LaHood and State Rep. Don Moffitt during the Illinois Association of Park Districts annual conference held in Springfield

On Thursday, Tammy Lange, administrative assistant for the Princeton Park District, said another hot topic of discussion was the proposed minimum wage increase and its impact on local park and recreation agencies. Park and recreation agencies employ more than 50,000 part-time and seasonal workers in Illinois, and because local park and recreation agencies operate on fixed budgets, increasing the minimum wage could result in fewer summer jobs, Lange said.

“Part-time summer positions, such as day camp counselors, lifeguards and park maintenance are very important to park districts,” she said. “The minimum wage that adults need to support families should be distinguished from the wage paid to youth for valuable, first-time job experience.”

The Illinois Association of Park District (IAPD) organization does “a fantastic job” of keeping park districts informed of the legislation regarding park districts, Lange said. The IAPD tracks the current status of all bills during each legislative session. This past year, the IAPD tracked 475 bills. The annual conference gives park districts an opportunity to learn more about the issues facing park districts and to discuss how the legislation may impact them, she said.

The annual conference is a time in which approximately 50 park districts showcase their park districts and projects which they have in progress or have completed, Lange said. Last year, in 2013, the Princeton Park District showcased the completion of the Zearing Park expansion project, for which the park district had received two OSLAD grants. The conference also includes workshops on a variety of topics, such as grant funding, electronic communications, managing electronic records, and interactive advocacy training skills.  

“The day ends with a reception and dinner where we invite our legislators to join us. We have been very fortunate to have Rep. Don Moffitt and Sen. Darin LaHood join us for the past five years,” Lange said.

The Princeton Park District representatives have gone occasionally to the annual conference for many years, but she, executive director Elaine Russell and board members Gene Englehart and Dick Volker have attended the conference for each of the past six years, since Russell became executive director, Lange said.

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