Since its founding in 1995, the county parks foundation, “Friends of the Park of Putnam County,” has funded dozens of outdoor recreation projects through generous contributions from members, donors and grantors. Recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation, there is considerable depth of experience on the board and in the organization’s more than 100 members.
Friends became, and has remained, a major funding source for People Pathways, now a more than 20-mile trail system also founded in 1995. To help accomplish the 40-plus goals of the county’s five-year outdoor recreation master plan, Friends received a generous $25,000 grant in 2022 from the Putnam County Community Foundation, matched $1-for-$1 by the Putnam County Convention & Visitors Bureau for a total endowment gain of $50,000. The CVB matching grant has been renewed for 2023.
Endowment funds are invested, with Friends applying annual investment income to countywide outdoor recreation and nature-related projects. The vision of the five-year master plan is to develop outdoor venues, programs and events. The mission is to enhance the quality-of-life in Putnam County through community connections, citizen interaction and the growth, use and appreciation of natural areas.
A BRIEF HISTORY
Since 1995, Friends of the Park of Putnam County has been committed to recreation, parks and trails, serving as an open-door resource for community interest groups to pursue outdoor recreation goals. Formed by a group dedicated to improving recreational options for all, Friends reaches its funding goals through grants and gifts from generous individuals, families, corporations, foundations, and organizations that understand the importance of consistently improving parks and future parks and recreation projects.
Now operating from the Putnam County Visitors Center, with the county’s three primary outdoor recreation-focused organizations, Friends is focused on dreaming big, supporting programs, developing assets, and maintaining and growing infrastructure by focusing on fund-raising, grant writing and partnerships – ways to bring ideas to life. The partnership allows the organizations to share resources, collaborate and align direction and goals for a team approach to pursuing the goals of Putnam County’s five-year outdoor recreation master plan.
This county has more acreage in protected nature preserves than any Indiana county. It has numerous public parks offering a variety of activities, and Friends helps maximize and expand the development of recreation venues with the goal of increasing options to exercise, explore and enjoy our natural resources. It does this through two endowments, one in the Putnam County Community Foundation and one maintained internally by the Friends’ Investment Committee. Both were created to ensure the county’s outdoor recreation-related assets are maintained and expanded.
Throughout its history, the group has:
• Supported a grassroots effort by a group of parents and youth to create the Greencastle Skatepark, one of the best concrete skateparks in the Midwest, featuring two nine-foot bowls. The Tony Hawk Foundation supported the project;
• Worked with the City of Greencastle to create an open-space park next to Greencastle City Hall in loving memory of Mary Rogers Field – a place to relax, read, draw, or have lunch with friends. Special plantings in this park are designed to attract birds and butterflies;
• Supported the restoration of Greencastle’s Robe-Ann Park by replacing and remodeling two shelters, furnishing handicapped-accessible picnic tables, new life jackets for the “learn to swim” program, a new audio system at the Aquatic Center, and improved landscapes;
• Brought the community together annually through support of “Celebrate 4.” More than 10,000 people enjoy this old-fashioned 4th of July celebration that involves music, contests and more;
• Collaborated with Area 30 Career Center, the Putnam County Community Foundation and the Wal-Mart Foundation to help develop Big Walnut Sports Park, an 80-acre facility offering baseball, softball, Little League and soccer fields, a walking trail, picnic tables, disc golf course, and dog park;
• Helped complete the Robe-Ann Park bandshell structure and launch both the 1.5-mile Jaycee Park Multi-Use Trail project and the Bob York Splash Park project, a splash pad with multiple features for families to enjoy on a summer day;
• Supported the creation and development of the Putnam Pickleball Players club and, among many other things,
• Helped build People Pathways, the county’s multi-use trail system, or “linear park.” It’s no coincidence both Friends and People Pathways began in 1995. The partnership is stronger today than it was when both organizations had a vision for outdoor recreation that has expanded, attracted more partners and is more creative and dynamic than ever.
BECOME A FRIEND OF THE PARKS
In a county of nearly 40,000 residents, 142 are Friends of the Park members so far in 2023. Regardless of where you live, individuals can join in 2023 for $25. Families can join for $50. Gifts over and above membership go to endowment. Become a 2023 member and support the development of more outdoor recreation venues, events and programs in Putnam County, and then experience what your generosity creates by enjoying all this county has to offer. This website includes an events section, and a volunteer section, making it easy to regularly get outdoors AND get involved. Thank you for being part of the team. We look forward to seeing you!
FRIENDS OF THE PARK OF PUTNAM COUNTY
JESSICA HARTMAN, PRESIDENT
Jessica and her husband, Manuel, met at Purdue, where she earned a civil engineering degree. Out of college, she worked a year as a hydraulic engineer for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources before joining the engineering consulting world. The couple established a home in Greencastle in 1995, close to Manuel’s work on a farm in rural Putnam County. Their children are Greencastle natives and, like their parents, both will hold Purdue degrees. Son, Justin, already earned his, and daughter, Faith, is in her first year on the Lafayette campus.
Jessica purchased the majority share of the Greencastle firm Civil Engineering Consultants in 2011, becoming its president. Today the company is known as Align, with more than 30 employees in offices in Indianapolis, Terre Haute and Greencastle, focusing largely on roads, sidewalks, trails, land surveying, and inspection, along with the design of parks and park improvements. It was through pro-bono work for Putnam County parks that Jessica became familiar with Friends of the Park. She joined the board in 2016, becoming its president, a post she has held ever since. Among many Friends of the Park projects, her most memorable are the Bandshell in Robe-Ann Park, for which her firm donated the engineering work, and the rejuvenation of the county’s “Celebrate 4” Independence Day celebration, also based in Robe-Ann Park.
KATHY DEER, TREASURER
Kathy and her husband, Rick, married in 1975 and have lived in Putnam County since 1977, raising their five children on a farm that has participated in various conservation practices and is today home to a 70-cow herd. Kathy served on the board of Big Walnut Sports Park and helped with a Lilly Endowment grant through the Putnam County Community Foundation for equipment and lighting. In her spare time, she plays bass in the local gospel/bluegrass group “Upward Journey.”
An Indiana State University graduate, Kathy oversees two Putnam County conservancy districts. As manager of Clear Creek Conservancy District, she is responsible for record keeping, minutes, reports, and all financial functions related to maintenance of the Heritage Lake dam, spillway and sewer services to more than 1,500 customers. As administrative and financial secretary for the Little Walnut Creek Conservancy District, she manages the flood control district’s day-to-day operations. Glenn Flint Lake is operated by this district as a public recreation area for fishing and boating, and the district owns more than 350 acres of land targeted to become a park.
GARY LEMON, INVESTMENT COMMITTEE CHAIR
Gary is the author of “Savvy Investing: Strategy for Successful Investing.” He is former chair and a current member the Investments Committee at Lincoln Variable Insurance Product Trust, a Fortune 250 company that is a subsidiary of Lincoln Life and oversees a more-than-$90 billion portfolio and more than 100 mutual funds.
A lifelong investor in the stock market, Lemon is professor of economics and management at DePauw University. He is a past director of DePauw’s Robert C. McDermond Center for Management & Entrepreneurship as well as past director of the University’s Management Fellows Program, an honors program at DePauw for students planning to work in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. He is a former member of the Greencastle City Council and Greencastle/Putnam County Development Center and a current member of both the Greencastle Redevelopment Commission.
Gary has written articles and appeared on television and radio programs related to investing, and he conducts investment seminars for individual investors wanting to construct investment portfolios. Prior to joining the DePauw faculty in 1976, he worked as a financial analyst for General Electric Co. in Syracuse, N.Y. He earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in economics at the University of Kansas. He and his wife, Susan, reside in Greencastle and have two sons who graduated from Greencastle High School and received master’s degrees from Indiana University.
Now in his second term, Greencastle Mayor Bill Dory started his career in 1983 as the executive director of Main Street Greencastle, a downtown revitalization organization, and the western regional director of Indiana Landmarks. In 1990, he was named director of the Indiana Main Street Program, and in 1995 he became executive director of the Greencastle/Putnam County Development Center, the local economic development organization, where he supported several industrial attraction projects, numerous industrial expansion projects, the expansion of the Putnam County Regional Airport, and a wide range of community development projects.
As mayor, his administration has obtained several grants for road projects, implemented an on-line permitting system, a new road maintenance program, several park improvement projects, and has supported three housing development projects. Bill holds a Bachelors of Environmental Design from Miami University and a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Illinois. He served as president of the Indiana Economic Development Association, the Greencastle Rotary Club, and holds professional certifications such as American Institute of Certified Planners and Economic Development Finance Professional.
Bill and his wife, Kathryn, who recently retired from teaching middle school band and choir at Greencastle Middle School, have two children now pursuing their own professional careers.
Stacie and her husband, Rick, are 18-year residents of Putnam County. She is an active member of the First Baptist Church of Greencastle and Kiwanis International. Stacie has been employed with Putnam County Comprehensive Services, Inc. for the last four years, recently retiring as the Community Relations Manager. PCCS is a non-profit organization serving adults with disabilities in 26 Indiana counties. In that role, she planned, promoted and fundraised for many events. Prior to serving at PCCS, Stacie worked for Old National Bank for 14 years in the Greencastle branch.
Currently serving as an elected official for the Greencastle City Council, Stacie is in her second four-year term. As a City Council representative, she has served as the liaison to the Street Department, Forest Hill Cemetery and currently serves as the liaison to the Police Department. She is a three-year member of the Putnam County Economic Development board.
A lifelong educator, Linda is a mother of two, coach, golfer, and educational leader. A Vigo County native, she holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Indiana State University.
In her more-than-40-year career with the North Putnam School Corporation, Linda taught sciences, social studies and computers, was a high school department head, middle school team leader and coordinator of the gifted and talented program. She also coached high school girls’ basketball, high school swimming, the high school and middle school girls’ and boys’ golf teams, and middle school volleyball.
During her career, Linda served as the North Putnam Teachers Association president for three terms, secretary for two terms and treasurer for two terms. In recognition of her achievements, she received the Indiana District 8 Teacher of the Year Award and was a presenter at three National Middle School Conferences.
Upon retirement in 2010, Linda remained active in education, continuing as North Putnam High School’s girls’ and boys’ golf coach and as an assessment coordinator for the National Association of Educational Progress, a federal government program, until 2020. Now an avid participant in pickleball, Linda currently serves as president of the nearly 100-member Putnam Pickleball Players.
KRISTEN FUHS WELLS
Kristen is the executive director of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, which is based at The Prindle Institute for Ethics at DePauw University. Previously, she worked for Indiana Humanities, where she led communications and development strategies for 12 years and served most recently as vice president. There she helped develop award-winning programs and communications strategies to make the humanities more accessible and engaging and helped secure a transformative $5 million gift to start an endowment. Kristen earned an undergraduate journalism degree in integrated communications and an MBA in marketing, both from Butler University.
Kristen and her family—husband Ben, son Lincoln, and twin daughters Britain and Brooklyn—live in Greencastle.