As Merrillville Intermediate School students helped preside over Tuesday’s Town Council meeting, Town leadership made another commitment to the youth of the community. The Town Council agreed to sell a 3-acre parcel to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana so the organization can build a permanent location for youth activities in town. The purchase price is about $86,000. Town Councilman Shawn Pettit said the site is adjacent to the Town’s Dean and Barbara White Community Center. Besides selling the land to the Boys & Girls Clubs, Merrillville already has committed to using tax increment financing district funds to provide $200,000 a year for the next decade to the Boys & Girls Clubs to help the organization build the new facility.
“It’s not only the land, but we’re putting money in for the brick and mortar on this club,” Pettit said. Matt Glaros, President of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana’s Board of Directors, said the project has been years in the making, and the organization will complete its due diligence to plan out details for the state-of-the-art location.
“We couldn’t do it without the partnership of the town,” Glaros said. “Without that, this would not even be a possibility for us to try to consider getting done,” Glaros said the organization will collaborate with representatives from the Town and the Merrillville Community School Corp. to plan out the new club location.
“I can’t wait to see what you guys are going to build out there,” Pettit said.
The announcement took place as the Town celebrated Municipal Day with Merrillville Intermediate School. The program paired students with each Merrillville elected official and Town department head so they can learn about government operations. Students took turns reading reports, voting on matters, and expressing their thoughts about the community. Students were selected from essays they wrote about the Town and what they would do if they were in leadership roles.
MIS student Saniyya Fisher’s essay earned her the chance to sit with Town Council President Rick Bella and run the meeting. In her essay, she described Merrillville as a “magnificent Town” that’s full of “marvelous people,” and there are a few ways she would improve the community. “I think there are so many ways that we can make our Town a little better such as picking up trash, making more parks, and making more opportunities for swimming,” Fisher said. She suggested starting community clean-up days, adding more park facilities with new playground equipment, and creating at least one public pool in Merrillville to accomplish her goals. “A little goes a long way,” Fisher said.
Town Council President Rick Bella later in the meeting pointed out to Ms. Fisher that a parks improvement motion was made that addressed some of Ms. Fisher’s suggestions. The Town Council on Tuesday also honored MIS Principal Kara Bonin for her dedicated work in education. Bonin participated in her last Municipal Day Tuesday because she is retiring. “She has been a great asset not only to the students at MIS but also to the Town of Merrillville,” Town Councilman Richard Hardaway said.
Bonin was thankful for the recognition, but quickly turned the attention to the students. “We are so proud of you,” she said.
Bonin has given about 30 years of service to the Merrillville Community School Corp., and she said it’s been an honor and a privilege to live out her passion to educate the youth of Merrillville. “You are the reason why I have stayed, and why I’ve been here,” Bonin said to the students Tuesday night.
Town Council President Rick Bella said, “This is a wonderful event that allows students to see the interworking of local government including both the fun parts and at times the difficult parts of running a town the size of Merrillville.” “This was certainly a real-world experience for the students, and they all did a great job tonight,” he added.
Visit the link below to view photographs taken throughout the evening of the Municipal Day festivities. Click the button link below. -Rick Bella, Town Council President
Below is the Times Newspaper article about the event.