Boards, Commissions, and Committee Assignments

Listed on this page is the membership of the town’s existing Boards, Commissions, and Town Council Committee assignments. The list is as of January 24th of 2023. Some members change each year on the various boards by design so an entire board never completely turns over all of its membership in any given one-year period. Staggered appointments take place each year. 

The Town Council President assigns the Town Council members to its Standing Committees and Special Committees. The President may create Special Committees to concentrate on pending issues the town is facing so those topics get the attention needed to keep the town moving forward. The President also serves as a quasi-member of all council committees.  

Town Council Committee Assignments - 2023

Budget & Finance Committee – This committee is responsible for reviewing and designing the annual town general fund budget and presenting needed fund transfers throughout the year for approval by the full council.

Richard Hardaway – Chairman

Shawn Pettit – Member

Jeff Minchuk – Member

Public Works & Utilities – This committee oversees the operation of our Public Works & Streets Department as well as serve as the liaison with other Town utilities like Stormwater Management, Merrillville Conservancy District, Independence Hill Conservancy, NIPSCO, American Water Co, and any other provider of public services to the town. 

Jeff Minchuk – Chairman

Marge Uzelac – Member

Don Spann – Member

Council Affairs Committee – This committee investigates and presents ordinances needed to run the town. These may consist of Code Enforcement, street speed limits, and other operational ordinances (laws) for council consideration. 

Shawn Pettit – Chairman

Jeff Minchuk – Member

Marge Uzelac – Member

Personal & Employee Benefits Committee – This committee is responsible for all things pertaining to employment, both existing and future needs of the town. It also presents ideas for employee benefits including insurance medical coverage, other benefits, days off, vacation time, and monitoring and editing the Employee Manual. 

Richard Hardaway – Chairman

Marge Uzelac – Member

Shawn Pettit – Member

Public Safety Committee – This committee works with all departments pertaining to public safety including the Police and Fire Departments. 

Jeff Minchuk – Chairman

Don Spann – Member, then Rhonda Neal in mid-2023

Marge Uzelac – Member

Parks and Recreation – This committee oversees the operations of all town parks not including the Community Center as that has its own committee. 

Marge Uzelac – Chairwoman

Don Spann – Member, then Rhonda Neal – mid 2023

Leonard White – Member

Environmental Affairs & Public Health – This committee reviews all items that can affect our town’s environment with new duties this year including Public Health due to the continuation of COVID-19. 

Leonard White – Chairman

Marge Uzelac – Member

Don Spann – Member

Elections, Public Relations, Town Beautification Committee – This committee keeps residents informed on upcoming elections in town, makes announcements about town happenings, and is now responsible for town signage and beautification. 

Rhonda Neal – Chairperson

Jeff Minchuk – Member

Richard Hardaway – Member

Economic Development Committee – This committee works with developers who are seeking buildings or land in Merrillville for a new or expansion of an existing business. The committee also includes two non-council members who are the CEO of the Crossroads Chamber of Commerce, and another business member, plus 3 Town Council members. 

Shawn Pettit – Chairman

Richard Hardaway – Member

Jeff Minchuk – Member

Deann Patena – Member and Crossroads Chamber CEO

Jennifer Doffin – Crossroads Chamber Board President

Abandoned and Blighted Properties – This committee reviews properties in town that are either abandoned or need a lot of work to get them up to town code. 

Richard Hardaway – Chairman

Vicki Bunnell – Member and the town’s Code Enforcement Director

Adra Breclaw-Csanyi – Member and town employee at Stormwater Management

Dean and Barbara White Community Center Committee – This committee has been charged with overseeing the finished construction and operations of the new Community Center, from maintenance and repairs to new equipment purchasing, this committee works with the Director of Parks & Recreation to manage this $24M new town project. 

Shawn Pettit – Chairman

Jeff Minchuk – Member

Leonard White – Member

Special Town Projects – This committee was formed in 2020 to help move the town forward with special items that may not fit into the existing committee structure. These topics would need special attention like the celebration of the town’s 50th birthday, the 1% Food and Beverage Tax law, town diversity, equality and inclusion, and any other special items. 

Richard Hardaway – Chairman

Shawn Pettit – Member

Jeff Minchuk – Member

Note: The Town Council President, Rick Bella, is a quasi-member of all committees.  

Police Commission

The Police Commission is required by State Code for all towns in Indiana. It is designed to help keep politics out of the police department by creating a separate layer of management for the Police Department. The Police Chief answers to the Police Commission who review policy, make purchasing requests for equipment to the Town Council, and serve as the Board of Directors for the Police Department.

The board may not have more than 3 members of the 5 member board affiliated with the same political party. Current members are: 

Gene Ward (D)

Michael Rich (R)

William Poling (R)

Thomas Pawlak (D)

Peter Dragojevic, Jr. (D)

Stormwater Management Board

This Board oversees the operation of the Stormwater Management Resource Center. Stormwater is responsible for all stormwater issues in Merrillville. The department has done a great job of solving many drainage issues that have been a problem for many town neighborhoods. Their work continues.

The board consists of three members who have staggered terms of office, all 3-year terms. Current membership includes:

Ralph Simek

Barbara Gholston

Bud Crist 

Redevelopment Commission (RDC)

This Commission is made up of five existing members of the Town Council by State Code. The Commission oversees the town’s TIF (Tax Increment Financing) districts and may create new ones as needed and controls the spending of TIF dollars that come into town from each district. The board consists of five Town Council members who serve one-year terms. Two members are appointed by the Council President, 3 members are voted on by the full Town Council. 

The membership for the calendar year 2023 are: 

Shawn Pettit (Chairman)

Leonard White

Jeff Minchuk

Richard Hardaway

Margaret A. Uzelac 

Planning Commission

The Plan Commission is made up of seven members. Three are existing Town Council members assigned by the Council President, four members are civilian town residents appointed by the Town Council. The goal is to have outside planning ideas from residents to give the Town Council a different perspective on development.   

The current membership of the Plan Commission is: 

Shawn Pettit, Jeff Minchuk, and Marge Uzelac from the Town Council; and Brian Dering, Ric Holtz, Kristopher Mellon and Luke Rich from the town citizenship. 

Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA)

The BZA consists of five members none of which are existing Town Council members. The goal here again is to have resident input when a petitioner would like to change an existing zone in town to something different which would allow for different developments from the town’s existing town-wide zoning map. Two members are selected by the Town Council President.    

Two members are selected by the full Town Council, and one member is selected by the commission itself. Current members:  

Tim Fortier, William C. Byers, Pete Guipe, Rick Holtz, and Andrew Sylvestrowicz 

Redevelopment Authority

The Redevelopment Authority is made up of five members of the Town Council. At times, the authority may enter in contracts or leases when necessary to conduct business of the town as it relates to the RDC. 

Three members are appointed by the President, two members by the council with staggered terms. Currently: 

Shawn Pettit, Jeff Minchuk, Marge Uzelac, Leonard White, and Rhonda Neal serve.

Merrillville Building Corporation

Similar to the Redevelopment Authority, the Building Corporation may be used from time to time to handle different legal aspects for the town. All membership is selected by the full Town Council and is five members. 

Current membership includes: 

Shawn Pettit, Leonard White, Richard Hardaway, Jeff Minchuk, and Marge Uzelac

Outside Boards and Commissions

The town is allowed to have representation on other Lake County wide boards and commissions. These positions are appointed with full Town Council authority and the members in some cases need to be existing Council members. The CVA listed below does not require membership to be elected officials. We are also allowed to have two town representatives on the Fire Department Territory Board. 

Fire Territory Board of Directors

Town Appointees are: Council members  Jeff Minchuk and Rhonda Neal

Northern Indiana Regional Planning Commission

Our town appointee is Councilman Richard Hardaway who is also serving as its board chairman for 2023.

Lake County Solid Waste Management District

Our town appointee is: Councilman Leonard White

Southshore Convention & Visitors Authority

Town Appointee is: Town Manager Deann Patena

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