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The Indiana Township Association’s 2016 annual Educational Conference was held in Indianapolis, September 18-21. The more than 350 township officials had a variety of opportunities for professional development and networking.
The first full day of the conference included the plenary session featuring a key-note address from Danny O’Malia who shared his experience and motivating drive to provide good customer service and the importance for public servants to focus on the needs of our citizens.
The Republican and Democrat candidates for Indiana Lieutenant Governor gave a brief overview of their campaigns to the attendees. Each candidate was asked to present their campaign’s position on local government and any potential reform measures that might be pursued by their candidates for Governor.
Other invited guests for Monday’s session included Peggy Welch (Chief Advocacy Officer for the FSSA), James Brown (Indiana Director of Veterans’ Affairs), and various program directors from agencies with which townships work on a regular basis while serving our township assistance clients.
Both Monday afternoon and Tuesday were set aside for breakout sessions which included 32 different class options on a variety of subjects which included: Township Assistance, Computer Technology, Fire Territories, Cemetery Restoration, Public Access, ID Theft, Wage & Hour and Safe Housing. The program also offered an optional field trip with hands-on instruction in cemetery maintenance and restoration.
ITA President, John Henry, during opening remarks
The conference program for Wednesday was primarily the State Board of Accounts’ annual meeting with the trustees. Attendees also had the opportunity to visit the ITA Trade Show to interact with vendors that provide goods and services relevant to township government.
An annual highlight of the conference is the presentation of awards for commendable service to their townships.
TRUSTEE OF THE YEAR
The 2016 award for noteworthy service as a Township Trustee was presented to Kimberly Robinson of Calumet Township, Lake County. The awards committee was impressed with the challenges faced by Trustee Robinson as she began her tenure in 2015 and her determination to implement changes within the administration which has been under the scrutiny of the Indiana General Assembly for some time. Her courage to lead the troubled township was noted as she was presented the award by committee Co-chair and fellow trustee, Craig Beckley.
Trustee Kimberly Robinson with Chief Deputy, Sherita Smith
TOWNSHIP OF THE YEAR
The honored township this year is Center Township, Howard County in Kokomo, Trustee Reverend Robert Lee. Center Township was nominated for the leadership of Trustee Lee and the personal efforts of his staff to assist the victims of the devastating tornado earlier this year. The Trustee was quoted, as the award was announced: “After the headline-grabbing media is gone, we are still here to pick up the pieces”. The example that Center Township displayed as to how a township should respond during a disaster was the primary basis for the selection by the Awards Committee.
Reverend Lee (center, holding award) with members of his staff
EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR
Laura Lester of Center Township, Grant County (Marion), was bestowed the award for outstanding township employee for 2016. Laura serves as the Chief Deputy for Trustee Bryce Coryea, who nominated her for the initiative she takes in their community to connect with other service providers and her willingness to go above and beyond his expectations to meet the needs of their citizens. Several letters of commendation were included with the nomination from various community leaders, all noting Laura’s exceptional service.
Laura, accepting award from Co-Chair Brendan Clancy
VOLUNTEERS AND SPONSORS
While the ITA has full-time staff members who carry out the direction of the Board of Directors and various committees, conference success is dependent on the work of volunteers including the Educational Conference Committee Co-Chairs Kay Walker & Danielle Carey-Tolan.
The Education Committee is responsible for outlining topics for the 30+ classes which were offered this year. Bryce Coryea and Chris Miller Co-Chair and are always glad to add more members to their committee.
Other volunteers include Kris Mueller who photographed the event, several classroom facilitators, and many others who assisted with registration and “pitched in” as needed.
The corporate sponsors for the three-day event were: IPEP, Umbaugh, Boyce Forms/Systems, C.L. Coonrod & Co., Downey Public Risk & TrustINdiana. Corporate sponsorships have consistently allowed for the ITA to keep registration fees affordable.
Whether a Township Board Member, Trustee, Clerk, Investigator or other employee of the township, all are encouraged to make plans for the 2017 Educational Conference which will be held September 24-27 at the Sheraton at Keystone Crossing. Members and non-members alike are welcome to join other township officials in order to learn best practices for your level of government and gain consistency statewide.