By Dan Vance
FORT WAYNE — Fort Wayne Trails, Inc. named its new board members to start the calendar year with two of the seven elected members serving their first term with the organization. Fort Wayne Trails has 21 current board members and allows members to serve up to three terms that last three years each.
“The focus of our efforts is making sure that we have a diverse mix of skills on the board to facilitate the mission,” Fort Wayne Trails Executive Director Kent Castleman said.
Robin Strasser of the Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority and Amy Houston of UAW Local 2209 and General Motors have been elected to the board for the first time. Like the other recently elected board members, their terms will run through the end of 2021.
Recently elected to serve a second three-year term were Anthony Juliano of the Asher Agency, Kristi Abel of 21st Century Bradley, Matt Lehn of Vibra Hospital and Rhonda Breischaft, a community leader. Breischaft was also re-elected as the board’s secretary and Juliano as the board’s vice chair.
Tim Hall of Fort Wayne Outfitters and Halls Restaurants was also elected for the Class of 2021 for the board. It will be his third term with the organization.
“We are the nonprofit advocate for trail development in Allen County,” Castleman said, explaining the purpose of Fort Wayne Trails. “We work directly with the municipalities to plan and build trails. But in most instances, the actual building of those trails rests with our government and partners, whichever municipality we are in.”
Fort Wayne Trails also recently elected officers for the board. Marty Pastura of the YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne will return as board chair for a second term with Juliano and Breischaft returning to their officer positions for a second term as well. Brian Schackow of the Fort Wayne TinCaps will assume the role of treasurer for the first time. He is in his second term with the board, which will end in December. Paul Lagemann of Clean Fuels National, who is in his third term on the board, will serve his second term as an officer with the title of board past chair.
“To lead our board, we need people who have influence in the community and can open doors for our mission into corporations, organizations and, in particular, our role with municipal leaders as well,” Castleman said.
The officers are elected with a two-year term.
In 2019, Fort Wayne Trails’ main focus will be with Gov. Eric Holcomb’s Next Level Trails program. Holcomb announced in 2018 that $90 million would be made available for development of trails throughout the state. Feb. 15 will be the first deadline for the first round of $25 million to be distributed.
“We are actively working with Allen County and the city of Fort Wayne, who will both have projects that will be submitted for that Feb. 15 deadline,” Castleman said. “That is probably going to be our biggest focus. If that happens, we would hear in a May timeframe, which means that implementation would start in summertime.”
The group is about $5,000 away from its 2018 annual campaign goal of $40,000. The campaign will pay to develop the Pufferbelly Trail and also a new trail along a portion of Illinois Road.
Fort Wayne Trails began work in 2011. Castleman has been the executive director since March 2016.