By Pam DeFiglio, Patch.com
Two years ago, the median age of the Niles Park District board members was in the 80s, or close to it.
As of Tuesday, that median age has dropped to the 40s, or close to it.
"I went from being the youngest commissioner to now the oldest," said Ray Czarnik, 57.
"It's exciting. They're asking me all the questions. "
The rapid board turnover brings both advantages and challenges. On the plus side, all the commissioners have children who use the parks, whereas their predecessors' children had long ago grown up. And Czarnik says he's happy the new commissioners bring fresh ideas, which will not be shot down with a "we tried that once and it didn't work" refrain.
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As far as challenges, the board lost a lot of institutional knowledge when the elder commissioners stepped down, Czarnik acknowledges. He has confidence that Executive Director Joe LoVerde, who arrived on the job in 1997, will be able to provide historical perspective on the board's undertakings over the years.
Czarnik, who has served on the board since 2003, also is versed in its affairs.
The turnover on the board includes the following.
- Chuck Barbaglia, who resigned in August 2012 to move out of state and then passed away in February 2013.
- Julie Genualdi joined the board in September 2012 to succeed Barbaglia.
- Elaine Heinen was honored for her service at the June 2013 meeting, when she officially stepped down. She moved out of the district to live in an assisted living facility.
- At that same June meeting, Patrick Byrne, a former Niles Elementary District 71 board member, was sworn in.
- Bill Terpinas died July 4, in a very sad incident when he collapsed while riding in the Niles Fourth of July parade and never regained consciousness.
- Christopher Zalinski was sworn in Oct. 15 to succeed Terpinas.
- The fifth current commissioner, Dennis O'Donovan, joined the board when he won election in April 2011.
- A past board member, Walter Beusse, died Sept. 26 at age 92.