Darke County Parks Board Commissioner L. Stephen Shaltry has served Darke County for over 24 years as a board member of the Darke County Park District, but as 2016 draws to a close so do the last of his obligations as a commissioner. On January 1st Shaltry will be officially retired, but his years of service were honored recently at the Friends of the Darke County Park District annual Christmas carry-in dinner.
During the festivities, former park board members Susan Gray and Dan Schipfer praised Shaltry’s efforts, patience, and diligence during his tenure, and he was presented with commendations from both the Ohio Senate and Ohio House of Representatives of the 131st General Assembly as well as State Representative Jim Buchy for his service to the county.
Park Commissioner Shaltry has been a resident of Darke County since moving here in 1973. Before retiring from his regular occupation as a high school biology teacher at Northmont High School in Clayton, he balanced school obligations and raising a young family while continuing to provide excellent council and management of board responsibilities. During his tenure, the Darke County Parks District has grown exponentially. When he first began, the parks owned a meager 200 acres, and now they have expanded to over 1,000 acres. Other improvements, under his direction include building the Shawnee Prairie Nature Education Center in 1997, establishing most of the prairies and wetlands featured in the park, and the continuing construction of the Tecumseh Multi-Use Trail running from Bradford almost to the Greenville City limits.
Darke County Park District Director, Roger Van Frank praised Shaltry and his efforts for the parks saying, “Steve has been not only a mentor and an educator to me, he has also become a valued friend. I wish him well in his retirement from our parks, and I will sincerely miss his reassuring presence in the office.”
Tina White, a long time park volunteer, will be stepping into Shaltry’s vacant position on the board in January and has expressed excitement about the challenge, citing that she has “big shoes to fill.” The rest of the Darke County Park Board of Commissioners, staff, and volunteers would like to wish Steve Shaltry a happy retirement, and they know that they will continue seeing him at the parks and on the trails indulging his love of nature.