VERNON TOWNSHIP — Indiana Township Association (ITA) announced Vernon Township as Township of the Year for 2023 at the ITA education conference on Sept. 19.
Florence May, trustee for Vernon Township, found out at the awards dinner and was pleased with the announcement that they had won, mentioning that all the nomination letters that were submitted mentioned collaboration and teamwork for taking care of the community.
“This is about winning for the community,” May said. “It felt really, really good.”
Board members Marybeth Sears and David Hawkins and township assistant Jenny Kriger joined May at the conference where they learned they had won the award.
May had known of the nominations because she submitted a narrative about the recent accomplishments and future plans for the township, but nonetheless was still stunned by all the support and winning.
“I’m grateful for all of our partners. No one person did all of these things,” May said.
May talked about some recent projects that she believes earned them the honor, such as the building of the two fire stations, replacing 30-year-old fire engines and creating the community garden.
May said that when the fire territory first started four and a half years ago, they had two, all-volunteer departments but now have hired 108 part-time firefighters and have sworn-in 22 career firefighters/EMT and paramedics since August 2023.
May said that the theme of the conference was “comm-unity” and that the theme also spoke to the nomination letters submitted.
Those who submitted nomination letters included township vice chair Marybeth Spears, county commissioner Bill Spalding, library executive director Melissa Loiselle, F.A.R.M food pantry director Erin Flick, and Fortville town manager Joe Renner.
Commissioner Spalding said in his nomination letter that “It is not only a great place to live, work and play, but a source of inspiration and learning for other local governments.”
Brendan Clancy, a member of the awards committee for ITA, explained that when choosing the township of the year, realistically it wasn’t just the work that Vernon Township did in 2023 alone, but the last few years.
Clancy said that in order to pick the township of the year, they have a committee that reviews the applications and then sorts them into categories, also taking into consideration previous years’ work. They then vote on a 1-to-10 scale of the townships, and Clancy said that Vernon Township was one that “really shined.”
“It just seems they all go over and above, and it’s pretty impressive how they all work together for a common goal,” Clancy said. “…They just really kind of epitomized what a trustee should be doing.”
Future projects May said that are in the works are The Gardens of Vernon Township, which will be a 4-acre formal and community garden set to begin in spring of 2024. May said they will be planting crimson clover in the garden, which will help pollinators. Also, the new Vernon Township Public Library will be located right by Fire Station 431 and the gardens, off of Vitality Drive.
“Everything will be in one place here on Vitality Drive, so I’m excited about what’s coming,” May said.