By DENISE FEDOROW
New Nappanee Parks & Recreation Superintendent Donny Aleo took his oath of office at Monday’s City Council Meeting.
Aleo, a Nappanee native, graduated from NorthWood High School in 2001 and said he first got involved with the Parks Department as an Eagle Scout. He went to Ball State University, graduating in 2006 with a degree in environmental management.
After graduating he went to Japan and taught English for five years. He met his wife in Japan and they have a daughter. Two years ago he returned to Nappanee and took a job with Elkhart County Health Department as an inspector — a job he held until accepting his new position with the city of Nappanee.
He said he was drawn to the parks department because as a public servant it was an opportunity for him to serve his local community.
“It’s an opportunity for me to take a more active role in my community and especially since my daughter will be growing up here, what better way for me to do that than as park superintendent?” Aleo said.
Aleo was asked what he believed his biggest challenge will be, aside from the Combined Sewer Overflow project that will temporarily disrupt some of the park’s systems.
He replied, “Taking in everyone’s needs and deciding what can be done with what (financial resources) we have,” he said. “Improving on the old without taking away traditions.”
Aleo said he was most excited about being part of the city’s team and hearing everyone’s ideas, and also hearing ideas from the community about what they’d like to see from the park department.
“That’s the only way we can do this — with a consensus from the community and then deciding what’s practical; what can be done,” he said.
Aleo is replacing retiring Park Superintendent Wayne Scheumann who will be “mentoring” him for a short time until his formal retirement date, according to Mayor Thompson. Scheumann worked for the city for 17 years and at year’s end retired from his dual role as Street superintendent.
Aleo said of his predecessor, “Wayne Scheumann is leaving me with very big shoes to fill. I have my work cut out for me. He is very well-liked and well-respected.”
The new superintendent wants residents to know, “My door is always open at the office. I’m here to listen and to hear people’s concerns and will do my best to help.”
The Park Board meets the second Wednesday of each month at 4:30 in the EMS building. The meetings are open to the public.