CEDAR LAKE | The Town Council has eliminated the parks director position and added a new part-time job to the same department.
The move came roughly a month after the town parted ways with longtime Parks Director Mary Joan Dickson, whose dismissal drew an outcry from citizens who continue to speak up in her defense.
“Mary Joan taught my son responsibility (and) moral values,” said resident Shirley Werley, describing Dickson’s relationship with her mentally challenged son. “When you let her go, you hurt him. And when you hurt him, you hurt me.”
Werley called for Dickson to be re-hired, with back pay and an apology given to residents.
"Tell the public you’re sorry for letting her go,” Werley said, as others in the audience applauded.
The council, however, did not respond to Werley’s statement, just as it did not respond to statements made by residents at last month’s meeting.
It did, however, identify the new position and the elimination of Dickson’s old position as part of the town’s continuing effort to restructure the department.
The council approved the job description for a parks recreation coordinator at last week's meeting. The position is part time, and will pay a maximum of $19.23 an hour.
Prior to her dismissal Dickson spent 34 years working in one manner or another for Cedar Lake, as a volunteer, onetime teacher, a coach in the school system, and as Cedar Lake’s parks director.
Town officials have declined to comment on her dismissal, citing personnel issues.