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Former Lake County parks exec receives Sagamore of the Wabash

Former Lake County Parks and Recreation Department Chief Operations Officer Larry Klein, left, receives the Sagamore of the Wabash award from Parks Superintendent Bob Nickovich.

When Larry Klein, former chief operating officer of the Lake County Parks and Recreation Department, retired this year after 42 years of service, he was not only feted by his friends and colleagues, but also presented with one of the most esteemed honors the Governor of Indiana can bestow.

Park CEO Robert Nickovich had the honor of presenting to Klein with the Sagamore of the Wabash award.

In his presentation, Nickovich noted that when Klein entered began his tenure, there were only four Lake County parks, nothing like the legacy he leaves today of a dozen park sites encompassing more than 6,000 acres of open space and facilities ranging from nature preserves to Deep River Waterpark, Bellaboo’s Play and Discovery Center, golf courses, banquet halls, and a fish and wildlife area.

“It’s been my privilege to be part of such a dynamic, forward-thinking agency that has so clearly added to the quality of life in Northwest Indiana,” Klein said of his 42 years with the parks department.

Klein played an integral role in developing and implementing the capital plans that have made the Lake County parks what they have become, noted Nickovich.

Throughout his career Klein was also invited to participate on numerous committees such as the Lake County Data Board and the Insurance Oversight Committee. Former Governor Mitch Daniels appointed Klein to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Commission.

Among those who have received the Sagamore of the Wabash are astronauts, presidents, ambassadors, artists, musicians, politicians, and ordinary citizens who have contributed greatly to the Hoosier state.


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Jeanette is a journalist with The Times Media Co. who has worked as both a reporter and editor. She has a master's degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield.

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