County at Odds over Burdette Park Personnel

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A story that has taken on a life of its own, Burdette Park looking for a new leader. The sudden firing of its former director has sent shockwaves through Vanderburgh County government.

Wednesday, County Council showcased its sharp criticism for two people behind the decision.

Three days of spring leaves a lot of room to grow. “Here we are just weeks away from opening up pools,” says Councilman Joe Kiefer.

A problem growing like a weed leaves a hole in Burdett and questions for county leaders, like Tom Shetler. “Was it broke?” he asks the council, “do we have a situation here where there was a problem?”

The question unanswered, but put into perspective. “This story is revolving, it’s changing every day,” adds Council President, Joe Montrastelle.

For the second time in as many weeks, County Commissioners will look for a new director at Burdette. The one they just appointed, Pat Tuley, is backing out. He says the new job has become a distraction and county councilors tend to agree.

“The narrative here has, in my mind, never been about Pat Tuley,” says Jim Raben, “where the real disappointment does lie here is the public trust.”

Commissioners Ben Shoulders and Cheryl Musgrave voted to fire director Jacob Murphy last week.  Commission President Bruce Ungenthiem was not at that meeting and advised them to hold off on the vote.

Monstrastelle said then he thought the decision was more political than business.

“I have heard nothing but positive comments about the operations over the last year and a half,” Shetler says of Murphy’s direction.

Raben didn’t hold back on his opinion. “We got a couple new commissioners that came blazing in to town, guns firing, bulldozing over all the good that has been in place,” he says.

County council leadership says it was caught off guard, and so were neighbors if emails to Monstrastelle are any indication.

“As a concerned citizen,” he reads, “I was appalled that two people could sneak something of this magnitude into the commissioners meeting.”

Monstratelle says the commission goes back to the drawing board to find a new leader at Burdette, and Murphy will be in the conversation. He says the commission will meet in executive session next week.

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