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It has been decades since Howard County maintained a park. It has had a parks and recreation department on the books since the 1960s, but it gave up its parks years ago. Or so it thought.
Howard County Sheriff Jerry Asher approached the Howard County Board of Commissioners on Nov. 20 with some interesting information. The county still owns a park, and the sheriff requested that it be renamed to honor Deputy Carl Koontz, who died in the line of duty in 2016.
“We've had what we thought was a city park at the end of Westdale Court for I don't know how many years,” said Asher. “Last year, we figured out it was county property. So, the city pulled their equipment out of there. And now we have a leftover little area that's all county property. I thought it was a great idea to rename it Carl Koontz Memorial Park.”
The renaming of the park is an extension of something that has been discussed for years. According to Jeramie Dodd, Kokomo Fraternal Order of Police president, the law enforcement community had been searching for a way to memorialize Koontz.
“I have been in talks with Cassie Koontz for a couple years about creating a place that is serene, that people could go to remember Carl,” said Jeramie Dodd. ‘We've tried a couple of different locations. We looked at Jackson Morrow Park. One time, we even looked at putting something on the courthouse square. All those things fell through.”
This effort, however, was successful. Commissioner Jack Dodd made the motion to rename the park, which passed unanimously.
“I personally lived right there near Westdale Park,” said Dodd. “I've talked to some of the neighbors about the idea of renaming the park. Everybody was supportive of it. It is a very nice park. I think it would be a great addition to Howard County to have a park named in honor of one of our deputies who gave his life in service to our county.”