Jerry Shnay Announces Retirement at Board Meeting

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Public Information Officer Jerry Shnay announced his retirement at the June 18 Village Board meeting. (Photo: ENEWSPF)

Thanks Wife Penny, Will Help Select Full-Time Public Relations Officer

Park Forest, IL—(ENEWSPF)— The Park Forest Village Board was able to say goodbye to a long time village employee and prepare for the future at the rules meeting Monday evening.

Public Information Officer Jerry Shnay announced his retirement Monday after nearly a decade of working for the village.

“For the last decade, I have always considered it an honor and a privilege to shape and tell Park Forest’s story,” Shnay said.

Shnay spoke on the work he had done with the village including Park Forest Discover magazine and working with the village historical society. Shnay reflected back on moving to Park Forest on a sunny March Sunday in 1964 with his wife and two young children, and never leaving the “little shack on Shabbona.”

Several board members and Mayor John Ostenburg expressed gratitude for Shnay’s service, and wished him luck.

“I’ve learned so much about the village from you,” said Trustee Robert McCray.

A power point presentation was also given on the proposed budget for the 2007 fiscal year by Ostenburg, deputy village manager Mary Dankowski, and village manager Tom Mick. The presentation over viewed the budget process and the vision for 2012. No public comments were given.

The board also agreed to move forward with the selection of Lake Shore Investors, LLC as the preferred developer for the proposed Hidden Meadows housing development, placing the item at "first reading" at the June 25 Village Board meeting. According to a June 20 Agenda Briefing prepared by Director of Economic Development and Planning Hildy Kingma for that meeting, the proposed sales price of the property is, $2,232,000. The proposed ordinance stipulates that the sale is "…subject to an approved preliminary plat and planned unit development regarding the Subject Property to be approved by the Village Board. The Subject Property may be sold in phases to the Developer, subject to the approval of the Village Board."

Jerry Shnay's complete remarks, provided by Mr. Shnay:

Nearly nine years ago, I was hired by Village Manager Janet Muchnik as this community’s Public Information Officer. For the last decade I have always considered it an honor and a privilege to shape and tell Park Forest’s story.

What have we accomplished in less than a decade? Twice Park Forest made the finals of the All-America City competition, 2000 and 2006. And I know we came within a hair’s breadth of winning the award in 2000. We changed the look, the feel and the content of our report to the citizenry. From an six-page black and white “Park Forester” we now have a 20 to 28-page full color Park Forest Discover magazine. We told the story of Park Forest in a book that is still on the market. According to the publisher, more than 130 copies of Park Forest: Dreams and Challenges were sold in the last six months. Just two weeks ago, Amazon-dot-com in Japan advertised the book – in Japanese, of course. By the way, all royalties from that book go to the Park Forest Historical Society. My treat.

Along with the Park Forest Historical Society, we aided the Smithsonian Institution in developing a large portion of their permanent exhibit “America on the Move.” In it, the growth of Park Forest is a symbolic centerpiece of how the new suburbs changed the way we went to work.. These are just a few of the examples of what we have done. But times and conditions change. I was hired as a part-time employee. Today, the position demands more than that. The emergence of new media outlets, specifically electronic journalism in its separate and unequal forms, has turned this into a full-time, 40-plus hour a week job.

I have had a frank discussion with Village Manager Tom Mick and we both agree that Public Information should not be and cannot be a part-time operation. So tonight, as part of my duties I will scoop the world by announcing my retirement as the Public Information officer. After I retired from the Chicago Tribune, I wanted to give 10 years to serve the community I love. Well, nine is close enough.

In the next few weeks I will start the process of helping to select a full-time PR person. I will close one door, and hopefully open a couple of windows.

Park Forest is a great community.

Penny and I and our two young children came to Park Forest on a sunny March Sunday in 1964. We’ve lived in our little shack on Shabbona from the last 42 years. We never left, nor do we intend to. My stepfather-in-law, Tom McDade, helped develop this village. When he retired, he and his wife moved back to Park Forest. Today my son and his family live in their house on Lakewood Boulevard.

When people tell me “have a good day,” I usually reply by saying “I always do.” Well, I’ve always had a good day working for Park Forest and I intend to keep it that way.