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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Merkel takes on post as Turner retires

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Pam Turner felt like it was time to take more time to do some different things.

On March 30, the long-time Putnam County Youth Development Commission Director officially retired.

"It's been a transition," Turner said. "When you've done this for 35 years, it's hard to let go."

Turner was replaced by lifelong Putnam County resident Linda Merkel, who most recently worked at the Area 30 Career Center.

"Pam was someone who devoted her entire life to working with at-risk youth," Merkel said. "She is someone who has a genuine passion for the youth of Putnam County."

The 11-member PCYDC board opened the position in December 2006 and immediately began the interview process.

Merkel came aboard on Feb. 5 and worked with Turner until she officially stepped down.

"I consider it a real challenge," Merkel said of replacing Turner, who served as the PCYDC Director since February 1998. "I'm very excited about the opportunity.

"(Turner) established an outstanding commission."

Turner said her husband Mike has planned to retire in July and they plan to travel often and spend more time with their two grandchildren. They have lived in Plainfield for two years.

"I kind of got the jump on him," Turner said of retiring before her husband.

Turner said she's already been back to her old office twice and still plans to serve as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer.

"My first love will be the YDC because we started it from the ground up," Turner said.

A state-funded youth service bureau, the PCYDC was born in 1997. Merkel is only the program's fourth director since its inception.

"She's enthusiastic," Turner said of Merkel. "She's got drive. I think Linda will do a great job. She's had experience with kids and is really devoted to so some new initiatives that will take the YDC to a new level."

Merkel has 18 years experience in business and 10 years experience in education. The Indiana Wesleyan University graduate said she hopes to bring new programs to PCYDC in the future. She added the commission may move from its current location, 10 1/2 N. Jackson St., Greencastle, saying it's difficult to find the organization for some.

"I believe it's time to move the program to the next level," Merkel said. "We want a ground level building. We want to bring visibility to our commission."

Merkel has already started looking into other possible programs the organization can bring to the community, including Teen Court.

Merkel has already started investigating Teen Court through Montgomery and Knox counties. According to the Montgomery County Teen Court brochure, the program serves as a "diversionary program to non-violent first-time offenders ages 9-17 through informational adjudication and disposition by their peers.

Merkel said she will attend a Teen Court program in Montgomery County Monday with Putnam County Chief Juvenile Probation Officer Renee Marsteller.

Other programs PCYDC offers include Coats for Kids, Thinking for a Change, CASA, Reality Store, Anger Management/Conflict Resolution, and Youth/ Parenting programs.

For more information, call 653-9342.

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