MICHIGAN CITY – Three new department heads have been named to Michigan City Mayor-elect Angie Nelson Deuitch’s incoming administration.
Darrell Garbacik will be the new Central Maintenance superintendent.
Locals may remember him for the 18 years he put in at the Parks & Recreation Department, where he held several positions including that of superintendent. He left Parks in 2009 to become the projects coordinator for the Facilities Department at Culver Academy, a position he held for 15 years.
“At Culver, we had students and faculty and staff from all over the world,” Garbacik said. “We celebrated our differences and our diversity. We cared about one another and supported one another. So, I look to bring that into everything we do here in Michigan City as a culture.
“I’m also a sports guy, so I’m competitive and I want to be the best. And our department will be the best. The mission will be to be efficient, productive and professional. All of us together – Street Department, Refuse Department, Central Maintenance, Vector Control – we’re going to be a cohesive unit that gets things done. We will put Michigan City on the map. I hope to lead the region in the things
we accomplish working together.”
Nelson Deuitch said, “I’m excited to bring Darrell Garbacik back. He will focus not only on fleet management, but facilities as well once he takes the time to evaluate the Central Maintenance Department’s needs.”
Michigan City Transit Director Robin Barzoni-Tillman will retain her position, in which she manages one of the city’s largest federal grant programs, and serves as transit planner, operations manager and grant writer for the city’s funds from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).
Barzoni-Tillman has more than 20 years’ transit experience, including her 18 years working for the city, where she has been transit director since 2015.
Since then, Barzoni-Tillman has implemented an electronic driver safety system, GPS, vehicle maintenance and security surveillance on the city’s buses and other public transportation vehicles, contributing to her department’s average drive safety score of 92 percent.
Transit also recently installed 10 new bus shelters throughout town, with advertising space that will support the building and maintenance of additional shelters in the future.
In 2021, she earned an Achievement of Excellence Award and a certificate for exemplary completion of the U.S. Dept. of Transportation FTA triennial review, during which federally funded public transportation providers and agencies documented no open findings in 21 areas of compliance with an enhanced review in financial management.
As a result, Michigan City was awarded 100-percent federal funding to restore services lost during COVID, namely the Transit Triangle service that runs to both La Porte and Purdue University Northwest’s Westville campus.
“Right now, we’re implementing new bus route schedules to increase service and on-time performance,” Barzoni-Tillman said. “Once that’s complete, we’ll roll out a real-time route tracking app and an on-board electronic fare processing system.
“Expanding our services to reach underserved areas of Michigan City is also a priority.”
Nelson Deuitch said, “I plan to sit down with local employers to discuss job opportunities for our resident; and in doing so, I’ll also be looking for ways to use our transit system to remove transportation barriers.”
Michigan City Municipal Airport Manager Jessica Ward also will maintain her position under the new administration.
Under Ward’s leadership, the airport has expanded to include the addition of a skydiving facility, aircraft maintenance shop and flight school. It’s also received $3.5 million in federal funding over the past 11 years.
Notable federally funded projects under Ward’s tenure include a new and modern terminal building and snow removal equipment building, as well as the installation of an airport perimeter fence and automated weather observation system.
Projects on the horizon include the installation of above-ground aviation fuel tanks and a runway extension.
“The airport has completed all planning steps required prior to design and construction of the extension project, including acquisition of property and avigation easement needed,” Ward said. “We are currently waiting for federal funding to complete the remaining project phases, which include utility relocation
and design and construction for road lowering and runway extension.
“We will continue to apply for FAA supplemental funding and explore other opportunities for funding the remaining phases of the extension project through federal and state programs as they arise, while also continuing our place in line for FAA Airport Improvement Plan funding to complete the project.”