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updated: 2/20/2013 9:34 AM

Forest preserve leader will be missed

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Tom Hahn is a great guy. A gem. And, his retirement from the top spot at the Lake County Forest Preserves helps me to realize what "the perfect person at the perfect time" really meant to a burgeoning Lake County. His intense focus and firm steady leadership of the Forest Preserves operation will be missed. I felt a tug when I heard last fall of his plans to leave. (Not to mention right-hand man Mike Fenelon and bright and precise Bonnie McLoed).

To the quality of life, there is no comparison. Open lands. Held in their natural state. For generations upon generations to come. You could not ask for a better legacy than that of Tom Hahn.

Tom was that sensible guy from Open Lands when I first met him. His logic and demeanor so impressed us that then-President Carol Calabresa pushed the idea of bringing Tom aboard as executive director. It was just the best move ever for Carol, who I believe shares in this legacy.

It wasn't always smooth sailing at the forest preserves. It went from its early days, with artifacts for the museum stored in a Wadsworth barn, to a publicly confounding and controversial acquisition of lands along the Des Plaines River to acrimonious relations with municipalities to the harmony we have today -- and will have -- for as long as we're all here on the planet.

Shortly after Tom arrived on the scene, one prominent mayor came up to me and said words I will never forget: "That new guy you have. What a quality guy. We're looking forward to working with him on the forest preserves' projects. He's a delight." Truly spoken.

From 750,000 Lake County residents to Tom and staff: Thanks, and God Bless. I'm just one.

Larry Leafblad


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