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updated: 10/28/2013 5:22 PM

Danada Equestrian Center soon to be under new management

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  • DuPage Forest Preserve District staff members are stepping in to fill the void left by Friday's resignation of former site manager Patricia "Trish" Spiroff.

      DuPage Forest Preserve District staff members are stepping in to fill the void left by Friday's resignation of former site manager Patricia "Trish" Spiroff.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer


The DuPage County Forest Preserve District soon will begin its search for only the third site manager in the Danada Equestrian Center's history.

The need for a new manager arose when the most recent leader, Patricia "Trish" Spiroff, resigned Friday afternoon.

Spiroff worked as site manager for the past four years and eight months.

Her departure came after she was charged on Sept. 23 with attempting to steal wine and cheese, valued at $30.18 from the St. Charles Costco. She was put on paid leave shortly after her arrest.

Forest preserve officials eventually will name a new site manager, but for the near future existing staff members will step in to fill the void.

"In the short-term, the district's deputy director, Mike Palazzetti, is overseeing operations and is working closely with the current staff to ensure the day-to-day tasks are managed efficiently," district spokeswoman Susan Olafson said.

The long-term plan, Olafson said, includes the continued implementation of several recommendations outlined in Commissioner Shannon Burns' report on needed improvements at Danada as directed by the board in July.

Burns spent four months studying the center and conducted more than 100 interviews with volunteers, forest preserve employees, veterinarians and horse experts earlier this year in the wake of criticism of the Danada operation by some volunteers who work there.

Based on her findings, for example, the district is making arrangements with vendors to ensure the quality of its hay. And to make sure all the animals get enough hay to eat, horses that are smaller, more timid or have medical conditions will be fed separately.

"We've already moved forward on most of them (recommendations) including the shift in Danada's operations and volunteer services," Olafson said. "We're looking to standardize the volunteer program and will be communicating the changes shortly."

Burns also recommended that a veterinarian be hired to be on-site 10 hours a week, do regular checks of the horses and issue monthly reports to district officials.

The district also had begun the process of hiring a new veterinarian but Olafson said hiring is "slowing down" until a new site manager is hired.

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