June 15th Stovepipe, Railsplitter and Illinois Half Distance Triathlons are Cancelled

Dear Triathletes and Friends of Tri Smarter/Tri Harder,

It is with sincere sadness and anger that we share the very disappointing news finalized today.

Due to circumstances beyond our control, but within the control of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Lake Petersburg Board, we are forced to cancel the June 15th Stovepipe Sprint, Railsplitter Olympic and Illinois Half Distance Triathlons.

After 11 years of hosting these events without incident or stress on resources, both DNR and the Lake Board informed us we would be required for the first time to pay User Fees of thousands of dollars for the June 15 events.

Both entities informed us of the fees within weeks of the event and DNR on this past Monday re-confirmed their decision to ignore our IRS 501 C3 Non Profit Public Charity Status and State of Illinois Non Profit Status and charge the fees.

A status DNR staff has suggested we secure from the IRS, for the past 3 years which we did at a cost of $800, so we could be exempt from the 10% of Gross User Fee to use New Salem.

Of importance is the fact that for the past 11 years the Triathlons have donated thousands of dollars to the site through Menard County Trails and Greenways and last year to the fund specified by DNR staff.

Tri Smarter/Tri Harder also donated to the Town and Country Women’s Club Fund raiser and provided hundreds of volunteer hours on trail clean up and maintenance until last year when we were told we would be arrested if we volunteered/worked at the site.

Something MCT&G and we have done more than any employee or group in the past 10 years.

However, the current site staff has not spent the funds on hand due to myriad of reasons and the site is in the worst shape any local can remember for years.

So after a rejected Appeal to the Director, DNR is standing by the decision to ignore the Non Profit Status, which is within their rights except we were told the User Fees would be waived when we secured the Non Profit Status by the previous administration.

They have threatened us with legal action if we volunteer in the park, ignored 11 years of donation history totaling tens of thousand of dollars into the community and now wants to take money from the following groups and deposit in a General Fund that can be used at any site within the state not just New Salem.

PORTA Fitness Center


PORTA After Prom, Pom Pons, Cheer Squad, Music Boosters, Football Boosters, Science Team , etc.

Town & Country Women’s Club

Menard County Rescue Squad & Dive Team

Menard County Sheriff

Over the past 11 years the triathlons brought thousands of triathletes from over 32 states and 8 countries into the community spending cash on lodging, food, drinks and fuel while always donating to the site directly or indirectly and the groups above.

In addition to this late notice from DNR the Lake Petersburg Board informed us recently the current board took a vote and decided they would keep the $1,000 donation we historically provide to the pool.

A vote by a board with no plans for the money but feels a User Fee is required for lake use after 11 years of working with several boards who have supported, encouraged and donated to the pool without question and understood the value the pool brings to the PORTA community.

A community whose majority of residents do not have the luxury to swim in their own backyards.

While we understand each entities right to charge a User Fee it is the late notice surprise weeks from the annual event, the previous agreements about Non Profit Status, the pool donation for lake use and the events bottom line.

By giving to DNR and the Lake Board the event will be taking money from the local groups and charities above who after 11 years count on this funding stream for their local causes and deposit the money into an account that can be used anywhere DNR chooses and not just New Salem.

In addition these fees will leave the June Triathlons starting with a negative balance of $3,000 and leave no funds remaining to host again in 2020.

In Summary after 11 years of mutually beneficial relationships with IHPA/IDNR and Lake Petersburg Board, the current DNR Director and Lake Board will be taking money from the community and using wherever and however they choose.

While Tri Smarter agrees DNR has the choice to Require or Waive the User Fees, they chose at last minute to asses thousands of dollars on a local grass roots event that historically donates to the New Salem site and local causes knowing full well the negative economic impact on the PORTA Community.

Almost concurrently the Lake Petersburg Board decided by vote only they were aware of to charge $1,000 to use the lake for 3 hours on one day a year.

These unknown costs devastated the race budgets and left the events (1) unable to proceed, (2) hundreds of racers without an event they have counted on for 11 years and (3) left the numerous groups above without the historic funding stream they have known for years.

While we will do everything possible to make this right for our racers we strongly ask all racers and families and friends to voice their opinions on this matter to DNR Director Callahan at


and the Lake Petersburg Board at ellenfliss@aol.com, mailto:dswigart@sunrise-fs.com and maybe our collective voices can bring these events back into existence.

Sincerely and with a heavy heart,

Tri Smarter