JCSWD holds 74th-annual banquet

HONOREES — Recognized during Monday’s Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District’s 74th-annual meeting and banquet were, from left, Lee Kithcart, Cole Harmon and Carl Kithcart, conservation farmer of the year; and photography contest winners Melissa Taylor and Gary Bush. Fred Posgai was the recipient of the distinguished service award.

WINTERSVILLE — The owners of a Wayne Township farm received the conservation farmer of the year award when the Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District held its 74th-annual meeting and banquet Monday at St. Florian Hall.

Carl and Lee Kithcart were recognized for their efforts, which included implementing conservation practices, managing experimental plots, dairy farming and hosting field days and events, including the 1977 Farm-City Tour on their farm, which has been in their family for 200 years. Joining them in accepting the award was their great-nephew, Cole Harmon, who assists in the operation.

While no longer a Holstein dairy operation, beef steers are finished on their farm, and soybeans now are a part of their crop rotation. In 2016, they hosted a multi-county crop production partnership field day, which focused on conservation practices that reduce soil loss, including contour strips, grassed waterways and conservation crop rotation.

Fred Posgai was named the recipient of the distinguished service award for promoting conservation of lands and waters. He maintains his property along Short Creek in the southern part of Jefferson County in a way that protects the quality of the water, it was explained.

Posgai has an open invitation to pupils of Buckeye Local junior and senior high schools and Bishop Mussio Junior High School to allow them to access his property to conduct stream activities, water quality monitoring and photography. He helps the pupils prepare for Envirothon competitions, work on science fair projects and conduct water testing.

Land stewards in Jefferson County were honored during a presentation that featured a review of this year’s Off the Beaten Path bus tour.

Held Sept. 8, the trip included stops at the Unity Garden on Dock Street in Steubenville, operated by Sister Mary O’Conner and Justice Slappy; the Double M Tree Farm, owned by the Bordash family; and the Mercer farm.

Melissa Taylor and Gary Bush were selected as winners in the annual photography contest. Taylor won in the Natural Beauty of the Seasons category, while Bush won in the Butterflies, Birds and Bees category.

Jodee Straus Verhovec was elected to her fifth term on the district board, defeating Eric Haenni.

The evening featured food purchased from and donated by local farmers, including Spring Valley Farm, Spring Valley Stock Farms, Foster Fluharty Farms, West Wind Farm, Ash’s Redbird Farm, Blue Ridge Farm, Packer’s Orchard and the Ray Piergallini Farm.