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Soil and Water Conservation District marks 75 years

STEUBENVILLE –Two local institutions of higher learning were recognized for their conservation partnership during the Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District’s 75th-annual anniversary dinner held Sept. 23 at Le Chateau Pier in Smithfield.

Eastern Gateway Community College has provided the opportunity during the last 10 years for the district and local producers to increase awareness of agriculture and food production by offering the use of their parking lot facility for the Gateway Farmers Market. The school provide signage for the seasonal event and have offered customer assistance.

The staff at EGCC support the belief that local consumers benefit from a one-on-one relationship with the local agriculture producers. Ken Perkins, JSWCD board vice chair, announced the college recognition by stating that “the administration at EGCC knows that by coordinating a local foods market there is the potential to encourage economic diversity and tourism while ensuring the sustainability of natural resources.”

EGCC received a Distinguished Service Award Recognition, which was accepted by Jim Miller and Christina Wanat.

Franciscan University of Steubenville was also recognized as a district conservation partner working together to foster natural resources education. The college hosted the two-day long state Envirothon competition this year. The state Envirothon is an outdoor, academic competition that brings together high school teams from around the state to compete for the opportunity to represent Ohio in the national level of competition. The university assists in other district programs, including efforts with the state-endangered eastern hellbender salamander and the newly acquired Quaker Ridge lands. Board chair Mark Nelson presented the award to Eric Haenni and Steve Forrester, who accepted on behalf of the college.

The staff and partners of the JSWCD recognized landowners, acknowledged partnerships and announced results of the special state election of supervisors.

Curt and Virginia Glenn received the JSWCD Conservation Farmer of the Year Award. This recognition is given each year to acknowledge agricultural producers who send a strong conservation message which is exemplified in their passion for their farms, through leading by example, and in their interactions with others. Jodee Verhovec, board member, introduced the Glenns and stated that “Curt and Virginia are recognized for their hard work and grit.” She continued by sharing that they are whole-heartedly committed to their farm, their history and most of all, their family.

Special recognition was offered to the Lou DiGregory family for its 82 years of business and community service and to the local food vendors that provided fresh produce and farm-raised meats. Jeremy Scherf of the ODNR Division of Forestry presented the nominees for the Annual Big Tree Contest, sponsored by DeNoon Lumber and announced that nominator Fred Posgai and tree owner Anna Lengyel were the 2019 Big Tree winners.

The JSWCD introduced 11 former board supervisors who were either present or had family representation and four former staff members were recognized.

Board members are elected for three-year terms in a state special election coordinated by the Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Commission. Incumbents Mark Nelson and Ken Perkins were re-elected by the citizens of Jefferson County to serve as board supervisors for the term beginning January 2020.

The opening ceremony included the presentation of colors by Steubenville Boy Scout Troop 3; the singing of the national anthem by Ron Retzer; and the invocation which was offered by Monsignor Gerald Calovini, pastor of Holy Family Catholic Church. Program sponsors of a take-home rain gauge were Jefferson Landmark and Water Transport.

M&M Hardware and DiGregory’s Greenhouse and Garden Center sponsored the annual photo contest. Lou DiGregory and Scott Campbell presented Gary Bush, Diane Rojack Bannister and Virginia Glenn with a monetary award for placing first out of a number of entries.

This year’s annual meeting served as an historical celebration of the activities and events of the district during the last 75 years.

“I look forward to the new and exciting things that JSWCD will do for conservation over the next 75 years,” said Duayne Wetherell, JSWCD supervisor and public relations chair. “We are the boots on the ground that have been providing technical and educational service for natural resources to the residents of Jefferson County since 1944. The landscape and needs of our county have changed a lot over the years but JSWCD stays committed to our mission of promoting conservation of our lands and waters.”

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