Leaders from every area in Clermont County were recognized during the 19th Annual Salute to Leaders banquet Thursday, March 5.
Clermont 20/20 hosted “A Vision for Leadership” to honor and salute individuals in the county who have shown unselfish service to others and their communities.
There were 430 people in attendance at Holiday Inn Eastgate for the salute. According to organizer Frankie Hughart, the process for selecting award winners begins with the 14 townships and one city in the county.
"Tonight's salute allows us to express our heartiest 'Thank You' to these individuals who have truly earned our gratitude," Andrew McCreanor, executive director of Clermont 20/20 said. "Their example demonstrates how people can make a difference when they are willing to get involved as a citizen to do good."
Before the awards were presented, guest speaker Jim Scott of 700 WLW Radio offered some advice.
"There is a spirit of service that you find in an area with a rural flavor and Clermont County has that," said Scott. "I can't wait to see the different individuals who will be recognized tonight and find out how many leaders there are. Leadership is about serving."
"One thing I have been working on personally is something that I learned from a recent interview. We need to look people in the eye and ask them how we can be useful to them and say it in such a way that they can give you an answer. Find a way to help others. To be a servant leader, ask if you can help meet a need," said Scott.
The William H. Over Leadership Award was presented to Tom Rocklin for his concern about the quality of life in Clermont County. He is on the board of Clermont County Senior Services, the Literacy Council of Clermont and Brown counties and serves on the advisory board for the Clermont Community Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation. Rocklin is the volunteer Web master for Milford Band Boosters, SEM Haven, Clermont 20/20 and the League of Women Voters. He was selected because he demonstrates many of the traits of Bill Over, founder of Clermont 20/20.
The Up 'N Over Youth Leadership Award was presented to Kristen Kiefer, of Milford. She is a senior at Milford High School with a 3.9 GPA and is a teen counselor who speaks to elementary students about postponing sexual involvement. She is a member of the student council, track and dance teams, National Honor Society and the All Star Elite Cheerleading Club. She has helped coordinate homecoming activities, rescued sea turtles in Costa Rica, helped with the American Cancer Society Relay for Life and the Clermont County River Sweep. She is also a recipient of the 2008 YMCA Character Award.
Ray Perszyk, of New Richmond, was presented with the Civic Award. He is a champion for improvements, renovation and rehabilitation in the New Richmond community. Most recently, Perszyk worked to refurbish the river retaining wall, organized the Art, Jazz and Java event, restored the old village EMS building for use as the headquarters for the newly established New Richmond Chamber of Commerce and completed a door-to-door campaign with New Richmond businesses for statistical data for an economic development report card.
The Community Project Award was given to the new James Saul's Homeless Shelter. The shelter was slated for closure until Clermont County Community Services volunteered to take over the operation and raise money to build a new shelter. Billie Kuntz and LeAnne Townes stepped up and took the leadership roles with the Clermont County Affordable Housing Coalition and Continuum of Care and worked long hours raising money to make the new homeless shelter a reality.
Lee Hite received the Safety and Justice Award for the thousands of hours in volunteer time he devotes to local police and fire departments. He has helped them with computer and software issues and designed and donated a software program called "Look-It-Up." The program has been installed in all police cars, ambulances and fire trucks in Miami Township. He is one of the founders of Citizens Emergency Response Team and is past president of the Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association.
The Environmental Parks and Recreation Award was presented to Bruce and Vickie Wenstrup for the hours they spend planting, decorating, trimming and watering the landscape around the "Welcome to Clermont County" sign at the intersection of I-275 and state Route 125. During times of drought, the couple has hauled water in five-gallon buckets to ensure the survival of the plantings.
The CNE Help Center received the Human Services Award. The center has been serving Clermont County for nearly 30 years by making sure that people have food, clothing and household items. They have paid utility bills for those in need and have helped many people get their required medication.
The Health Care Award was given to Patrick Rexroat for his leadership role in promoting health and fitness programs to more than 2,400 children. For 20 consecutive years, the students of Willowville Elementary have been state champions in the President's Physical Fitness Challenge and nine of those years, they have been national champions. He has been a health educator for 30 years and has a vision and passion for kids' health.
The Rural Interests Award was presented to Carl and Jan Schoellman. The couple has been involved with the Clermont County Farm Bureau for more than 35 years. They work at the state level to further the cause of farmers. They became involved with the Junior Fair after their children presented 4-H and FFA projects. Carl Schoellman has been on the Clermont County Senior Fair Board for 20 years and Jan Schoellman is the office manager and Web site designer for the Clermont County Fair.
The Education Award was given in honor of Charlene Spahr. Spahr died after a short battle with cancer. She had been an educator in the Clermont Northeastern Schools and served as a mentor for teachers. She volunteered on numerous committees that supported children in the community and raised funds for levies, bonds and building projects.
The Dr. Richard Zinsmeister Humanitarian Award was presented to India Davis. Through her work at Spirit of America, she is involved in community activities and lends her support and expertise with Habitat for Humanity, People Working Cooperatively, Clermont Affordable Housing Coalition and Cornerstone Loan Fund. In 2008, she led in the development of the "Don't Borrow Trouble" program to bring free financial counseling service for low to moderate-income families facing foreclosure.
Township and City Awards
Batavia Township - The Sauls Family was recognized for their continued support of the James Sauls Homeless Shelter. They donated $10,000 towards the completion of the shelter named in honor of James Sauls Sr. He was the first recipient of the award in 1994 and his family continues to support Batavia Township.
Franklin Township - Rick Gableman, of Felicity, has volunteered for the Felicity-Franklin EMS for 28 years. He works a shift from Friday to Thursday every other week. The township finds his exceptional devotion to his job commendable given the emotional stress and the volume of runs involved.
Goshen Township - The 80 Volunteers of John Heisler Ball Park were honored for their devotion. The ball park operates with 35 teams and nearly 500 players ranging in age from 4 to 18. The volunteers inspire teamwork and relationship building and teach lessons in good sportsmanship and volunteerism. They also host bingo in the clubhouse on Friday nights and raised $38,000 in 2008.
Jackson Township - John Carney was the owner of Carney's Feed Mill for 30 years. He has supported the community with his expertise about agriculture and has been available day and night to answer questions. He has been a supporter of CNE, FFA and the Clermont County Fair. When CNE considered eliminating the FFA program, he spoke to the board about the importance of agriculture in the district and helped sway their decision.
Miami Township - Mary Miller received the award from her township for her work with needy families for more than half a century. She started the Mary Miller Fund in 1952 to help needy families with food and gifts at Christmas. By 1999, she wa s helping more than 900 families annually. The management of the fund has been turned over to Milford Miami Ministries. It is a non-profit coalition of 13 area churches collecting and distributing money year round to those who have sudden financial emergencies.
Monroe Township - Gloria Smith was recognized by the community in which she has always lived. Smith is a retired teacher and cares about the welfare of her community. She is the treasurer and former lay leader of Laurel Methodist Church and she keeps track of the sick in the local community and finds out who is in need. She also heads up preparing community meals and organizes bus trips for day excursions for anyone who wants to enjoy.
Ohio Township - Dick Feldkamp, of New Richmond, recently retired as fire chief after serving the New Richmond community on the life squad beginning October 1967 and then working for the fire department since 1971. His historical and institutional knowledge of the fire and EMS and general history of New Richmond is unparalleled.
Pierce Township - Kuehn Frederick was selected by Pierce Township for his willingness to give generous portions of his time, energy and experience as an architect to the township. He has served on the township zoning commission and worked with a civic organization on an agreement in the 1980s with CG&E regarding the effects of the Beckjord fly ash disposal method.
Stonelick Township - Paul DuChemin is a retired GE IT systems manager and a member of the Stonelick Township Zoning Commission. He has spent many hours volunteering his time to keep the equipment in the township office running smoothly. He created the township Web site in collaboration with Miami University and his experience has helped keep the township expenses to a minimum.
Tate Township - Bill White was honored for his accomplishments in Bethel throughout the years. He was part owner of Bethel Jewelry and served on the Bethel Council during the early 50s. He was one of the volunteers who laid water pipes in Bethel during a drought to provide the village with water. He was a volunteer firefighter for 30 years and helped build the ball fields and put up the lights. He has coached and umpired and was on the original board of the Bethel Swim Club. He is a member of Bethel Baptist Church.
Washington Township - Virgil Pollard was remembered by those in his township as one who made significant contributions to his community. He served as a township trustee from 1977 until his death in April 2008 and took great pride in the roads. He was also a strong advocate of the fire and rescue departments and promoted enhancements to the park. He drove a school bus for New Richmond and coached a women's softball team.
Wayne Township - As the sole maintenance employee for Wayne Township, Jason Browning is in charge of roads, equipment, the fire department, cemetery and much more. He saved the township money on salt by designing a system to make brine and applying it to the roads at one-tenth the cost of purchasing a commercial unit.
Williamsburg Township - Jody Danbury has served as a trustee for Williamsburg Township for 12 years. He has taken every issue seriously and is always willing to do all he can to benefit the township. He has played an important role of updating the fire department and emergency medical services. He has also served on Clermont Social Lodge 29 as master of the lodge and lodge secretary.
Union Township - The Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 649 has continually served Union Township through ongoing support and maintenance of the Veteran's Memorial, including the helicopter, brick memorial pavilion and other facilities in the park. They are involved in charitable and community-oriented events and have shown dedication to improving the community.
City of Milford - Chris Hamm was honored for his responsiveness to the needs of his community. He is the owner of Latitudes, Buffalo Harrys and GSM in Milford. When the Korner Barber Shoppe burned down, he opened Latitudes to provide food, drink and shelter for the firefighters and later held a fundraiser for the displaced residents. He is president of the Historic Milford Association and is on the board for the Greater Milford Area Historical Society. He has also been involved with the Matt Maupin service, Taste of Christmas, Hometown Holidays toy drive and events for disabled American veterans.
Presenters of the awards were members of Clermont 20/20, sponsors for the event and community leaders.