More than 450 people were present for the Clermont 20/20 Inc., 17th annual Salute to Leaders Thursday, Feb. 25.
Cyndy Wright received the William H. Over Leadership Award, in part for her work with the Clermont County League of Women Voters. The Over Leadership Award is presented to an individual or organization that has made an impact through their leadership in improving the quality of life in Clermont County.
Wright serves on the Clermont 20/20 board and is a 1994 LEAD graduate. She has also served on the boards of Clermont Counseling Center, Clermont Senior Services and Council on Aging of Southwest Ohio. As president of the League of Women voters she worked to build a strong board and set challenging goals for the board.
Representatives Joe Uecker and Danny Bubp shared some insights about the leaders who were recognized.
"A salute in the military is the highest form of respect," said Bubp. "Tonight we salute all the award winners with the respect you deserve."
"We want to thank Clermont 20/20 for recognizing these leaders," said Uecker.
State senator Tom Niehaus also offered congratulations to the award winners.
"This is the one night that we really recognize the people who make things happen in Clermont County," he said. "We all say thank you for doing all that you do."
The Dr. Richard Zinsmeister Humanitarian Award was presented to Angelo Santoro. He was a friend of Dr. Zinsmeister and had worked with him to encourage music education with the Clermont Philharmonic before his death in 1998.
"What Richard left behind has been passed on to other people," said Santoro.
Santoro actively supports Clermont YMCA, Senior Services, Clermont County Developmental Disabilities, Mercy Hospital Clermont, Clermont 20/20, U.C. Clermont, the James Sauls Homeless Shelter and other social service organizations.
The Civic Award was given to Connie Taggart. She is a retired educator who continues to serve as a volunteer. She is vice president of Felicity-Franklin PTO, a charter member of Felicity Initiative for Neighborhood Excellence and is working with Place Matters in Felicity and Franklin Township to help improve housing and address crime problems. She serves on the boards of the Mental Health and Recovery Board and the Coalition for a Drug Free Clermont County.
Chris Rolph received the Education Award for his commitment to serve children in the county. He has helped to implement a competitive track program in Williamsburg and spends time coaching students. He organized a cross country club even though the school district had no funds to cover the costs.
The Environmental/Parks and Recreation Award was presented to Jim and Frances Wilson for hosting water quality monitoring on their property. They have worked with the Clermont County Park District to use the land along the East Fork of the Little Miami as a natural area for the park. A section of their land, purchased by the park district in Oct. 2009 was dedicated as a nature preserve.
The Health Care Award was presented to Karen Scherra for her work as executive director of the Clermont County Mental Health and Recovery Board. Her efforts have helped secure both state and federal funding for the county health system. Under her leadership, the county has expanded behavioral health services including school-based mental health services for children in all school districts and substance abuse treatment for youth and their families.
The Human Services Award was given to Wade Grabowski for his work with foster children. He facilitates a yearly golf benefit to raise money for The Starfish Foundation, a John E. MacManus Memorial Fund. This funding helps to pay for expenses for children in foster care.
Dan and Donna Rouster received the award for Rural Interests. They are the owners of Rouster's Apple House, which is a favorite destination for people in the area. They grow apples, blueberries, peaches and blackberries for residents to pick and offer a farm market. Dan Rouster served on the Clermont County Planning Commission and Donna Rouster is a Meals on Wheels volunteer.
The Safety and Justice Award was presented to the Clermont County OVI Court. According to Sheriff A.J. Rodenberg, the Operating a Vehicle Impaired Court is the first of its kind in Ohio. The court was established in 2005 as an innovative means of addressing the problem of impaired driving. It is a combined effort between municipal court, the probation department, prosecutors, defense attorneys, treatment specialists and law enforcement officials. The court assists substance abusers to recognize the consequences of their problem and provides direction and support.
The Up 'N Over Youth Leadership Award was presented to Jacob Hogue. He is a student aide at Clermont Northeastern High School. He is credited with spending much of his time in helping handicapped people. He helped them attend presidential activities during the 2008 election, has served as a counselor at Kamp Dovetail and helped the camp with their annual golf outing and dinner. He volunteers at Fayetteville Hopewell Center, A Kid Again Center and various soup kitchens. With all his activities he still maintains a 3.629 grade point average.
The Community Project Award was given to Batavia Township for the Veteran's Memorial Plaza. The memorial was dedicated on Veteran's Day 2009 and recognizes the 16,000 plus veterans in all branches of the military in Clermont County. The focal point of the memorial is a Humvee which draws attention to the men and women who have served in the military post Vietnam. The trustees and township administrator have recognized those veterans continuing to serve today.
Clermont County Commissioner Bob Proud summed up the awards ceremony as a representative of county government.
"I see a roomful of people here tonight who care about each other," he said. "Congratulations to all the award winners on behalf of the board of commissioners."