Place, Zwiebel win

Two men elected to the Auglaize Soil and Water Conservtion District (SWCD) say they are eager to start their terms at the beginning of the new year.

Rick Place and Jeff Zwiebel were elected to three-year terms on the SWCD’s Board of Supervisors, which was announced at the end of the Tuesday’s annual meeting at the St. Joseph Parish Life Center in Wapakoneta after all votes had been tallied. Anyone that was a resident in Auglaize County that owned land in Auglaize County was eligible to vote.

Place and Zwiebel said they plan to initially focus on the topics at the top of most people’s minds — cleanup of the Auglaize River and Grand Lake St. Marys.

“The river project and manure runoff seems to be what is concerning most people,” Place said. “I would like to look further into the river project. There are a lot of trees that need cleaned up and I would like to see if sandbars are going to be removed. I’m going to look at the paperwork for the project.”

Zwiebel said he has followed the river project closely and he knows it is a job that needs to be done.

“It appears the majority of farm owners are in favor of it,” Zwiebel said. “I’ve seen some spots on the river where it got even worse after the recent storm. It’s a big project but it something that needed to be done.”

The two will replace Jack Rohrbach and Karl Marshall, who did not seek re-election after both served three-year terms. Rohrbach served as board vice chair and Marshall served as the fiscal agent.

Keynote speaker Frank Gibbs treated attendees to a comical recount of his recent trip to Ecuador to study soil quality and conservation issues abroad.

Gibbs, who is a recently-retired soil analyst and conservation specialist for the USDA and the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Ohio, reviewed the unique soil situation of Ecuador due to nine active volcanoes being situated in the country that is about the size of Colorado.

“It is the Disneyland of soil, plants and animals,” Gibbs said. “There are more than 1 million insect species. There are 37 different tribes and 25,000 different plant species.”

Siblings Marilyn Kuenning and George Wiss were awarded the Lake Erie Conservation Enhancement Program (CREP) award for their contribution to conservation practices on their family farm located along Waesch Road in St. Marys Township. They received the award for using the program to develop 1.5 acres of field windbreak and creating 8.6 acres of wildlife wetland area. They planted approximatley 450 trees in another project and a quail buffer was also developed on the land

“Our father always wanted to put the land in conservation,” Wiss said. “He would have been very happy with this.”

German Township resident Marvin Krieg was honored as this year’s Outstanding Cooperator for implementing several conservation practices into his farming operation over the last several years.

Krieg farms 145 acres of land, growing corn, hay and wheat. Since 1993, he has installed an erosion control structure, completed a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CMNP), built a manure holding pond, installed a dry stack manure storage facility, constructed a concrete reception tank, completed manure waste transfer and installed many lines of tile on his farm.

Erosion Control Specialist Ron Schneider briefly explained projects completed or currently underway in the county, including 256 acres installed into the CREP program, which included more than 200 acres of filter strip. Five producers installed 12 conservation practices using the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, and four ditch projects were completed. The agency investigated 14 pollution complaints last year.

The Wapakoneta FFA team of Taylor Johnson, Bailey Thomas, Morgan King and Evelyn Metzger were honored for winning the urban portion of the soil judging contest, and Johnson was honored as the individual winner. The Wapakoneta FFA team of Andrew Lowden, Megan Powell, Taylor Hager and Zach Golliday won the rural soil judging competition. Amber Paul from New Bremen FFA was the individual winner.