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RC&D highlights meeting

February 10, 2010
The 61st Crawford County Soil and Water Conservation District annual meeting Saturday morning highlighted the efforts of Lincoln Hills RC&D.

Kris Vance, the coordinator for the resource, conservation and development agency, told those who braved the overnight snow to gather at Crawford County Junior-Senior High School, that Lincoln Hills was the first of the now 375 RC&Ds in the nation, following the passage of the federal Food and Agriculture Act in 1962.

Headquartered in Rockport, the main goal of the agency, which serves Crawford, Harrison, Spencer and Perry counties, is "to get community dollars into our neighborhoods so we can work on community issues," she said.

Vance said the agency has been successful at doing that in Crawford County, noting the RC&D's involvement following the Marengo tornado in May 2004 and its efforts in acquiring the land for Wyandotte Caves.

"Lincoln Hills has a really significant role in Crawford County," she said.

The agency, which receives a small amount of federal funding to employ the coordinator and an assistant, became a nonprofit in 1987, Vance said. It relies mainly on sponsorships from the SWCDs of its four member counties, but, as a nonprofit, also can seek funding from other sources, she said.

RC&D projects, Vance said, must meet at least one of four criteria: land management, land conservation, water management and community development.

"If you think about it, a lot of things fall under those four categories," she said.

In addition to assisting land owners with various land management programs, such as no-till drilling and timber stand improvement, the agency helps with land conservation efforts, Vance said.

"This is exactly what it sounds like: conserving our land, making sure what we have here is what we have for the future," she said.

Sample programs, Vance said, include the Harrison-Crawford Blue River Complex, the Hemlock Cliffs Reservoir Committee and the Crawford County Forest Association.

"Water management is not only our drainage ditches and things of that nature, but it's also our water quality. So, we're looking at water quantity and water quality projects," Vance said.

"So, if you have drainage issues that you guys are concerned about, Lincoln Hills could help with that. If you also have water quality issues, like E. coli and nutrient loading and things of that nature, that's something that we can help you with."

Community development, however, is "the true basis for RC&D" Vance said.

"We've helped with rural water lines. ... We've done, again, the Wyandotte Caves. ... Our main goal is help our community, and this is either through economic development or community development," she said.

While the RC&D office has just two employees and Vance must split her time with White River RC&D, where she also is coordinator, each member county has representation on the RC&D council. Crawford County's members are Eric Anderson, Sam Mellett, who is also the council's vice president, and Sam Taylor; Harrison County's members are Archie Sauerheber, Charlie Sell and Don Richmer, who is president.

To contact Lincoln Hills RC&D, call the office at 1-812-649-9136, ext. 5, any of the council members or visit www.lincolnhillsrcd.org.

This year's winners of the Crawford County Master Farmer Award were Ray and Norma Jenkins of Marengo.

A veteran of World War II, Ray met and married Norma following his discharge from the Navy. Ray began a plumbing and heating business in 1955, and, in 1957, the couple got into the broiler business, building a 4,800-square-foot broiler house. In 1964, they went through Triple A and constructed a pond for the broiler house. The Jenkinses then switched to layer and sold eggs to OH-View Hatchery. The couple then went into the cattle business, which they've done ever since.

Ray was part of the group that formed the Crawford County Water Co. in the 1960s. The water company now has 1,200 customers and more than 100 miles of line. Ray has been a director on the board for 45 years.

Joseph and Edna Schwartz of Eckerty were named the Crawford County Conservation Farmer of the Year.

Joseph and a brother bought the Schwartz farm from their parents in 1986. They focused on growing strawberries as their main cash crop, but they also raised cattle and chickens and managed a 20-acre wood lot. In 1999, Joseph and Edna bought out the brother's share.

In 2002, the Schwartzes began growing potatoes, sweet corn, melons and other vegetables for a farmers market in Louisville. They also built greenhouses in order to grow tomatoes year-round and invested money into blueberries and raspberries and a pond for irrigation.

Development of the new S.R. 37 split the couple's farm, negatively affecting their business plan. Joseph and Edna decided to use the affected land to build Schwartz Family Restaurant, whose menu includes items from the farm.

Jim Schaller and Kim Mattox, principals of JMS Properties, received the Crawford County Forestry Award. To correct erosion on land they purchased in western Crawford County in 2002, they constructed a 12-acre lake and planted 24,000 hardwoods of white, black oak, red oak, ash, walnut and hickory, as well as 3,000 pines in three stands of white, red and loblolly. They now have 240 acres laid out with 12 acres of lake, 25 acres of wildflowers and grasses and the rest in forest. They have done it without the use of chemicals of any kind.

The Crawford County River Friendly Farmer Award was won by the Morris-Yelverton family and Addison and Sandy Nabb.

Ralph and Donis Morris, along with their daughter and son-in-law, Stacie and Brian Yelverton, have implemented many environmentally friendly management practices on their Pleasant Ridge Farm in Cape Sandy that lies in proximity to the Little Blue and Ohio rivers. These include rotational grazing and installing a solar water pump, among others.

The Nabbs, likewise, have implemented many conservation practices on their Spring Villa Farm in Marengo, including grassed waterways, grass filter strips and prescribed grazing.

The SWCD also recognized Sam Mellett for 40 years of service as a supervisor. Mellett was unable to attend because of the inclement weather.

Those attending the meeting, which began with the traditional pancake breakfast, received annual reports from the Farm Services Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, South Central Indiana Livestock Marketing Cooperative, Crawford 4-H Council, Extension Service and Crawford County Junior-Senior High School FFA.

Also, Garry Brown, who owns a 139-acre cattle farm, was elected to the SWCD Board of Supervisors.

In addition, winners of the annual SWCD school poster contest were recognized. They were:

•Kindergarten-First Grade: Whitney Bell, first place; Mason Burns, second place; and Taeghan Deitsch, third place.

•Second-Third Grades: Jadin Wolf, first place; Shana Baxley, second place; and Abbigail Goldman, third place.

•Fourth-Fifth Grades: Morgan Pittman, first place; Ashton Cavendish, second place; and Katelyn Jones, third place.

•Sixth-Seventh Grades: Alia Satterfield, first place; Shelby Wetzel, second place; and Charles Skiles, third place.

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