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Three Barnesville residents were honored for giving back to the community at the Barnesville Community Spring Banquet hosted by the Barnesville Area Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, April 24 at the Barnesville Elks Club.
"This is the time of year when community members are recognized for their hard work for just being community minded folks," said master of ceremonies Perry Baranich.
Kathy Johnson received the Community Service award. She was nominated by three different people for her over 30 years of leadership in local Girl Scouting, her involvement in the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival, Junior Women's Club, her service to the First United Methodist Church, and the summer and high school swim program.
She has been a member of the Junior Women's Club for over 40 years and has served as president twice. "She's given a tremendous amount of time and energy to make our community a better place through the JWC," wrote Julie Starr.
Johnson began her service with the Girl Scouts in 1984 as a troop leader and led three different troops to earn scouting's highest honor, the Gold Award. She takes great pride in leading her scouts to spearhead the Save the Depot campaign in the 1980s. After her daughters graduated, Johnson continued her involvement in Girl Scouts and serves as the area's Service Unit Administrator.
Rev. Ted Buehl wrote about Johnson's devotion to the church of which she has been a member and employee for over 25 years.
"In those capacities she has always gone above and beyond to serve others in maintaining and coordinating all the activities at our beautiful church facilities," Buehl wrote.
Nominator Summer Jenkins wrote, "The name Kathy Johnson and Girl Scouts are nearly synonymous."
Baranich concluded, "She has been a true asset to the entire Barnesville Community and will continue to be one for many years to come."
Johnson thanked those who nominated her and credited the good core of Girl Scout leaders and her family.
Gary Hall was nominated for the Citizen of the Year award by his family for his "lifetime of commitment to community service" which includes serving on the Barnesville Fire Department for over 40 years, some of which were spent as an officer; volunteering with the Boys Scouts, Barnesville Park, Knights of Columbus, Salvation Army; and being a member of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars Honor Guard for over seven years having provided services for over 800 funerals. Hall can be seen walking the cemeteries to put markers on the graves of lost service members and is present at every Memorial Day service and ohter occassitions as a member of the firing squad.
Hall has dedicated countless hours to the village as a member of the fire department alone. In addition to going out on fire calls during his time on the department, he maintained the equipment and gave safety talks and tours to school children.
"Through it all, he has loved every minute of it and it is part of who he is." his family wrote. "He has always had a strong sense of pride in himself, his community, and his country."
Hall thanked the chamber for the honor and the meal. "Go volunteers. Keep up the good work," he said.
The Community Spotlight Award went to 10-year-old Harlee Owens who at a young age has already given back to her community for several years through "Harlee's Helping Hands" a yearly food drive and recently started "Harlee's Barnesville Rocks" Facebook Page. She and her mother, Crystal decorate and place rocks throughout the area and encourage people to post pictures and re-hide the rocks to help encourage families to spend time together creating, getting outdoors and doing nice things for others.
"I'm impressed with her creative and innovative approach to community service," said Baranich, who read part of an Enterprise article about Owens. "This young lady gets out there and gets it done," he said.
Harlee said she was thankful for the award, but "did not do it for an award, but to bring smiles, hope and happiness to people". She thanked her momma, daddy, mimi and pappy.
Eugene "Doc" Householder, who retired April 15 after 28 years as the Director of the Belmont County Tourism Council, was presented with a proclamation from the House of Representatives and Congressman Bill Johnson by interim director Barb Ballint. Householder was honored with the Community Service Award at last year's banquet.
"Doc you have had an amazing journey with Belmont County Tourism and I feel so privileged to have been a small part of that journey. You served Belmont County proudly for 28 plus years, what an accomplishment," Ballint said. "You've helped many community and non-profit organizations throughout those years." She thanked him for his service on behalf of the county, the tourism office, and the communities he has helped and wished him health and happiness in his retirement.
The featured speaker was Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray, who reminisced about growing up in Bethesda and Barnesville. Murray talked about the challenges facing the coal mining industry, and showed a video about the technology used today in underground, long wall mining. He also shared his personal experiences with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, and on providing his insight to national and international media on the coal mining industry. He handed out copies of a prepared speech about the status of the coal industry in the Ohio Valley.
Murray talked about living with his aunt and uncle on East Main Street two different times during his childhood after his father was paralyzed following an accident. He introduced his wife, Brenda who worked in Barnesville at the Ohio Power office on North Chestnut Street as a young woman for seven years.
"I have a few roots in Barnesville and it holds a special place in my heart, and in Brenda's heart," Murray said.
Murray said every coal job supports up to 11 other jobs in the community. "That's a big impact," he said. Murray said that in May of 2015, the company had 8,000 employees across the country and in South America. "That was 100,000 jobs that I was so proud of because, ladies and gentlemen, I did not build Murray Energy, my Lord Jesus Christ did," Murray said. "We have the best coal company in the world now, but I didn't build it, my Lord Jesus Christ did."
Murray spoke of the closing of his first mine, the Powhatan No. 6, and blamed former President Barrack Obama and his policies.
"Barrack Obama and the democrats surrounding him were the greatest destroyers that America has ever had," Murray said. "They virtually destroyed the United States's coal industry." He said manufacturers of solar panels and windmills "pumped millions of dollars" into Obama's campaign because they received tax incentives from the government.
Murray spoke about his support of Donald Trump's campaign for president and said he as been a friend of Vice President Mike Pence's for 36 years.
"We've got somebody that cares about eastern Ohio in there," he said of President Trump. "He deeply cares about working men and women. He really does," Murray said later in his speech.
Murray said he had sued the federal government more than anyone during Obama's administration, and was joined by 29 other states in his lawsuit over the stream protection rule. Murray and 10 of his coal miners were in the Oval Office with Trump in February when he signed the law undoing the stream protection rule which Murray said was designed to stop underground mining not protect the environment. Murray said his presence was requested personally by Trump , as he had been a few other times as well.
"The miners were in full mining gear. They had Matterhorn boot prints all over the carpet in the Oval Office," Murray said. "What an experience."
The welcome was given by Barnesville Mayor Dale Bunting. Hannah Betts performed the National Anthem and Frank Williams led the Pledge of Allegiance. The Invocation was give by Msgr. Mark Froehlich.
New members who joined during 2016-2017 were recognized and include: AT & T, Barnesville Kiwanis, Bostic Concrete, Chel's, City Advertisers, Norma Cunningham, Derek Deal, Disabled Veterans/Knights of Columbus, First United Methodist Church of Barnesville, The Flower Gardens, Generations Custom Designs, Johnson Family Pottery, J-Mo Meats, The McKenzie Management Co. LLC, Betty Jo Mellott, The Pike 40 Restaurant, Sound of Promise, Westwood Place Senior Living, and The Wood Fired Pizza Company.
An auction of items donated by local businesses was conducted by Richard Pryor. Door prizes also donated by local businesses and a 50/50 were drawn. The music, sound and decor were provided by Sounds of Promise. Appetizers and the dinner were prepared by Norma Cunningham and Christine Mellinger. The Tool Dawgs baseball team bused the tables. Nancy Mayo of From the Heart Photography served as the event photographer.