WHEELING, WV -- A tireless behind-the scenes worker who literally has helped make things "run" smoothly for decades; an area businessman who's been the driving force in "striking up the band" and a member of the media who has chronicled the achievements of countless athletes and coaches for 35 years and counting are the latest additions to the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Hall of Fame's Class of 2017.
Shadyside's Arthur "Butch" Joseph is this year's selection in the OVAC Family category; Ohio Valley McDonald's Restaurant owner Ross Stoltz of Wheeling was tabbed as an OVAC Contributor; and long-time area sports writer/editor Jeff Harrison of The Daily Jeffersonian in Cambridge will be among this year's honorees when the conference stages its 14th annual banquet on Saturday, Aug. 19 at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling.
Previously named to the Class of 2017 were the athletes from the various decades, including Bill Gompers of Wheeling Central (1940s); Tom Franckhauser of Steubenville Catholic and William "Catfish" Hearst of Wellsburg (1950s); Roger Alford of Wintersville and Dick Tomlinson of Wheeling (1960s); Gary Repella of Steubenville (1970s); Chris Jones of John Marshall and Scot Maffe of Bellaire (1980s); Jami Bendle of Edison and Mike Snively of River (1990s); and Nate Davis of Bellaire and April Rotilio of St. John Central (2000s).
Still to be announced are this year's selections in the Coaches and Officials categories as well as the "Legends of OVAC Schools" which honors those athletes/coaches who excelled at schools either prior to the inception of the conference in 1943 or before their school joined the OVAC.
Here's a look at this week's selections:
Arthur "Butch" Joseph (Bellaire High School, Class of 1963). When the conference needs to keep things "running" in the fall or the spring, Joseph has been the go-to guy for many years as a member of the OVAC Track and Cross Country committees, serving as co-chairman of the track committee with his wife, Donna, an OVAC Hall of Fame inductee in 2007.
A veteran of the United States Air Force who served during the Vietnam War, he started officiating local track meets in the early 1970s and began his association with the OVAC in the late 1980s, assisting Floyd Deaton with the OVAC Volleyball Championships and being responsible for compiling the weekly conference standings in that sport.
Joseph has been an integral part of the OVAC Cal Giffin Track Championships dating back to the days when the small school divisions were contested at Shadyside's Fleming Field, and he also assisted with the big school meets at Bellaire's Nelson Field either behind the scenes or as an on-track official.
It was Joseph's vision to convert the OVAC Track Championships to their current format. It was his desire to have the best athletes, regardless of class, compete against one-another in an overall championship meet, which is how the event has been contested since 2010 at St. Clairsville High.
Joseph has also been the man behind the computer responsible for the pre-event preparation and timing/scoring at the OVAC Cal Pokas Cross Country Championships on the campus of Meadowbrook High School in Byesville for more than 15 years.
Along with his wife, Joseph received the OVAC Cal Giffin Track Service award in 1997.
Ross Stoltz (Wheeling). He has been a true friend and supporter of the conference, most evident as the sponsor of the popular OVAC McDonald's All-Star Band which entertains the crowd during pregame and halftime at the annual OVAC Rudy Mumley All-Star Football Game each July. The band features some of the best musicians from schools throughout the conference who come together for a week prior to the game and never disappoint with a spectacular performance.
Under Stoltz' leadership, McDonald's also is a sponsor of the OVAC Kick-Off Classic; the West Virginia "Super Six" State Football Championships which have become a fixture at Wheeling Island Stadium; and has a strong local involvement with many area schools including band sponsorships, stadium banners, scoreboards and yearbooks as well as donating to area track meets and baseball events.
McDonald's is also a yearly sponsor of the highly-regarded "Beast of the East" summer baseball tournament which has become a summertime staple in the Ohio Valley; a major sponsor of the area's professional hockey team the Wheeling Nailers; an donates annually to the local YMCA.
Stoltz personally presents local nominations to athletes for the prestigious McDonald's High School All-American Classic.
He began his career with McDonald's in 1965 as a 17-year old crew member. After serving in the U.S. Army (1967-70) and attending the University of Nebraska (Class of 1973), he returned to McDonald's in various capacities starting in 1974 and since 1996 has been the Owner/Operator of 10 McDonald's restaurants throughout the Ohio Valley (Barnesville, Belmont, Elm Grove, Martins Ferry, Moundsville, St. Clairsville, Triadelphia, Warwood and Woodsfield).
Stoltz has received the Golden Arch Award, the McDonald's Corporation's highest recognition for an Owner/Operator that recognizes a focus on customer service, outstanding food quality and restaurant operations, and exceptional contributions to the local community.
He's a board member of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Morgantown; a long-time sponsor for McDonald's MAC Grants for Teachers program; and provides extensive support to local schools.
Jeff Harrison (Martins Ferry High School, Class of 1977). He has been a member of the sports media for 35 years and counting, including the last 17 at The Daily Jeffersonian in Cambridge where he has been the Sports Editor since 2007. Prior to that, he spent 18 years at The Times Leader in Martins Ferry.
He originated the concept of the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Hall of Fame in 2004; is a member of the selection committee and in charge of producing the program for that event. He's also a member of the OVAC Softball Committee and OVAC Coach of the Year Selection Committee and previously handled publicity for the OVAC Rudy Mumley All-Star Football Game for seven years.
Harrison was also the catalyst behind the formation of the District 12 Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2008, serving as Chairman of the Hall of Fame Selection Committee and handling publicity since that time; and is a member of the Martins Ferry High School Athletic Hall of Fame Committee, serving as the primary researcher/biographer for that group.
He is a member of The Associated Press East District Selection Committee for football/boys' basketball/girls' basketball, serving as chairman since 2009; an AP state poll voter; a member of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Media Advisory Committee and a member of the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association. He was the 2006 recipient of the Eastern Ohio Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association's Media Award ; District 12's selection for the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Honor in 2015 and has won several OPSWA writing contest awards.
Harrison, who attended Ohio University Eastern and currently resides in Byesville, authored the book Holding Court: The Gene Ford Story (2005), the biography of the legendary Cambridge High School boys' basketball coach.
He also served as public address announcer at several venues over the years, including Martins Ferry football and boys' basketball, Meadowbrook girls' basketball and the District 12 All-Star Basketball Classic; and was a youth baseball/softball coach for 22 years in the Martins Ferry Civics Athletic Association and the Guernsey Valley Baseball Association.