LEWISBURG — On Tuesday, Sept. 13, the Friends of the Preble County Park District (PCPD) invited Preble County Prosecuting Attorney Marty Votel to attend their annual meeting at Garber Nature Center in Lewisburg, where they presented him with a certificate of appreciation for his labors.
“Every year we do a volunteer of the year award, and this year we want to recognize Marty Votel,” said President of the Friends, Mark Schwab, as he began the annual meeting. Schwab explained during the process of creating Wagers Park outside of Camden, known locally as Devils Backbone, Votel donated an extensive amount of time clearing up legalities for the PCPD. A task that would have otherwise cost a large amount of money.
“The definition of a volunteer is Marty Votel. He did a great job for us,” praised Jeff Sewert, President of the Park District, “At the end of the day, this man made Devil’s Backbone happen, through his efforts, his perseverance, and everything he did for the Park District. So, I just want to say thank you, on behalf of myself, the President of the Park District this year. Thank you, Marty Votel.”
After brief applause, Sewert continued, “I had the opportunity to work with Marty on other – whatever – and this man is a class-act for Preble County. An absolute class-act for Preble County. We appreciate everything you do, sir, for our county.”
Former Preble County Engineer Steve Simmons also added, “From day one, knowing Marty and such, as Jeff said, Marty has been a class-act. One thing I think can be said about Marty, he is for the people of Preble County. He does everything within his power.”
State Representative Rodney Creech was also in attendance, and took a moment to give a few remarks. “I attended the Park District meeting this month and found out about what Marty helped with, and I can just reiterate what the other two have said. I’ve known Marty for years. Worked with him as a township trustee, worked with him as county commissioner. I consider him a great friend.
“Not only does he help on legal matters, I also call him sometimes and say, ‘hey Marty, what do you think about this?’ Whether it be a political question or business question, or a county related question. So, I put a lot of faith in Marty and his decision making, put a lot of faith in him. So, I thank you for that and what you do for the county.”
Creech presented Votel with an informal proclamation from the 43rd House District, with a formal proclamation to follow at a later date. Votel was also presented a certificate of appreciation on behalf of PCPD, and the title of Volunteer of the Year for 2022. Votel’s name was added to plaque located at the Garber Nature Center.
“Well, let me just say thank you to Mr. Schwab and the Friends of the Park District, and to the Park District board, and Mindy, and Rod, for taking time to come down here today,” said a humble Votel. “I can honestly say I’ve never been so touched and so honored as I am today. Natural resources are close to my heart. When I went to law school, a lot of people don’t know this, but I got an environmental and natural resources degree to keep my options open, to be an environmental attorney. As opportunities presented themselves, it turned out, I fell in love with criminal prosecution and serving the people of Preble County. I’ve been happily employed doing that for the last 25 years.”
“I am deeply honored today to be receiving this award. I use our parks in Eaton regularly. I intend to become a regular patron at Devil’s Backbone — it’s a beautiful property, many thanks to the Wagers family for their generosity. And to this board, to Mindy, the people here really have to understand all the work and dedication they put in to make this happen, too. It’s been a cooperative effort, and a pleasure every step of the way.
“To be rewarded after the fact with this honor, again, I’m deeply touched and grateful to everyone. Thank you,” Votel concluded.
In other business:
•Schwab reminded those in attendance that through the Kroger Rewards program, shoppers can register the Friends of the Preble County Park District as their beneficiaries, thereby sending a percentage of Kroger’s profit to them as donation. Registration takes place via Kroger’s website. “To us it’s significant, it’s getting to be like $400 a year. To us, with our little budget, that’s significant,” remarked Schwab.
•Friends of the Preble County Park District voted on and approved the creation of lifetime memberships for $500. However, due to limited space at all existing Park District locations, they are considering alternatives to planting trees in honor of 10-year members. It was suggested that instead, 10-year members should receive a plaque attached to existing trees at Park District locations. The issue will be discussed at future meetings.