The Henry County Agriculture Hall of Fame welcomed four more individuals during a Sunday ceremony held in the Henry County Fairgrounds’ Agriculture Building.
The 2019 Class of the Henry County Agriculture Hall of Fame included Donald Maassel and John Rettig, as well as posthumous inductions for Otto Miller Jr. and Bert Showman.
Henry County Farm Bureau President Nathan Like Sunday announced the local hall of fame is 15 years old and features more than 50 individuals. A committee of nine reviews potential inductions, and the hall’s guidelines recommend making four additions each year, with at least one being made posthumously.
Maassel was nominated by his family as a lifetime farmer who practiced no-till methods early because of its many benefits. He grew up on the family farm in Freedom Township, starting D&L Farms with his brother, Loren, in the 1980s. They custom planted and harvested, and utilized a farm data system in a time before the internet was widely available.
Maassel graduated from The Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture and served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. After that time, he worked for Mobay Chemical, selling farm chemicals, and worked with Ohio Farmers. He distributed agricultural products for nearly 30 years, giving him insight of both production and sales/services of farm products.
He served on the Gerald Grain Board and was appointed secretary/treasurer. During that time, the board oversaw the purchase of two locations and an increase in employees.
The farm legacy has been turned over to the next generation of Dean, Mike and Jason. Maassel continues to serve at his church and with the Napoleon Lions Club and Ridgeville Legion. His family includes his wife of more than 50 years, Karen, and children, Cathy, Sara and Jason.
“They shocked me,” Maassel said of his induction. “I want to thank my family for everything they’ve done and went through to write (the nomination) up for me.”
Miller was nominated by family as a promoter of dairy farming, agriculture and community improvement.
Miller came to Henry County from the Cleveland area to raise corn, beans and alfalfa. It was noted he used a tractor with rubber tires — something that was a novelty in the 1930s. The tractor was an Allis-Chalmers from Bichans in Hamler, and it was said that tractor made its way back to Bichans, who still owns the tractor today.
Miller milked Jerseys, and he made strides to improve his herds and others’ by traveling to Russia, Australia, Hawaii and Europe to share the best practices he discovered. He served as president and director of Napoleon Grain and Stock, as well as on the board for Gerald Grain, Liberty Center Elevator and the Hampshire Swine Association and Percheron Horse Association.
Miller sponsored the Raymond Rickley FFA scholarship at Liberty Center and served on various church and community boards. He and Robert Vipperman established the LC Foodland grocery store and he incorporated and ran the McClure Telephone Co. in 1973, which still remains in the family.
Miller was married to Helen, and they had six children, Peg, Gerry, Hugo, James, Karen and Jon.
It was noted Miller’s nomination included a note from daughter, Karen Detmer, who said, “My father was known for being the dairy farmer with a smile and the ever-present corncob pipe.”
Detmer and Gerry Denny accepted the award on Miller’s behalf.
“I am so excited, I don’t know what to say,” Detmer said Sunday. “My father loved farming and Jersey cows. Thank you to the committee for selecting him.”
Showman was nominated by his family, making note of his career as an educator and his community service.
Showman started as a member of the Liberty Center FFA, where he earned his State Farmer Degree, and he became an Ohio FFA State Officer. He earned his bachelor’s degree, and later a master’s degree, from The Ohio State University. He also served in World War II through the U.S. Army Air Corps, rising to the rank of captain.
He served agriculture through a Henry County Farm Bureau Farm Council, the LC Elevator Board and at the family dairy, crop and chicken farm.
As an agriculture educator, he taught the Farm Business Planning and Analysis (FBPA) system for three years and then joined the staff of Northwest Technical College (now Northwest State Community College). At the college, he taught agriculture, did research and was selected as the Outstanding Faculty Member in 1974-75.
Showman served the community as a Cub Scout master, through the American Legion and in various positions in his church. He donated time and skill to the parsonage, Wide Water church camp and to neighbors.
Showman was married to Edith, and they have three children, Ray, Ralph and Jane.
Jane and Mike Weller accepted the award on Showman’s behalf.
“It was an honor to have him as a father-in-law,” Mike Weller said at the ceremony. “He did a lot for education, and he worked with so many people in Henry County. He was very teachable to people, and he went above and beyond (as a teacher).”
Rettig was recognized for farming with his family and 40 years of dedication to the Henry County Fair Board. He operated approximately 1,300 acres of farmland with his brother, Mark, and stressed no-till and conservation tillage practices.
Rettig graduated from The Ohio State University, and served during the Vietnam War. When he returned, he farmed with his father, R.G. Rettig. He farmed traditional crops, plus soup beans, sugar beets and popcorn. He also worked with The Anderson’s in Maumee in the 1990s in a process that saved corn cobs to be used in abrasive and absorbent products.
Rettig is a past fair board president, and has served many years as chair of the grounds committee, and formerly the pageant and camping committees. He has assisted in many of grounds’ projects such as the pageant trailer, the train depot and horse barn stalls.
Rettig served on the Henry County Soil and Water Conservation District, and earned the Conservation Award in 1985. He was on the Farm Bureau and was president for two years, is in the American Legion and is active at church. He has also served as a Monroe Township trustee since 1998.
Rettig is married to his wife of 48 years, Jody, and they have six children, Amy, Chris, Nick, Josh, Kara and Erin, with 11 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
“I really appreciate the effort everyone put into this,” Rettig said. “It’s a family effort, and I appreciate their help.”
Like encouraged the community to let the hall of fame committee know about considerations of famers and those in agribusiness who have impacted, or are still impacting, the industry. Nomination applications for the Class of 2020 of the Henry County Agriculture Hall of Fame are due July 1, 2020.
McCLURE — Faced with demands from residents during Monday’s meeting, council set a joint committee meeting for tonight to review the feasibility of withdrawing from the Henry County Regional Water and Sewer District.
Around 15 residents attended the council meeting, with a handful sharing concern about the water situation in the village. In 2009, the village joined the Henry County Regional Water and Sewer District, turning over its water and sewer system, in addition to the debt associated with those systems. Earlier this year, the county district initiated a merger process with Northwestern Water and Sewer District, citing mounting financial obligations, as well as long-term issues regarding personnel and finding a more affordable water source. Both districts’ boards have since approved an operating agreement, meaning Northwestern assumes operations of the district as a final merger agreement is worked through over the upcoming months.
Residents also spoke to the county’s water and sewer board at its meeting last week, sharing concerns regarding meters not being read properly and residents receiving large bills earlier this year, as well as larger-than-normal bills without a change in usage.
“I just wanted to say that I know we all appreciate what the mayor and council does for us and our community, but my family is struggling with these water bills. I think we all are, and it’s hurting local businesses,” Katie Cohera said during Monday’s meeting. “I hear the rates are just going to go up and up. Frankly, we’re scared, I don’t know what else to say, and we need you to help us.”
Will Borck presented information he gathered on the county district and stated he believes the village should run its own water and sewer systems and could do so at a lower cost to residents. The district purchases water from the City of Napoleon at $9.58 per 1,000 gallons. Water rates for district customers in McClure are a $34.30 base rate that includes 500 gallons and an additional $17.63 per every additional 1,000 gallons. The difference in the two figures funds the county district’s operation and maintenance expenses, plus debt service from projects and improvements.
“I believe we need to get out from under the thumb of Henry County and the district and really go out on our own because right now we’re paying for everybody else and we can’t afford it,” Borck said.
Borck also stated he spoke with Napoleon City Manager Joel Mazur and he believes the village could purchase water at a lower rate than the water and sewer district does from the city.
“I know Napoleon is very interested in making a deal with us on selling us water,” he said. “I believe the Napoleon deal would be a small-time deal for the town so we can work on securing our water source.”
Mayor Dean Dawson said, if the village were to withdraw from the district, it would have to re-establish its water board, assume the village’s debt back from the district and figure out operations and material costs, including personnel because it would need its own licensed operator, if it were to take back the water and sewer systems.
Dawson originally proposed forming a commission to review those issues and have a recommendation within the next month, but multiple people in attendance argued there wasn’t enough time for that as the merger continues to move forward and encouraged council to vote to withdraw from the district immediately.
“I can say with confidence this council does not have the authority to leave tonight,” stated Paul Skaff, the village’s solicitor. “It’s my suggestion the Health and Safety Committee meet ASAP, get the numbers together and make a recommendation to council at its next meeting.”
Borck argued the withdrawal might ultimately be legally challenged, but asked what the ramifications would be if it moved forward.
“We would just be in the same place, correct?” he asked. “As far as I can tell, there’s no ramifications for them doing (it) and not having the legal authority, it would just be pulled back away.”
“I don’t like directing council to act without looking at all of the options, and it just doesn’t make any sense,” Skaff replied.
Borck added a vote could at least stop ongoing work pending a legal decision, but Skaff then asked whether water or services could also stop during that time.
Several residents also expressed concerns with the amount of work Northwestern is doing within the village, alleging the district is trying to add to the village’s debt, including the installation of radio read technology to water meters.
Borck and Nate Light, who works for the village and water and sewer district, both said the village should inform the Henry County district they don’t want Northwestern to perform work in the village.
“You guys need to decide if you want to put a committee together ... to decide if it’s feasible or not,” Light said. “Then you’re going to have to get a hold of Henry County Water and say, ‘No more red (Northwestern) trucks in McClure’ because they’re just blowing money.”
At its meeting last week, the Henry County Regional Water and Sewer Board amended the temporary operations agreement with Northwestern to allow for the installation of the radio read devices to reduce time spent reading meters and integrate with Northwestern’s billing system, as well as a way for customers to monitor usage. The cost is $75 per meter and approximately 450 meters will have the technology added to them.
Council President Kishwa Jenkins then motioned to set up a joint committee meeting between the Finance and Audit Committee and Public Health and Safety Committee to review the feasibility of withdrawing from the district, direct Dawson to speak with Mazur regarding a rate the village could purchase water from the city and try to stop Northwestern employees from working in the village. The motion passed 5-0, with Jenkins, Paul Gray, Jeromy Burt, George Miller and Larry Bahler in favor. Council member Craig Anderson was not in attendance at the meeting.
The two committees will meet at 8:30 p.m. tonight at the village building, and a special council meeting may be called later this week to discuss any recommendations from the meeting.
Following the meeting, Dawson said the village “possibly could” operate the water and sewer system on its own.
“I would like to see us have the opportunity. I think we could function under it,” he said. “Then again, it’s iffy.”
A portion of Oakwood Avenue in Napoleon will be closed Wednesday and Thursday in both directions due to road repair.
The closure will take place between Yeager and Hobson streets both days and occur from 8 a.m. to noon.