Awards presented at Portage County Environmental Conservation Benefit Dinner (with gallery)

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More than 300 individuals, organizations and businesses from across Portage County contributed to the recent 15th annual Portage County Environmental Conservation Awards celebration.

Held recently at the American Legion Hall in Kent, the evening focused on the 2013 Environmental Conservation Awards, with six individual and group awards in various categories.

The event started with a reception featuring local food appetizers, live music by the Bluestones Duo and a silent auction.

Prior to the awards presentation, recently retired park commissioner Jim Tucker was saluted for his 15 years of volunteer service and governance of the Park District.

This year's awardees include:

Lee Schaefer, Stewardship -- Park District volunteer

Ken Riley, Environmental Education -- Waterloo High School Science Teacher

Stan and Gwen Fischer, Environmental Activism -- Volunteers working for land conservation and clean water

Berlin Lake Association, Stewardship -- Nonprofit organization cleaning shorelines and supporting trails

Kent Natural Foods Cooperative, Green Business -- Decades of working together to provide and promote healthy foods and healthy communities

Edith Chase, Lifetime Achievement -- A lifetime of dedication to learning, educating and advocating for environmental protection, with wisdom and humor.

Kent Environmental Council also honored Edith Chase's extensive contributions over the years by creating the "Edith Chase Conservation Award," which they will present as appropriate in future years.

Following the awards presentation, Christine Craycroft, executive director, spoke about the past, present and potential future of the Portage Park District. She was followed by Tom Clapper, chair of Citizens for Portage Parks, a group working to establish adequate and stable funding for parks and trails. The event was a fundraiser sponsored by the Portage Park District Foundation, with proceeds of more than $21,000 going to support ongoing maintenance and operations. The Park District does not have a tax levy to support it, and recent budget cuts made the fundraiser all the more valuable.

Special thanks were extended to the Dinner Planning Committee led by Karen Wise, Chair Beth Buchanan, Deb Butler, Stevie and Jay Byrne, Christine Craycroft, Tracey Knierim, Scott McKinney, George Rose, Jane Preston Rose, Kurt Ruehr, Marilyn Sessions, Linda Seeman and Judge Barbara Watson.

Descriptions of the awardees and a list of the contributors to this year's event can be found on the Park District's website, www.portageparkdistrict.org, or call 330-297-7728 for more information.

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