Ottawa SWCD gives engineer, highway crews its top award

Sep 30, 2020 | Around Ottawa County | 0 comments

Ottawa County Soil & Water Conservation District Administrator Michael Libben, left, awarded Ottawa County Engineer Ron Lajti and Highway Supervisor Daniel Jensen its annual Friend of the District Award for their support at this year’s annual SWCD dinner. The trio are in front of the new state of the art MowerMax equipment that helps keep county ditches trimmed and neat. (Photo by D’Arcy Egan)

The Ottawa Soil & Water Conservation District honored the Ottawa County Engineer’s Office and Highway Department last week at its 68th annual meeting at the Ottawa County Fairgrounds, agencies that have successfully worked hand in glove with the SWCD for many years.

“We usually give this award to a conservation-minded farmer or company for being our Cooperator of the Year for their excellent farming practices,” said Michael Libben, District Program Administrator of the Soil & Water District. “But this has certainly not been a typical year for anyone who works the soil in Ottawa County because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Engineer’s Office and the Ottawa Highway Department have done a wonderful job of overseeing of all the construction and maintenance projects around Ottawa County. County Engineer Ron Lajti and Highway Superintendent Daniel Jensen and their staffs continually go above and beyond the call of duty.”

Libben said that with all of the high water woes that Ottawa County has faced recently, as well as invasive species such as phragmites, it is amazing how good the countryside looks right now. Private drainage issues have also been a major problem.

“Recently, our current partnership has been expanded with the addition of Deputy Drainage Engineer Dan Toris, who bounces between departments to keep things in check,” said Libben. “This has allowed our office to more efficiently manage the county drainage program and give more and improved service around the county.”

The Ottawa County Engineering Department has nine employees. The Highway Department has a crew of 14.

Jim Sass and Todd Hecht were re-elected to two open Ottawa SWCD board positions. Hecht, of Harris Township, is an agronomist for Helena Agri Enterprises in Martin, Ohio. Sass is a former three-term Ottawa County Commissioner, retired from the Ohio Division of Wildlife and a fifth-generation grain and beef farmer in Port Clinton.

Because of Ohio Health Department restrictions due to COVID-19, the annual Ottawa SWCD awards dinner was a drive-through awards and boxed dinner, though many were able to enjoy a picnic atmosphere and still maintain social distancing.

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