Stark Co. Farm Bureau: Hurricane brings Rohrs home for award

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CANTON, Ohio – If it hadn’t been for Hurricane Frances, this year’s Stark County Distinguished Service award winners may not have been in Ohio to receive their recognition.
After Hurricane Charley hit Dale and Carla Rohr’s winter home in Harbor Heights, Fla., the couple climbed into their motor home and headed south to see the damage. Friends e-mailed pictures and the Rohrs could tell the roof was torn off the house and two sheds were destroyed.
But as the couple made their way toward Florida, Hurricane Frances was also making its way there.
When Dale and Carla heard about this latest threat, they turned around, came home to their farm, and made it just in time for the Stark County Farm Bureau annual meeting Sept. 14.
Recognition. The Rohrs are the middle of five generations of farming. Their family now runs an 800-acre, 300-head dairy, and milks the cows three times a day.
Dale served as county Farm Bureau president, as public affairs chairman, on the membership drive, and on policy development. Their farm was also recognized by the Soil and Water Conservation District.
The Rohrs have 10 children, 29 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
This year the couple will celebrate their 54th wedding anniversary, as well as their 54th year as Farm Bureau members.
New faces. Members welcomed their new organizational director, Nick Kennedy of Fulton County, Ohio. Kennedy will oversee Stark, Summit, Columbiana and Portage counties and take over for veteran Joanne Menning who retired in July.
Melissa Jacobs also stepped up to replace retired Ken Walter as regional supervisor.
Star awards. President Gloria Wentling was recognized for choosing committee chairmen who all went on to receive Star awards this year.
These members included Reed Varian, advisory council; Jon Brenckle, information; Jay and Debbie Harsh, marketing; Mary Lynne Blevins and Tom Seifert Jr., membership; Dennis Smith and Bill Wentling, government affairs;
Charlotte Miller and Jennifer Smith, safety; John and Midge Brainerd, promotion and education; Les and Sharon Snyder, youth; Randy Pero and Rick Horner, ag ecology; Frank Burkett III, policy development; and Bob Wentling, Nationwide sponsorship.
State trustee Jeff Zellers congratulated members and emphasized it is not common for all chairmen to receive the award.
Zellers also looked at the financial report and pointed out that more than 50 percent of last year’s expenses went to wages; however, this year, more than 50 percent will go to programming.
New committees. Newly elected president Reed Varian introduced the 2004-2005 committee chairman: Dennis Smith and Bill Wentling, government affairs; Charlotte Miller, safety coordinator; Bob Wentling, advisory council; Jay and Debbie Harsh, information coordinator;
Janet Cassidy, membership committee; John and Midge Brainerd, promotion and education; Randy Pero, ag ecology; Frank Burkett III, policy development; and Gloria Wentling, Nationwide sponsorship.
Policies. Citing concern over the cost to farmers, members voted to oppose mandatory country-of-origin labeling, opting to instead support a voluntary program. The national Farm Bureau policy supports mandatory labeling.
Other proposed policies on the national level included fewer regulations on passing farms to the next generation; raising the gift exemption tax to $15,000 per year; no change in the Pledge of Allegiance; the protection of the Social Security system; and Farm Bureau’s proactive approach promoting alternative renewable fuels so dependence on foreign oil decreases.
State policies included support current CAUV qualifications; control state abuse of eminent domain for nonessential uses; regulations of landfills; support a state sales tax instead of increasing property tax or income tax; and support eliminating proficiency tests.
Upgrading subdivision regulations to control stormwater, stopping the abuse of the broad interpretation of eminent domain, increasing the recycling program, meeting with county commissioners for adequate extension service funding, and geographical training for firemen and ambulance drivers to shorten response time were proposed as local policies.
Members approved all policies.
Elections. In an uncontested ballot, Jay Harsh, Bill Wentling, Michael Greenbaum, Reed Varian and Jon Brenckle were elected as trustees. Delegates for the 2005 Ohio Farm Bureau annual meeting include Tom Seifert, Dean Varian, Jay Harsh and Ruth Varian. Alternates are Nancy Varian and Debbie Harsh.
(Reporter Kristy Hebert welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 23 or by e-mail at khebert@farmanddairy.com.)

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