DARKE COUNTY — A longstanding organization which aided local conservation and agricultural efforts will cease operating by March 1.
In a February 6, press release, the Top of Ohio Resource Conservation Development Project Council announced it will be dissolving itself after more than 42 years of service to Auglaize, Champaign, Clark, Darke, Hardin, Logan, Mercer, Miami, Shelby, and Union Counties.
The Council consists of county commissioners, Soil & Water Conservation District representatives and appointed at-large members from each of the aforementioned Ohio counties.
The non-profit organization came into existence in July 1975. Over the following decades, the council provided grants for numerous conservation and agricultural projects in the counties, such as waterways, concrete and rock structures, catch basins and large tile replacement for flood protection, dry hydrants for fire departments, the purchase of a no-till drill to be used for seeding of conservation projects, and numerous tree plantings.
Federal allocations for administration, state and federal funding for grants made these projects possible. The Council also secured numerous community grants. Each county contributed yearly to Top of Ohio Council.
Most recently the Top of Ohio Resource Development Project Council has awarded grants to the counties they serve for agricultural and conservation education.
Jared Coppess, district administrator for the Darke Soil & Water Conservation District, said he is sorry to see the organization’s end.
“Since I have been here (2012), we have been able to secure small grants from Top of Ohio (maximum amount of $1,000 per year),” he said. “We have used these funds toward some of our education programs and to purchase smaller equipment upgrades. It was always nice to have Top of Ohio dollars to help out with programs. Most recently we have used these funds to help support of Soil Fertility & Nutrient Management workshop series.”
Darke County Commissioner Mike Stegall, the county’s most recent representative to the Council, said the group had ultimately outlived its usefulness.
“We weren’t getting funding anymore,” he said. “In fact, we were getting less and less every year.”
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