BWP Awards 2013


Boone Watershed Partnership met at Meridith Pavilion Saturday, August 5th, 2013 for their annual awards picnic.  At this time, the six recipients of the 2013 awards were recognized for the project work that they do in the community to benefit the environment of the aquatic ecosystem, to enhance and protect the aquatic ecosystem over the long term and to educate and raise public awareness of the value of improving and keeping our water resources clean. 

Each year the Board of the Boone Watershed Partnership recognizes local citizens who have made significant contributions to the water quality in the Boone Watershed that encompasses Washington, Carter and Sullivan counties in Tennessee as well as Washington County, VA.

This year’s recipients are Dr. Aimee Govett, Associate Professor in Curriculum and Instruction, ETSU College of Education; Jeff Keeling, Washington County Economic Development Council; Russ Harrison, Boone Lake Association; Marvin Cornett, Cornett Services Group, Inc.; Beth Bartchy-Smith, Cherokee Elementary School; and ETSU Sustainability Department.

Two Higher Education Awards were presented to recognize leaders who are role models for and promoters of conservation and water quality awareness at ETSU.  An individual award went to Dr. Aimee Govett for her ongoing effort to educate and engage her service learning students about how their behaviors can negatively impact water quality resulting from litter and contamination from storm water runoff into creeks particularly Brush Creek, part of the ETSU community.  The second went to the Sustainability Department of ETSU whose staff (Director Kathleen Moore, Brennan Frazier, Cheyenne Peavler and Nathan Kahre) encourages and promotes the development and implementation of sustainable practices, policies, and educational opportunities for all members of the university community.   The two groups adopted Brush Creek extending from the VA to Kelly Foods to clean it up the creek and improve the water quality.   Over 450 volunteer hours yielded approximately 4 tons of litter, tires, brush/tree debris and construction waste removed from the creek.

Beth Smith, the recipient of the K-12 Aquatic Stewardship Award, is an art teacher at Cherokee Elementary School in Johnson City.  Four years ago, she created a class to focus on raising awareness of E. coli bacteria and Sinking Creek.  She developed a presentation including the use of poster art to inspire her 4th & 5th grade students to learn and teach others.  Hundreds of students from Cherokee Elementary now have an understanding of where E. coli bacteria can be found and how a contamination may be prevented and the importance of water quality.  The environmental poster art that is created by each class and displayed publicly then teaches others in the community.

The recipient of the Civic Volunteer Aquatic Stewardship Award was presented to Jeff Keeling who is recognized for his unselfish commitment to improving water quality and promoting community awareness through his actions from picking up litter along the paths he travels to participating in environmental projects sponsored by local groups such as the Brush Creek cleanups, the Jacob Francisco Memorial Century Bike Ride & Awareness Walk and the enhancement of the Sinking Creek wetlands.   In addition, Jeff’s documentation of these events through his videography ensures that these projects are communicated to a larger audience and strengthens the outreach of local efforts.

Russ Harrison was also presented with a Civic Volunteer Aquatic Stewardship Award.  Boone Lake Association is one of the oldest established environmental groups in the state of Tennessee that was created solely for the purpose of keeping Boone Lake clean and healthy.   As president of Boone Lake Association, Russ has shown an enduring, exceptional dedication to the lake.  He is not only involved in maintaining on-going lake protection activities, such as water quality testing for e-coli, the comprehensive year-round debris collection program, and the annual lake clean-up event, but he also initiates special projects where he sees an important need.  He spearheaded the huge log and trash removal at the Stickley Bridge on Beaver Creek in December 2011.  The log jam and associated trash had reached the height of the bridge in spots.  He coordinated the Knob Creek Cove clean-up in August 2012.  The cove was literally filled with trash, and a huge clean-up effort collected more trash in 1 day than is collected on the whole lake on the annual clean-up event.    For Russ, every day is clean-up day at Boone Lake.  He is exceptionally dedicated to water quality and works actively to involve others in this commitment.

The awardee for Industry/Business Aquatic Stewardship Award is Marvin Cornett.  Marvin first became involved with the Boone Watershed Partnership in 2010 as a professional plumber who provided a number of services under the Sinking Creek Restoration Project.  Specific services provided were septic tank/drain field repair, residential and commercial sewer connection, and installation of private lift stations, if needed, to carry wastewater up to the sewer.  Marvin stood out, showing the utmost dedication and heart in fulfilling the commitments of performing the work.  As the project progressed, Marvin continued to exhibit enthusiasm, and often worked at risk to achieve goals. Marvin demonstrated through the entire project that he believed that the work being done was important, as was his role.  Marvin went above and beyond the scope of his work by listening and embracing the project, not only from the standpoint of a businessman, but from someone who believes this work actually helps improve water quality.  This work potentially has a very positive impact on possible reduction of contaminants to Sinking Creek from underperforming septic tanks and less impaired for the future. 

Gary Barrigar, President of Boone Watershed Partnership said, “This annual event recognizes local people, businesses and organizations that have acted as good stewards in regards to local water issues. We take our responsibilities to conserve and protect our generous water supply seriously and want to publicly recognize those who have contributed toward that mission. We also want to encourage others to embrace water issues that directly affect all of us.”