National Heritage Area

(814) 677-3152

217 Elm Street

Oil City, PA 16301-1412

Volunteer Vision Awards

From 2005 through 2009, during the Oil Region Alliance’s Annual Membership Meeting, awards were presented to recognize an individual or group for their volunteer service in carrying out the mission of the Oil Region Alliance.  Here are the recipients:

The Recipients for 2009 – the Oil 150 Steering Committee

On August 27, 1859, the first successful commercial oil well in the world was drilled just outside Titusville in Venango County.  Many believe that the event marked the beginning of the modern petroleum industry.  One hundred, fifty years later, the sesquicentennial of oil was celebrated.  “Oil 150″ featured many special events in ‘the valley that changed the world.’ A group of volunteers known as the Oil 150 Steering Committee was assembled to plan and implement these festivities.  The Committee included:  Janet Aaron McClintock, Carol Baker, Brenda Barrett, Hon. Ronald Black, Dr. William Brice, Richard A. Castonguay, Lynn Cochran, Hon. Phil English, Pamela Egbert Forker, Harvey Golubuck, Mark Heim, Rep. Scott Hutchinson, Gary Hutchinson, Barbara Ives, Steve Kosak, Thomas Lopus, Lois McElwee, Neil McElwee, Carolee Michener, Hon. John E. Peterson, Dr. Christopher Reber, Rhonda Reda, Steve Rhoads, James A. “Mickey” Rowley, Roger L. Sigworth, Dr. Donald B. Smith, David Waples, Bruce A. Wells, Frank Weltner, Senator Mary Jo White, Troy Wood, Larry Woodfork, and Barbara Zolli.  The Oil 150 celebration continued through December of 2010, and this group of dedicated gentlemen and ladies were honored with the Volunteer Vision Award for the year 2009 at the Oil Region Alliance’s Annual Meeting in February of 2010.

The Recipient for 2008 – Gina Knox

Gina Knox was recognized as the recipient of the Volunteer Vision Award in 2009  for her selfless, generous, and productive assistance in carrying out the Alliance’s mission.   With a keen interest in historic preservation, Gina has been a strong supporter of several Alliance projects over the past couple of years, most notably the Tarbell House Rehabilitation Project. Whether it be pulling shrubs or tearing out suspended ceilings, Gina is not only more than willing to put in her valuable time, but willing to get dirty in the process. And, in spite of her own hectic schedule, she typically is the first person to arrive, and the last to leave.

Aside from helping with the more physically demanding projects, Gina has also provided assistance by collecting Heritage Area survey information, as well as providing letters of support endorsing various heritage projects for possible funding. She shares the vision that we all play a vital role, in whatever capacity we can offer, for the betterment of our community for future generations.

The Recipients for 2007 – Chris Wolfgong and Dale Black

In 2006, the Oil Region Alliance  hosted the Mr. Whiskers Catfish & Carp Fishing Derby as well as two bass fishing tournaments, using funds from a grant that  had been filed with the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.   The grant stipulated that local matching funds had to be raised to support these competitive angling events.  Chris Wolfgong volunteered to chair the Mr. Whiskers Derby and Dale Black was named co-chair.  These two men solicited multiple sponsors for the fishing tournaments, so that the required local matching funds required could be raised.  They also organized the many volunteers needed for each of these events.  Chris and Dale were recognized for their volunteer efforts at the 2007 Annual Meeting which was held in February of 2008.

The Recipient for 2006 – James Holden

James Holden resides in Sugarcreek Borough outside Franklin.  He partnered with the Heritage Development Department on numerous projects in 2006, which included bicycle trail construction from Rockland to Emlenton, conducting a Recreational Trail Utilization Study, performing a Greenways Peer Study, and producing additional interpretive panels to be installed on the southern portion of the Allegheny River Trail (Belmar to Emlenton).  He is an active member of the Recreational Advisory Council as well as the Heritage Advisory Council.  Mr. Holden is active in conservation and bicycling circles, especially as the President of the Allegheny Valley Trails Association.  He was recognized at the Annual Meeting held in February, 2007.

The Recipient for 2005 – Neil McElwee

Neil McElwee of Oil City, Pennsylvania.  Neil has been a featured guest speaker for the ongoing series of oil history workshops hosted by the Oil Heritage Region annually since 2000, as well as helping plan and being a presenter during the Victorian Architecture and Its Preservation Conferences administered by the Oil Region Alliance.  He donates significant time helping draft and edit educational materials subsequently published by the Alliance.  He chairs the Heritage Advisory Council and served as the initial Treasurer for the Oil Region Alliance.  He helps escort VIP guests on guided tours of the region, and assists with hospitality for special visitors.  In February of 2006, at the Alliance’s Annual Meeting, Neil was acknowledged for his volunteer efforts.

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