Weaver serves 41 years
HEATH - For John H. Weaver, massive local flooding is not just a possibility, it’s a reality. He and his Newark-based business suffered from it in 1959, and that reality has seen him working doggedly for four decades to find a flood solution for his community.
Weaver, 88, announced last week he is resigning his position of 41 years as a Director of the South Licking Watershed Conservancy District (SWCD), effective Dec. 8.
He has held the position since the district’s inception in 1968. SWCD was formed to reduce flooding and manage stream, wetland, water quality and supply issues associated with the watershed area of the South Fork of the Licking River.
The watershed starts near Alexandria and encompasses areas around Pataskala, Kirkersville, Buckeye Lake and Hebron. The river is the source of the flooding that sometimes closes I-70 at Ohio 79. Weaver and other directors have spent years working with other agencies to develop a solution to those flooding issues.
That vast regional flooding in 1959 saw Weaver’s own manufacturing plant under four feet of water. “That’s enough to get a person interested in a problem,” Weaver noted.
Weaver’s life-long love of nature and engineering, combined with his new appreciation for the financial, safety and transportation issues associated with flooding, prompted him to accept the judiciary appointment to the newly formed watershed group. Alongside him were two other original directors, Clayton Oyler and John “Ed” Hankinson. Hankinson is still a director, along with Daniel Bolger.
The directors were to be paid $50 per meeting, according to the Ohio Revised Code, but Weaver said they never paid themselves, “not once.” For him, participating in such a group is simply a responsibility of belonging to a community.
That goes for Weaver’s other many affiliations over the years: Easter Seals, Boy Scouts of America, the Mental Health Association, Chamber of Commerce, Licking County Historical Society and Rotary Club, to name just a few. He served on several national committees and was named Ohio’s Small Business Person of the Year and Outstanding Alumnus of the University of Toledo.
“Problems in a community need to be solved by the community,” Weaver said. “We can’t sit around waiting for the government to come in and fix it for us.”
Weaver said many problems and roadblocks to watershed solutions the group has proposed over the years center around funding. He said many watershed residents have been opposed to a local cost share. “But it’s about a better community,” he emphasized. “At some point, a person needs to ask himself, ‘what’s in it for us,’ not ‘what’s in it for me.’ It’s ‘us’ that gets things done.”
Weaver was born in New York City, raised in Toledo and was a graduate engineer there when he became an air craft maintenance officer during World War II. After the war, Weaver moved to Newark to work at Owens Corning, then started and operated his own company, making protective clothing for high temperature industry operations, for 45 years. His company sold supplies all over the world, with original products helping with space shuttle launches and firefighting on the ocean.
Weaver and his wife, Marjorie, have three grown children.
Former Director Ed Parrish worked closely with Weaver in the conservancy district.
“He has been such a gentleman, in the true definition of the word,” Parrish said. “He’s tactful and kind, yet assertive and accomplishes what needs to be done. His contribution stems from the creation of the district. Not a lot of people so clearly remember the 1959 flood, and he not only remembers it but suffered damage .... Often people can’t understand why we’d try to tackle such a project when it’s unlikely that would happen any time soon. It’s difficult to convey that reality, but not for someone like John.”
Parrish said Weaver also provided diversity, as a business person rather than farmer, that was invaluable to the trustees. “He’ll be very difficult to replace,” Parrish said.
Yet, Weaver is excited about whomever that replacement might be.
“I’ve been on it for 41 years, and I think we need new talent,” Weaver, said. “We need someone gung-ho to bring us a broader base of interest.”
A year remains on Weaver’s unexpired term. He said he felt the timing was right now for “a new face and an extra kick.”
In the meantime, Weaver will continue many of his other activities and community involvement.
“I also love to fly kites,” Weaver says with a smile. Several kites of different shapes and forms hang in his garage, along with a wall full of honors and certificates of appreciation that speak to a life of service.
District directors are appointed by a panel of three Court of Common Pleas judges. Anyone
wishing to apply for appointment for the remainder of Weaver’s term should contact Jim Mickey at the Licking County Planning Department, 740-670-5200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Applications are due Dec. 1.