McDowell’s impact recognized, honored
By Kevin Dye
West Jefferson Village Council opened its meeting Monday night by greeting the family and friends of a departed village employee and recognizing the impact the individual had on the community.
The family of the late Jack McDowell was present to receive a personal plaque recognizing McDowell as the 2012 recipient of the Ralph Parsons Sr. Community Service Award. McDowell was named for the 2012 Parsons Award in early July before his death on July 20. He was a teacher in Jefferson Local Schools for 33 years and spent many years after his retirement as the parks and recreation director for the village.
McDowell’s extensive career also included 47 years working for Franklin County and the Metro Parks system. He also utilized his experience and expertise to shape the current village park system and the athletic fields for the youth of West Jefferson.
McDowell’s wife, Sue, and his daughters — Debbie Omen, Connie Lollo and Bonnie Summerford — accepted the award from Mayor Darlene Steele.
“Jack would have been very proud of this award,” Sue McDowell said. “He would have loved knowing about this.”
Council members offered their praise for the accomplishments and improvements that McDowell made to the village parks system and the youth of the community.
“Jack was a very special person and we have lost a lot of knowledge with his passing,” council member Sheila Nelson said.
Council member Cory Coburn echoed Nelson’s comments.
“I had the pleasure of working with Jack one-on-one at the pool for a summer,” Coburn said. “I learned a lot from Jack and he will be greatly missed by the community. Jack was dedicated to the youth of the village in the schools and in the parks.”
“He built a class 1A facility for the kids out there,” Doug Eakins added.
Finance director Jack Herrel said that McDowell always had an entertaining life story to share.
“Jack used to tell me stories that weren’t really stories but true life incidents,” Herrel said. “They were always interesting stories and one day I said, Jack you should write these stories down in a book. He said, yeah I should do that. Then he said, nah, it would take too much paper.”
The village temporarily filled the position with current Public Service Director Harold Walker. Council extended Walker’s temporary appointment to the position for another 90 days Monday night. Walker updated council with the success of the village’s swimming pool season so far, as a supplemental appropriation of $8,000 to the swimming pool fund was on the agenda for the meeting.
“Based on the amount we appropriated this year, we are going to be short paying for labor,” Walker said. “Last year there were a lot of days with rain and bad weather, so we had a lot of down days. This year it is the exact opposite. The weather has been hot and no rain. We have two more payrolls this month for the pool, but I expect to have a lot more money in the pool fund at the end of this season.”
Walker told council that so far the pool has brought in more than $32,000, with $30,000 in expenses. Finance director Jack Herrel said that the problem is that the pool fund started the season with less money, but he expects a good finish for the year.
“We started the year with $6,000 and now we are standing at $12,000 in the pool fund,” Herrel said.
“It sounds like the pool is supporting itself,” council member Ron Garver said.
“Right now it is,” Walker said.
“But the band and football practice are in session, so the attendance numbers will go down at the pool.”
Walker said that the pool will remain open for most of August, with the pool’s last day of operation set for Sunday, Aug. 26. The pool will operate from 4-8 p.m. the week of Aug. 20 as students head back to school that week.