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Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

3 vying for Mercer SWCD board

Voting is Thursday during the SWCD's annual banquet

By Nancy Allen
Three people are vying for two open seats on the Mercer County Soil and Water Conservation District board of supervisors.
They are Brother Nick Renner, Celina and Bob Pohlman, Maria Stein, who are both running for re-election, and Gary Siebert, Rockford.
Voting will be held 6:15 to 7:15 p.m. Thursday at the Coldwater American Legion hall during the Mercer SWCD's annual meeting and banquet. Dinner is at 7 and tickets cost 74 cents, an amount that represents how much a farmer would receive from the cost of the meal. Call the SWCD office at 419-586-3289 for tickets.
Renner was appointed in September to fill the unexpired term of Brother Don Fisher, who resigned in June and died June 25 after battling cancer. This is the only public office Renner has held.
Renner, 65, works with lay associates in the Society of the Precious Blood and helps with religious duties at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Celina. He also oversees farmland rental at St. Charles Center, where he farmed with Fisher for 43 years.
Renner said he is running because he feels he has "something to offer." He has experience with various farmland conservation practices including filter strips, grassed waterways and tile replacement, he said, having made decisions to install these practices on St. Charles land over the years.
He said his years of experience working with officials at the Mercer SWCD office and Mercer County Farm Service Agency to install these practices are the reason he would be a good board supervisor.
Renner said he would continue to promote conservation tillage and other best management practices if elected.
"I am very interested in soil conservation and how to handle tillage and farm practices so the land can be just as good for future generations," Renner said. "We have highly erodible land here and we have to take care of it."
Renner said one of the biggest challenges facing the Mercer SWCD is to keep educating farmers on the importance of conservation practices that save soil and keep water clean. He also said producers should try to keep woodlands and cultivate good wood harvesting practices.
He supports efforts of the Grand Lake/Wabash Watershed Alliance to improve water quality by offering financial assistance that encourages farmers to install conservation practices.
Pohlman, 64, is a part-time crop insurance adjuster and a grain farmer.
He was elected to his first term on the Mercer SWCD board three years ago and also served eight years on the school board at Marion Local Schools.
He said he is running for re-election because there has been a lot of positive improvements in the county related to farmers installing more conservation on their land and he wants it to continue.
"It's been very rewarding watching farmers participate in different practices made available to them," Pohlman said. "I want to keep the ball rolling."
Pohlman said his past experience as a SWCD board member and a farmer would make him a good board member. He also said his willingness to work with other groups concerned with water quality is another thing that would make him a good board member.
If elected, Pohlman said he would continue to promote good conservation practices to farmers.
Budget cuts and keeping farmers interested in staying in conservation programs that conserve soil and clean water are the biggest challenge facing the Mercer SWCD office, Pohlman said.
He supports the work of the Grand Lake/Wabash Watershed Alliance and feels most farmers "do care about doing things right."
Siebert, 54, is a grain farmers and part-time drainage contractor. He formerly served for 24 years as clerk for Hopewell Township starting in the mid-1980s.
He said he is running for election to the Mercer SWCD board because he was asked to.
Siebert said his experience as a farmer and installing drainage since his high school years with his father would make him a good board supervisor.
He said he would concentrate his efforts on promoting better water quality. He would do this by encouraging farmers to practice good manure management and promoting conservation practices.
Siebert said though improved water quality and Grand Lake get the most P.R., there are other issues equally as important and challenging to the Mercer SWCD that he would work for.
He supports the efforts of the Grand Lake/Wabash Watershed Alliance, particularly its technical and monetary assistance.
"It's very nice to have financial assistance to (implement conservation practices) though you should do it anyway," he said.
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