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Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Local official tapped for lake position

By Nancy Allen
A longtime, county soil and water official has been tapped for a permanent position working with farmers on nutrient issues in the Grand Lake Watershed and beyond.
Frances Springer has been hired as a nutrient management specialist by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Soil and Water Resources to replace John Kaiser, who quit June 15 to take another state job. She will work from the Mercer County Soil and Water Conservation District office in Celina.
Springer has worked at the Auglaize County SWCD office in Wapakoneta the last 11 years. Nine of those she has worked as the manure nutrient management specialist/education coordinator. From September 2009 through September 2011 she worked a special project as the Grand Lake St. Marys Conservationist administering federal money to help farmers put conservation practices on their land aimed at improving water quality.    Springer' duties will be nearly identical to that of Kaiser's when he held the post, but Springer will help farmers in a larger area geographically, ODNR spokeswoman Bethany McCorkle said. The job title for the position has been changed - from state resource specialist to nutrient management specialist - to reflect that, she said.
Kaiser's position only covered the actual 46,000 acres of farmland in the 58,000-acre Grand Lake Watershed in Mercer and Auglaize counties. Springer will cover farmland acres in the watershed as well as any farmland acres in both counties outside the watershed boundary.
"The position titles are similar in duties, the difference is in the area in which they cover," McCorkle said. "There will still be a strong emphasis on the watershed; this layout more closely models some of our other positions."
The division of soil and water resources is responsible for overseeing new manure rules that resulted after the state designated the watershed distressed. The state set the designation after humans and animals were sickened by blue-green algae toxins in Grand Lake in 2010. Most of the phosphorous, the algae's main food source, runs off farmland in the 58,000-acre watershed.
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