The 17th Annual Portage County Environmental Conservation Awards Benefit Dinner was held on Saturday, April 11, 2015, and a fine evening it was.

The appetizers were contributions of local gourmet-type friends of the park district, using an array of locally-sourced foods.  The music was provided by the semi-locally-sourced Byrne Brothers, Jay (of Garrettsville) and Greg (imported from the West Coast).  The catering(speedy and good) was by Special Moments, out of Streetsboro.  The environmental awards highlighted everything from Hiram College’s TREE House to the Downtown Mantua Revitalization Corporation to Emerald Environmental of Kent, to Kent’s Haymaker Farmers’ Market, to Lifetime Achiever, Ann Ward, and Virginia Shaw, donator of the most recent and highly significant acquisition of the Portage Parks District, the Shaw Woods. Jay Byrne crafted the black walnut plaques that were presented.

Chris Craycroft, Portage Park District Executive Director, was the speaker for the evening.  She introduced many of the ecological heroes and laborers in the vineyards who have  simply been part of the whole movement to give Portage Countians the access to their own natural wealth.  These included the Foundation board of trustees, the new judge of Portage County Probate Court, the board of commissioners(honoring Gary Cross for 16 years of service), new hires(Craig Alderman, Operations Manager), volunteers (Joe Malmisur, for one) and many others.  She also gave a brief look ahead  at what the money from the levy passed in 2014 will  be doing in the way of park district  programs and projects.  The park district foundation’s logo, the dogwood blossom, was prominent in the signage on the tables and throughout the tables laden with silent auction prizes.  Attendees were offered         wrapped dogwood whips—plantable shoots—upon departing.

It was a benefit dinner in the best sense of the term; all of Portage County has been and will be benefitting from the Portage County Park District.