Sunday, December 19, 2010

LaVerne Matheson Selected as the Arley Women's Club Person of the Year

LaVerne has been selected as the Arley Women's Club Person of the Year!  The following is a message from Linda Atkinson about the news  :

Our President and founding father of Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy was selected last week as the Arley Women’s Club Person of the Year!  We are so proud of him, and hope that you will extend congratulations his way!   Below is the nomination detailing his accomplishments.

Merry Christmas to you and yours from your Board members, and Happy New (cleaner Lake) Year!


Linda Atkinson, Secretary Treasurer

When the Arley Person of the Year moved from Florida to Alabama, he immediately recognized a need to become involved with local conservation and community groups.  He noticed that some parts of Lewis Smith Lake were having clean-up events but none within Winston County.  He also found that, even though some landowners were concerned about water quality there was no organized group doing anything about it.  He then organized and led the effort to establish Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy in 2006.  Since that time, the group has grown to 80 members.  The Advocacy Group’s mission is to preserve and protect the environmental quality of Lewis Smith Lake and its tributaries through education of the public and promotion and implementation of sound environmental practices. 

This person is the backbone of the group and is responsible for a number of achievements.  To educate Winston County residents and leaders about the importance of watershed health and highlight our unique and clean water resources, this person has provided presentations and slide shows to County Commissioners and others at community events and public meetings.  He represents the group on the Winston County Natural Resources Council and the Bankhead National Forest’s Liaison Panel. 

This person and the Advocacy Group have hosted several Alabama Water Watch training courses for volunteer water quality testers.  The Advocacy Group volunteers (including this person and some 30 others) test Smith Lake’s water at 18 sites in Winston County.  The Group provides testing equipment and reports results to Alabama Water Watch.  The Alabama Water Watch recognized this person with their Fresh Face Award for outstanding performance and contributions of a group that quickly organized monitoring efforts in 2007.

Perhaps the greatest local achievement of this person and the Advocacy Group is their work with Alabama Power Company’s Renew Our Rivers program.  This is a waterways clean-up program to remove Styrofoam, litter and abandoned boat houses from Smith Lake.  This person has single-handedly organized two clean-ups on Rock Creek and coordinated with the Bankhead National Forest to have two clean-ups on Clear Creek and Sipsey Fork.   Hundreds of landowners, the Winston County Commission and local businesses have worked together on this project.  This person understood the need for local involvement and garnered support from the Winston County Commission and other community leaders and businesses.  He has also secured free disposal sites for homeowners to discard old boat house Styrofoam in a responsible manner.  To date many river miles in Winston County have been cleaned-up resulting in an estimated 700 tons of debris removed from our waters.  Over 130 structures were included in that number.

Not only has he led the effort to get the waterways cleaned up; he has also worked to educate the next generation about the issues of water quality.  Partnering with Alabama Power Company, he and the Advocacy Group have distributed Message In A Bottle coloring books to all Winston County elementary school children for the last three years.  These educational coloring books teach students about littering and pollution of our waterways.  They have also participated in the FAWN field days by having an educational lesson on Water Quality for all 5th graders in Winston County Schools.

This person spent many hours working with Alabama Water Watch and many other organizations to develop a project plan that would help rescue parts of the Rock Creek Watershed from the 303D endangered streams list.  He has worked diligently with Advocacy and a local company to obtain a grant and to execute it to erect signs at the entrance to 33 creeks on Smith Lake in Winston County.

In 2009, this person received the prestigious W. Kelly Mosley Environmental Award for 2008, an award administered by Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences to recognize individual achievements in promoting the wiser use of renewable natural resources.

This person is a dedicated volunteer.  He is interested and actively engaged in the conservation of water resources in his new home community on Smith Lake and Winston County.

Sounds like a person with a lot of energy… and he and his lovely bride bought a Wave Runner for the first time and have been enjoying it immensely, and they recently decided that they wanted to realize another lifelong dream…they bought a 1994 Jaguar convertible and have been cruising the highways and byways.. he’ll be 82 years young this month, so wish a very happy birthday to the 2010 Arley Women’s Club Person of the Year, the amazing LaVerne Matheson!!

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