During the Oil Region Alliance’s Annual Membership Meeting, awards are presented that recognize an individual or a group for their generous and productive assistance in carrying out the mission of the Oil Region Alliance.
The mission of the Oil Region Alliance is to increase the prosperity and population of the Oil Region, through preservation, promotion and development and support of destinations within the Oil Region, whether they are historical, educational, natural, recreational, commercial or industrial destinations, we must entice people to live, work, learn and play in “the Valley that changed the world.”
Since 1998 the Oil Heritage Region, Inc. has conducted fishing competitions which demonstrate good water quality and excellent recreational fishing opportunities in the area. In keeping with the recommendations of the OHR Management Action Plan as well as the 1998 Interpretive Plan, these tournaments are a great way to attract people to the region.
In 2006, a grant was filed with the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources by the Heritage Development Department, seeking $12,000 that would be used for competitive angling events. The grant asked for the funds to augment the prize money paid out to winners of the annual bass tournament, and perhaps more importantly, enable the return of the “Mr. Whiskers Catfish & Carp Fishing Derby,” which had not been held for two years. “Mr. Whiskers” is a family-friendly 36 hour fishing derby that welcomes anglers of all ages. The registration fee for Mr. Whiskers has always been kept low so that entire families may participate. It is not unusual at all to see a grandfather fishing with his grandsons, or a mother and father fishing with their young offspring at the derby.
DCNR approved the grant in late 2006. A fishing committee was established and met to schedule the fishing tournaments for 2007. Chris Wolfgong volunteered to chair the Mr. Whiskers Derby and Dale Black was named co-chair. These two men solicited sponsors for the fishing tournaments, so that the local matching funds required by the grant from DCNR, could be met. They also organized the many volunteers needed for each of the fishing events. Chris and Dale were recognized for their volunteer efforts at the 2007 Annual Meeting.
James Holden resides in Sugarcreek Borough outside Franklin. He partnered with the Heritage Development Department on numerous projects in 2006, which included bicycle trail construction from Rockland to Emlenton, conducting a Recreational Trail Utilization Study, performing a Greenways Peer Study, and producing additional interpretive panels to be installed on the southern portion of the Allegheny River Trail (Belmar to Emlenton). He is an active member of the ORA Recreational Advisory Council as well as its ORA Heritage Advisory Council. Mr. Holden is active in conservation and bicycling circles, especially as the President of the Allegheny Valley Trails Association.
Neil McElwee of Oil City, Pennsylvania. Neil has been a featured guest speaker for the ongoing series of oil history workshops hosted by the Oil Heritage Region annually since 2000, as well as helping plan and being a presenter during the Victorian Architecture and Its Preservation Conferences administered by the Oil Region Alliance.
He donates significant time helping draft and edit educational materials subsequently published by the Alliance. He chairs the ORA Heritage Advisory Council and served as the initial Treasurer for the Oil Region Alliance. He helps escort VIP guests on guided tours of the region, and assists with hospitality for special visitors.
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