WILMINGTON — Margaret Mead, the world famous American cultural anthropologist, once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
As I wind down my tenure with the Clinton County Port Authority and sail into retirement at the end of this month, I thought it apropos to publicly acknowledge the volunteer effort of my board members past and present — “a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens” with this county’s best interests at heart.
These ladies and gentlemen represent some of the best of Clinton County. They give tirelessly of their time, their expertise and their passion for the greater good.
It was my honor at our most recent board meeting to help specially recognize three recently retired board members — Bill Marine, Ed Kuehn and David Hockaday. Collectively, they accounted for more than a quarter century of volunteer service as board members for the Clinton County Port Authority.
Two of these, Bill Marine and Ed Kuehn, were initial members of the board when it was established in 2004 by the Clinton County Commissioners as a new economic tool for the county. Current board member Richard Thompson is the only one left of the original seven board members.
In addition to helping establish the structure of the port authority, Bill and Ed, were heavily engaged in the process that resulted in DHL donating the air park to the port authority in 2010.
David, who was also involved in those negotiations before joining the board in 2011, hit the ground running and served as vice chair for one year and chair for three years before retiring from the board at the end of September.
All three had a very personal commitment to their roles on the board and knew that a trip to Kroger or lunch in town might result in questions from community members. Or that people may stop by at the store or their place of business to “have a word” at any time. And they gave that time, selflessly, for our community.
They understood that one answer could not please all and that compromise was necessary – even if at times, unpopular. They took the opportunity to listen to suggestions, comments and more from concerned citizens and others near and far who had solutions to help move the air park forward.
Bill, David and Ed have been encouraging, supportive, excited, loyal and most important — visionary. They helped guide the Clinton County Port Authority in its early years with a steady hand, with understanding and compassion, and with a willingness to learn about things unfamiliar to them.
These men understood, and deeply believed, that accepting the donation of the Wilmington Air Park was in the best interest of the community even though they did not have good information on what the asset needed and what the future for it might be.
These men and their colleague board members essentially navigated a start-up business that just happened to own a 1,900-acre airport, with two very large runways, close to three million square feet of building space and all of the related infrastructure.
I firmly believe that the future continues to look bright for the Clinton County Port Authority and the Wilmington Air Park. I think that is because of the commitment of its volunteer board; the dedication and expertise of incoming executive director Dan Evers, associate director Beth Huber and fiscal manager Pat Thompson; the ongoing efforts of the air park’s largest tenant and operator, ATSG; and supporters in the community, the region and the state – far too many to mention here.
I have enjoyed my tenure in Clinton County. It has been both rewarding and challenging. I will follow continue to follow its fortunes from just down the road in Dayton.
Over the coming months and years, I will no doubt be alerted to many more successes and economic growth at the Wilmington Air Park and elsewhere in Clinton County. I expect those pronouncements to bring a smile to my face.
Kevin Carver is Executive Director of the Clinton County Port Authority.