County revives Environmental Stewardship Awards

By Guy Busby
Government Editor
Posted 4/22/22

FAIRHOPE – The Baldwin County Commission resumed presenting Environmental Stewardship Awards for the first time in more than a decade, recognizing nine individuals and organizations Tuesday, …

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County revives Environmental Stewardship Awards


FAIRHOPE – The Baldwin County Commission resumed presenting Environmental Stewardship Awards for the first time in more than a decade, recognizing nine individuals and organizations Tuesday, April 19.

In the past, more than 80 awards were presented to people and organizations for their environmental leadership and stewardship of Baldwin County's natural resources, Tom Schmitz, vice chairman of the Baldwin County Environmental Advisory Committee said.

"I'm so happy that the commission has reinstituted these awards. It's been over 10 years since we have done this program," Schmitz told commissioners. "We carried the program on from before 2000 to about 2010 and a lot of fine people were recognized in the county for their environmental endeavors and now, we're about to start doing the same thing again. "

The Daphne High School Watershed Acres program and Betsy Tipton received the Education Program Award.

The Little Lagoon Preservation Society and Dennis Hatfield received the Environmental Organization Award.

The city of Fairhope and Public Works Director Richard Johnson received the Government Agency Award.

Individual awards were presented to Cathy Banning of the Alabama Cooperative Extension Master Environmental Educator Program, Wade Burcham of Daphne High School and Michael Jordan for his work in invasive plant management.

The Small Business Award was presented to Osprey Initiative and Don Bates.

The Lodge at Gulf State Park and Chandra Wright received the Large Business Award.

A special recognition was presented to Brett Gaar, chairman of the Environmental Advisory Committee.

Commissioner Charles "Skip" Gruber said the time is right to revive the committee and awards program.

"It's been a while," Gruber said. "It was kind of left to go dormant and this commission stepped up and said we are very serious about our environment. We want to take care of it. We want to be good stewards. So, we reinstated that board, and we were very fortunate. We were able to get some of the former members back on that board. They're doing great things right now. We've got a bunch on that board who are very, very interested in what's going on and it means a lot to them to serve on that board."

Commissioner Billie Jo Underwood said the program recognizes efforts by county residents from a variety of occupations and interests.

"It's amazing the diverse group of talent that is on this committee and all of the skill sets that have been brought together to work together." Underwood said. "You're taking part of your precious time. We only get so much time here on this Earth and for you to take your time to give back so that we can have a better environment and a better community through clean water and the different things that we can do here to help this Earth and protect this great place that we call home."

Commissioner Joe Davis said the work done by volunteers benefits the entire county without being a burden on taxpayers.

"If we had paid you for your hours, there would be no way that we could afford it, but because you care about what's going on, we almost have to hold you back," Davis said.

Commission Chairman Jeb Ball said the efforts to protect the environment continue to make Baldwin County an attractive place to live and visit.

"This is what makes our county appealable to everybody who either lives here or who is moving here," Ball said. "This definitely pertains to the quality of life that we have here in this county. We cherish this county. I'm glad that we have revitalized this effort, this board."