Ron Rockhold, a soon-to-be retired member of the Fayette County Zoning Board of Appeals, was honored earlier this month at the OSU Extension State Conference in Columbus with the “Friend of Extension Award.”
According to a press release about the event, the award is selective as only three awards are given in Ohio per year.
“Ron Rockhold credits OSU Extension with helping him be successful as a farmer,” explained a press release about the event. “Thus, he has turned into a valuable advocate for OSU Extension with Farm Bureau, Ohio Corn Growers, many local and state committees and legislatively. Ron has been willing to help with research projects and has served as Chairman of the Fayette County Marketing Club, Agronomy Club, Ag Hall of Fame and Extension Advisory Board.”
On top of receiving the award, Rockhold, along with Fayette County Zoning Inspector Harold Skaggs, will be honored at a party on Monday as both of them approach their retirement dates.
The party is set to begin at 4 p.m. at the OSU Extension Office, 1415 U.S. Route 22 in Washington C.H. It is being hosted by the Fayette County Commissioners and, according to commissioner Jim Garland, is open to the public.
The Fayette County Board of Appeals currently assists eight of 10 townships in Fayette County. Wayne and Union townships have their own boards.
According to Rockhold, he had initially been asked by a previous commissioner, Bucky Dumford, to join the board. Rockhold ended up being appointed and has been a member of the Board of Appeals for approximately 29 years.
Rockhold explained he decided it was time to retire due to his age and health. He’ll be turning 79-years-old next month and was diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Rockhold explained that being on the board isn’t a full-time job. The meetings are on the second and fourth Mondays of every month.
“We don’t always have hearings,” he said. “You serve on a committee and there’s four other people on the board. You listen to people’s appeals. We get paid $12 dollars to go to a meeting.”
“When I first started, you did it for free,” said Rockhold. “It’s a community service. You pass zoning laws and then you have to have somebody to interpret all the zoning laws, and if there’s something that’s not quite right.
Rockhold explained that some projects are met with opposition and have controversial situations. In those instances he has been disparaged in different ways, cussed at, etc.
“That’s what you’ve got to decide—what’s good for the county and what’s not,” he said. “That’s part of being a public servant. You’re not always appreciated.”
Prior to and during his time as a board member, Rockhold was a first-generation farmer. Although he was born in Clinton County, he only lived there for a few years then spent the rest of his life in Fayette.
When he was younger, he explained that he worked on a farm in the summer baling hay. The owner of the farm chose to train him. When Rockhold married in 1962, the farm was given to him.
“My health won’t let me farm anymore so I’ve retired and rented the farm,” he explained.
Rockhold said that his wife, Susan, is very understanding and throughout their lives they accumulated land. Their son, William, is a computer programmer working in Columbus.
“Back in 1980, William wanted a computer so we bought him a Radio Shack computer,” said Rockhold. “He fell in love with computers. He went to DeVry and has worked as a computer programmer since he got out of school.”
Not only is Rockhold a member of the appeals board, he is on several committees relating to agriculture. One of those being the Hall of Fame Committee.
“I plan on doing it as long as I can,” he said. “My health is why I’m quitting the Zoning Board of Appeals. They need to have a full board and I don’t know if I can be there every time or not. There’s about 23 people on the Hall of Fame committee so it’s not as important that I be there every time.”
Rockhold has been inducted into the Hall of Fame himself.
Rockhold plans to be at the party on Monday.
“I’m going to see Harold retire,” he said. “I really appreciate Harold’s efforts to computerize all the records that he could find. Now, if you want to know something about zoning you can go to his office and he can look it up for you.”
Reach Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355 or on Twitter @JennMWoods.