2023 Award Recipients
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2023 Award Recipients

Thursday, March 30, 2023

The best of the best in the water and wastewater industry were honored at our 2023 Spring Conference. Each recipient was presented with their award prior to the conference, then recognized throughout the event on a slideshow displaying on the event center's tv monitors throughout the venue!

  • Associate Member of the Year
  • President's Choice Award
  • Water Systems Operations Specialist of the Year
  • Wastewater Systems Operations Specialist of the Year
  • Administrative Professional of the Year
  • Manager of the Year
  • Steward of the Environment
  • Commitment to Rural Excellence

120Water

Associate Member of the Year
120 Water has been a member of the organization since 2019, and they were selected because of their commitment to assist Indiana water and wastewater utilities with protecting public health and compliance execution, especially as it pertains to LCR. They were also selected because of their consistent involvement in Alliance trainings and events, including attendance, sponsorship and even several speaking engagements. In addition, they have made a significant number of tools, resources and complimentary trainings available to Alliance members on a regular basis. "We're proud to say that 120Water's headquarters is right here in the state of Indiana. Their support of our membership and efforts to assist utilities across the state become compliant with the new Lead and Copper Rule Revisions has made a significant impact in the rural water and wastewater community," said Dee Deig, Executive Director of the Alliance.

Kelly Strain, NRWA

President's Choice Award
This award is given to an individual who has gone above and beyond the call of duty. Kelly Strain, Apprenticeship Program Assistant Manager with the National Rural Water Association, spent 12 years working for the Alliance up until late summer 2022. During Kelly's time with the Alliance, she was known as the "go-to" person for anything and everything at the Alliance. She had been a friendly face and someone our membership always looked forward to seeing at the 'Info Desk', but she was so much more than that. Kelly holds significant knowledge in apprenticeship, member services, training offerings, our events and conferences, finances and more. If she didn't know the information, which was quite rare, she had relationships established and the intelligence to research and find the answer and execute the mission. There were significant staffing transitions in 2022, and since Kelly's departure, she has graciously continued to provided assistance to the Alliance, in addition to executing her full-time duties with NRWA. Even after moving on, her commitment to ensure the Alliance has what it needs to continue its success is important to her. For that, the Alliance is forever grateful.

Glen Murray, City of Elwood

Water Systems Operations Specialist of the Year
Glen was proudly nominated by Mayor Todd Jones for his dedication and service. "Glen has dedicated 39 years of service to the City of Elwood and continues to focus on what is best for our residents and our city. Throughout the years, he has continuously adapted and modified with changes from IDEM, always thinking outside the box," noted Mayor Todd Jones. "He has been instrumental in the plant's modifications and our city's vast growth. His hard work and dedication ensures our residents and businesses have clean and safe water."

John Hodge, Town of Spencer

Wastewater Systems Operations Specialist of the Year
John was nominated by Drew Flamion of Commonwealth Engineers, Inc. and Cheryl Moke of the Town of Spencer. John has worked for the wastewater utility for a total of 36 years and is playing a critical part in the growth of the Town of Spencer. "In this role, he supports the successful operation and maintenance of the wastewater treatment plant and the collection system with a critical eye toward meeting regulatory performance standards," state Drew and Cheryl. "Additionally, John is responsible for the maintenance and cleaning of primary and secondary wastewater treatment equipment and facilities, and for implementing sound wastewater treatment principles, safety rules, first aid, chemical handling, wastewater sampling and process control tests. John also supervises staff, including Alliance apprentice Ryan Klaassen. In addition, John presents monthly updates to the Town Board on the utility's operations, challenges and needs, and works closely with the Town's engineer evaluating current and future needs for the utility."

Amy Stone, Greenville Water Utility

Administrative Professional of the Year
Amy serves as the Office manager and Deputy clerk for the Greenville Water Utility. She was proudly nominated by Audi Findley. "Amy has been a dedicated model partner for the community. She is the epitome of an unsung hero working to create an atmosphere that is beneficial for the community as well as the town council." Audi continues to share how dedicated Amy is to the community. "Many times, she has gone above and beyond to help our utility customers through hard times, be it through diligent efforts to keep their water on through hard times or lending a listening ear during those times."

Mason Boicourt, Crothersville Utilities

Manager of the Year
Mason Boicourt, Utility Manager for Crothersville Utilities, was nominated by Chris Mains. Chris states, "Mason is responsible for every aspect of the Water, Wastewater and Street department for the Town of Crothersville. He is the main contact and go between for the utility employees and the Town Board." Chris adds, "Mason goes above and beyond working for the utility. He not only deals with the board, but he is also very hands on in fixing water mains, sewer mains, pushing snow and dealing with contractors and state representatives."

Steve Lechner, Town of Ferdinand

Steward of the Environment
This award, named for James E. Burch, co-founder of Midwestern Engineers, Inc., typifies the message that Mr. Burch wants carried forward; that being, “Take care of the environment and it will take care of us.” Steve Lechner of the Town of Ferdinand was the selected recipient for the James E. Burch Steward of the Environment Award. As the Plant Operator for the Town of Ferdinand, Steve runs the daily plant operations, trains apprentices, as well as new employees, and he is also the meter program coordinator for the system. Steve has been an employee with the Town for 32 years and has helped develop and maintain the plant since its inception in 1999. When the Town’s Superintendent left much sooner than expected in 2022, Steve stepped in to lead the department and teach his fellow, much less tenured employees the ins and outs of the system until a new superintendent came in. This was noted by the Town as Steve’s biggest contribution yet. He then took to mentoring the new superintendent on the system and show him the projects of the past, as well as potential issues of the future to help guide him on making upcoming plans. “Steve has been a steadfast, hardworking and dedicated employee since he started in 1991. It was especially evident in 2022 when our long-time plant supervisor suddenly retired. While we were working to replace the licensed plant operator, Steve kept the plant in full compliance with the help of two relatively new employees to the department. He also worked with the new licensed plant manager to show all there was to know about our specific system. Thank goodness he had the knowledge and dedication he did, or the Town of Ferdinand would have been in desperate straits,” shared Town Council Vice President, Debbie Johnson.

Rochelle Owen, Director of Community Programs USDA

Manager of the Year
Rochelle Owen, AICP, was selected as the Director of Community Programs for USDA Rural Development in January 2011. Community Programs provide loans, grants and loan guarantees for projects to develop essential and sustainable community facilities for public use in rural areas. Community facilities include water and wastewater infrastructure, hospitals, fire protection, libraries, schools and many other community-based initiatives. Rochelle has provided leadership to all staff, communities, and consultants to develop, support and maintain compliance in all community projects funded by USDA Rural Development. Rochelle graduated from Indiana University South Bend with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Public Policy with distinction and again from Indiana University Indianapolis with a Master of Planning in Environmental Planning finalizing her degree in Bangkok, Thailand at the National Institute of Development Administration. “Rochelle has been a significant advocate for communities across the state for nearly her entire career, as well as a devoted partner to the Alliance of Indiana Rural Water Association in our mission of assisting rural utilities in providing safe and clean water to the residents of Indiana. We’re grateful for her unwavering dedication and wish her the best in her very deserved retirement,” noted Alliance Executive Director Kristin Bean.

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