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Six OPMA Members Receive Tom Evans Award

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The awards were presented at the Greater Cleveland Pest Management Association's Annual Awards banquet; former Congressman Steve LaTourette was the guest speaker.

Bill Delaney | April 16, 2013

OPMA Wildlife Committee and Tom Evans Award winners (left to right): Belinda Jones, Lonnie Alonso, Brian Beining (accepting for Mike Faler), Andrew Christman and Scott Steckel. Rich Kozlovich (far right) received a separate Tom Evans Award from the Awards committee.

CLEVELAND – Six people were honored with the Tom Evans Award at the Greater Cleveland Pest Control Association’s (GCPMA) annual banquet at John Q’s Steakhouse in downtown Cleveland, on April 15.

Members of the Ohio Pest Management Association’s (OPMA) Wildlife Committee were honored with the award. GCPCA has, for the last 17 years, recognized an outstanding member or group with the award. This year’s honorees included:

  • Belinda Jones, Capitol Consulting;
  • Scott Steckel, Varment Guard Environmental Services;
  • Lonnie Alonso, Columbus Pest Control;
  • Mike Faler, Critter Control of Columbus;
  • Andrew Christman, Ohio Exterminating Company.

GCPCA’s Rich Kozlovich cited the work the committee had done involving Ohio House Bill 420, which was signed into law in December 2012. The bill was designed to aid pest control businesses with nuisance wildlife trapping, and gained bipartisan support as OPMA championed the bill throughout the process.

Kozlovich also was honored with a Tom Evans Award from the GCPCA Awards Committee and GCPCA President Molly Patton. As Kozlovich began to present the awards to the other winners, Michael Grace, of T.N.T. Exterminating interrupted to present Kozlovich with the surprise award. Grace called Kozlovich “someone who exemplifies what Tom Evans was about.”

Evans, who passed away in 2011, was an active member of both GCPCA and the Ohio Pest Management Association (OPMA), where he championed the creation of an Ohio State University college scholarship for association members.

GRIDLOCK AND PMPS. The banquet was host to guest speaker Steve LaTourette, retired House Representative of Ohio’s 14th congressional district. LaTourette cited the partisan gridlock that has plagued Congress as reason for his retirement, and conveyed why breaking that gridlock is important for everyone, including PMPs.

“Finding common ground these days has pretty much evaporated,” said LaTourette, who spoke of good working relationships he had formed with PMPs in Ohio throughout his time in Congress.

“We get hit by a lot of people in the lobbying business, and it’s not uncommon for someone to come in and ‘spin a yarn’ and get one victory, and that’s it,” LaTourette said. “Washington moves based upon relationships. I’m so glad (the pest management industry) is taking people out to dinner, doing face-to-face, there’s nothing more important than that. You have to develop that relationship.”

LaTourette relayed an anecdote of receiving bed bug bites while lodging in Chicago, which in part alerted him to the national bed bug issue, he said. He cited the prevalence of 25(b)-exempt products as problematic to the industry. “I was hearing these things on the radio, I can go to Walgreens, pay $5.99, spray the heck out of my pillow and I wasn’t going to have any more bed bugs. But based upon the information you all have brought me, I believe that stuff is a fraud and a sham, and it wasn’t killing any bed bugs.”

Gene Harrington, vice president of government affairs for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), also spoke at the banquet. He congratulated this year’s award winners, and cited the recent introduction of the Pest Free Food Supply Act into Congress as an example of successful leadership in the pest management industry. The legislation would force EPA to withdraw a proposed regulation that would remove the authorized food uses of sulfuryl fluoride.

“We’re an industry that is constantly under attack,” Harrington said. “What we do is continually taken out of context, and it’s important that we have folks like you to step up and spread the message of the value of what we do, the necessity of the tasks we carry out on a day-to-day basis.”

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