German Village Gazette

Village notebook

Four Society leaders deserve extra-special recognition

By Shiloh Todorov
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We have three outgoing board members to recognize this month, along with our outgoing Board President Bill Case.

Let's do it in alphabetical order, starting with this great tribute to Beth Ervin, written by Trustee Bill Curlis:

"My first encounter with Beth Ervin occurred 25-plus years ago, over a walkie-talkie while sitting in a cold damp empty warehouse on Front Street.

"Beth was calmly trying to break into a screaming match between Bob Balthaser and Aaron Leventhal, about gangs converging on Front Street to storm the front gate of the Oktoberfest.

"She failed in her attempt, because neither man would release the 'talk' button long enough to permit her into the conversation. She gave up trying and walked into the walkie-talkie communications center and asked me to find a policeman to go to the front gate to calm Bob and Aaron down with the instruction -- 'just shoot them both.'

"And Beth Ervin has been serving German Village and the German Village Society over the years, with the same calm, practical approach to problems, both real and contrived.

"Beth has served our organization on many German Village Society committees and events. But her chairing of the Marketing Committee and spearheading our fantastic new branding and visioning efforts will certainly be forefront in the memory of Villagers for many years to come.

"Beth Ervin has also brought her considerable communications talent and contacts to the service of our community and our Society through her employment with Experience Columbus. There's another reason that German Village is the number one tourist destination in Central Ohio."

Dr. Brian Santin is also stepping off the board, having joined in 2010 and served in a number of critical roles. And Brian went one better, usually teaming with his then-girlfriend and later new wife, Crystal Seamon, to get things done for German Village.

Together, they initiated Go Green/Go Grun in 2009 -- a neighborhoodwide green initiative. Just this year, they helped coach the new chairman of Go Green and the committee is back up in full force! As they worked to green their thumbs, Brian and Crystal were some of the inaugural farmers at The Farm, and the community garden at Livingston United Methodist Church.

Brian's interest in Third Street prompted his chairmanship of the Streetscape Committee as it worked through community visioning to create the Third Street Masterplan.

That plan is about to take its next steps, now that GVS has won a half-million dollar Urban Infrastructure Renewal Fund grant to move Third Street from vision to reality.

Brian's vision was in full force as the Technology -- or Website -- Committee was formed. Brian saw the need for germanvillage.com to jump into the 21st century, so he first sold the idea to trustees and then threw himself into overhauling the site.

The effort won an award in 2010. In 2011, Brian helped imagine, create and launch our mobile website.

Just before moving to Cincinnati for a medical residency, Brian took on the organization's ultimate challenge -- the presidency.

He served from January to June 2011, just as GVS was beginning to emerge from several years of turmoil, but before it had yet identified a director to staff the daily leadership role.

Mike Yarbrough, too, served in the president's role, taking the July-October 2011 stint when Brian and Crystal moved south.

Mike, was in the leadership role when I was hired, and spent many hours -- along with his wife, Mary -- helping me get the lay of the land and to meet many of the Society's most-active volunteers.

During his term on the board, Mike used his legal skills to help rewrite the Society's bylaws just after a vote by the community that changed the shape of the board.

Mike and Mary were frequent PreTour hosts, welcoming people to their beautiful home on Deshler. In 2003, that home was on Haus und Garten Tour.

Mike also stepped up to give shape and movement to the Development Committee.

I value him as a mentor, not only to me, but to our final tributee -- Bill Case.

Bill and I started together on my first day, so we grew up together here.

I have watched him be a tireless advocate for German Village. Together we have met numerous city officials and he is a master at mixing the ability to take a strong line on what we need and why we are worthy; while at the same time keeping a friendly and collaborative manner and a cool head.

I don't think we'd have secured the Third Street UIRF if it weren't for Bill's leadership as we saw it through meetings with City Council members, city departments, Mr. Kinzelman and meetings with our own members and committees.

When we finally get the curbs at the correct height and the utility lines cleaned up, I hope you'll stop Bill as he walks the streets with his Corgi, Angus, and thank him.

Bill made it a priority to see every kind of committee meeting in progress during his tenure.

From rapping with the new Go Green committee out front of the Meeting Haus one cool spring night, to countless Civic Relations and Historic Preservation meetings where he serves as a full-time member, Bill's calendar has been FULL of German Village Society activities for more than his two-year tenure.

As part of his HP duties, Bill is the founding chairman of the Oral History subcommittee -- a group of volunteers working to capture the stories of the German Village Society from those who saw its early years.

Oral History won a grant from Ohio Humanities Council and Bill was asked to speak at its subsequent workshop as an emerging expert in how to gather neighbors' stories.

We're lucky Bill's board term isn't up, but the next president will have considerable shoes to fill. Bill will likely step back into golf shoes more often during the hours he gains back in his life.

To all four of these amazing leaders, thank you for all you do, have done -- and hopefully will continue to do -- for German Village Society.

German Village Society Director Shiloh Todorov submitted the Village notebook column.

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