Licking County News

Retiring Kiracofe proud to be part of conservation 'legacy'

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Jim Kiracofe, program administrator for the Licking County Soil and Water Conservation District, will retire July 4 after heading the district for more than 17 years.

"I'll really miss helping people with whatever their natural-resources concerns are," Kiracofe said. "There are a lot of people who call this office. I'll miss helping them out, making a difference."

Admittedly, he said, he won't miss much of the paperwork and computer-data retrieval.

Kiracofe said Denise Natoli Brooks, the district's environmental-education specialist, would be acting district program administrator while conservation district board members decide on Kiracofe's replacement.

Vice Chairman Mike Bauer, said the board advertised the position in May and received 16 applicants.

Of those applicants, the board decided on two candidates, who were interviewed June 19.

Bauer said the board meets again June 23, when he hopes Kiracofe's successor would be named.

"We want a unanimous decision," Bauer said.

During his retirement, Kiracofe said, he intends to enjoy "travel, family, farming, and volunteering."

He said his wife, a teacher, retired in May and he decided it was time for him to retire, as well, so they could enjoy retirement together.

He said he's particularly looking forward to "kayaking and enjoying the outdoors in the water."

Kiracofe, who farms 300 acres on a 500-acre property, said he won't be bored during retirement.

"Small-scale farming is really coming back," he said. "There's a thriving demand for that."

Kiracofe will also continue to volunteer for the conservation district when possible.

He said if he has any regrets, it's the conversation district's funding, or lack thereof.

"Conservation has become a low funding priority," he said.

After the conservation district's most recent levy request was rejected in May, Kiracofe said, he understands that budgets are tight and there's not much funding to go around.

However, he said, the world's population is expanding and it will be tougher and tougher to feed everyone in future years.

"We need to look locally at what we can do," he said.

Kiracofe said in Ohio during the 1800s, nine of 10 trees were deforested throughout the state, and in the 1930s, farming practices were so environmentally unfriendly they were unsustainable.

Since then, conservation districts have made great strides in protecting and revitalizing Ohio's soil and waterways.

"There's a 70-year legacy of soil and water conservation," Kiracofe said, "and I'm very proud to be part of that."

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