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About the Ohio Council of Sections

The Ohio Council of local ASCE Sections was organized in 1969 to focus statewide attention on issues of interest and concern to civil engineers. There are six local sections in Ohio each having representation on the Ohio Council in proportion to its membership. Each section has at least two representatives regardless of its size. The Council meets twice annually, in spring and fall. All ASCE members are welcome to attend Ohio Council meetings.

The Ohio Council was established to coordinate and communicate activities of the six individual sections of ASCE in Ohio with a total of about 3500 members; Akron-Canton, Central Ohio, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton, and Toledo, plus the Youngstown branch. It is composed of delegates from each section based on membership of the section, with each section having two delegates plus one added delegate per hundred over 300. The activities of the Council are financed by funds from the sections based on membership in the section. For general operations, each section contributes $40 per section delegate; and for legislative and government affairs activities, $1 per section member (excluding student members. An additional $1 per member may be contributed per member if needed. Funds are supplemented by ASCE National SPAG awards for specific projects approved by National.

The Ohio Council meets twice each year to carry out its responsibilities, typically in April and in October. The April meeting is normally held in Columbus, and the October meeting locations rotate among the sections. Attendance is typically in the range of 15, with at least one delegate from each section there. Delegates can bring a limited number of proxies for voting if the Section so authorizes.

Ohio Council addresses several areas of interest to members of ASCE in the State of Ohio. In the most general sense, the Council fosters communication among the six sections. At the semi-annual meetings, each section gives a report on the section’s activities during the 6 months since the previous meeting, and there is an opportunity for questions and discussion of new activities by the sections. The Council also reviews policies and actions under consideration by the ASCE National board, and may vote to make a recommendation to the Board. As an example, in 2007, the Council voted against ASCE establishing a 501-c-6 organization to allow expanded lobbying, and so did the ASCE National Board. And the Council may at times initiate actions with respect to the National Board on topics of interest.

The Ohio Council has recently begun an ambitious program to evaluate the condition of infrastructure in Ohio, and to prepare and publicize an infrastructure report card for the State. The State report card is planned for release in the spring of 2009. This program supports the ASCE National infrastructure report card effort, and can serve as a tool to inform the public on infrastructure needs. It can also be used to lobby local, State and National elected officials to increase infrastructure funding by public agencies. The work is being carried out by a committee of 12 ASCE members.

The Council has conducted a legislative program for many years, initially as an independent effort, and currently in cooperation with OSPE. The program includes cooperative monitoring of legislation with OSPE, partial support of a lobbyist (Colby and Company), and conducting a State Legislative Day each year. This program has been involved in several significant bills, including revisions to the landscape architecture licensing bill, enacting a continuing education requirement for engineering licensure, supporting an increased gas tax, and revisions to the on-site sewage disposal regulations. Areas of current interest include use of recent infrastructure bond funds, and possible threats to funding mechanisms for watershed conservancy districts. The legislative program is funded by a combination of Ohio Council funds and ASCE National (State Public Affairs Grants – SPAG) funds, as available. The Council contribution comes from a $1 to $2 per member contribution by the six sections. Total annual funding of this program is typically about $6,000.

Another long running Ohio Council activity is the annual Robert O’Shea younger member award for a paper on engineering ethics, which carries a $500 prize split evenly between the author and the Section Younger Member group, or Student Chapter. The paper, or papers, are reviewed by a judging committee and a presentation of the winning paper by the writer is required. The papers submitted may also be used for the ASCE National Meade Prize competition.

The Council also carries out an annual competition for the Ohio Outstanding Civil Engineering Award for projects completed during the year in Ohio. A presentation ceremony and bronze plaque for the project are a part of the program. Also, the Council identifies projects that merit recognition as Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, and submits an application to the National ASCE. For those accepted by the national committee, a presentation ceremony and bronze plaque are included. There are a number of these recognized landmarks throughout the State, including the canal system of the early 1800s, the Akron blimp airdock, the Muskingum River lock and dam system from the 1800s, and several bridges.

And the Council funds awards to State Science Day competitors, with first, second, and third prizes to students competing at the junior and senior high school levels. The prizes include a monetary award and a plaque. Total Ohio Council funding is $400, and the judging is typically carried out by Central Ohio Section members as the competition is held in Columbus. The awards are targeted to science day projects related to civil engineering and serve to expand the students’ interest in civil engineering.