MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

September 11, 2013

Three named to Scenic Rivers Hall of Fame

Fite, Kellogg and Rozell to be honored Sept. 22

A Tahlequah-based citizens’ coalition organized to protect and preserve the Illinois River and Tenkiller Lake will honor “three champions” who have worked tirelessly to promote those goals.

The trio will be inducted Sept. 22 into the 2013 Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Hall of Fame, joining a list of about a dozen others recognized for similar contributions. The Ed Edmondson Awards Banquet will be held in conjunction with Save the Illinois River’s annual membership meeting.

This year’s hall-of-fame inductees include the late Julian Fite, a former state and federal prosecutor of Tahlequah; environmental lawyer Robert Kellogg of Edmond; and former state Sen. Herb Rozell of Tahlequah. All three have been involved with some of STIR’s major victories in its ongoing battle to protect what many consider to be the crown jewel of Oklahoma’s scenic rivers system.

STIR President Denise Deason-Toyne said this year’s inductees were selected by the coalition’s directing board. They were chosen for their diligence and hard work to protect the Illinois River watershed.

Fite, who once led STIR as its president, was a member of the governor’s Illinois River Task Force from 1992 to 1995. The former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma and Muskogee County district attorney earned in 1993 the Governor’s Environmental Achievement Award.

“This was in no small part due to his efforts to protect the Illinois River,” Deason-Toyne said about Fite’s accomplishments. “Julian and his family were longtime supporters and advocates for the Illinois River and Tenkiller Lake, and we wanted to commemorate his efforts.”

Kellogg, an environmental lawyer who has worked with the Oklahoma Health Department and Department of Environmental Quality, also serves as STIR’s legal counsel. During his 26 years of public service, Kellogg either wrote or helped write almost all of the state’s environmental legislation.

“Bob contributes hours and hours of pro bono services to STIR and was instrumental in helping us avoid additional protracted litigation with an Arkansas sewage plant regarding its proposed discharge limits that STIR opposed,” Deason-Toyne said. “We (the board) felt it high time to recognize Bob for all his efforts and to show our appreciation for all the work he has done and will continue to do on behalf of the Illinois River and Tenkiller Lake.”

Rozell is being recognized for his stewardship and shepherding of the Scenic Rivers Act through the Oklahoma Legislature. Rozell also played an instrumental role in the eventual creation of the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission and assisted with the “fight to stop Fayetteville, Ark., from discharging sewage to the Illinois River watershed.”

“Sen. Rozell has long been a supporter and champion for STIR and the Illinois River,” Deason-Toyne said. “The board wants to show our gratitude ... for his many years of service to us.”

A silent auction will be conducted during the Sept. 22 event to help OSRC pay for portable toilets that will be placed along the Illinois River during next year’s floating season. Deason-Toyne said the money for the portable toilets is needed to offset state budget cuts the agency experienced this year.

STIR’s annual meeting and awards banquet will be from 1 to 4 p.m. Sept. 22 at Go Ye Village, 1201 W. Fourth St., in Tahlequah. The cost of the event is $15 for STIR members and $30 for new members. Reservations may be made by writing STIR at 24369 E 757 Road, Tahlequah, OK 74464, sending a message to info@illinoisriver.org, or calling (918) 284-9440. Reservations must be made no later than Monday.

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot@muskogeephoenix.com.

If you go

WHO: Save the Illinois River Inc.

WHAT: Ed Edmondson Awards Banquet and annual meeting.

WHEN: From 1 to 4 p.m. Sept. 22.

WHERE: Go Ye Village, 1201 W. Fourth St., Tahlequah.

COST: $15 for STIR members and $30 for new members.

INFORMATION: Reservations must be made no later than Monday by writing STIR at 24369 E. 757 Road, Tahlequah, OK 74464; sending an email to info@illinoisriver.org; or by calling (918) 284-9440.

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