Tuesday, February 4, 2003

Hometown Heroes

Howell quick to lend a hand

By Janet C. Wetzel
Enquirer contributor

CAMP DENNISON - When things need doing, Mike Howell gets going.

Whether it's reviving a long-forgotten community group, fixing up a public monument, helping a neighbor with a troublesome chore, or walking around the neighborhood on litter patrol, Howell just considers it part of being a good neighbor and a good citizen.

Howell, 48, was born and raised in Camp Dennison.

He's well-known in the area, and with good reason.

Some know him from the two years he was a volunteer on the Symmes Township Law and Safety Committee. Others got acquainted when he revived the neighborhood organization, bringing residents together to work for common causes. Some know him as the quiet guy with the kind face who rides the tractor that plows out their snowy driveway.

Karen and Eric Diehl met Howell about two years ago, after moving into the home they bought near his property.

"Mike noticed my husband struggling to take down some old fencing," Karen Diehl recalled. "Mike came over right away and brought his tractor to help pull down the fence. We soon found out this is a way of life for Mike. He's always helping."

A few years ago, after noticing that the local Civil War Monument grounds were neglected, he worked to get the township to take over that duty. The committee that had been formed in the 1930s to create and maintain the monument no longer existed. So he got some paint and painted the cannon, concrete base and flag pole.

Howell, who was laid off in January from his job as a quality control inspector at Western States Machine Co. in Hamilton, said he sees nothing remarkable about his activities, including volunteering several hours a month at Montgomery Community Baptist Church. At the church, which he attends with his wife, Sue, and daughter, Christin, 10, his work includes operating the lights for Saturday services and special events.

In late 2000, he decided to re-establish the former Camp Dennison Civic League, defunct nearly 30 years.

He started having meetings, updated the old bylaws he found, and renamed the group Camp Dennison Citizen's Association. His goal was to unite the residents and do things for the betterment of the community.

The group soon fought and won a legal battle to block a planned development in the abandoned gravel pit.

Do you know a Hometown Hero - someone in your community dedicated to making it a better place to live and helping others? E-mail Janet Wetzel at jjwetzel@siscom.net, or fax to 513-755-4150.

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