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AEP Retiree Serves 56 Years as Village Council Member

by on March 12, 2019
Ron Emerson at the Village of Yorkville sign.

Photo by: Ken Drenten

YORKVILLE, Ohio — The typical male AEP retiree is most likely content with playing some golf, enjoying family and grandchildren, doing some traveling and volunteer work, and keeping in touch with friends.

Ron Emerson, who retired from AEP in 1993 after a 45-year career, has done those things and then some. As of March 15, he will have spent 56 years as a member of the Yorkville Village Council.

The village of about 1,200 people, located along State Route 7 and the Ohio River between Martins Ferry and Steubenville, has been in existence since 1916. Emerson, 88, has had a direct impact on Yorkville for more than half the time the village has been incorporated.

After starting his political career in 1963 by filling the unexpired term of a council member who had passed away, he has served under eight different mayors and has been elected to 14 consecutive four-year terms.

“I’m thinking seriously about running again this fall,” he said. “I love to do this. It keeps me busy. That’s why I do it, to stay involved.”

Growing up in nearby Tiltonsville, Ohio, and graduating from Warren Consolidated High School, some of his earliest memories are of hitting golf balls. He gained a reputation as an excellent prep golfer, winning medals, tournaments and titles while in high school.

His friendships on the golf course led to an opportunity with Ohio Power.

In 1948, Emerson was hired into the Ohio Power Co. at the age of 18 as a laborer at Tidd Plant. He worked in various departments including the plant’s laboratory. In 1975 he was promoted to safety coordinator, working out of the Canton office and traveling to generating plants including Philo, Muskingum River, Kammer-Mitchell and Gavin. In 1985, he began working in Human Resources at Cardinal Plant.

“I never missed a day of work,” he said. “I also won a lot of AEP golf tournaments, including four golf tournaments at six different power plants. Over the years, I’ve won more than 30 tournaments.”

Yorkville is located between State Route 7 and the Ohio River.

After retiring as HR manager at Cardinal in 1993, he continued to golf in amateur competitions, scoring a hole in one followed by an eagle (two strokes) on the very next hole, and, on another course, setting a course record in competition. Recently, due to health reasons, he has had to give up golfing but he hopes to get back on the course again soon.

His service to the community has continued throughout the years. Over time, his work as a council member has resulted in many civic improvements, including a walking track at the high school stadium, funding for new sidewalks in the village, new equipment for the fire and police departments, street repaving projects, and two more projects that he is especially pleased to have been part of.

He was instrumental in the late 1990s in helping bring a new steel mill and new jobs to the community. With a set of 10-year tax incentives from the village, the Ohio Coatings Co. mill continues to operate today, a rarity in the Ohio Valley.

The most meaningful project was working with the local Veterans of Foreign Wars to establish a monument to all war veterans, along with a World War II-era cannon, located at the village hall. The monument is special to him because his brother was killed in action in France in World War II.

“It’s a beautiful marble monument, and my wife Sally and I have undertaken the task of taking care of the monument, to do cleaning, waxing, and making sure flowers are planted,” he said. He also arranged for funding for the monument’s electric light.

The cannon was procured from a U.S. Army depot in Chambersburg, Pa. There is a certain amount of upkeep required on the cannon because it is still in fact owned by the U.S. government. “The village does not own the cannon — the Army can take it back if it’s ever needed,” he said with a chuckle.

Emerson was named the village historian when Yorkville celebrated its centennial in 2016, gathering memorabilia and speaking about the town’s history. “While I was researching the village’s history, I found a book that described the first council meeting,” he said. “There were no laws, no police, so that first meeting was about creating laws and what was needed to form a police department.”

In retirement, he and Sally are members of the Ohio State Buckeye Club and the Buckeye Boosters Club, and travel to many OSU football games; they help at the local food pantry, and enjoy get-togethers with their four children, 10 grandchildren and two great-granddaughters.

Among his most memorable trips are to the Dominican Republic for a nephew’s wedding, and to the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., to watch the Buckeyes win the 2002 National Championship. He is a member of the Yorkville Fire Department, has been involved with Relay For Life, and he meets friends every week at the Fairway Four Restaurant.

On June 20, 2013, he was recognized by the Ohio Senate for more than 50 years of service to his community as a council member.

“I don’t want to sit around and watch TV all the time. I just want to keep going,” he said. “Whatever I can do for the village, I’ll do it.”

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