SIDNEY — City of Sidney Park Ranger Justin Aselage has been named a finalist in ServiceWear Apparel’s Annual Park Ranger of the Year MVP Award. Located in Nashville, Tennessee, ServiceWear Apparel named the 12 semi-finalists earlier in December.
The other semi-finalists represent parks from across the country. Those parks include Lake Guntersville State Park in Alabama, Oscar Scherer State Park and the city of Menifee, both in California, the city of Arvada in Colorado, the city of Ocala Parks and Recreation Department, and the city of Cape Coral Parks and Recreation Department, both in Florida, Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park in Kentucky, Muskogee State Park, and Ludington State Park, all in Michigan, the Springfield-Greene County Park System in Missouri, and, Three Island Crossing in Idaho.
Aselage was nominated for the honor by Parks and Recreation Director Duane Gaier. In addition to bragging rights, the award includes a $1,000 cash prize and $1,000 worth of ServiceWear Apparel for the parks department.
In his nomination, Gaier wrote in part that “Ranger Justin Aselage started working for the Sidney Parks and Recreation Department in June of 2013. Within just a few months after his instruction with a Sidney Police Department training officer, Ranger Aselage apprehended a bank robber. While that is impressive for someone with so little service time, he has been an even bigger asset to the city as a ranger in the parks.
“Ranger Aselage is interactive with the citizens in the city’s more than 450 acres of park land,” Gaier continued. “We frequently receive compliments about his demeanor, even when he is writing a warning or a ticket. He is a public relation star for the parks department and the City of Sidney. He interacts with children throughout the year by being a part of the city’s recreation programs. He has implemented a nature walk program for kids in the summer, met with grade schools and provided the educational experience for busloads of students.”
In the nomination letter, Gaier pointed out the role Aselage plays during the course of his duties. “During the recent 70th Anniversary celebration for the 220-acre Tawawa Park nature preserve, he offered a nature walk to those that came out to the celebration. Notes from educators are sent in to the department thanking him for his time and patience with the young children and comment how interactive he is with the kids.
“Ranger Aselage also assists the Sidney Police Department with parade details,” Gaier continued in his letter of nomination, “backups officers in domestic incidents, and has been the lead during several pursuits within the city. The road patrol officers appreciate his readiness to assist them during what are often tense situations.
“While the city parks are still open during the winter months,” Gaier continued, “the cold weather obviously reduces the number of park patrons. Ranger Aselage takes off his uniform during this time and assists with maintenance in the department. From pouring concrete, installing play equipment, plowing snow and taking the lead with the parks department’s Ash tree remediation program, Justin is willing to assist the staff wherever he can.
“Under his leadership,” Gaier stated, “park staff and contractors have removed over 1000 Ash trees in the parks that died due to the Emerald Ash Borer. While on patrol during the summer months, Justin completes a triage in the parks and prioritizes which trees need to be removed for safety reasons. He then determines which trees will be removed by parks staff and which are to be felled by a contracted certified arborist. He works closely with both contractors and staff to make sure the removals are done in a safe and timely manner.
“In closing,” Gaier’s letter concluded, “Ranger Justin Aselage has made his mark in the department and in the community with his open personality, love of children and nature and his work ethic.“
“Ranger Aselage does a tremendous job,” Sidney City Manager Mark Cundiff stated when he learned of Aselage’s selection as a finalist in the competition. “Not only is Justin a tremendously talented naturalist, he is highly motivated, has excellent communication skills, and has great stamina. He certainly has my vote, and I’d encourage others to cast their votes for him as well!”
Aselage, a 2008 graduate of Fort Loramie High School, currently resides in Russia with his wife, Megan, and their two sons, Gabriel and Carson. Aselage holds an associate’s degree from Hocking College, where he majored in natural resources law enforcement. He also holds certification in watercraft operation, wildland firefighting, and is a certified interpretive guide.
The award winner is selected though online voting. Readers are encouraged to visit the company’s website (http://www.servicewearapparel.com/ranger/semifinalists.php.) and cast their vote.