Man of the Hour: Oldham Countian of the Year Awarded

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Jeffries honored for "above-and-beyond" community service

By Tracy Harris

For 47 years, the Oldham Chamber and Economic Development has recognized one person annually for going above and beyond their commitment to the county.

Those people are honored as Oldham Countian of the Year, and the list grew on Tuesday.

"This year, our honoree is someone that is not in the mainstream of politics, business or chamber work," said Deana Epperly Karem, executive director of the chamber, but who has a passion for the county that is "deeply ingrained in all that he does and stands for."

Lifetime resident Kevin Jeffries received the award in recognition of his dedication to Oldham's agricultural heritage and community service.

The recipient is kept secret until the event, where a video montage of comments is played for the winner. Those who wrote nominations, along with other family and friends, share their experiences with the recipient during the video.

"He knows what community leadership is all about," said Duane Murner in the video.

Kurt Mason, District Conservationist with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, agreed.

"Kevin was willing to give up his own personal time for the good of the community," he said. Jeffries and Mason are both on the board for the Oldham County Conservation District.

Mason also recognized Jeffries for his commitment to conservation.

"He practices what he believes in," he said. "He's made a difference in the way land use looks and policies are made and just a lot of difference in the way people farm."

Sister Cindy Barr said Jeffries "loves conservation."

"I think probably those moments in the combine when he's out there running and just has time to think and be to himself are some of his happiest moments," said Magistrate Kevin Eldridge.

"He's certainly a man of the soil, that's for sure," Murner said.

Jeffries has some modern farming skills, too. Steve Greenwell, magistrate and fellow farmer, talked about Jeffries love of any gadget that starts with an "I."

"Kevin will have his maps on his phone, have his production on his phone," Greenwell said. "So if he's standing out in the middle of the field and he's got a question, he just looks at his phone and there it is."

That, Greenwell said, is something most people probably don't know about him.

Deana Epperly Karem, executive director of the chamber, said Jeffries is a "man of character who says what he means and means what he says."

"Kevin stands out in our community because he's truly honest," said Eldridge. "I've never had him tell me anything that I didn't know I could take to the bank.

The video concluded with congratulations from interviewees.

"You are an extraordinary leader and an extraordinary asset to our county and a great friend to me," Murner said.

Greenwell added that he "jumped at the chance to write a letter of recommendation" for Jeffries' nomination.

Jeffries served as chairman of Oldham County Planning and Development and president of the state association of conservation districts. He is also known for his leadership of the Oldham County Farm Bureau and Kentucky Farm Bureau.

Jeffries and his family have been farming in Oldham County for over 60 years.

"Each year this event amazes me," Karem said. "We received more than 10 nominations for this honor for the third year in a row."

Past recipients include Clayton Stoess, Sr. (1971), Jim Hannah (1988), Bill Howard (1996), Fran Scott (2004), George Parrish (2006), Joe McWilliams (2007), Gary Haupt (2008), Dennis Johnson (2009) and Kurt Vezner (2010).