The Tuscarawas County Historical Society has announced the 2019 winners of the Zeisberger Heckewelder Award — Chris Hart, Kerry Metzger, Jan McInturf, and the Rainbow Connection.
The Award is given annually to those people and organizations who exemplify making Tuscarawas County a better place to live through the promotion of local history, service to the community, and in leadership roles that assist the citizens of Tuscarawas County.
The 2019 Founders Day Banquet to honor the recipients will be held on May 14 at the Tuscora Park Pavilion. The Tuscarawas County Historical Society will also present its 3rd Thomas and Lucille Yeager Memorial Scholarship to a Tuscarawas or Carroll County high school senior that evening.
The Founders Day Banquet will begin at 6 p.m. with a social, a buffet dinner at 6:30, followed by the presentation of awards. Reservations can be made by contacting the Society at 330-308-7494 or sending names and payment to Tuscarawas County Historical Society; P.O. Box 462; New Philadelphia, OH 44663. Reservations are guaranteed upon receipt of payment. The cost is $17 per adult, and $10 per child age 12 and under.
Chris Hart lives near Port Washington and brings a lot of character, and characters, to the award. By profession, Hart is a pharmacist and has worked extensively giving presentations on chemical dependency and currently teaches at seven institutions of higher learning on the subject. By passion, Hart is a first-person interpreter and storyteller of history, bringing to life over 50 historical figures — Martin Luther, Sherlock Holmes, Cy Young, along with a canal boat captain, and a Titanic survivor — just to name a few. He has also worked at Roscoe Village and on Schoenbrunn Village’s Sleepy Hollow.
Kerry Metzger is a longtime public servant from Tuscarawas County and recently retired as a Tuscarawas County Commissioner. Along with his public service, Metzger has been very active in preserving the historical character of Tuscarawas County. He was a dentist, who became a politician. He spent 31 years as a New Philadelphia City Council Member, a lawmaker in the Ohio House of Representatives, and a Tuscarawas County Commissioner. He learned about community service as a member of the New Philadelphia Jaycees.
He won his first election in 1986 as the Ward 2 city councilman. He was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives in 1994 and was there until 2002, when he could no longer serve due to term limits. He then decided to run for County Commissioner. As a county commissioner, he was involved in the celebration of the county’s Bicentennial in 2008 and in the most recent restoration of the county courthouse.
Jan McInturf is a local Realtor. When he started his own realty business, he saved an old Victorian home on Tuscarawas Avenue NW in New Philadelphia to convert into his offices. Professionally, he has consistently won awards from the Ohio Association of Realtors for sales volume. The Tuscarawas County Chamber of Commerce named him Citizen of the Year in 2017 for his contributions to the community. He is a lifelong resident of New Philadelphia, and supports the community through the Lions Club, Quaker Foundation, and Tuscora Park Board. One of the biggest ways that he gives back to the community is through McInturf Realty’s Christmas in the Park, which has been held for the past 22 years, growing every year and attracting thousands of attendees. The family event is a gift to the community with entertainment, carriage rides through Storybook Lane, park rides, a live nativity, and Santa.
The Rainbow Connection is this year’s organizational award winner. In 2017 the Rainbow Connection gave $220,047 in assistance to over 10,000 children and adults in Tuscarawas County. One hundred percent of the money donated to the Rainbow Connection stays in the county.
Originally organized in 1950 as the Tuscarawas Society for Crippled Children and Adults, in 1981 it became known as the Tuscarawas Easter Seal Society. In 1992, the organization left the Easter Seal umbrella to continue its mission to serve the people of Tuscarawas County. The Rainbow Connection provides services such as medical supplies and equipment; medical bill and prescription assistance; and technological assistance, along with programming for children with autism; children and adults with cancer, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis; and maternity and infant care programs. The theme of its children’s programming is "Giving Children the Hope of Tomorrow." The society is comprised of a dedicated volunteer board of directors.