ROCKSPRINGS — The Meigs Local Alumni Association will honor its 11th class of Distinguished Alumni and Distinguished Service Award recipients prior to Friday night’s Homecoming game at Meigs High School.
The 2017 Distinguished Alumni and Distinguished Service honorees are Michael Bartrum, Tom Reed, John Tannehill and Jennifer Lohse Sheets.
Michael Bartrum is a graduate of the Class of 1988.
Anita Hajivandi shared in nominating Bartrum for the honor, “I lived away from Meigs County for 26 years, I honestly, until my daughter Faith began preschool, had never heard of ‘Michael Bartrum.’ I have never seen Michael play football. I know very little about football; what I do know about is sincerity, and a willingness to make a difference in the lives of others, to be the change and to pray others follow. I know Michael as a great PE instructor to preschool children and a kind, humble person who has done more for this community, as a whole than I believe any other Meigs High School graduate…not for glory or applause, just because he saw needs and found ways to meet them.”
As a student at Meigs High School, Bartrum was a member of the National Honor Society and a 3-plus sport athlete consisting of football, basketball, baseball and a very short senior year track effort. After graduating from Meigs High School, he attended Marshall University where he played football for four years as a tight end and doubled up his junior year to also play baseball. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Special Education. While at Marshall University, he was consistently on the Dean’s List, a three year varsity football letterman, Captain of the 1992 National Champion Thundering Herd Football Team, and the recipient of the Marshall University Buck Harless Student Athlete of the Year Award in 1992. Bartrum and his high school sweetheart, Jennifer Taylor, were married in the summer of 1992, in Middleport, Ohio.
After his career at Marshall, Michael signed in 1993 as a free agent beginning his NFL career as a Kansas City Chief. He was blessed to play for 13 years on teams including the Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles. He also played in two Super Bowls and one Pro Bowl. While playing in the NFL, Bartrum was nominated, by his fellow teammates, to be an NFL Player Rep in 2004, 2005, and 2006. He also chose to further his education in 2006 through an NFL Entrepreneurship at the Wharton School of Business in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
During his college and NFL years, Bartrum came home to Meigs County as much as possible. He has always considered himself a hometown boy. In 1997, Michael and former Marshall and then current New England Patriot teammate, Troy Brown, began the “Bartrum and Brown Football Camp” with the shared vision of “giving back” to their respective home towns. They continued the camps until 2007, thereby enabling them to contribute over $250,000 to organizations in Meigs County and Huntington, West Virginia. Most notable, Bartrum donated tens of thousands of dollars to the Meigs Football Program, providing weights for the field house and funds to assist then Head Coach, Mike Chancey’s various needs for the football team.
He and his family returned to live in Meigs County in the off-seasons beginning in 2002. During this time, along with several close friends and family, he and his wife Jennifer recognized the need for a preschool and together made it happen in 2004, starting the New Horizons Childhood Enrichment Center in Pomeroy to provide a much needed Christian preschool for this community.
2007 was a big year of change for Michael as he not only retired from the NFL, but he also started and ran the Meigs/NFL Flag Football League until 2013, as well as helped to found the Meigs Local Enrichment Foundation. The MLEF was founded with the mission to enrich our Meigs Local community including the planning, fundraising, implementation, and following through for the past 10 years to build and finish payments for this stadium, track, softball field, cross country course, and practice field. He helped to raise over two million dollars that many naysayers said couldn’t happen. Well, it happened beautifully, with the help of several other believers and hard workers from our community that were recognized previously this season as the debt has been paid.
Currently, Bartrum is the head football coach at Meigs High School, home of his alma mater and our Mighty Marauders. Also, he has proudly served as a Meigs County Commissioner since 2009, continually building upon his goal of positive change in the county he calls home.
He resides in Pomeroy, Ohio, with his wife Jennifer, and his sons, Cody, Zachary and Ty, and his daughter, Taylor, who he feels are his greatest accomplishments. He’s coached his children in everything from Rutland Reds baseball, AAU basketball to Meigs Football, and is currently, coaching one of his own #1, Zachy B, on this field tonight.
Tom Reed is a graduate of the Class of 197.
Reed is the Executive Director of the Gallia-Meigs Community Action Agency. Over the past 33 years, he has worked in many various positions within the Community Action network with a primary focus on employment and training. It was the Community Action slogan of “Helping People Help Themselves” that made for an easy career choice for Reed.
He is currently serving as the board president of The Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies. This state association represents all 50 Community Action Agencies in the State of Ohio. Previously he served as board Chair for the Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development which is a consortium of 17 community action agencies in Southeastern Ohio. He also serves on the boards of the Ohio CDC association and Mid-America Community Action Association. He recently received the Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development’s “Generals” Award for his Outstanding Contributions and Commitment to the People of Appalachia Ohio in the war on Poverty.
Active in his community, Reed serves on many local committees including Past President of the Meigs County Chamber of Commerce, the Meigs County Local Emergency Planning Commission, and Serenity House Shelter and also serves on the board for the River City Players. He also serves on the board of directors of the Farmers Bank and Savings Company.
A graduate of Marietta College, Tom lives in Pomeroy, Ohio with his wife, retired Meigs High School teacher Kathy. They are the parents of Meigs Class of 2007 alumni Dru.
It was Tom, his brother Paul and Toney Dingess who planted the seed that grew into the Reunion on the River.
John Tannehill, a native of Middleport, attended Meigs High School from 1966 to 1969. He was the top-rated player on the U.S National Table Tennis Team in 1971.
In that same year, Tannehill and the U.S. Team had the honor of being invited to China on a trip dubbed, “Ping Pong Diplomacy.” It was this trip that paved the way for President Richard Nixon’s trip to China the next year, opening relations between the U.S. and Chinese governments for the first time in 22 years. In 2006, John was inducted into the U.S. Table Tennis Hall of Fame for his outstanding achievements in the sport.
None of these accomplishments could have been achieved with just the lonely determination of a teenager. When John was a young man, Chester, John’s father, drove him to Columbus from Middleport almost every weekend for nine years. It was during these trips to Columbus that Tannehill met not only the National Champion at the time, but also the best players in the world. It was working with these esteemed players that allowed him to become one of the best table tennis players in U.S. history.
Now, nearly 50 years later, Tannehill lives in Columbus, and continues to play and coach the game at the Columbus Table Tennis Club.
Jennifer Lohse Sheets, Distinguished Service Award
Jennifer Lohse Sheets is a lifelong resident of Meigs County. Her husband, Jim Sheets, was a chemistry and science teacher and wrestling coach at Meigs High School, and their three sons, Jared, Aaron and Adam Sheets all graduated from Meigs High School.
Jennifer Sheets also co-authored the Meigs High School Alma Mater. She and her late brother, Jim Lohse, submitted one of seven entries in the competition for the new alma mater. With assistance from the high school band, these seven entries were narrowed to three, which were then voted on by the student body. Maroon and Gold, written by Jim Lohse and Jennifer Lohse Sheets, received 70 percent of the total vote and became the official alma mater of Meigs High School in May of 1968.
Sheets graduated Summa Cum Laude from The Ohio State University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in home economics. She then worked for the Ohio Cooperative Extension Service as a county extension agent in Highland and Meigs Counties. After the birth of their three sons, Jennifer commuted to Capital Law School in Columbus for four years, graduating first in the class in 1982. She currently practices law with Doug Little and Mick Barr at Little, Sheets & Barr in Pomeroy.
Sheets is proud to live in Meigs County and has given the county countless hours of community service on the Meigs Local Board of Education, as a 4-H advisor, and on numerous boards and committees, including the Meigs County Historical Society, the Library Board, the Community Action Board, the Meigs County Council on Aging Board of Trustees, and many others. Currently, she is a member of the Home National Bank Board of Directors, treasurer of the Meigs County Community Improvement Corporation, president of the Meigs County Community Fund, and treasurer of the Harrisonville Presbyterian Church. In 2004, Sheets received the Women Making A Difference in Meigs County award. She also served 14 years on the Ohio State Board of Education where she was elected to five two-year terms as president. In 2009, she received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of State Boards of Education.
Sheets has an interest is music, and she has enjoyed a lifetime of musical activities, serving as accompanist for the Rio Grande Masterworks Choral and for countless community productions and church choirs. She also performed dozens of programs on the music and folklore of Appalachia throughout southern Ohio and was an artist in the schools in 36 Columbus elementary schools. Her family started the Foothills Music Foundation which is dedicated to encouraging, promoting and supporting music and art in the foothills region of Ohio, and they have developed a music venue on the family farm somewhere near Harrisonville, Ohio. Jennifer plays keyboard in the Mudfork Blues Band with her two sons, Jared and Adam; her daughter-in-law, Laura; her grandchildren, Cara and James; and her brother, John Lohse. She said making music with her family and sharing it with others is one of the greatest joys of her life.
Previous Distinguished Alumni/Distinguished Service Award winners were as follows:
2007 — Distinguished Service, James A. Diehl Jr.; Distinguished Alumni, Colonel Mark Morris, Gary Nakamoto, Dr. Franklin Rizer II.
2008 — Distinguished Service, James and Susie Soulsby; Distinguished Alumni, Master Sgt. Roger Carpenter Jr., Dr. Kevin King, Lt. Col. Jennifer Menchini Kirby.
2009 — Distinguished Service, Coach Charles Chancey; Distinguished Alumni, Chief Petty Officer Jeffrey Shiflet and Connie Grueser Carleton.
2010 — Distinguished Service, Jack and Rita Slavin; Distinguished Alumni, Dave Hoffman, Jan Michael Long, Morgan Mathews, and Evan Shaw.
2011 — Distinguished Service, Fenton and Jeannie Taylor; Distinguished Alumni, Christopher Hall, John Krawsczyn, John Morris, Paul Reed.
2012 — Distinguished Service, Toney Dingess; Distinguished Alumni, Mike Chancey, Mary Holman Funk, Jennifer Buck Mouat, Milisa Rizer, and Scott Powell.
2013 — Distinguished Service, Paul Gerard; Distinguished Alumni, Karen Griffith, Bill Kerr, Rick Van Matre and Dr. Rob Wyatt.
2014 — Distinguished Service, Judy Sauer Crooks; Distinguished Alumni, Kenny Napper, Frank Blake and Dr. Jay Dewhurst.
2015 — Distinguished Service, Dale Harrison; Distinguished Alumni, Tom Cremeans, Chrissy Weaver Musser, the late Dr. James L. Schmoll and Jo Ellen Diehl Yeary.
2016 — Distinguished Service, Kathy Reed; Distinguished Alumni, Dr. Jared Sheets, SMSgt. Christopher L. Knight, and Jackie Welker.
Information provided by the Meigs Local Alumni Association.