Whitesburg KY
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Moments and Memories of WHS




Whitesburg resident honored with prestigious

John Campanius Holm


On Wednesday, April 4, 2018, the National Weather Service (NWS) honored Mr. Major Sparks (WHS Class of 1957), the volunteer Cooperative Observer located at Whitesburg, with the prestigious John Campanius Holm Award. This award honors cooperative weather observers for outstanding accomplishments in the field of meteorological observations. Mr. Sparks was selected from an estimated group of 12,000 weather observers nationwide to receive this award. Only 25 Holm Awards are given annually across the nation.

Mr. Sparks has been providing weather observations on a volunteer basis for more than 20 years. These observations consist of temperature, precipitation and significant weather conditions. Mr. Sparks first started taking weather observations on Oct. 1, 1997 and continues to reliably do so as of this date.

Mr. Sparks was presented the Holm Award by Mr. Shawn Harley, Meteorologist In-Charge (MIC) for the National Weather Service Office in Jackson.

Cooperative weather observers provide a valuable service

In 1933, the Secretary of Agriculture, Henry Wallace, along with a science advisory group, told President Roosevelt that the Cooperative Program is one of the most extraordinary services ever developed, netting the public more per dollar expended than any other government service in the world. That statement is still valid today, with estimates of cooperative observers volunteering their time of over a million hours a year gathering essential data for the national climate database.

Climatological records get more valuable with time. The climatological base generated through the efforts of the volunteer Cooperative Weather Observer provides not only the cornerstone of our nation’s weather history, but also serves as the primary data for research into global climatic change.

On a local level, the observations received by volunteer observers are fundamental in helping the NWS protect life and property. Forecasts are often based on observer data, and even warnings for severe weather have been issued based on information received from a volunteer.

Individual awards for outstanding service

The two most prestigious awards given by the NWS are the Thomas Jefferson Award and the John Campanius Holm Award. Both awards were created in 1959 for the NWS to honor cooperative weather observers. The first of each award was presented in 1960. To be eligible for these awards, observers’ excellence must include accuracy, promptness, legibility, cooperation, consistency, and care of equipment. These things must have been done over a long period of time (i.e. 20 years for the Holm Award, and at least five years minimum after receipt of the Holm Award for the Jefferson).

A description of each award is listed below:

Thomas Jefferson Award — This award is to honor cooperative weather observers for unusual and outstanding achievements in the field of meteorological observa- tions. It is the highest award the NWS presents to volunteer observers. This award is named for Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States. Jefferson was extremely interested in weather and maintained an almost unbroken series of weather observations from 1776 to 1816. Only five of these coveted awards are given out annually. To be eligible for the Jefferson Award, a candidate must have received the Holm Award at least five years prior and must still be performing his/her duties.

John Campanius Holm Award — This award is to honor cooperative observers for outstanding accomplishments in the field of meteorological observations. It is named for a Lutheran minister, the first person known to have taken systematic weather observations in the American colonies. The Reverend Holm made observations of climate without the use of instruments in 1644 and 1645, near the present site of Wilmington, Delaware. Only 25 Holm Awards are given out annually.

In 1776, Thomas Jefferson began to recruit volunteer weather observers throughout Virginia. By 1800, there were volunteer observers in five other states across the newborn nation. These states included Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New York, and North Carolina. In 1891, the network of volunteer weather observers across the country had grown to 2,000 stations.

In 1890, the growing volunteer force was taken over by the Smithsonian Institution. It was not until 1953 that a plan was established to evenly blanket the nation with volunteer weather observers. Dr. Helmut Landsberg of the Weather Bureau (now the National Weather Service) conducted a study with Iowa State University to establish a method of filling in the open spaces of this volunteer network. As a result of this study, it was determined that there should be one weather station every 25 miles for estimating rainfall within an accuracy tolerance of 10 percent. By 1990, the network had expanded to 10,000 sites. The most recent statistics estimate that there are 12,000 volunteer cooperative observers in the United States.

This Far and Farther by Annaleigh Combs

The motto of the graduating class of 1957 is “This Far and Farther” and it certainly has a message in itself.

It seems that only yesterday we were taken by our parents to meet our first new teacher. Some of us were eager, yet a few very unhappy about going to school. Even though we sometimes tried to stop, our parents stayed behind us giving to us the constant push that has helped all through our school days. But now it is time for us to plan our career or future without the aid of our parents. It is time for us to stand on our own two feet. Do not get the impression that we are not grateful for all that has been done for us. We would like to take this opportunity to thank our parents for financing and guiding us for the past 12 years, our classmates and friends for being so nice and helpful to us, and last but certainly not least, our teachers for taking so much interest in us and being always ready to help in everything we undertake. We are the beneficiaries of an experience that we will always take with us wherever we may go. Once again thanks for everything.

Advertisers for the 1957 Yellowjacket Yearbook were: Rainbow Grille, Craft’s Department Stores, Main Street Service Station, KYVA Motor Company, Kentucky Power Company, Bentley Grocery, Letcher Electric Company, Quillen Drug, West End Market, Reynolds Furniture, John Sexton & Co., Quentin R. Terry, Josten’s, Ky. W.Va. Armature Co., Lewis Wholesale, Holstein Hardware, Whitesburg Insurance Agency, Pet Dairy, Bunny Bread, Southeast School Assemblies, Royal Crown Cola, Mitchell’s Superette, Elmer’s Market, Johnson Funeral Home, Superintendent and Mrs. W. B. Hall, Coca-Cola, Craft Funeral Homes, Club Lunch, Polly Hardware and Supply, J. Clyde Frazier, Home Lumber Company.

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