Lou Holtz/Ohio Valley Hall of Fame inductees announced

EAST LIVERPOOL – The Lou Holtz/Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame has announced the Class of 2018, which will be inducted at ceremonies June 4 at St. Florian Hall in Wintersville.

The 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award will go to the late Dale Baird, who came to the Upper Ohio Valley from Illinois and made it his home, training horses at what was then Waterford Park and would become Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort. He logged an unprecedented 9,445 career wins, landing a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Those in the Class of 2018 include:

• John Buccigross. A Steubenville Catholic Central High School graduate, he has been an anchor since 1996 at ESPN, where he also has penned an NHL column. He authored a book on the NHL career of Keith Jones and is on the advisory board of You Can Play.

• Virginia Conklin of Chester. She was a longtime educator in the Hancock County school system, and during World War II she served the United States in the Coast Guard women’s reserve unit, called S.P.A.R.S.

• Joe Yukica, who originally hails from Midland, Pa. He is a Penn State graduate who coached on the gridiron at the high school level, moving on to collegiate coaching where his career included stints at Penn State, West Chester State College, Dartmouth, New Hampshire University and Boston College, with an overall 17-year record of 104-68-2.

This year’s guest speaker and recipient of the 2018 Distinguished American Award is former NFL running back Merril Hoge. An eight-year NFL veteran, Hoge spent several of those years with the Pittsburgh Steelers. A former ESPN analyst and a survivor of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Hoge is chairman and a member of the board of the Highmark Caring Foundation.

Tickets for the induction banquet are on sale now and are only available through the hall of fame. The ticket price of $135 includes admission to the appetizer and dinner portion of the evening, the ceremony, a keepsake program and an event favor as well as a ticket on a prize drawing. During the evening’s activities, tickets will be drawn for cash prizes of $500, $1,000 and $2,500. Winners must be present and show identification.

In keeping with the 20-year anniversary theme of “Giving Thanks for 20 Great Years,” this year’s buffet dinner will feature a full Thanksgiving-style menu with roast turkey, ham and all the seasonal side dishes.

Appetizers are at 6 p.m. Dinner is at 6:30 p.m. followed by the induction program. Doors open at 5:45 p.m.

Tickets may be placed on reserve now for those who plan to attend but wish to delay their purchase until closer to the event. Reserved tickets must be paid for no later than March 4 or they will be released back into inventory.

This year, in conjunction with the 20th anniversary, the hall will accept nominations to recognize 20 Under 20 – 20 young people from around the Upper Ohio Valley who are excelling in their pursuits and giving back to their communities.

Those eligible are residents of Beaver, Hancock, Brooke, Ohio, Columbiana and Jefferson counties who will be at least 10 years old but no older than 19 years old on June 4.

The nominees should show a pursuit of excellence in either academics or extracurricular activities such as athletics, art, music, theater, etc., and also should have demonstrated some type of concern and stewardship for the community in which they live or the world at large, either by membership in organized group activities or development of an individual project.

Those selected each will receive a ticket for themselves and a guest to attend the banquet, where they will be profiled in the program and acknowledged. Each will receive a certificate of recognition signed by Lou Holtz.

Nomination forms are available at the Hall of Fame or can be printed from the Web site at louholtzhalloffame.com. The deadline for submitting a nomination is April 4.

Businesses or individuals interested in being event sponsors or advertising in the program can contact the hall. Event sponsors at various levels receive tickets, recognition in the program and at the banquet hall, a thank-you gift from Holtz and exclusive entry to a VIP reception the morning of the event for the unveiling of inductee displays and a photo opportunity with Holtz and other inductees.

The hall, which opened in 1998 in the former Bank One building on East Fifth Street, is celebrating its 20th year as a museum for sports, history, motivation and more. Since its inception, nearly $1 million has been distributed to vocational students and educators in the Upper Ohio Valley.

The hall was originally conceived as a facility to celebrate the achievements of Holtz, East Liverpool’s favorite son. When approached, Holtz initially declined and later relented, providing that the concept be expanded to recognize residents and natives of the Upper Ohio Valley in all fields of endeavor who serve as inspirations for the area’s young people. Holtz expressed his desire for the hall to help preserve the rich cultural heritage of the communities that make up the valley.

The hall is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. There is no admission fee, however donations are welcome. Area schools can schedule class field trips, and local organizations can arrange group tours. For information, call (330) 386-5443.