Located in the hills of southeastern Ohio, smack dab in the middle of the Wayne National Forest, is Benton Township. Most surrounding townships in Monroe County are small, but none are smaller than Benton Township with a population of 312 people. This is home to Dale Dietrich, a local trustee since 1998 and a member of the OTA Board of Directors.
Dietrich and his fellow trustees don’t have any backup to complete tasks in the township or fix things when they break down. They plow the roads and do most of the maintenance that is required with a yearly budget of $125,000. Despite the limited financial resources, Dale can’t imagine another system working any better.
“I truly believe that the township form of government, as it was founded with the charter of the state of Ohio in 1803, was a mechanism for local people to have local say over their political system and be able to get their thoughts and ideas out to make improvements to their community,” says Dietrich. “I still feel that idea today is vitally important, especially in the rural areas.”
Dietrich, who has a long history of community involvement, started a scholarship fund as president of the Monroe County Township Association. The township association raised money through a dessert auction at its annual spring meeting, where he doubled as the auctioneer.
Dietrich and wife Sandra have five children, 11 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. In 2008, Dale retired from Bayer Material Sciences, a division of Bayer Pharmaceuticals, after 37 years of working in the chemical division’s maintenance department. He was also a Naval Reserve petty officer for 27 years before retiring. He still owns 70 acres of his original 250 acres of cropland.