COLUMBUS—State Representatives Anthony DeVitis (R-Uniontown) and Marilyn Slaby (R-Copley) announced today that the governor signed legislation designating the Portage Lakes area in Summit County as the Purple Martin Capital of Ohio.

Eight members of the Portage Lakes Purple Martin Association attended the House Bill 404 bill signing with Governor Kasich. “I would like to thank all of our representatives for making the passing and signing of HB 404 possible,” said President Paul Toth. “It recognizes the abilities of what small groups can accomplish with persistence and belief of common goals.” The members attending included Paul Toth, Larry Hunter, Jim and Margaret Frost, Betty Seeley, Carol Saurer, Tom Fry and Kay Lukac. “Our thanks to Representative Slaby, Representative DeVitis, Senator LaRose and Governor Kasich for making this a memorable experience,” said Larry Hunter.

“HB 404 will bring an increased awareness of the value of the Purple Martin in the Portage Lakes area,” said Representative DeVitis. “Helping them prosper in their natural habitat will greatly contribute to the Purple Martins’ ability to reduce the need of using harmful chemicals to control insects in our community.” 

The organization is dedicated to helping the Purple Martin thrive around Portage Lakes. They have dedicated themselves to educating the public about the birds and they appreciate the support from the community. Member Kay Lukac said the organization is extremely committed to the survival of the Purple Martin, which involves erecting homes, feeding and banding the birds.  

As the Purple Martin Capital of Ohio, it is expected the question will be asked, ‘What’s a Purple Martin?’  The Portage Lakes Advisory Council hosts several activities a year to educate the public. Hunter explained that the Purple Martin is in decline because people are not erecting housing for the birds. “Martins for the most part nest in man-made houses,” replied Hunter, the chief advisor, “and are beneficial to the community because they control insects.” Every year the organization increases community involvement and awareness. “We tackle a few projects each year and it has resulted in a really neat project that works well for the birds and the community,” Hunter said.

Hunter summed it up perfectly, “This has exceeded my wildest dream, and we went from one nesting pair in 2000 to the Purple Martin Capital in 2014.”

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