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MEMORIAL: Louis Stokes’ legacy in Northeast Ohio touches environment, infrastructure, education

By U.S. Congress [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Congressman Louis Stokes was known for many things. While his actions to protect clean water may not be one of them, it should be.

Congressman Stokes, who passed away Tuesday after a battle with cancer, was pivotal in securing Federal funding for Northeast Ohio infrastructure that helped improve and further protect the water quality of Lake Erie.

“Congressman Stokes had an impact on our region that is broad and
lasting,” said our Director of Administration and External Affairs
Constance T. Haqq. “His focus on civil rights and the poor is well known, but our clean-water infrastructure was also something that improved through his influence.”

While Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Congressman Stokes secured more than $60 million in special appropriations in the early 1990s to convert our Westerly Wastewater Treatment Plant from a failed physical-treatment process to a new biological facility.

In 1998, the Sewer District established the Louis Stokes Environmental Studies Scholarship in his honor to provide assistance to deserving Central State University students majoring in Water Resources Management, Industrial Technology, and Environmental Engineering.

Denise Phillips was a Central State University student and a recipient of the Stokes Scholarship. She is currently an Investigator in our Water Quality & Industrial Surveillance department. “The scholarship provided me with the opportunity to intern with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District,” she said. “I’m pursuing my career at the Sewer District in a field that I love. This scholarship was life-changing for me and I am so grateful to Louis Stokes for this wonderful opportunity.”

“I admire Mr. Stokes’ legacy,” said Lamar Legrone, a 2011-2013 Stokes scholarship recipient. “His dedication to Cleveland and his role in Congress opened doors for many inner-city students.”

Fellow recipient Daniel Peoples (2013-2015) agreed. “Mr. Stokes gave urban youths a much better situation. He will be missed.”