JACKSON — A local boy that grew up in Jackson and later became the Mayor of the City of Jackson has been named this year’s Jackson Apple Festival Grand Marshal.
Randy Heath served three, four-year terms (12 years) as Jackson Mayor before deciding not to seek re-election in 2019.
Heath saw many achievements in his 12-year tenure as mayor.
Looking back, he was a part of such projects as The Speyside Bourbon Cooperage locating to Jackson, the acquisition of the Ohio South Central Railroad, and the complete reconstruction of McCarty Lane from Route 35 to Route 93, to name a few.
Also during his term as mayor, his administration garnered more than $8 million in grants for the city and updated the city’s utility infrastructure, especially in the area of electricity.
He served one term as president of the Southeastern Ohio Mayor’s Partnership for Progress and was on the state-wide executive committee for the Mayor’s Association of Ohio.
Heath also served as Executive Director of the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce, holding that position for almost 25 years when he resigned in 2020.
In 2005, he was selected as the Ohio Chamber Executive of the Year by the Chamber Of Commerce Executives of Ohio. He also served six years on its state-wide board of directors.
Heath was the creator of the Jackson County Spring Showcase and the inspiration for the city’s Christmas Decoration program.
He is still a current member of the board of directors of the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce.
Heath is a graduate of Jackson High School’s Class of 1972. Since graduation, he has worn many hats. Heath has led a very active life that has seen him enjoying notable success and gained numerous honors in many areas as well as donating countless hours to others.
Prior to becoming mayor, Heath had vast experience in municipal government. He served on Jackson City Council for four terms (8 years). He was the city government reporter for Jackson newspapers for more than a decade, was the city’s recreation director, and was a youth volunteer coach for over 600 games.
He worked for more than 25 years in the journalism field as an assistant editor and sports editor winning many awards and becoming the youngest person and the first ever from a non-daily newspaper to be inducted into the Ohio Prep Sportswriter Hall of Fame.
For 27 years, he served as the public address announcer for Jackson High School football and basketball games. During basketball games, he had the unique talent of both broadcasting the live radio play-by-play and announcing each basket made over the public address system at the same time, using two different microphones.
He also served as treasurer for the 24-county Ohio’s Appalachian Country tourism marketing organization and served as the secretary for the seven-county U. S. Route 35 Steering Committee, which was organized to promote the improvements on U. S. 35, and was secretary when the highway from Dayton to Gallipolis was completed as a full four-lane highway.
He was a member of the executive committee for the Jackson County Economic Development Partnership for more than a decade and served as its chairman as well. He is currently a member of its full board.
Heath was dedicated to the care of his parents until their deaths. His father passed at age 95, and his mother at age 86. His grandfather, Elwood P. Dickason was one of the four members of the first graduating class of Jackson High School in 1876.
He is also a long-time member of the executive committee of the 11-county Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission (OVRDC), which is made up of 12 southeastern Ohio counties and is a partner with the Appalachian Regional Commission in gaining grants and aid plus developing economic opportunities for the region.
In 2019, he was named the chairman of the organization, becoming only the second non-county commissioner and first-ever person from Jackson County elected to that position in the organization’s 52-year history.
He has also been honored as the OVRDC’s Full Commission Member of the Year.
Since 2005, he has represented Jackson County as a member of the board of directors for the Southern Ohio Diversification Initiative, an organization that is responsible for facilitating the economic re-use of the former Atomic Energy Plant at Piketon.
He is a member of the Jackson Rotary Club, where he had a mark of 10 years of perfect attendance.
He is a former Jackson Rotary Club president and was honored as a Paul Harris Fellow, Rotary’s highest honor.
Heath told The Courier that being chosen as grand marshal for the Jackson Apple Festival is the “greatest honor” you can have in the City of Jackson.
Look for Heath on Tuesday, Sept. 21, during the opening ceremonies on the Bellisio Foods Stage. Heath will be re-crowning the 2021 Apple Festival Queen and Court, as well as helping cut the opening ribbon.