FLEMING — Joe Wasileski wasn’t at Wednesday night’s Owasco Watershed Lake Association meeting, but signs of his influence weren’t difficult to spot.
The organization’s longtime president and most outspoken advocate died unexpectedly April 17.
He was among the founders of OWLA in 1988 and had been on the board of directors ever since.
Wednesday’s meeting at the Springside Inn started off with a moment of silence in his memory.
"We will always remember and appreciate Joe for his dedication, leadership and friendship," OWLA Vice President James Beckwith said. "The most important thing is to continue what he started. That’s what we can give back to him."
Cornell University hydrologist Todd Walter then presented research showing how to map spots that get saturated with rainwater first and avoid putting manure there. Wasileski had invited Walter to speak at an OWLA meeting after following his work on the Owasco Lake watershed.
"Joe was my only fan," Walter said. "You know the guy who shows up at every concert? He was always there."
After discussing studies he had done in other parts of the state, Walter and the OWLA board of directors decided to talk again about working together on research around the lake, including developing a mobile device application to predict runoff patterns after storms.
Beckwith recapped 2010 for the organization, pointing to key achievements such as Cayuga County’s Owasco Flats restoration grant, the creation of the intermunicipal Owasco Lake Watershed Management Council and improved communication with landowners and farmers in the watershed.
There was also a discussion of the revamped, soon-to-be-launched OWLA website and a possible funding opportunity through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The members approved a new slate of officers, with Charlie Greene stepping in for Wasileski as president.
Beckwith and Greene agreed that Wasileski’s death, though untimely, won’t keep the group from moving forward.
"It’s a blow to our hearts in the sense that he’s the last person you’d think would leave us early," Greene said. "He was so high energy that we all shared in his joy of the lake. As far as it concerns our operations, though, I think we’ll be able to carry on in his memory."
The annual Lake Day celebration is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 7 and the organization discussed finding a way to memorialize Wasileski there.
And, as the meeting approached the two-hour mark, the group members found another reason to remember the man who, they recalled, always had one last thing to add.
"I think Joe’s here tonight," Beckwith said, "because we’re so far over our meeting time."
Staff writer Justin Murphy can be reached at 282-2237 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at CitizenMurphy.