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The 41st ASHE 2003 National Conference, Akron, Ohio
Paul Pfennig and Mary B. Elfers, TRIKO Valley Section, Public Relations Committee

From May 29th through June 1st Akron, Ohio was the place to be. The 2003 ASHE “Highways of the Future” National Conference, held at the Hilton- Akron/Fairlawn and sponsored by Region 1, lived up to Conference Chairman Michael Cleary’s promise that an exciting event would be experienced by all attendees. An itinerary that included a variety of meticulously planned social events, informative technical sessions, distinguished speakers and plenty of opportunity for networking, made this a conference that will be hard to top!

The conference started on Thursday morning with more than 200 golfers participating in an 18-hole scramble at The Legends of Massillon, a premier upscale 27-hole golf course located in the heart of northeast Ohio. Designed by Canadian architect John Robinson, The Legends of Massillon is recognized as the 4th best public golf course in State of Ohio.

Options were not limited to the greens though, and those inclined toward a more pampering experience were welcomed at Mario’s International Spa for a day of selfindulgence, complete with manicures, massages and whirlpools.

After a relaxing opening day, membership and guests assembled at the Hilton Grand Ballroom for the Icebreake Reception with fifty-five highway industry exhibitors participating in this year’s conference. An evening of excellent food, drink, and socializing continued until 10:30 p.m. But the fun didn’t stop there! A live band, Trading Places, was waiting for the night owls downstairs in the Hospitality Room.

Bright and early Friday morning, there was standingroom-only at the General Session and Annual Meeting. Honorary Chairman, Gordon Procter, Director of the Ohio Department of Transportation discussed Ohio’s $2.1 billion annual transportation program and its impact on the state’s highway system - a topic of great interest to all. Friday’s itinerary offered ASHE members a choice of 8 technical sessions showcasing concrete and asphalt pavements, highway stormwater issues, geosynthetics/stabilization, right-of-way acquisition topics and historic bridges and highway projects. The concrete and asphalt pavements session was the most popular session by far.

U.S. Congressman Steven LaTourette was a guest speaker at the opening general session. Congressman LaTourette of Ohio’s 14th District, serves on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and on the Highways and Transit Subcommittee in the 108th Congress. He discussed federal funding issues and the reauthorization of TEA-21, the Surface Transportation Act. The Past President’s Luncheon was well attended and honored fifteen (15) past National Presidents. The 2003 Robert E. Pearson Person of the Year Award was also presented at the luncheon. Honored was Michael H. Dufalla, P.E., P.S., District Engineer of PENNDOT District 12-0. The luncheon wrapped up with a surprise guest. Thomas Edison entertained and enlightened the group with his wit and wisdom from the past.

Friday night’s reception was another event carefully planned to surprise, amuse, and entertain. Guests were greeted at the door by John, Paul, George and Ringo...the Beatles! Well, maybe not the Beatles, but just as good. The Caverners, a talented and professional Beatles Tribute Band provided a great night of Beatles music from the early days through the Sergeant Pepper era and beyond. The music had old and young on the dance floor and everyone singing along to the old familiar tunes. A special Karaoke Contest including all of our Diamond S p o n s o r s provided unique entertainment renditions during the band’s breaks. Out To Lunch Events, specializing in “The Business of Fun,” provided all the customized entertainment for the conference. The Karaoke competition brought to life many of the singing and performing talents found in Ohio’s transportation and highway industries. All attendees enjoyed their harmony, flair, and genius on stage.

More great activities were planned for Saturday. Musts on the list were the Pro Football Hall of Fame, National Inventors Hall of Fame, Great Lakes Science Center, and best of all, the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame.

The conference culminated at the President’s reception and Cocktail Party on Saturday evening with the installation of National Officers and Off-Off Broadway Variety Show and Magical Production. It was another evening of outstanding entertainment that kept all riveted in their seats.

All of the conference committee members and members of Region 1 thank those who attended and made this conference informative, exciting, and time well-spent with our peers. We deeply appreciate the support of all our sponsors, advertisers, and exhibitors. It is through their generosity and commitment to the highway industry, that we were able to provide a first-class conference.

(Note: Check out for more convention photos!)

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