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March 2018 Newsletter

A Closer Look #180


Pictured: John Koches

John Koches: A Career Well-Served

The Annis Water Resources Institute (formerly, Water Resources Institute) has been in existence for 32 years; in that time period, only one employee had retired—our founding Director, Ron Ward.  We now have a second employee joining the esteemed rank of retiree:  John Koches.  John has been a critical cog in AWRI’s machinery over the past 29.5 years, and we devote this Newsletter to him. We thank him for his years of service, the training he provided to countless students and staff over the years, and his unfailing commitment to AWRI and GVSU. Fare thee well, John.   

We asked a few of his long-time colleagues at AWRI to reflect on his role and importance to the Institute, as well as any other observations:

Janet Vail:
From the basement of Padnos Hall on main campus through many moves to finally AWRI’s home in Muskegon, John has been a mainstay of the Institute.  In 1989, his work with the first regional center for the Groundwater Education in Michigan (GEM) program, housed at AWRI, brought state and regional attention to the Institute.  This was followed by the five-year Grand River Watershed Program where John’s team contributed to the body of knowledge about the Grand River watershed.  His Information Services Center (ISC) has been a significant source of a variety of reports and tools for decision makers in watersheds and local government.  ISC was on the cutting edge of making Geographic Information System (GIS) products readily available to stakeholders.  His legacy at AWRI and beyond continues with John’s work in regional sustainability efforts.      

Kurt Thompson:
When John was hired, AWRI was the Water Resources Institute (WRI) and Grand Valley State College had fairly recently (1987), become a University.  The WRI consisted of Dr. Ronald Ward from Biology (also Director); Dr. Edward Baum from Chemistry; and Dr. Norman Ten Brink from Geology, with a shared clerical assistant (from Biology): Tonya (nee Cnossen) Brown.  John occupied the outer portion of Dr. Ward’s research office; I met John while working as a student research assistant on the completion of Dr. Norm Ten Brink’s Ottawa County Well-log database project.  This project would became one of the critical stepping stones in WRI history, with Dr. Ward and John securing a significant grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, establishing WRI, as the first Regional Center for Groundwater Education in Michigan.    

Rick Rediske:
I thought John really liked iced tea until I heard he was talking about the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act, aka ISTEA.