Where do you want to fly?

Every successful community has a handful of individuals who provide the grease — the leadership, investments and contributions of time and money — that makes the community run.

They provide ideas when others are stymied, offer valuable counsel and help solve communal problems. Howard “Blackie” Bowen is such an individual, and for his long-standing and tireless efforts, he has been named the 2019 Herald-Mail Media Person of the Year.

Bowen is known most for taking a family business, Ewing Oil, and making it a regional energy player. But he has also used this business acumen to further public interests. Twenty-five years ago, he was one of a small number of people who realized Washington County was building out its sewer system faster than it could pay for it, racking up a sizable debt. More recently, Bowen has served as an adviser to Gov. Larry Hogan on matters of regulation and judicial appointments.

Calling Bowen his friend, Hogan said he has been “invaluable” to state government and business interests.

Bowen has recognized that in our society it is the private sector that should do the heavy lifting, but at the same time, government is not the enemy and can do much good in fulfilling its proper role. Bowen has worked with governments — from education to parks to economic development — not against them, as too many today seem wont to do.

Bowen has also treated his own employees with dignity and, through The Arc of Washington County, worked to raise funds for those who have not enjoyed the same advantages as their fellows.

In fact, if there is good work going on in Washington County, odds are good that Bowen has a hand in it somewhere.

Safe to say, adequate recognition is past due. We thank Bowen for his service and congratulate him on the award.

Blackie Bowen becomes the 20th person to be named Herald-Mail Media’s Person of the Year, which is awarded to someone who makes a positive contribution to the community.

Candidates for Person of the Year are nominated by people in the community, then chosen by a combination of local residents and Herald-Mail employees.

Previous recipients include John Waltersdorf, Mike Callas, Norman Shea, Art Callaham, James G. Pierné, John F. Barr, John R. Hershey Jr., Lois Smith Harrison, Elizabeth Morgan, Frederick C. Wright III, Dr. Dan McDougal, Merle Elliott, Howard S. Kaylor, Thomas C. Newcomer, James W. Brown, B. Marie Byers, Joe Tischer, Adna Fulton and Don Bowman.

We welcome Bowen to their ranks and thank him for his meaningful contributions to the community.

To commemorate the award, Bowen received a crystal bowl from Herald-Mail Media, as well as $1,000 to be donated to his chosen charity, The Arc of Washington County.