For just as the hellbender struggles with adapting to changing times and forging its way in a different time, the people of Jefferson County continue to try and reinvent themselves and climb out of the dredges of the Rust Belt region and mentality, while retaining our character.As part of the Ohio Hellbender Partnership, it is our goal to conserve, promote and reintroduce the hellbender throughout its native ranges in Ohio.

Jefferson County and its citizens have an extensive and intertwined relationship with the hellbender (stone carvings of hellbenders by the Monongahela people dating to 600 BC were found in the Ohio River bed stone just north of Steubenville) that continues to this day.

It is altogether fitting and proper that one of the hellbender’s last strongholds in Ohio is in Jefferson County.

The next big hurdle that I discovered was that our little Goldilocks was not eating the food that the zoo recommended us feeding him.

He snubbed his nose to everything we offered him that was on his prescribed diet.

The aquarium had a reflective bottom on it, so he was getting inundated with too much light causing him to freak out, which resulted in our October board meeting being held in nearly complete darkness.

We were able to close the blinds and get a small sediment layer built up on the aquarium to help appease his ever-increasing demands.

We were the proud caretakers of a 5-inch little boy hellbender that was from an egg we collected out of Cross Creek in central Jefferson County.

As crazy as it sounds, it was just like having a baby, as even though you were given care instructions and had everything prepared at home, once you got the little guy and started your journey home, everything you were prepped for and anticipated was going to happen went straight out the window.

However, this great discovery wasn’t without its tribulation as we when we added too many oxygen stones to his aquarium he absorbed too much air and we nearly killed him.

At this point, we got his permanent aquarium installed in the boardroom of the Jefferson Soil and Water office while we tried to figure him out as the plan was to move him to the Steubenville Public Library.

So we soon went about obtaining these items to see if they would work for him.