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Chance encounter gives local a role in river book

By DAVID ZOELLER dzoeller@paducahsun.com

John Crivello enjoys talking about his career in the river industry and meeting new people.

Those two interests converged two summers ago during a chance meeting along the city's riverfront, bringing Crivello some unexpected notoriety and Paducah some positive publicity.

Two authors, Ken Olson, a University of Illinois soil scientist, and his colleague, Lois Wright Morton, a sociologist from Iowa State University, were looking for information as part of their research for a book on the Mississippi and Ohio river systems. Crivello was there as a member of the Paducah Ambassadors welcoming arriving steamboat passengers to town.

"They came up to the Ambassadors, you know, the red shirts, and asked a couple of questions, and I started talking to them," Crivello, 72, recalled. "It ended up being about a 30-minute conversation."

Crivello was contacted by Olson a few months later and was asked if he would help fact-check a few chapters.

"Well, I about fell over," he said. "They mailed packets to my home and I went through them and sent back a couple of suggestions, mainly on terminology, and lo and behold this thing comes to fruition. They're calling me their local distributor of the book, so I've been trying to promote it."

Crivello came to Paducah in 1988. He worked for Ingram Barge Company for 14 years mainly in personnel management, then another eight years with West Kentucky Drug Screen performing drug testing on tow boats to meet U.S. Coast Guard regulations.

The book, "Managing Mississippi and Ohio River Landscapes," is a 240-page, hardbound published by the Soil and Water Conservation Society, Ankeny, Iowa, that became available last October. There is a research copy and a copy for circulation at the McCracken County Public Library, and a copy at the West Kentucky Community and Technical College library. Copies can be ordered online at swcs.org/managingrivers, or by calling 800-843-7645.

Crivello said the authors told him that they hadn't planned to include Paducah in the book, which reviews the historical impacts of climate, economic and population growth, and efforts to manage the waterways with engineered structures.

"And then after our conversations, they decided ... yeah, we better," Crivello said.

In the book, the authors mention some of the city's history, the floodwall and how Paducah has progressed to become "a pretty vibrant city," he said. Crivello was given an acknowledgement in the book, which he considers "an honor for a person who's life revolved around the river industry."

Crivello credits being in the "right place at the right time" for his and Paducah's inclusion in the book.

Crivell and his wife, Cindy, enjoy participating in community organizations like the Ambassadors, which they have been members of for about five years. He is also involved in the Propeller Club, Coast Guard Auxiliary, and the WKCTC Senior Learning for Fun organization.

"We've been here since 1988 and we love Paducah," Crivello said. "We just get a charge out of all the stuff to do."

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