NOAA 2000-234
Contact: Marilu Trainor


J. Newton Wallace of Winters, Calif., has received one of the nation's highest
awards for his dedication to observing and reporting weather for more than 40 years. Wallace is publisher emeritus of the Winters Express community newspaper in Northern California.

The "Thomas Jefferson Award" was presented by Glenn Rasch, chief, Systems Operations Division, National Weather Service's Western Region headquarters in Salt Lake City.

Assisting Rasch were NWS Sacramento Meteorologist in Charge Elizabeth Morse along with George Cline and Angus Barkhuff of her staff. The event was held today during the Winters Rotary Club luncheon.

"Mr. Wallace's award was one of seven Thomas Jefferson awards granted nationally in 1999 by the National Weather Service," said Morse. "His more than 40 years as a cooperative observer has provided a valuable service to our nation and the people who rely on the information from this part of California."

According to a letter written to Wallace by Vickie Nadolski, NWS Western Region director, the cooperative weather program was established in the 1890s to provide data to the newly formed ‘Weather Bureau'.

"You have distinguished yourself by joining such notable American pioneers as Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson who maintained early weather records. President Jefferson kept an almost unbroken record of observations from 1776 through 1816. President Washington took his last weather observations just a few days before he died," said Rasch.

John Companius Holm, a Lutheran minister in colonial Delaware, made the first systematic weather observations on the continent. Holm's weather records, taken without benefit of instruments in 1644 and 1645, are the earliest known recorded observations in the United States.

"We are extremely pleased that Newt Wallace was recognized as one of the nation's top cooperative weather observers," said Morse. "The Jefferson Award is one of the most prestigious awards presented by the National Weather Service each year. This important cooperative observer program helps create and maintain the nation's historical climatic weather records."

Wallace joins four other Californians who have won the Thomas Jefferson Award. They are Harold Del Ponte of Klamath (1980), Dr. Robert J. Renard of Monterey (1994), and Louise B. Hallberg of Graton in 1998.

NWS Sacramento Cooperative Program Manager Angus Barkuff said, "Mr. Wallace's long and outstanding record of volunteer service to the NWS is consistent with his commitment to his community and nation. Observations from his station are invariably of the highest quality, always neat and accurate, and are received promptly each month. He has taken more than 14,000 observations during the four decades."

During the ceremony, Morse noted that Wallace did not miss submitting a report during the 40 years of recording the extremes. He has maintained a record of daily temperatures and precipitation from his weather station since April 1, 1960. His weather station is behind the offices of the Winters Express where he has also trained family and friends to take the readings when he couldn't be there over the past 40 years.

"In 1994, Newt was awarded another cooperative observer award. The John Companius Holm Award also recognizing outstanding service to our nation. Earning both observer awards is a notable achievement and a distinct honor for Mr. Wallace and our community," said Morse.

Newt Wallace was born in Iowa in 1919, and graduated from Iowa State University in
1941. He moved to California in 1944 and became the owner-publisher of the Winters Express January 1, 1947. Along with his wife, Ida, the Wallace's published the Express for the next 36 years before naming their son, Charles, as the publisher on April 15, 1983. Newt still holds the title of publisher emeritus, and both continues to be active with the Express.

Newt Wallace served in numerous professional and community service positions, including president of the California Newspaper Publishers Association, an elder in the Presbyterian Church, director of the California Press Association, and chairman of the Graphic Arts Trade Advisory committee at San Quentin Prison. He was named "Citizen of the Year" in 1972 by the Winters District Chamber of Commerce.

Wallace's life is a model of service to his community. In 1990, he received the Philip N. McCombs Achievement Award of the California Press Association for lifelong service to his community and contribution to the newspaper industry.

The NWS's Cooperative Weather Observation Program comprises more than 11,000 volunteer observers who record temperature and precipitation data daily. This provides scientists, researchers, and the general public with an invaluable climate record. Although the NWS provides and maintains the equipment used in the climatic and hydrologic networks, the volunteer weather observer's only compensation is their personal pride and satisfaction.

At the end of each month, the volunteer observers mail their records to nearby NWS offices, where data is extracted, and then these records are forwarded to the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. These data are archived there and made available to the public through published summaries such as "Climatological Data" or "Hourly Precipitation Data."

According to Rasch, "Weather records become more valuable with age. Long and continuous records provide a more accurate ‘picture' of a locale's average and extreme weather, and give climatologists and forecasters a basis for predicting future trends.

Wallace's records benefit not only the National Weather Service but are used extensively and valued highly by other federal, state, and local agencies. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Geological Survey, and the Natural Resource Conservation Service use the records to assist in water and irrigation management.

According to Morse, "Satellites, high-speed computers, mathematical models, and other technological breakthroughs have provided great benefits to the Nation in terms of better weather forecasts and warnings. But, without the century-long accumulation of accurate weather observations taken by volunteer observers such as Newt Wallace, scientists could not begin to adequately understand or model the climate and weather of the United States."

Rasch said, "Mr. Wallace's proven record of outstanding and dedicated service to the National Weather Service for more than 40 years, and a lifetime of distinguished community service, clearly marks him as a leader in this community."