House Speaker Keith McCall, D-Carbon and John "Jack" Koehler of Weatherly will be honored for their outstanding contributions to the preservation and promotion of cultural, historical, natural and recreational resources by the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor at the organization's annual Partners Recognition dinner Thursday at the Hotel Bethlehem.

McCall will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award.

"Since his early days as Pennsylvania's youngest member of the House of Representatives, local communities and the public lands that surround them have been of key interest to him," said Elissa Thorne of D&L.

"He helped pave the way for the Market Towns regional revitalization program to promote the use of the 'Main Street' program in county communities beyond Jim Thorpe. After a tour of the missing links along the D&L Trail in Carbon County, McCall and Sen. Ray Musto joined forces to deliver the needed funds to build those connections.

"And finally, Keith's advocacy has helped to sustain similar initiatives throughout the commonwealth during the toughest of budget times. Keith is a person who exemplifies outstanding leadership and promotes progression to enhance our corridor communities and support the D&L's mission through heritage development," added Thorne.

"I'm very honored to be getting this award from the incredible people that work so hard to make the corridor an unmatched natural resource in Carbon County," McCall said in response to the award.

"I'm proud to have done my small part to support their efforts. I know that the work they do helps enhance our tourism industry the canal was once the economic engine that took our wood and coal to the big cities, and now the corridor is an economic engine that brings people from the big cities to enjoy the greatest outdoor playground in the world.

"Their work has helped to literally transform our area and create untold numbers of jobs," McCall added. "I'm very, very proud to get this award, but I'm even prouder to have these incredible people working for our area."

Koehler will receive the Commandant Award, "given each year to an outstanding volunteer or volunteers for their years of dedication and commitment to enhancing and maintaining the D&L Trail."

Koehler was nominated by Diane Madl of Nescopeck State Park because of his years of dedication to the Audubon Auto Tour and his personal commitment to the legacy industrial development has played in Weatherly's heritage, Thorne said.

"I was surprised, but then I've been working with the Delaware and Lehigh Heritage Corridor since it started," said Koehler. "I gave them a lot of history over the years."

Koehler said history and geography were his favorite subjects in high school and college. He's kept a history of the railroad and other activities in Weatherly. The subject hits close to home: his family worked on the Lehigh Valley Railroad.

The D&L Corridor follows the old Central-New Jersey railway, he said.

Other awards and recipients are: Leadership Award: Donald Cunningham, Jr. (Lehigh County Executive); Legacy Award: John Quigley (Secretary of the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources); Stewardship Award: Friends of the Delaware Canal; Heritage Development Award: City of Easton; Heritage Partnership Award: Wildlands Conservancy, Inc.; Heritage Tourism Award: Joseph Matteo, Stegmaier Mansion (Wilkes-Barre).

For information about attending the D&L Partners Recognition Dinner, visit http://www.delawareandlehigh.org/index.php/visit/dl-partners-recognition... or contact Rayne Schnabel at (610) 923-3548, ext. 224.

The Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor fosters stewardship of historical, cultural and natural resources along the early canal and railroad systems that carried anthracite coal from mine to market in eastern Pennsylvania.