‘Books with Badges’ founder Watts receiving MLK Award
ST. CLAIRSVILLE — A St. Clairsville resident is being honored for his commitment to equality by the Martins Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee in Wheeling.
Chase Watts, an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper, is being given the Martin Luther King Award.
“Mr. Watts is an Ohio State Trooper who works to inspire and help the people around him. He pursued a career in law enforcement upon graduation from Martins Ferry High School and has been in the profession for more than10 years. He is currently assigned to the Office of Recruitment & Diversity,” according to the committee.
“Watts also founded and serves as executive director of Books with Badges, a reading program for elementary students that works to build trust and positive relationships between students and emergency responders. Since its founding in 2016, the program has reached 10,000 students and expanded to six states.”
Watts continues to promote and raise funds for the program by hosting events such as kickball games and bowling tournaments.
Watts has also taken on another role in the community — as a producer and sound engineer for aspiring musicians in the region. His recently opened SoundBox Studios allows musicians making music in any genre to record.
“He also produces and hosts the Positive Push Podcast with his father to showcase the diverse group of individuals and organizations who dedicate their time to unite and promote positive resources for the Ohio Valley,” the committee notes.
Watts said he was “blessed and humbled” to receive the award.
“First and foremost I thank God for using me as a vessel. … I was honestly taken by surprise because this is not an award that you submit things for to win. I do not do the work I do for awards. I do it because I have a passion to inspire and help people. But it does make me feel good to know the hard work I do does not go unnoticed,” Watts said.
Watts noted the award itself is significant for the community.
“This award is modeled after one of the greatest civil rights leaders in history. Dr. King was about bringing people of all races and backgrounds together for positive change. This is a reminder to all communities there are current leaders locally who have the same mindset and will put in the work to continue uniting us all. Actions speak louder than words,” he said.
Though Watts has accomplished much in his life to date, he said he wants people to know that he believes one must “chase every day.”
“Wearing a state patrol uniform is just an additional platform for my positive message. I believe my character and influence speaks for itself and I am a positive light in the Ohio Valley. Our youth especially is in need of support and guidance,” he said.
“I will continue to do my part for them to have a chance at a fair future. If anyone feels they have a similar mission and want to work together, I’m easy to get ahold of. Let’s continue to build for the next generation. They’re our future.”
Watts is a native of Martins Ferry. He graduated from Martins Ferry High School in 2005. Some of the biggest influences in his life include his mother Deborah Jordan, father James Watts Sr., brothers Maurice Jordan, James Watts Jr. and Michael Heath, and cousin Mikale Roby.
Another Ohio Valley resident receiving the MLK award is Daniel Dudley of Wellsburg. Ellen Saunders and Judi Saunders, both longtime employees of the Laughlin Center in Wheeling, are receiving the Rosa Parks Award.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the awards are expected to be presented in person at a later date when it is safer for people to gather together.