National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently presented Orval Palmer with the John C. Holm Award. Randy Graham of Salt Lake City was the presenter of a personalized jacket, two pins, and the John C. Holm Award, which reads in the Award Citation:

“The John Campanius Holm Award is presented to you (Orval Palmer) for exemplary reporting of meteorological observations from Alton. Your highly accurate and detailed temperature and precipitation records are a valuable resource to the nation’s climate and weather program. Your extraordinary public service for the past 38 years will make a lasting contribution to the communities who work to advance agriculture, transportation and commerce.” 

Alton, Utah, was the chosen observation station, due to the high-rise community and its direct location to the Virgin River, Kanab Creek and Sevier River. The Alton Observation Station was established on July 19, 1915. In the past 100 years, there have been five observers. William M. Cox observed for 28 years; Eliza A. Cox was the observer for two months; Isaac L. Robertson observed for 16 years; Allen M. Cox was an observer for 18 years; and Palmer has observed for the past 38 years, and he is presently continuing to observe to date.

Palmer and his wife Gerta operate the local Alton Post Office from their home. Palmer was the Mayor of Alton from 1990-1998. He has always been the man who people have called to inquire about the weather, since he has been so well versed in local weather information. He has lived in southern Utah his entire life, and has been a dedicated community, church and civic servant.  

In the early days of recording the weather temperatures and precipitation, the task was done outdoors. At one time, there was seeding of clouds, and continual reading of the outdoor temp gauge. Now, due to modern technology, it is a much easier task as an indoor digital temperature gauge is available.

Palmer has shown great service to his nation and community, and has been exemplary to others in his diligence to do a job he committed to 38 years ago.

The State of Utah complements his daily efforts in bringing pride to both the state and the nation, as he has accomplished what few have done. Only six people in the United States have received the John C. Holm Award. Congratulations to Palmer and his wife Gerta for their diligence in commitment and in devoting hours of time to the Alton Observer station.