The Stonycreek River nearly ran to a first-place finish in Pennsylvania's 2011 River of the Year competition. It was the Delaware River that took last year's distinction.
But local supporters are confident that this year's nomination will result in victory. Residents can vote for the winner at pawatersheds.org/vote.
"The prize for winning the honor as River of the Year is $10,000, which will be spent to celebrate the accomplishments of the Stony's revitalization and to increase opportunities for river stewardship," Stonycreek Quemahoning Initiative facilitator Mike Quinn said in a release.
Benson Borough Council President Kevin Holsopple said the Stonycreek had a nice head start in the race when he voted Friday afternoon. Other rivers in contention include the Middle Monongahela, the Kiskiminetas River and the Upper Juniata River.
According to Holsopple, the Stonycreek was in first place with approximately 57 percent. The Middle Monongahela had 27 percent, the Kiskiminetas River had 8 percent and the Upper Juniata River had 5 percent.
"I do believe we're leading the pack pretty well right now," he said.
The Stonycreek is a regional success story. Once heavily polluted by acid mine drainage, it was cleaned by members of the Stonycreek River Improvement Project and other conservation groups. Today the river is a popular source of recreation and home to 22 species of fish.
"It's always been special to the people in the community," Holsopple said. "But if it gets that kind of statewide recognition, it brings a lot more awareness. It's going to benefit us in the long run."
The polls close Dec. 31.