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Estelle R. Brown

Estelle R. Brown
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Estelle R. Brown is a freelance writer who lives in Garrettsville with her family. She has written and taken photos for newspapers, magazines and e-zines for the past 25 years. She also enjoys working on public relations projects, including web content, newsletters, posters, brochures, press releases, and other creative endeavors. She enjoys writing compelling stories about her community as a contributing reporter for the Villager.

Garrettsville – Santa Claus is coming to town! He and Mrs. Claus are inviting children to come with their parents to get Pictures with Santa during an open house for Jursa Insurance, LLC at 8454 Windham Street (the former location of The Villager and Chamber of Commerce).

Insurance agent Shannan Shobel-Jursa is collaborating with Ronda Brady Photography to co-sponsor this community event on Monday, December 15 from 6-8 pm. That evening, area families and surrounding community members can come and receive a free digital image of their family, their children, their pets, etc. with Santa and Mrs. Claus (Michael and Robyn Stitt from Erie, PA). Any child who brings a wish list and shares it with Santa will also receive a small gift. Light snacks and beverages will be available for all.

“I wanted to provide a family-friendly event that gives back to the communities that we will be servicing,” Shobel-Jursa said of her upcoming open house. “Being a mother of three children, I immediately knew that I wanted to do something for the kids, as well. It’s costly to get a picture with Santa Claus at the store or mall. Hosting an event like this gives people the opportunity to bring children or pets in for a digital image at no cost to them.” 

Ronda Brady will be the professional photographer for the event and will text or email the digital pictures to those sitting for portraits. With digital image files, the photographs can be printed anywhere a person chooses, according to their preferred sizes and number of copies.

Shobel-Jursa’s new office will open January 1, 2015, providing auto insurance, home/renters insurance, and a variety of additional services to cover individual and family needs. The open house presents an opportunity for community members to become familiar with Shobel-Jursa, her two team members, and the office location. “Though a little outside of town, it offers great parking for our clients and is easily accessible,” she says.

Due to legal restraints with not being open yet, Shobel-Jursa is not able to advertise the commercial insurance provider’s name until after the new year. Shobel-Jursa is currently looking to fill additional staffing needs and welcomes those interested to stop by with their resume, inquiring at (330) 527-2001, or applying online via rshannan@myneighborshannan.com. Her website is myneighborshannan.com.

Originally from Youngstown, Jursa-Shobel moved to Austintown 10 years ago. “My husband and I have four-year-old twins and I have been pestering him to move further away from the city,” she says. “When the opportunity came to open an agency in the Garrettsville/Mantua area, I was elated. We plan to build our home in the area within in the next couple years.”

Shobel-Jursa has been actively involved in Junior Achievement and The American Bank Association’s “Teach Children To Save Day” for six years. Additionally, ”I have registered to become a Member of the Garrettsville Chamber of Commerce and am excited to become an involved member of the community. I am thankful for the Village of Garrettsville in welcoming me thus far and look forward to many years of commitment and service to the communities in the surrounding area.”

Garrettsville – You have permission to sneak a peek. Just like peeling back a seam of wrapping paper from a gift under the tree, we’ll all get the chance to see The Coffee Mill before it opens for business as the new year dawns.

A live Christmas nativity scene — complete with a donkey, goat, sheep and calf — will be on display at the site of the Buckeye Block on Main Street, 7-9pm Friday, December 19, in a  program with live music. Afterwards, people are invited to The Coffee Mill at 8138 Water Street for free coffee, cider and donuts.

Garrettsville’s historic feed mill at the intersection of Main, Center and Water streets has been undergoing renovation since developer Mike Maschek gained ownership from Marty Paul in May. Over the past six months, its exterior has transformed from a dilapidated eyesore to a beautiful centerpiece for the village.

Its eventual function, however, was not evident until now. Originally, Maschek had discussed leasing retail space out to former Buckeye Block business owners who had lost their storefronts in the March fire. He also considered selling the mill to other potential buyers who approached Maschek with offers. Ultimately, Maschek said, “I want to hold onto the building right now. I’ve grown attached to it, and I want to maintain a presence downtown, to help bring a new atmosphere to the village.”

Maschek says the interior renovation of the 3,000-square-foot, three-level structure is just two weeks from completion. By January 1, it will open for business as The Coffee Mill: a coffee shop on the main floor, a wireless lounge in the basement, and a meeting place/community room on the third level. Since Maschek cleared away sagging outbuildings behind the mill, patio dining overlooking Silver Creek will be available in seasonable weather and green space extends beyond that for pleasant views.

Built in 1852, the mill has served the village as a carriage shop, general store, and feed supplier before going out of business more than a decade ago and remaining vacant until May 2014, when its current renovation began.

Garrettsville – Proverbs tells us, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Architectural grad student Kiley Maas agrees with that premise. That is why she is eager to share her vision of what the future of Main Street could be. Since the Great Garrettsville Fire last March, the view on Main Street has been charred devastation-turned-emptiness. But Maas sees exciting possibilities.

Maas is a graduate student at Kent State University, concluding coursework toward a dual-master degree in Architecture (MArch) and Business Administration (MBA). She is also a graduate assistant as an intellectual property analyst, vice president of Net Impact, and a CAED Graduate Student Senator.

This past summer, as a result of the fire’s devastation of the Buckeye Block, her graduate architecture studio with Professor Adil Sharg-Eldin made a project of envisioning what downtown Garrettsville could become through its future rebuilding efforts. Her class presented their projects to the village in July.

What started as a class project has evolved into a personal passion for Maas. Naming her particular concept “Main Street Revival: A Sense of Place Through Shared Space,” Maas integrates walkways, bicycle lanes, roundels, gardens, green space, plus mixed-use municipal, retail and residential buildings to transform Main Street into a vibrant community center.

“I want to bring a sense of place back to Main Street and restore the lifeblood of the town,” she says. “I was the only student from the class who was familiar with Garrettsville (I grew up in Newton Falls), and my undergraduate minor was in urban design, so I took this project personally. I was careful to maintain a comprehensive approach, integrating economic, social and sustainable priorities into the plan.”

Her mixed-use concept reinvests in downtown Garrettsville with wide, aesthetic sidewalks sans curbs for outdoor dining; an enhanced boardwalk with waterfall views; 13 new retail spaces on Main Street with 26 second-floor apartments; a dozen new town homes along Center Street; restaurants featuring glass garage-door fronts that could be rolled back for open-air dining in good weather; and redesigned common-use intersections (roundels — similar to roundabouts — at the intersection of Elm Street and State Routes 88 and 82; and at the crossroads of Main, Center and Water streets). These would take dominance away from street traffic so people would feel safer to enjoy social interaction, open air dining and strolling around town. Maas also envisions a small hotel at the corner lot in front of the VFW hall.

Maas would maintain parallel parking along Main Street but would add a small parking garage with 85 spaces next to the police department, where the Clock Tower now stands. To further enhance the sense of community, Maas would move the historic Clock Tower, time capsule and new Village Hall to Main Street, set on a grassy Garrettsville Green on the north side of Main Street, where the Buckeye Block anticipates its future.

Maas’ stated mission is “To revive and create a comprehensive approach for downtown Main Street that empowers economic development by making the downtown a place to live, work, shop, dine, and entertain; a village center with a sense of place through shared space.”

By sharing her drawings through this article and other public venues, Maas wants to give people a concrete picture of the possibilities, to gain morale by visualizing what an idealized Garrettsville could offer. This may help residents believe — yes! — it could happen here if we all got on the same page in terms of a common vision and goal.

Just remember, this is a concept with elements for consideration and discussion. No design or plan has been approved by village officials… and funding must lead the way before any plan can be realistically considered. Just think of this graduate architecture student’s dream as a way to exercise the possibilities and generate more great ideas as GarrettsvilleStrong fundraising efforts continue.

If you would like to provide feedback to this design concept, send an email to e.brown@weeklyvillager.com or mail a letter to Estelle Brown, Weekly Villager,

8088 Main St, Garrettsville, OH 44231.

Garrettsville – Cue the silver bells! It’s Christmastime in the village.

The traditional James A. Garfield Historical Society’s Christmas Walk is the official start to the local holiday season. Alternating with Mantua every year, the 2014 Christmas Walk is featuring Garrettsville homes and is set for November 7, 8, 9 and 14, 15, 16. On Fridays and Saturdays, the Christmas Walk operates from 10am-5pm; Sundays 12:30pm-5pm. Tickets are $10 per person and can be purchased at the historical society on tour days at the historic Mott Building, 8107 Main Street. Proceeds from this event support the historical society’s ongoing efforts to preserve and display local history, and to offset its operating expenses.

Candle Light Night will kick off the big holiday event on Thursday, November 6, 6:30-9pm. This intimate candlelight tour of homes begins with appetizers served at the historical society. The evening tour includes visits to the four specially-decorated featured homes, the craft show & sale, and the Nelson United Methodist Church, which is celebrating its 200th anniversary. Each participant also receives a complimentary Christmas ornament and a year’s membership to the historical society. The $25 tickets must be reserved and purchased in advance by contacting historical society president Kit Semplak at (330) 569-7996 or ksemplak@gmail.com .

On regular tour days, the Nelson United Methodist Church which will be decorated for the season according to the theme, ”HEAVENLY HOST,” and will be serving a festive luncheon. Lunch hours are 11am-4 pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and 12 noon -4pm on Sundays. The menu consists of a turkey plate, pulled pork plate, chicken salad sandwich, hot dogs and homemade soups and desserts.

Don’t forget the Crafts & Artisan Show open during tour hours at Garrettsville Village Hall, 8213 High Street. It’s  a great opportunity to buy local, support area crafters, and find distinctive handmade gifts to  celebrate the season, including Christmas décor, floral designs, jewelry, hand-sewn products and baked goods. Craft show organizer Maureen See indicates there are a few openings remaining for last-minute vendors. If interested, call her at (330) 527-4674.

Featured Garrettsville home-owners, corresponding themes, and locations include:

Earl & Bonnie Kissell with “A THYME TO BLOSSOM” at 7521 State Route 82, the original home of the Raymond pioneer family, who owned over 400 acres around the house. The home appears as early as 1850 on the Portage County map and is known as “The old Carlisle farm.” This Western Reserve home now reflects Bonnie’s green thumb. A master gardener, her home features a garden room and many beautiful holiday arrangements. The Kissell Family has also blossomed, so visitors will enjoy how the Kissell children and grandchildren are incorporated into the decor. “Thymes” gone by are represented with vintage paper dolls decorating the tree, an arrangement of antique brass candlesticks on display, and other delightful holiday assortments.

Kathy & Tom Countryman with “HOMESPUN CHRISTMAS TREASURES” at 11458 Rolling Meadows, a home reminiscent of the Southern low country. Visitors to this home will find handmade, detailed decorations, fine woodcrafts, stitchery, a cookie jar collection, and much more to inspire one’s own Christmas creations.

Back within village limits is Brenda Reiner with “HEAVEN and NATURE SING” at 8106 South Park. This ranch home was built in the 1960s. Featured Christmas decorations feature Brenda’s favorite things: her collection of angels and her love of all things in nature, including a variety of birds, butterflies, and cute little critters. Visitors will also be treated to mannequins adorned in vintage holiday clothing.

Mark & Anne Kontur with “TINKER’S CHRISTMAS” at 9032 State Route 305 in Nelson. This Western Reserve century home was built by Benjamin Stow Tinker in the 1830s. He was 5 years old when his father brought the family to  the Nelson wilderness in 1805. John Tinker, his father, was a Revolutionary War veteran, according to Semplak. His importance and influence in the Nelson community is reflected in the names of the Tinker Cemetery across the road (now known as Prentiss Cemetery) and Tinker’s Creek.

Step into the season with the area’s original Christmas Walk, a local holiday tradition since 1980. Gracious hosts, beautifully-decorated homes, distinctive crafts, comfort food, neighborly pleasantries … all bring to mind that familiar carol … “In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas!”

The Great Garrettsville Fire

Certain dates stand out in our collective memories: December 7, 1941 as Pearl Harbor Day; September 11, 2001 as the worst terror attack on U.S. soil. But for Garrettsville locals, March 22, 2014 is branded forevermore as that awful day when the Great Garrettsville Fire brought down the historic Buckeye Block Buildings on Main Street.

What started as a small blaze on the roof behind Miller’s Lawn & Garden quickly spread to become the greatest disaster to befall this historic village. Exhaustive efforts from local firefighters (supported by more than 100 firefighters from 34 neighboring departments) were no match for the hungry blaze which tore through the 1850s-era wooden structure which had just been freshly renovated and fully occupied by a dozen businesses.

Between lunchtime and dinnertime that fateful Saturday, what began as a simple hot seal-and-patch roof repair job became the assumed (although never officially determined) spark for the blaze which leveled the Buckeye Block — all except for the tiny brick and firewalled law office building which withstood the devastation. It remains as a lone witness to the level grassy field on which it now stands, six months later.

As measured by the crowd-filled streets the day of the fire — and the outpouring of support for the community ever since — people here and nearby take the Great Garrettsville Fire seriously and personally. But no one felt the loss more keenly than Mike Maschek, the primary owner of the building. He had just completed the renovation project which had transformed the Buckeye Block Building from a sorry, sagging eyesore to a thriving example of “revival and restoration,” as he called it.

True to form, this man of vision and faith choked back any signs of defeat. The day after the fire, Maschek stated, “To be continued… It’s still all about revival and restoration.”

Funding a Miracle

Unfortunately, Maschek is not a magic man and he hasn’t erected a replica of the Buckeye Block Building within the blink of an eye on that grassy lot. He is, however, a believer in miracles. Maschek says $3-$4 million is required to reconstruct the Buckeye Block according to modern building codes. Insurance payments covered just a fraction of that total, and a government grant Maschek had hoped to secure by now never materialized.

However, an $80,000 grant is promised from Portage County to be used for streetscaping, landscaping, lighting, and infrastructure along the historic district once the reconstruction project is under way.

Maschek is also holding out hope for receiving a generous grant from a private source which would be more than sufficient for reconstructing the Buckeye Block. If that does not come through, Maschek trusts that funds will materialize some other way.

Meanwhile, the community-generated GarrettsvilleStrong Fund, managed by the Garrettsville Area Chamber of Commerce, has accumulated $72,871.87 (as of 9/11/14) in its account. This ongoing fundraising effort will award monies toward the re-building effort once a plan is approved.

New fundraisers associated with GarrettsvilleStrong include:

• Limited Edition T-Shirts sponsored by the 900 Coalition, on sale at The Villager. (Only 100 total T-shirts were printed).

• Harlem Ambassadors Basketball Game, Oct 25 – Five JAG alumni and five teachers will take on the Harlem Ambassadors in a fun-filled family event.  Proceeds to be split between GarrettsvilleStrong and Phase 2 of the JAG Stadium rebuild project.

• Chipotle of Streetsboro fundraiser – (Date and time TBA)

Ongoing GarrettsvilleStrong efforts include:

• Destination Vacations Fundraiser – Michelle Ford at Destination Vacations is offering a $100 donation to GarrettsvilleStrong with the purchase of a 6-day or longer all-inclusive vacation, cruise or Disney trip booked through August 31, 2015. Call Michelle at (440) 391-9896 for details.

• GarrettsvilleStrong Book – Pam Montgomery is creating a book that will contain history about Garrettsville and compiled stories and pictures from people about past events relating to the downtown section that burned. She will also feature a “Main Street is on Fire” section with related pictures and stories. People can submit their stories and may take out advertising at the back of the book, with proceeds helping to pay for printing. Contact Pam at (330) 527-5744 to participate.

•  Photo & Video DVD – Rich Teresi is making a DVD video/slide show of the fire. The DVD will contain about 200 unpublished pictures and 30 videos taken during the March 22nd fire.

Anyone with new ideas for fundraising projects to help fund reconstruction of the Buckeye Block can contact the Chamber at (330) 527-5761 to register with GarrettsvilleStrong.

Revival & Restoration, Continued

Some people are dreamers. Others are doers. It’s rare to find someone who embodies both… and rarer still for that person to be a builder by trade. But Maschek is that rare mix of a man. So, while his property insurance proceeds from the fire were a virtual drop in the bucket toward Buckeye Block reconstruction costs, they were sufficient for generating a new site of revival and restoration nearby.

Just a stone’s throw from the Buckeye Block, at the intersection of Main, Center and Water streets, stands the long-vacant and once-integral hub of historic downtown Garrettsville, last known as Paul’s Feed Mill. The wood frame mill, built in 1852, served the village as a carriage shop, general store and feed supplier before going out of business more than 10 years ago. The mill and its outbuildings were dilapidated, blighted and poised for demolition.

But Maschek saw promise in the mill’s history and its nearly 4,000 square feet of floor space. He saw potential for the Buckeye Block’s business owners to have a new set of options for moving their enterprises back to Main Street within months; not the years it could take for the Buckeye Block to rematerialize if full funding isn’t secured soon. (The construction project itself could be completed within 12 months, from dig to finish, Maschek estimates.)

Maschek took ownership of the mill in May. Abatement, gutting and demolition of the outbuildings began immediately with excavation following, to the tune of $80,000 just to open up 175 feet of frontage for future commercial or residential growth along Water Street behind the mill. Maschek says there is ample space there for two buildings plus a parking lot for up to 18 cars, plus the option of a cantilevered deck that could reach halfway across Silver Creek.

Renovation of the historic mill took shape following demolition, first with the removal of old siding which revealed the original wood exterior and faded handpainted signage from the 1800s (“CARRIAGES, WAGONS AND SLEIGHS,” “SEEDS,” “FARM IMPLEMENTS,” etc.) But that history will soon be re-preserved behind modern vinyl siding of a historic crimson hue.

Meanwhile, a stone front face has been built up to the second floor. New windows and roof have been installed, all according to historic design standards of the early 1850s. Topping it off, a glass-enclosed cupola now accents the roofline, automatically lit every evening as a warm beacon shining over Main Street. The Paul Family has also erected a historic plaque out front.

The mill now features a finished basement with repaired original foundational stonework, a bathroom on each of its three levels, and a warming kitchen on the main floor. Drywalling was being done last week. Painting and siding will follow over the next couple weeks. Historic features of the original craftsmanship remain, including exposed posts, beams, and stone walls. A new concrete patio from the rear entrance leads to a ground-level wraparound porch primarily facing Water Street and the newly-renovated Eagles Aerie across the way. Renovation of the mill should be complete by November, Maschek says.

‘Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day’

While it has been a morale booster for the village to see a central historic downtown building return from the near-dead, its future use is yet to be determined. Maschek’s original intent was to sell the building to an owner who would lease out space to local businesses, with priority access going to any of the dozen burned-out merchants who wanted to return to Main Street.

However, that’s just one viable option. Maschek has an offer from a potential buyer who would use the mill primarily as office space. And although Maschek typically prefers renovating rather than owning buildings, he admits he has grown fond of the mill and would consider retaining ownership to ensure it functions more as a community center. “Everything is conjecture at this point,” he says. “But I am excited about what I’d like to do with the mill. It would change the atmosphere of this community.”

So, there are no final answers yet concerning the future of the mill or the Buckeye Block. The funding status of the Buckeye Block and completion of the mill renovation should both be realized by November. So before the New Year, we may know what direction each is heading. When pressed for answers, Maschek responds, “I know what I need for today. I don’t have tomorrow’s money yet. So I do all I can right now with the resources I have today.”

For now — six months since the Great Garrettsville Fire — Maschek feels, “We’re right on schedule.” Pointing to Ecclesiastes, he says, “There is a purpose to every season. God does things — and allows things — for a reason. ‘There is a time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh’.”

“We can’t live in the past. We can’t live in the future. The time for living — and building — is now, while we have the opportunity, informed by the past and looking forward to the future.”

riteaid

Garrettsville – All that’s old is new again at your neighborhood Rite Aid.

The store, located at 10764 North Street for nearly two decades, earned a Wellness Renovation that brings shoppers a more inviting, personalized experience to their store and pharmacy experiences, aimed to improve their overall health. Of 25 stores in the northeast Ohio district, this is the fourth to receive the Wellness Renovation.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at 10am on Thursday, September 11, including cake and refreshments for customers throughout the day. This will kick off a three-week Grand Opening featuring special promotions and sales.

The five-week renovation process has resulted in a new color scheme with wood grain accents; a more open floor plan with warmer lighting and wider aisles for improved product visibility; pharmacy discounts; and new product categories, including gluten-free foods, an organic section and a $1 aisle. Immunizations are also available at the pharmacy for the flu, shingles, whooping cough, pneumonia, and measles/mumps/rubella.

A new Wellness Ambassador role has also been added to the staff, so a customer assistant is on the floor at all times, available to help customers find products, look up their Wellness Points, or assist at the pharmacy.

Store Manager Tammy Fitz says that she and Pharmacy Manager Julia Polz are also hosting quarterly health & wellness events. The first event is a free health screening, 12noon-4pm on Saturday, September 27. Nurses will be on hand to provide free assessments for blood pressure, kidney function, glucose and cholesterol levels.

Renovations have been ongoing since July 21. The final touches should be made late this week, with a recoated parking lot and new lights.

“This ushers in a new customer experience,” says Fitz. “It’s cleaner, brighter and updated. Once you get re-oriented to the new layout, you’ll appreciate being able to see everything better and find items more easily.”

The new and improved Garrettsville Rite Aid also has extended pharmacy (and drive-through) hours: 8am-9pm Mondays through Fridays; 9am-6pm Saturdays;and 10am-6pm Sundays. The front end store is open 8am-10pm daily. Call (330)527-2828 for more information.

“It’s friendly, it’s bright, it’s more convenient than ever,” Fitz says. Welcome to the new Rite Aid.

fresh-start

The Rybak family enjoys lunch & breakfast at the same time, as breakfast is served all day long at the Fresh Start Diner.

Garrettsville - “We start every meal fresh so you can start the day fresh.” That’s a fitting motto for Fresh Start Diner, which quietly moved into 8126 Main Street in downtown Garrettsville one month ago.

Owner Andy Olson brought the independent franchise to town after working eight years as head cook and assistant kitchen manager for the Chagrin Falls Fresh Start Diner. Co-owners Ken Frankenberry and Bob Wyman started the Fresh Start franchise in Twinsburg, then added the Oberlin and Chagrin Falls locations. Olson worked at the Twinsburg location before Frankenberry and Wyman purchased it.

Olson realized it was time to start his own business when his old friend and fellow cook, Jeremy Quiggle, mentioned he was looking to sell The Pasta House building and equipment at this location.

Olson was raised in Windham Township and now resides in Shalersville, so Garrettsville is familiar territory for him. He went with a soft opening for Fresh Start Diner rather than a big publicity splash, so he and his staff could ease onto the community, work out kinks without much ado, and gain a solid clientele through word of mouth.

The approach seems to be working. The dining room on late Monday morning was bustling, drawing college kids, senior citizens, couples and families for home-made breakfast and lunch entrees made from fresh ingredients, served promptly by pleasant wait staff.

The plentiful breakfast and lunch menu includes gluten-free, vegetarian and multigrain options to accommodate various dietary restrictions and preferences. And while it features traditional diner fare, it offers creative options for discerning palates, like mocha multigrain pancakes with real maple syrup, home-made home fries, and quality breads.

Olson did note that certain food choices are more popular in one location versus the other. Perhaps it shouldn’t be too surprising that the Garrettsville group orders more meat and potatoes while the Chagrin Falls clientele prefers fresh fruit and cottage cheese.

The Fresh Start concept is simple, as stated on their website: To provide our customers with a high quality dining experience. We offer plentiful portions of delicious, freshly prepared food at reasonable prices, in a clean setting, with friendly and attentive service.

Fresh Start Diner in downtown Garrettsville is open Mondays through Saturdays, 6:30am-2pm; and Sundays, 8am-2pm. Breakfast is served all day long while lunch is served 10:30 to closing time. The diner can be reached at (330) 527-2700 or at  freshstartdiner.com.

Andy Olson invites you to come on in. Because it’s always the right time for a Fresh Start.

ShpCopHiram – It may seem early to be thinking about the Christmas season, but a good cause requires extra time and commitment. That’s why the Hiram Police Department and the Village of Garrettsville are teaming up with a Shop With A Cop Car Show on Saturday, September 6, 9am-2pm.

The car show will be held on Hayden Street, which will be cordoned off for the event from the Hiram Post Office at State Route 82, all the way up through the Hiram College campus, to Hinsdale. The free event will feature antique and classic cars and trucks lined up along the street, door prizes of merchandise from local sponsors, a 50/50 raffle, trophies, a deejay, music, food trucks, Maggie’s Donuts and family fun. No pre-registration is required to show your car. Just show up that morning to be included, says Hiram Police Chief Ed Samec.

The Hiram-Garrettsville Shop with a Cop program benefits underpriviledged children and families in the Crestwood and James A. Garfield school districts, giving children the opportunity to go Christmas shopping for themselves and their families alongside local police officers and volunteers.

Chief Samec says that counselors and administrators from the school districts will select six students from each district whose families are experiencing severe financial hardship. Each of these students will be  given a $250 budget for Christmas gifts for their parents, siblings and themselves.

“These kids go onto the Christmas season knowing they won’t have any gifts,” Samec explains. “But when they learn they’ve been selected for this program, you should see the looks on their faces, see the hugs they give to the volunteers who help them shop for gifts. They have nothing. They are so excited to buy gifts for their family members, they forget to pick anything out for themselves. That’s the furthest thing from their minds.”

The goal is for every child to enjoy the holiday season. So fundraising events are coordinated by Chief Samec and Garrettsville Mayor Rick Patrick throughout the year to bolster the Shop with a Cop fund so more underprivileged children can receive gifts this coming holiday season. Local sponsors pitch in with donations of cash and merchandise.

In May, a pancake breakfast featuring a special visit from the Easter Bunny generated nearly $800 toward the fund. Chief Samec has also applied for grant money to bolster the fund. For three consecutive years, this program has benefitted from a Hiram Trust Grant valued at $2,000.

Mayor Patrick, whose name is synonymous with car shows & cruises, says, “Our police departments work hand-in-hand so the Shop With a Cop program can help out more families in the area. Children come to us with a wish list, and we take them to the Streetsboro Kmart to fulfill their wishes as best we can.”

2014 marks the third year for the Garrettsville-Hiram Shop With a Cop program. It’s the second year for the car show, but it was such a great success last year — raising $865 — it’s expected to be an annual event. Each year, the program grows to help more families. In 2012, eight families benefitted; in 2013, 10 families were included; in 2014, 12 families will be helped. But Chief Samec says there is still a long line of deserving families he’d love to be able to assist.

“The way the economy has been, I don’t see unemployment numbers improving much. Statistics seem to say that unemployment numbers are improving, but it’s actually just that people have run out of unemployment benefits and they no longer qualify. But jobs are still hard to find and people are still having a hard time.”

So come on out to the Shop with a Cop Car Show in Hiram on Saturday. It’s more than fun and games. It’s a meaningful way to create happier holidays for neighbors in need.

 

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LeavesA

Are the trees trying to tell us something?

Their leaves are expected to change colors in the Fall, not mid-August. But it’s not your imagination; hues of red, yellow, orange and even brown are evident already throughout northeast Ohio. Why?

According to our neighbors in Pennsylvania, CBS Pittsburgh reports that a record-cold summer has led to this early onset of autumnal color. Pittsburgh is on pace for the 9th coldest summer since record keeping began in 1871, says Meteorologist Dennis Bowman. The dog days of summer simply passed us by; some locals have even turned on their furnace on recent chilly nights.

The Polar Vortex pattern that we experienced in January also caused cold temperatures in July. “There has been a frequency of cold fronts this summer, and the weather for June, July, and August has been substantially below normal,” Bowman said.

Leaves change color normally in early fall in response to shortened amounts of daylight and colder temperatures. The green-colored chlorophyll breaks down, allowing the other chemicals in the leaves to stand out and show off their brighter colors… normally in September and October.

According to Cleveland NewsNet5 Chief Meteorologist Mark Johnson, the color change is not widespread; just a sprinkling of trees showing color. The vast majority of local trees are still green. So the early color change we see is likely due to plant stress. Trees can be weakened by a variety of natural and man-made factors.

Of course, persistent cool temperatures can stop the sugar-making process in the leaves earlier than normal. Excessive moisture can also shut down a tree’s process of photosynthesis. On the other hand, excessive heat and drought can cause trees to go dormant prematurely. The stresses can occur over several seasons or even several years. Insects and disease can also weaken a tree and cause early leaf color. Man-made causes include disturbing the root systems of a tree for construction or landscaping.

Johnson points to environmental stress over the past couple of years as the culprit for our early fall colors. During the summer of 2012, northern Ohio experienced 90 degrees or higher on 28 days. Then last winter, we experienced four separate episodes of temperatures dropping to between -10 and -15 degrees. Many trees suffered bud damage from last winter’s frigid temperatures.

So, tree stress has been common across northern Ohio the last couple of years. But Johnson predicts the majority of local trees will begin to change colors in September, right on cue.

 

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Perhaps you’ve heard it said recently that technology is today’s pencil. That’s quite evident at James A. Garfield local schools this year, where a $5 Million Straight A Grant is providing every student in grades 7-12 with an HP Chromebook.

While parents should pick up their child’s laptop computer before the first day of school on August 26, they still have a traditional list of school supplies to purchase, as well. It’s tempting to think pencils and paper have gone the way of the dinosaur by now, but here’s a look at the seventh grade supply list:

  • 1 Large Box of Tissues (given to 7th period teacher)
  • Loose Leaf Paper
  • Pencils
  • Erasers
  • Colored Pencils
  • Highlighters
  • 2 pack black Sharpie Markers
  • Spiral Bound Notebooks (2-3 subject and 3-1 subject)
  • 4 – 2 in. binders
  • 5 tab dividers (4 packs)
  • Folders
  • 3X5 Index cards
  • Ruler with inches and centimeters
  • Earbuds or headphones

With the exception of earbuds or headphones, these items have stood the test of time over the generations. And shopping for them still stands as a demarcation between the fun of summer and the anticipation of a new school year.

However, the way we shop for back-to-school supplies has changed. In the name of convenience and speed, online spending for school supplies is outpacing in-store spending, growing 16% and reaching $27 billion in online sales over a three-year period. Combined sales for Back-to-School and Back-to-College readiness is estimated to hit $72.5 billion US dollars this year, according to the National Retail Federation. The Federation expects families to spend $670 on average during the back-to-school season, up 5% over last year, on supplies, clothes and electronics.

Multiple studies of consumers have confirmed that free shipping provides the most powerful incentive to convert consumers to online shopping. Just beware of free shipping offers tied to purchase thresholds. These are a tried-and-true way to lure shoppers into spending more than they intended.

According to USA Today, retailers like Staples, Wal-Mart, Old Navy, Sears and Kmart top the list for offering cheap prices and price-matching guarantees to customers in an effort to stay relevant and competitive over the back-to-school shopping season.

While August is crunch time for back-to-school shopping, peak shopping days for 2014 will likely be Wednesday, August 27 and Thursday, August 28, when summer clearance and back-to-school promotions converge. But the back-to school shopping season lasts through Labor Day (Monday, September 1), which retailers consider the Black Friday of the third quarter.

Be a smart shopper. If you can hold out for major purchases until Labor Day, you may get your best deals a couple weeks after class has already begun.

 

missles-in-portage-county

Ravenna - Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center (Ohio Army National Guard) is one of four new sites being considered by Congress as an “East Coast” national missile defense location. The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) hosted an informational open house for the public at Ravenna High School gymnasium on August 5, with representatives posted by various placards to answer questions from the public. An environmental impact statement is also being prepared for presentation to Congress.

If the local site is selected, ground-based interceptor missiles would be transported along public roads from Akron-Canton Regional Airport or Youngstown Air Reserve Station to Camp Ravenna. Lieutenant Colonel Chris Snipes said the 55-foot-long, 22-27-ton solid propellant missiles would be housed in 20 underground interceptor silos (missile defense complex), with possible future expansion of up to 60 such silos housed under Camp Ravenna’s 22,000 acres. Their range would be up to 10,000 kilometers to intercept an intercontinental ballistic missile.

During the public meeting, if a civilian wanted their concerns expressed in a formal report to Congress, they could fill out a survey form or speak to a court reporter stationed in a corner of the gym. People opposed to the missile interceptor site being located at Camp Ravenna taped paper bulls-eye symbols to their shirts, saying that Portage County is too densely populated for such a purpose, property values would plummet, and the community would become an attack target if the missile site were located here. They also voiced concerns that the large number of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) waste injection wells in Ohio makes the state more prone to seismic activity, which may not be a stable environment for ground-based missiles.

The other federally-owned locations under consideration include Fort Custer Army National Guard Base in Michigan, SERE East Navy Base in Maine, and Fort Drum Army Installation on New York. Thirty ground-based interceptor missiles currently stand at the ready for homeland defense from Fort Greely, Alaska and Vandenberg AFB in California. Aegis warships are equipped to deploy sea-based interceptor missiles.

In what was termed by MDA representative Ken Anderson as a “capabilities race” rather than an arms race, these additional East Coast sites are being submitted to Congress for consideration in order to bolster the homeland’s capacity to defend itself “against threats from nations such as North Korea and Iran.”

According to an MDA Fact Sheet, “One of the greatest threats facing the world today is the increasing proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction.”

The estimated $1-$5 billion proposed Ballistic Missile Defense System at Camp Ravenna would “engage and destroy limited intermediate and long-range ballistic missile threats in space,” intercepting and destroying them before they reach their intended targets. In doing so, the MDA says, “The ultimate goal of missile defense is to convince aggressors that ballistic missiles are not militarily useful or a worthy investment and place doubt in the minds of potential aggressors that a ballistic attack against the U.S. or its allies can succeed.”

Camp Ravenna — formerly the Ravenna Arsenal — was used by the Army during World War II, employing up to 18,000 people to manufacture bombs and projectiles. The site became a National Guard training center in 1971 and now is used to train troops for deployments. Proponents of the missile defense plan see it as an opportunity for Camp Ravenna to be fully utilized again, with the potential for economic benefits for Portage and Trumbull counties.

Of the four sites under deliberation, none is “preferred,” but all meet the criteria for consideration. The environmental impact statement for Camp Ravenna could take up to two years to complete, assessing potential environmental changes on land use, water resources, air quality, transportation, socioeconomics and other factors. The Department of Defense has not made decision to deploy or construct the CIS at this time. This proposal is considered a fact-finding mission in response to Congress’ request in December 2013 for this study to be conducted.

For more details, go to www.mda.mil. Members of the public can respond to this proposal through September 15. Email comments to MDA.CIS.EIS@BV.com, fax to (913) 458-1091 or mail a written letter to Black & Veatch Special Projects Corp., ATTN: MDA CIS EIS, 6601 College Blvd., Overland Park, KS  66211-1504.

 

Hiram - Starting out just ten years ago in 2004 with two full-time agents and two part-time assistants, Ohio Health Benefits, LLC  (OHB) in Hiram has more than doubled in size, filling their office space on Hayden Street. From health insurance issues and Medicare criteria  to navigating through the Affordable Care Act, OHB works to provide over 6,000 families, self-employed individuals, students, and retirees with affordable health insurance.

Fueled by his background in mechanical engineering, Auble and his team help translate the latest, often perplexing health care information into something his clients can easily understand. This is what really drives his business. “Since we are authorized to offer insurance from many carriers like AARP, Anthem, Medical Mutual, Summa, and more, my colleagues and I undergo constant training to stay apprised of the latest updates and developments in the healthcare arena.” Auble stated, “I really enjoy helping people by taking what most see as a complex, boring topic and explaining it to them in a friendly, understandable way. As a company, we strive to continue to grow and be the best in the industry as a regional authority on individual, family, health care reform and Medicare health insurance.”

In addition to running Ohio Health Benefits, Auble uses that same friendly and straightforward approach to help build businesses in his hometown. In addition to leasing out office space in the Hiram Professional Building, where OHB is located, he recently purchased the former Village Fire Hall. He’s currently in the process of transforming the space to become a cabinet showroom for Goodnight Kitchen & Bath, a company that was slated to open in Garrettsville prior to February’s fire. Hiram’s Mayor, Village Administration, and Police Chief have been very helpful in the process of bringing more businesses to Hiram, Auble shared.

For more information about OHB, visit ohiohealthbenefits.net.

 

peachesGarrettsville –  The peach crop throughout Ohio is the pits this summer, but that won’t put a dent in the annual Peach Social and Classic Car Cruise sponsored by the Garrettsville Area Chamber of Commerce. Cruise Night at the Garrettsville-Freedom-Nelson Fire Station (8035 Elm St.)  which  will proceed as planned, 5-8pm on Saturday, August 9 (Rain Date: August 10).

Mayor Rick Patrick envisioned the first peach social/car cruise about 15 years ago, and it has proven to draw the biggest crowds of the cruising season, year after year. He reports that “last year’s peach social proved to be incredibly popular, with over 50 homemade pies, 15 gallons of ice cream and a ton of delicious peaches served over the course of the evening. This year we are anticipating an even larger turnout and expect to go through at least 60 peach pies.”

While Chamber members typically supply all the homemade pies for the social, reinforcements from the community are being sought this time around. Please call Mayor Patrick if you plan to contribute a pie. Peach pies can be dropped off at the GFN Fire Department at 4:30pm on Friday, August 9.

While Monroe’s Orchard on Pioneer Trail in Hiram traditionally supplies the event with their own peaches, they — like fruit growers throughout Ohio — have no peach crop this summer, due to sub-zero temperatures following an unseasonable thaw in January which killed off tree buds. However, Monroe’s is coming through with peaches from another orchard in eastern Pennsylvania which escaped the brutal cold of last winter.

Local grocer Sky Plaza IGA supplies the ice cream for the slices of pie and bowls of peaches served at the social. Anyone who would like to assist in the peeling and cutting of fresh peaches on Friday are welcome to Mayor Patrick’s home at 8174 South Park Street, starting at 6pm August 8.

Center Stage Band will lend to the atmosphere with their range of live feel-good tunes from rock-n-roll and Top 40 hits, to Motown, R&B, oldies, and beach music. Enjoy the tunes as you savor the peaches, visit your neighbors, meet new friends and check out 200 or so classic and collectible cars on display.

Winter may have killed off the local peach crop, but here’s a little slice of summer we can sink our teeth into before the kids head back to school and autumn falls upon us.

 

Brendan and his Grandfather Larry uncovered a fossilized horn coral along the banks of Silver Creek in Garrettsville. The fossil dates back 299-419 million years!

Brendan and his Grandfather Larry uncovered a fossilized horn coral along the banks of Silver Creek in Garrettsville. The fossil dates back 299-419 million years!

Garrettsville – Summertime for a certain 9-year-old boy is an endless string of sun-filled days spent cooling off in Silver Creek, digging for buried treasures alongside his cousin and grandpa. A typical day along the creek bed turns up ancient brachiopod fossils, historic bricks from long-gone Garrettsville streets, or even desiccated cattle bones that could be mistaken as the skeletal remains of a dinosaur.

Until one fine day, as they were creek walking near Liberty Street and the water treatment plant. It was June 26. Grandpa Larry Beatty asked, “What’s this?” Grandson Brendan picked up the blackened, 2-inch, cone-shaped relic, convinced they’d found a dinosaur tooth.

They were initially convinced they’d found a dinosaur tooth.

They were initially convinced they’d found a dinosaur tooth.

There was only one way to find out. Mom Tara Bailey contacted Dale Gnidovec, Curator Orton Geological Museum at Ohio State University, asking if he could identify the relic by a photo.

The next morning, a reply from Gnidovec was in her email box, confirming that Brendan’s treasure was indeed an ancient fossil, estimated to be 299-419 million years old! It is a fossilized horn coral; once an upside-down jellyfish/sea anemone that lived in a cone-shaped shell. These creatures first appeared in the Ordovician Period around 450 million years ago and didn’t become extinct until the big Permo-Triassic extinction event 250 million years ago, according to Gnidovec.

Gnidovec added that most of the rocks in this area were formed during the Pennsylvanian Period, 323 to 299 million years ago (MYA), but some of the streams cut down into much older rocks, including those from the Devonian Period (419-359 MYA) and the Mississippian Period (359-323 MYA), so Brendan’s fossil may be anywhere between 299 to 419 million years old.

Community outreach identification services are available for treasure-hunters curious about their finds. If it’s an artifact  — something made by humans, such as an arrowhead — contact the Ohio Historical Society (http://www.oplin.org/point/index.html).

If it’s a rock, mineral, fossil or bone, Gnidovec is the scientist to contact (614-292-6896; gnidovec.1@osu.edu). You can arrange an appointment to bring it to the Orton Museum in Columbus for identification, or send photos via mail or email. Make sure the photos are in focus, show more than one side of the object, and include something for scale (a coin, ruler, etc.)

beattys-horn-coral-fossil-garrettsvilleHorn corals, colonial corals, snails, clams and brachiopods are among the most common fossils in the local area. At the time they were alive  — 380 million years ago during the Devonian Period — Ohio was under a warm tropical sea and was situated much closer to the equator. Today, Ohio lies 40 degrees north of the equator, but during the Devonian Period, Ohio was only about 20 degrees south of the equator, about where Australia is today.

It’s hard for Brendan to imagine that Garrettsville was once covered up by a warm and tropical ocean, and that Ohio was comparable to the Bahamas. But his imagination has been fired up by this recent find, and he’s hungry to unearth a dinosaur tooth next.

As he heads into fourth grade at James A. Garfield Elementary, Brendan is armed with a prime show-and-tell treasure that’s certain to inspire his fellow classmates to put down their electronic gadgets and head outside for an old-fashioned hunting expedition along Silver Creek.

 

scan0132-1Garrettsville - This village was settled 210 years ago, in early July 1804, by John Garrett of Delaware. On the occasion of Garrettsville’s Centennial Celebration, the history of early Garrettsville was written by S.M. Luther and published in SOUVENIR of Garrettsville ~ Centennial Home Coming. (Interesting to note it was published three years late in 1907!) Local businessman Christopher Perme discovered a copy of this relic on eBay, and has loaned it to the Villager in order to share these little-known facts about our hometown…

1) When Garrett founded Garrettsville in 1804, it was part of 300 acres of Nelson Township he bought for a grand total of $1,313. The Garrett family was accompanied the Dyson family and two slave girls (aged 6 and 10) who earned their freedom (by law) when they turned 18.

2)Garrettsville is located in territory that was originally Trumbull County. Portage was the third county formed from it in 1808 (which was the same year Hiram Township was formed. In 1817, Hiram Township was divided into the six townships of Mantua, Freedom, Windham, Nelson, Shalersville and Hiram.)

3)  “Following their arrival, they were encamped for several weeks where the pavement of Main Street now is, and busied themselves erecting cabins. The newcomers seemed to have energies equal to the exigencies of the conditions that faced them. They were located in the midst of an undisturbed forest, with few hands to do the work, yet early in the following year they had built a dam across Silver Creek and had a saw mill in operation, soon followed by a grist mill.”

4)  Abraham Dyson was a blacksmith who “is said to have had considerable patronage by the Indians in repairing firearms. The natives and settlers at times had altercations, but in general their policy seemed to be that of tolerance up to the war of 1812, after which an Indian was rarely seen.”

5)  John Garrett died two years after arriving here at the age of 46. He was preceded in death in 1805 by an infant son Josiah, who was the first white person to be buried here. His widow, Eleanor, became known as Mother Garrett. “A cheerful welcome was extended to all newcomers and often the hospitalities of her home. Her customary address on receiving new settlers was, “I welcome you to my country.”

6) Mason Tilden settled in Hiram in 1802, at which time he located a stream he christened Silver Creek, which runs through Garrettsville.

7)  At the time Garrettsville was settled, Garrettsville’s only passageway was an Indian blazed trail, running from an encampment in Windham to Hiram Rapids, “where there was a village of about 15 huts occupied chiefly by Indians of the Wyandot tribe.” State, Main and Windham streets were established in 1827.

scan01058) A sampling of goods and farm product available in early Garrettsville demonstrate how much times have changed since 1818: : gingham cloth-$1 p/yard; coffee-50 cents p/lb.; loaf sugar-50cents; felt hat-$5; quarter of beef-$2.62; dressed hog-$2.50.

9) Discussion to incorporate the village began in 1863, when “the condition of the streets and walks in stormy weather was intolerable, and the proper method of improving conditions was much discussed.” By 1864, a charter was granted, incorporating the town of Garrettsville. “The result was a marked improvement in many lines, notably in sidewalks and roadways.” In order to alleviate long distances travelled in order for citizens to vote, it became a township as well as an incorporated village with concurrent powers in 1874. At the time, only one other village in the state was known to have a similar form of government.

scan013110) In 1889-1990, wooden sidewalks were replaced with 6+ miles of sawed flagging. City Hall was also erected in 1889, costing more than $15,000 to build. The building included council rooms, the fire department, the jail and a boiler room. The main floor included a 600-seat ‘audience hall’ with a 23×48-foot stage and dressing rooms. In 1907, “The citizens are awaiting the placing of a town clock in the tower, which has been contracted for and amply financed by loyal friends at home and abroad.” By 1964, the opera house had fallen into disrepair, was condemned and torn down. Only the clock was saved. It now ticks on in a new clock tower built to commemorate the nation’s bicentennial in 1976.  From its location near the police department, it overlooks the  the burned-out Buckeye Block.

As history demonstrates, Garrettsville has gone through seasons of hardships and periods of focused growth. Some of its historic landmarks have fallen into disrepair or have been consumed by fire. Others — like the feed mill at Main and Center — are currently undergoing a renaissance. The Buckeye Block, which once housed one third of Main Street’s business district, is “Rockin’ to Rebuild,” thanks to overwhelming community support. In the near future, this village is poised to add plenty of good news to the history books.

Garrettsville - Timing is everything.

Volunteers help sort and stock donations at the Nelson Garrettsville Community Cupboard.

Volunteers help sort and stock donations at the Nelson Garrettsville Community Cupboard.

For the Nelson-Garrettsville Community Cupboard (NGCC), a $10,000 grant from MassMutual couldn’t have come at a better time. The non-profit food bank has been working to re-establish itself since the March 22 fire which wiped out its former location and one-third of Garrettsville’s downtown business district.

Chris Perme — a Garrettsville financial planner who operates Perme Financial Group from 8133 Windham Street and also serves on the advisory board of the NGCC — applied for the grant just days after the devastating fire.

“MassMutual offers 11 grants per year, and I’ve applied for them in the past but never was awarded one,” Perme says. “This application deadline was March 30. With the devastation of the fire still fresh on my mind, I think my sense of urgency came through in my application.”

The NGCC will receive its grant at the same time Perme will be awarded the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company’s prestigious Community Service Gold Award, which recognizes field associates who are making an exceptional difference in their community. Perme was selected for the award based on his ‘outstanding volunteer commitment and community service efforts with the NGCC, an agency member of Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank. The award and grant will be presented during MassMutual’s 2014 Leaders’ Conference in August in California.

Perme is not a traditional volunteer, but is involved in fundraising, marketing, long-term financial planning and budgeting; influencing the growth, development and awareness of NGCC.

Perme is grateful that this MassMutual grant represents one of the largest single gifts the Community Cupboard has ever received and recognizes it will help the NGCC to become self-sufficient and better able to serve the hungry over the long term. Added to donations from tremendous community support, the funding will contribute toward replacing food, shelving, refrigerators, freezers and office equipment that were all lost in the fire.

“The generosity of this gift also lifts some of the short-term pressure off our organization,” he said. “It’s allowing us to think beyond survival, to take a longer term view and ensuring the food cupboard’s longevity as a lasting service to those in need. Now we can grow and develop for the next 50 years, instead of thinking month to month or year to year.”

Mike Elias, co-founder of NGCC, recognizes that this gift offers great encouragement to the organization’s volunteers, who have “worked tirelessly as a team over the past two-and-a-half years, and especially in the past three months, to establish the Cupboard.”

The NGCC, which has operated from several locations throughout Nelson and Garrettsville since 2012, had moved to the Buckeye Block of downtown Garrettsville just months before it was leveled by fire. It is now operating from 12157 State Route 88 (near the former Bil-Mar turkey farm). Regular hours of operation are Monday, 3-6pm and Wednesday, 9am-12 noon.

Expressing an intention is to move back to Garrettsville once rebuilding is complete, Elias said, “Our location in the Buckeye Block on Center Street was perfect for NGCC. We were happy to be part of Main Street’s business community, and being located near the PARTA Transportation line was a great convenience for our clients. It is our hope that a spot can be found for the Cupboard as the rebuilding efforts get under way.”

In its short history, the food outreach has assisted more than 245 families. Currently, approximately 660 residents are using the food cupboard; over 50% of them children and senior citizens — and the need is increasing. Since its inception, the NGCC has distributed more than 64,500 items of food. More than one in seven Ohio households are reportedly facing a daily risk of hunger or are considered ‘food insecure’ — an increase of 71,000 households over last year.

Needless to say, there’s no time like the present to ‘shut the door on hunger;’ the mission statement of the Nelson-Garrettsville Community Cupboard.

 

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Garrettsville – Good things come to those who wait.

Keep that in mind as Garrettsville’s Buckeye Block sits vacant, waiting for funding, conceptualizing, planning, revisions, approvals, and infrastructure before the first ceremonial shovels hit the dirt, signaling an official start to the rebuilding process.

According to primary property owner of the Buckeye Block Mike Maschek, “Even though we all had insurance coverage, no one can afford to rebuild according to modern standards at this point. We need a government grant to make rebuilding feasible — not a loan. We’re hoping such funding could become available within 60 days. If that comes through, it will take at least a year to see any action at the Buckeye Block.”

The process starts with a basic concept and design, Maschek explained. Maschek Construction Co. is working closely with Garrettsville officials (i.e., Village Council, Planning Commission, Fire, Police, Utility and Street Depts.) to ensure that everyone is on board and that the concept will flow with Main Street’s historic identity. Once the concept is approved, an architect will draw up a detailed illustration. This second step is again reviewed by village planning officials (Design Review Board/Village Planning Committee). The final step in the preparation process is for an engineer to integrate all the ideas and concepts together in formal building plans that meet all current county and state building codes for final approval by all involved committees and the Portage County Building Department.

While actual building concepts and designs are in their initial stages, discussions are under way considering the possibility of building a full scale street to replace the alley that now runs behind the Buckeye Block; to replace the 100-year-old water line with a fresh, new line; to replace current electric lines with an underground system; to incorporate trees, grass and architectural lighting to the historic streetscape; and to incorporate other attractive features designed to draw visitors to downtown Garrettsville. Architectural students from Kent State University have made reconceptualizing Main Street their senior project, so new ideas are coming in that planners will consider while imagining the rebuilding process.

“We may never get an opportunity like this again,” Maschek said. “So we want to make the most of this quiet time to plan carefully for something valuable and lasting. We want to measure twice, then cut; not the other way around. We can’t afford to throw something together in a hurry and see if it sticks. A pearl starts as just a grain of sand. It takes time to become a beautiful pearl.”

Considering the relatively long wait for rebuilding the Buckeye Block, Maschek has been receiving enthusiastic inquiries from potential buyers and renters for the historic feed mill at Main and Water Streets, which he expects to be fully renovated and ready for occupancy as early as October 1 and surely before the end of the calendar year.

With asbestos abatement concluded, excavators should be on site by midweek to tear down the dilapidated rear buildings. The site behind the mill should be cleared and seeded with grass by the time Summerfest begins on June 27, Maschek said.

 

Garrettsville – Garrettsville can’t get enough pizza.

Pizza_HutAt least that’s the point of view of Hallrich, Inc., which is adding a Garrettsville location to its network of Pizza Hut pizzerias. Mayor Rick Patrick said that Hallrich signed ownership papers last week, making the pick-up/delivery drive-through a soon-coming reality.

Garrettsville’s Pizza Hut will be nestled between State Street Salon and Domino’s Pizza on State Street. The new building will include two additional spaces for lease to another fast food franchise or two.

There are already 92 Pizza Hut “InnerCrust” restaurant locations in Ohio, scattered among 24 counties of Ashland, Ashtabula, Columbiana, Coshocton, Geauga, Hancock, Henry, Knox, Lake, Lorain, Mahoning, Medina, Morrow, Ottawa, Portage, Shelby, Stark, Summit, Trumbull, Wayne and Williams, plus the cities of Piqua and Solon, and the Village of Sunbury. Locally owned and operated, Hallrich, Inc. spawned the Pizza Hut franchise in Ohio.

According to company marketing material, parent company Pizza Hut was founded in 1958. It began with two brothers borrowing $600 from their mother to start a pizzeria in in Wichita, Kansas. Pizza Hut has now become the biggest pizza company in the world.

Hallrich Incorporated is the company which bought a modest Pizza Hut franchise and then brought it to Northeast Ohio in 1968. At the time, there were fewer than a hundred Pizza Hut restaurants open nationwide, and the menu featured only three items: pizza, beer and soft drinks. Today, Hallrich employs more than 2,000 Ohioans in a variety of service and management positions.

Hallrich has helped launch two new Pizza Hut concepts; the Italian Bistro and WingStreet eateries, the latter offering a variety of wing flavors, wing meals sandwiches, and entrée salads.  Hallrich continues to revitalize the Pizza Hut brand with new signage, remodeling, and a more contemporary restaurant décor.

In terms of  community involvement, Hallrich supports the Book-It national reading program, offers fundraising programs for non-profits, and makes pizza donations to hot meal programs. Further, Hallrich has donated to the Harvest Program and Alex’s Lemonade Stand foundation to help fight against childhood cancer.

Mayor Patrick says the timeline for groundbreaking and opening of the new restaurant has not yet been settled, but a Hallrich representative will meet with the Village Planning Commission during its next meeting at 7pm on Thursday, June 5.

Garrettsville already has Domino’s Pizza, Zeppe’s Pizzeria, Italian Garden, Cal’s and The Pasta House. But Pizza Hut’s market study determines that this small village has a big appetite for pizza and pasta, and is confident that it will make plenty of room for Pizza Hut, as well.

Garrettsville – The blighted feed mill at the intersection of Main, Center and Water Streets is about to be transformed into a focal point of beauty, usefulness and historic pride. The long-vacant property changed hands last week from principal owner Martin Paul to local developer Mike Maschek.

The current state of the former grist mill. Photo by: Estelle R. Brown

The current state of the former grist mill.

Photo by: Estelle R. Brown

The change in ownership — effective May 23, 2014 — will set in motion a series of events which should result in a fully restored property within six months, Maschek reports. The abatement process of removing asbestos siding, shingles and other hazardous materials is to have started by midweek. Then excavators will demolish the two sagging rear storage buildings which face Water Street and clear the grounds for a green space in time for Summerfest the last week of June.

According to a statement made by attorney Douglas K. Paul, “Plans for the property include the preservation and rehabilitation of this landmark building and property which has served the area for 100 plus years in many different capacities, most recently, and likely the longest, as a grist mill. Earlier plans had called for the building to be demolished. Retaining this building may be an important element in Garrettsville’s historic landscape,  given the recent loss in the historic district as a result of the downtown area fire on March 22, 2014.”

The front showroom facing Main Street is structurally sound and will be restored as a landmark befitting the actual focal point of downtown Garrettsville, Maschek says. Built in 1852, it served the village as a carriage shop, general store and feed supplier before going out of business more than 10 years ago.

Photo of building dating back to the late 1800’s courtesy of the Paul family.

Photo of building dating back to the late 1800’s courtesy of the Paul family.

All subject to approval by standards set for the Garrettsville Historic District, plans call for the renovated building to feature stouter corner posts and a stone front face up to the second floor porch, which will wrap around to the back of the building for a view of Silver Creek. New windows, siding and roof will be installed, all according to historic design and colors of the early 1850s. Plans also call for a four- or five-foot glass-enclosed cupola to be added to the roofline, to light automatically each night as a warm beacon shining over Main Street. The Paul family has also committed to erecting a historic plaque out front.

The interior spaces of the basement, first and second floors — about 3,000 square feet — will be completely remodeled with new heating, electric, plumbing, insulation and drywall to create retail and office space, to be made available for rent or purchase before the end of the calendar year.

“It will be beautiful,” Maschek forecasts. “My goal is to bring Garrettsville’s hidden glory alive; to bring life back into this village and opportunity back to the fire victims who lost their businesses. I want the center of town to be lit up with promise, representing Garrettsville’s best. The fire was terrible for everyone but I believe that God will bring beauty from the ashes. ”

Maschek owns a majority of the block which burned in the March fire, and he expressed a sense of obligation to provide the burnt-out business owners viable options to return downtown as soon as possible. Restoration of the Buckeye Block is moving slowly, with demolition and clearing of the ruins now complete. Soon the vacant lots will be leveled off with soil and seeded with grass. Once the grass is established, the fencing will come down and a green space will be available to the public until rebuilding starts.

Garrettsville – Less than a year since taking over the medical practice of retired family physician Sang Leu and his successor, Dr. Armelle Jemmy-Nouafo, Dr. Timothy Neely has a brand-new office.  With more than twice the floor space than the previous location, it gives Dr. Neely the capability to offer local patients more than twice the medical services available as before.

DrNeelyDr. Neely, DO,  established his family practice last August at Garrettsville Family Medicine, located in Sky Plaza on Windham Street, where Dr. Leu had practiced family medicine for 37 years. But the cramped and outdated facility constricted Dr. Neely’s ability to offer more than basic services, primarily for adult and geriatric care.

So he enthusiastically pursued University Hospital’s plan to find a suitable new location for the family practice, which would allow him to provide new medical services for under-represented demographics. That location is the site of the former Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge dealership owned by the Kepich’s,  just around the corner from Main Street, which had been sitting vacant for several years before renovations began in late 2013.

By March 31, 2014, Dr. Neely opened the doors of his new-and-improved practice at 10724 South Street. The handicap-accessible facility features six examination rooms (up from 2.5 at the previous location), including a room for making osteopathic adjustments, a pediatric exam room, and a women’s health room for gynecological exams. There is also an in-house lab for blood and urine tests, strep and flu swabs, spirometry, Coumadin checks and other labwork.

Another new feature is the Virtual Concierge, which connects a patient to a referred specialist for scheduling of further testing or surgical procedures before leaving Dr. Neely’s office via FaceTime video messaging.

Dr. Neely plans to add an immunization program and nursing home visitations soon. To top it off, a nurse practitioner is joining the practice to meet the increased demand by mid-June.

This widening menu of health care options for the entire family is what Dr. Neely had in mind when he first established his practice last August. As an osteopathic doctor, he has a holistic approach to medicine, addressing the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of the patient. While licensed to prescribe pharmaceuticals to treat medical conditions like an MD, osteopathic doctors are also licensed to manipulate the musculo-skeletal system, bringing muscle and bone into alignment, allowing the body to function optimally and hasten its own healing process.

New hours at Garrettsville Family Medicine are now: 8am-5pm Mondays; 10am-7pm Tuesdays, 8am-1pm Wednesdays, 8am-5pm Thursdays, and 7am-3pm Fridays. Dr. Neely is still accepting new patients. To make an appointment, call (330) 527-2617 or request an appointment at www.uhhospitals.org. Stay tuned for an upcoming open house at the new location this summer.

 

horseMantua - Frustrated? Anxious? Overwhelmed? Resentful? Restless? Confused?

If so, it’s time for a change — a retreat from the everyday, surrounded by nature, so you can clarify the root of what’s nagging you, then identify the goals and objectives to help you chart a new course that will bring you lasting satisfaction. It’s time to bring in the horses.

Yes, horses.

L-E-A-D is an unconventional approach to leadership, team building, coaching and personal growth developed by human resources management professional Sue E. Thomas of Mantua. She utilizes horses in a unique experiential approach to awaken one’s potential in personal and professional development.

Thomas founded Leadership Equine Assisted Development, LLC in 1999. She has extensive experience in business, human resource management, and with horses. Certified in a number of counseling disciplines, Thomas is is a Professional Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation and holds a master’s degree in Organizational Development and Analysis.

Thomas combines her backgrounds in executive and life coaching, organizational development, and personal/leadership development, to connect people to their life purpose, vision and values. “Working with the horses provides awareness of what holds you back, to be successful and obtain the life you desire,” she said.

At a recent What About Me? Workshop at her 40-acre farm, Thomas led a group of women through a two-day exploration in personal development, defining personal struggles, boundaries, dreams, frustrations, goals and objectives. Horses Flash, Jazz, Boss and Whiskey provided helpful feedback every step of the way. (The resident cats and golden retrievers provided comic relief.)

“This workshop provides space and a comfortable environment to look at the ‘who’ you are today by gently peeking at the past, living in the present, and looking at your future desires,” Thomas explained. “We guide you in self-exploration, and provide room for you to release what no longer serves you, strengthen what does, and gain awareness needed to direct your desired future.”

By placing each woman in a vulnerable situation with a horse — and a specific objective to accomplish inside the arena with that horse — participants quickly learned to use clear, concise, consistent modes of communication to prompt the horse through a particular exercise or obstacle course.

For example, in one exercise, each participant was instructed to take a raw egg and draw symbols or write words that identified their most valued elements of life (faith, family, health, a career, etc.) on the shell. Then, each person had to balance their egg on a spoon while leading a horse (which represented “the stuff in life you’ve got to get done”) through an obstacle course — without dropping their egg. Unfortunately, the horse was skittish about walking over the white poles along the course, and tended to shy away, pushing or pulling the participant off balance. It was a good metaphor for the common struggle to achieve balance in this life while pursuing dreams, despite stresses at work and demands from loved ones, or whatever the situation may be.

Results were mixed, depending on the approach each participant took. Two made slow, halting progress with close calls along the way, but crossed the finish line with victorious smiles. Another paid too much attention to the horse, lost track of her egg, and was horrified when she lost control of all she held dear, just to see it drop into the mud. Yet another participant marched her horse through its paces in record time, holding her egg in steady balance from start to finish (the sign of a chronic multi-tasker).

Other exercises involved leading horses while blindfolded; depending upon a partner’s verbal instructions to accomplish the task. Some activities focused on personal initiatives; others on group dynamics, trust and cooperation skills. Depending on each person’s body language, personal boundaries and subconscious cues, the horse would respond agreeably, or with stubbornness, playfulness or aloofness. Working with the horses heightened each participant’s awareness of their environment, their fears and vulnerabilities, their potential for growth, and their opportunity to change limiting behaviors that provided measurable results.

The most cited result of the workshop was clarity: the ability to clear the cobwebs and concretely identify the root of frustrations, learn how to put it into words, then devise a concrete plan to resolve the issue.

Through it all, Thomas’ mission was to inspire and nurture growth in individuals so they might reach their potential with integrity, respect, trust and honesty. In addition to personal growth workshops like this for women and at-risk youth, Thomas also provides leadership training, consulting and coaching services to corporations, organizations and other professional groups to encourage leadership development, team building and employee development using horses.

To explore L-E-A-D further for your personal or professional development, contact Sue Thomas at (330) 274-2693 or visit LeadershipEAD.com.

 

Garrettsville – Tracey Garrett is putting Garrettsville under the national spotlight… and it has nothing to do with the fact that she shares her last name with the village’s pioneer founder. Garrett — a pastry chef who owns and operates Top Tier Pastry from her home on Zupancic Drive — was one of five signature chefs nationwide selected to have their Valentine-themed dessert recipe featured in the February 2014 issue of Dessert Professional Magazine.

Nelson Twp. - Black smoke rose up in plumes high above Garrettsville as a raging fire burned… again.

Just about a week after a block of historic Main Street went up in flames, a large storage unit leased by Hermann Pickle Farm burnt to the ground on April 2 along Norton Road in neighboring Nelson Township.

GARRETTSVILLE – “We’re going to do all we can to rebuild this Main Street block, restore its businesses, and revive this community,” says Mike Maschek of Maschek Construction, owner of the historic Buckeye Block Building which housed eight of the 14 businesses affected by the Garrettsville fire of March 22.

Garrettsville – “We are committed to to staying in Garrettsville and going back to Main Street when we can.”

These are the words of Dan Myers, who owned and operated New Hearing Sales & Services from 8115 Main Street until fire destroyed it and nearly every other business from Center Street to High Street in a historic blaze on March 22. His sentiment is echoed by most of the business owners who are scrambling now in the aftermath to relocate and regain operations elsewhere while Main Street gets cleaned up and rebuilt in the months ahead.

“Garrettsville is burning!”

On Saturday, March 22, 2014, that message blazed out across phone lines, the internet and news agencies throughout northeast Ohio. Main Street’s newly-renovated historic Buckeye Block Building was on fire at lunchtime. Despite prompt and robust response by local and regional firefighters, the angry fire had devoured the storefronts from Center Street to High Street by dinnertime — all but the small brick building that houses the Mishler and Kohli law offices.

Time may not heal all wounds, but perhaps it gives us the opportunity to right some wrongs.

That’s what the nation has to offer Vietnam Veterans more than 50 years after they were swept into that conflict in January 1962. More than 3 million Americans served in the 11-year Vietnam War; 58,000 of them died in combat; thousands more suffered immeasurably from post traumatic stress disorder, physical after-effects of Agent Orange, and the painful memories of being spat upon and harangued by war protesters upon their return home. 

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Portage County – There are heroes amongst us.

Five heroes of environmental conservation will be honored during the 16th Annual Portage County Environmental Conservation Awards Benefit Dinner on April 5. Recipients of the 2014 awards have been chosen for making a significant contribution to improving quality of life in Portage County through natural resource conservation and environmental awareness and protection.

Garrettsville – The lights are coming back on at Garrettsville Cinema at 8009 Main Street. The Garfield Plaza movie theater is now under new management, renovated and updated with digital projectors and surround sound. New tenant Justin Dlugokecki of Showplace Theaters plans to re-open “the new and improved Garrettsville Cinema” on Friday, March 7, with showings  of “Mr. Peabody and Sherman”, “Winter’s Tale”, “Lego Movie” and “Robocop”. Check back at www.showplacetheaters.net for current updates.

Honestly. We are without excuse. We’re fresh into the New Year and the launchpad of New Resolutions. February is Heart Month, sponsored by the American Heart Association to build awareness that heart disease is the #1 killer among American men and women — and it’s largely preventable with a lifestyle marked by regular exercise and a healthy diet. And it’s Winter Olympics season. Even if you’re not an athlete, just watching a half hour of the world’s most fit competitors is inspirational and motivational. 

So often, we give anonymously to a good cause — whether it be a local food drive, national disaster relief effort or an international humanitarian mission — and we never really know the impact of our gift. Wouldn’t you love the opportunity to follow your donation across local boundaries, past international security checkpoints, over the ocean, onto remote dirt roads and into an impoverished village, where you can put that vital medicine, supply or food into the hands that need it most? 

Garrettsville – The holidays are prime time for devastation-turned-redemption dramas. For a real-time example, look no further than downtown Garrettsville and its restored historic district on Main Street. A little before-and-after reminder is in order, now that buildings are beautiful, lights are twinkling, and businesses are bustling.

Garrettsville – Neighbors helping neighbors.

That’s the basic premise that inspired local volunteers to establish the Nelson-Garrettsville Community Cupboard (NGCC) more than three years ago, in a storage area behind Isaac Mills’ Bakery at Nelson Circle. Now the NGCC has outgrown its original home and has moved into a new locale with double the floor space at 8147 Center Street, just off Main Street in Garrettsville.

Garrettsville – Jerry Kehoe Used Cars has stood in the heart of Garrettsville at the intersection of Main Street, North Street, Center Street, Windham Street and South Street for the past 34 years.  But the car dealership’s namesake quietly prepared for retirement by selling the business to Eric Hedge last February. Now Hedge and his wife, Meredith, want the community to know that their new ownership is resulting in a new way of doing business, as well.

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If you’ve been following this series of articles, you’ve learned about the purpose behind Disaster Preparedness Month, the increasing role of EMS (Emergency Medical Services) in preparedness and how it relates to the Affordable Health Care Act, and EMS milestones throughout history. This week, we’re looking deeper into the connection between disaster preparedness and the healthcare delivery system, and how a Portage County company helps unite the two through technology.

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We know Emergency Medical Services (EMS) as the local firefighters, volunteer rescue personnel and regional ambulance transport services that respond to car accidents, at-home mishaps, heart attacks, strokes and other medical emergencies in public places. EMS   responds when we call 9-1-1, provides preliminary medical care while en route to the hospital, then leaves us in the hands of the medical professionals there. Job done. 

Garrettsville – School districts throughout Ohio finally learned their scores for 2012-2013 according to the new state report cards last week. James A. Garfield School District — which has achieved Excellent with Distinction for two of the past three years — maintained high scores for 2012/13 by earning an overall A grade in Progress from the state. 

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I’m beginning to think that 40-something is the new 20-something. And no, it’s not because of medical miracles, cosmetic surgery or skin cream. Rather, it’s a strange convergence of rising college costs, a constricted job market and renewed outlooks as a result of the first two economic realities. 

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Garrettsville –  The (new) doctor will see you now.
Timothy R. Neely, DO, established his family practice at 8:30am Thursday, August 1, 2013 at University Hospitals’ Garrettsville Family Medicine. Fresh from his residency at Summa Western Reserve Hospital in Cuyahoga Falls, Dr. Neely is seeing the former patients of Armelle Jemmy-Noufo, MD, whose last day at the practice was Wednesday.

The Image Consultants is a perfectly-named hair salon at 149 S. Water Street in historic downtown Kent. Owned and operated by Cheryl Germano-Smith, the salon sets itself apart by providing free customized consultations for every new client.

People usually can’t answer the big question, which is, “What do you want to do with your hair?“ But they can easily answer smaller, more specific questions, which lead The Image Consultants directly to the answer they seek.

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Garrettsville - I was awakened this morning to the sounds of carriage wheels rolling along and the clip-clop of horses’ hooves as an Amish buggy passed by on the road in front of the house. As I rolled over for a few more zzz’s, I smiled to myself, thinking, “Some people have the ‘burbs. We have the ‘ville.”

Having grown up in the thick of Lakewood’s suburbia, I’m often struck by the differences between life in the ‘burbs versus life in the village. Let me count the ways…