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Estelle R. Brown

Estelle R. Brown
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 – 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.

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…

Kent – You just don’t find places like this any more.

Shops like Sue Nelson Designs, Ltd. in historic downtown Kent died off when big box hardware stores replaced family-owned interior design sales and services. But Sue Nelson has kept her shop alive at 156 South Water Street for nearly 25 years by offering an ever-widening array of quality products and customized services.

Garrettsville – Don’t get caught with your head in the sand. Parents have often been accused of being out of touch or naive when it comes to their children’s (mis)behavior. Here’s your chance to either redeem yourself or to get a rude awakening.

Looks can be deceiving. Don’t be fooled. This is the message of “Hidden in Plain Sight,” a traveling exhibit which will be on display at James A. Garfield Elementary School gymnasium on Wednesday, May 15. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with a 90-minute presentation beginning at 7 p.m. The exhibit is open to adults only. There is no charge for admittance.

Garrettsville – On March 22, James A. Garfield School District Superintendent Charles C. Klamer submitted his letter of resignation to school board president Guy Pietra. The school board is expected to accept Klamer’s resignation officially at its next regular meeting on April 11. When his resignation goes into effect on July 31, it will bring Klamer’s record-breaking 22 years as JAG superintendent to a close.

I like the way the pages feel and sound when you turn them and the way some books smell warm from decades of paper decay beneath the whorls imprinted from generations of turning, penciled notes in the margin small and fading. (Robert Andropolis)

Depending on how old you are, this little excerpt either fills you with the nostalgic memory of enjoying an old library book… or the impact of this writing is entirely lost on you. During this Digital Age, libraries themselves risk becoming objects of nostalgia — the deadly step right before irrelevance, and right after failure to transform.

Jump to:

Part I: A Digital Age Dilemma Part II: Perilous Times for Papers Part III: Perilous Times for Papers Part IV: Perilous Times for Papers



 It’s the end of the world as we knew it. Do you feel fine?

Yes, the Digital Revolution has truly turned modern living on its head. For those of you who can recall what it was like to pound out papers on a manual typewriter, or to have to look up an answer to your question in volumes of encyclopedias, or rifle through drawers of card catalogs to locate a library book… did you really think you’d live to see the day when you’d get everything done online through a personal computer or handheld digital device? Or did you leave that implausible concept to the realm of dystopian science fiction tales like Fahrenheit 451 or 1984?

We’ve been so eager as a society to keep pace with all that’s new, few have pondered what’s to lose along the way. Sure, convenience and speed are alluring. But at what price?

There’s something sacred about age-old traditions we hold dear… like spreading out the newspaper while drinking morning coffee, or reading an engrossing novel while curled up near a winter’s fire, or enjoying a favorite magazine while settling in for a long flight or car ride. And yet, the Digital Revolution is threatening the survival of all of these print media pastimes.

Print newspapers throughout the U.S. are either going out of business or changing over to digital format. The parent company of the Cleveland Plain Dealer has cut several of their newspapers to three days a week, including the Times-Picayune, causing New Orleans to become the largest U.S. city without a daily paper. The Plain Dealer could be next on the chopping block, overshadowing New Orleans as the largest city without a daily.

Panicked journalists from the PD established a Save the Plain Dealer page on FaceBook last September, upon the sudden retirement of their publisher. “Our parent company, Advance Publications, has begun a series of radical changes in the markets where it operates newspapers, with the intent of focusing its efforts online,” states the About page.

“You may have heard that our sister papers in New Orleans, Michigan, Alabama, Syracuse and Harrisburg will be published three days a week or less. Advance is laying off half or more of those papers’ reporters, editors and photographers — the people who bring you the news. And it’s cut advertising, marketing and other staff… This isn’t just about jobs. Sure, we want to keep ours. But what we really want to maintain is a vibrant, committed newspaper.”

Founded in 1842, the PD is Ohio’s largest newspaper with more than 665,000 readers daily and almost one million readers on Sunday. But that’s not enough to keep it out of danger. Fifty-eight PD employees are slated to be laid off this year.

Meanwhile, actual books give way to e-readers and magazine giants like Newsweek have stopped printing glossy pages altogether, staying alive by publishing solely online.

Virtually the entire print industry is in freefall due to easy access to the Web, which offers nearly instantaneous news. It’s the end of an age. Some people — like the PD reporters –are reacting with alarm. Others shrug their shoulders and say it’s a sign of the times. Things change. You’ve just got to roll with it.

In a sense, it was all foretold in 1998, with the publication of a little book called, Who Moved the Cheese?  Written by Spencer Johnson, MD, the tale was a metaphor where Cheese represents anything we value in life, whether it be a career, a title, a way of life, print media, … whatever makes you tick.

Once we find The Cheese in this maze called life, we become attached to it. If we lose it or it’s taken away, it’s traumatic. How will we react when change inevitably comes and shakes our world? Will we deny reality, curl up in a corner, and play the blame game? Or will we remain flexible, adapt, and move with The Cheese, perhaps discovering even tastier Cheese as we make our way through life’s maze? Beyond that, can we learn to anticipate change so we’re not blindsided when our Cheese disappears again?

Take note of these basic precepts laid out in the book:

The Handwriting on the Wall:

Change happens (They keep moving the cheese).

Anticipate change (Get ready for the cheese to move).

Monitor change (Smell the cheese often so you know when it’s getting old).

Adapt to change quickly (The sooner you let go of the old cheese, the sooner you can enjoy new cheese).

Change (Move with the cheese).

Enjoy change (Savor the adventure and enjoy the taste of new cheese).

Be ready to change quickly and enjoy it again (They keep moving the cheese).  



 Just as oil lamps gave way to electric lights, and railroads declined as the interstate highway system spread, print media has been put under pressure from digital innovations, threatening its very survival.

For newspapers, the handwriting has been on the wall a long time. The industry has always been cyclical, and has weathered previous lows. While the 1950s introduced audiences to television, diminishing newspapers’ importance as the primary source of daily news, the advent of the internet in the 1990s exploded with even more media choices for the average reader, further undercutting newspapers’ fundamental role.

[pulledquote]Where is the internet going to get its information if local newspapers go out of business?[/pulledquote]Both television and the internet deliver news faster and in a more visual style than newspapers, which are limited by their physical form and the need to be manufactured and distributed. The competing mediums also offer advertisers the use of video and audio. Additionally, the internet’s search function enables advertisers to target their pitch to readers who have already revealed what information they’re seeking –- an enormous advantage.

The internet has also gone a step further than TV in eroding the advertising income of newspapers, in that it provides a convenient vehicle for classified ads of all kinds. Free services like Craigslist have decimated the classified advertising departments of many newspapers, some of which depended on classifieds for 70 percent of their ad revenue, as Editor & Publisher reported in a 2009 article. At the same time, newspapers have been pinched by consolidation of large department stores, which once accounted for substantial ad revenues.

Further, these ‘new media’ are not saddled with expensive union contracts, printing presses, delivery fleets and overhead accumulated over decades. Many are simply aggregators of news, often derived from print sources, but without print media’s capital-intensive overhead. Estimates put the percentage of online news derived from newspapers at 80 percent, according to The New Yorker.

This begs the question, ‘Where is the internet going to get its information if local newspapers go out of business?’

Spelled out in a new documentary, Black & White and Dead all Over (a film about the end of American Newspapers, focusing on the Philadelphia Inquirer), “The great irony of the internet information age is: You ask people where did you find that out? They’ll say they got it from Google. But they didn’t get it from Google. The source of that information came from a newspaper!”

Content is vitally important. But revenue is still the bottom line.

Estimated print advertising revenues of $19.0 billion in 2012 were the lowest annual  amount spent on print newspaper advertising since its ad revenue was first tracked in 1950.

The decline in print newspaper advertising to a 62-year low is amazing by itself, but last year’s ad revenues of $19 billion were less than half of the $46 billion spent just five years before in 2007, and a little more than one-third of the $56.5 billion spent in 2004.

In other words, it took 50 years to go from about $20 billion in annual newspaper print ad revenue in 1950 to $63.5 billion in 2000, and then only 12 years to go from $63.5 billion back to less than $20 billion in 2012.

With revenues plummeting, many newspapers have slashed news bureaus and journalists, while still attempting to publish compelling online content –- much of it more interactive, more lifestyle-driven and more celebrity-conscious than hard news. Creating a vicious cycle, those cuts often spur more and deeper circulation declines—triggering more loss of ad revenues. As reported by the American Journalism Review in 2007, “No industry can cut its way to future success. At some point the business must improve.”

Editor & Publisher magazine states that circulation declines in the United States, coupled with a 23 percent drop in 2008 newspaper ad revenues, have proven a double whammy for some newspaper chains. Combined with the recent recession, the cloudy outlook for future profits has meant that many newspapers put up for sale have been unable to find buyers, who remain concerned about increasing competition, dwindling profits and a business model that seems increasingly outdated.

“As succeeding generations grow up with the Web and lose the habit of reading print,” noted The Columbia Journalism Review in 2007, “it seems improbable that newspapers can survive with a cost structure at least 50 percent higher than their nimbler and cheaper internet competitors.”

The problem facing newspapers is generational: In 2005 The New York Review of Books reported that while 70 percent of older Americans read a newspaper daily, fewer than 20 percent of younger Americans did.

“It is the fundamental problem facing the industry,” writes newspaper analyst John Morton. “It’s probably not going away. And no one has figured a way out.”


Part III: Surviving the Surge

Diversification appears to be the key for print media to survive the digital surge. This should be no surprise to those who have studied the evolutionary principles of adaptation and survival of the fittest.

Company stock at The Washington Post is faring better than most competitors, thanks to their diversification into educational training programs -– and away from publishing. Similarly, Editor& Publisher reports that Pearson PLC, owner of The Financial Times, increased earnings in 2008 despite a drop in newspaper profits, also due to diversification away from publishing.

Bloomberg Businessweek published a provocative article in 2012: “The Future of Media = Many Small Pieces, Loosely Joined,” which warns media companies away from seeking a single solution to magically cure their ills. ”Success for media entities of all kinds will come by making smaller bets on a number of different things. The big problem for the industry’s traditional players is that they have spent decades getting good at doing one thing. But now not as many people want that thing, and experimentation and rapid innovation are not in the media companies’ DNA.”

“Until recently, the holy grail was summed up in two words: replacement revenue. Now the jig’s up. No matter how fast you shovel digital dirt into the chasm of print loss, you can’t recreate the past; you can’t fill the hole.”  John Paton, the chief executive of Media News Group and a leading advocate of the ‘digital first’ approach for newspapers, has said the only possible response to the problem of ‘digital dimes’ not making up for the loss of print dollars is to accumulate as much as possible from as many sources as possible (while also reducing costs to try to stem the bleeding).   Meinolf Ellers, the managing director of German multimedia agency dpa-infocom, made a similar point: “What we all see—newspaper publisher or news agency—is that the bundle is eroding, losing its power. The more we see the bundle losing market share and reaching the end of its lifecycle, the more we have to work on smaller, fragmented products that, not each by each, but overall, can compensate. That’s the strategy.”  This brings us to a phrase that David Weinberger, a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for the Internet & Society, devised to describe how the Web works: He called it “small pieces, loosely joined.” This is the idea that the Web allows individuals and small groups or entities to have almost as much power as—and in some cases more power than—established players.   We have seen the impact of exactly that phenomenon in the media industry over the past few years, with the rise of digital-first entities like the Huffington Post,TMZ, Politico and others.  Media outlets can make a number of smaller bets instead of one or two big ones, including ‘in-sourcing’—using printing presses and distribution chains to provide services to others who need those skills—as well as providing marketing services outside the traditional newsprint platform.   Also promising is encouraging a kind of membership approach, where new features or ways of packaging content or experiences related to that content are offered to readers. So live events, for example, or e-books, which are a different way of packaging content, can be remarkably profitable, even if that content has appeared previously on the Web for free.   There is no one solution in print media’s struggle to survive and actually profit in this strange, new world. But, if necessity is the mother of invention (as the ancient Greek philosopher Plato so aptly put it), print media companies with a will to fight are coming up with creative solutions that will see them well into the foreseeable future.



“Wherever there is change and uncertainty lies opportunity, if you’re willing to take risks.” -Mark Cuban, owner of Dallas Mavericks

Undoubtedly, for newspapers to survive in this new environment of 24/7 digital information streams, they need to be nimble, flexible, experimental and bold.

Ultimately, the newspaper of the future may bear little resemblance to the newsprint you now hold in your hands. Newspapers have already become hybrids: part-print and part-internet. Eventually, they seem destined to become internet-only manifestations. Meanwhile, the transition from the printed page to its next embodiment is challenging, both for the newspaper industry and for its consumers.

“Paper is dying,” said Nick Bilton, a technologist for The Times, “but it’s just a device. Replacing it with pixels is a better experience.” What’s emerging may be ‘newspapers’ unrecognizable to older readers, but should be more timely, more topical and more flexible.

Making technological changes work for them, instead of against them, will decide whether newspapers remain vital –- or roadkill on the information superhighway, as stated in “The Death of News” in Salon magazine in 2009.

As for this hometown newspaper, co-owner and editor Michelle Zivoder says, “We will continue to print our paper weekly as has been done for over 40 years. However, we maintain our interactive website and provide our paper in total PDF format. We have done this to accommodate all readers. Currently, we have readers of our little paper worldwide.”

The Weekly Villager website was built several years ago, offering only the paper’s contact information and digital files of previous paper editions. This Web element has grown to include a Facebook page, as well. The updated website now features searchable articles by title or author, plus back issues as PDF files, available on a rolling three-month basis. In addition, anything related to Garrettsville is automatically picked up by Garrettsville Village Facebook pages.

Within the past year, 186,698 visits have been made to the www.weeklyvillager.com, with a monthly average of 15,558  and a daily average of 518, representing 6,810 unique web addresses. Online users log in from all across the U.S., and from more than a dozen countries, including Canada, United Kingdom, Philippines, Brazil, China, France, Netherlands, Chile, Venezuela, Australia, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, and many foreign outposts of the U.S. military and government.

Zivoder is committed to retaining the print paper alongside its Web counterpart, as long as it’s feasible. “There is something special about sitting down with a book, magazine or newspaper. It is sad to think that there may be a time in the future where this may not be possible. While the digital age does have its advantages, it is nice to unplug at times.”

The Villager averages 10,000 copies of the newspaper weekly, including nearly 100 weekly print customers who have the paper mailed to them in Florida, Arizona, Colorado, New York, North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, New Mexico, California, Oregon, Wisconsin, Illinois, Washington, and Tennessee.

While printing volume has been reduced by about 2,000 copies weekly since Zivoder became publisher of the Villager about seven years ago, she and co-owner Chris Gerez have still managed to continue to offering a FREE paper — let alone print — in this day and age, while many other community papers have gone the way of the dinosaur.

“We continue to be able to offer the paper for free, thanks to our wonderful advertisers,” Zivoder explains. “The printing of the Villager is supported solely through the space ads, classifieds and obits weekly. We struggle in the winter months like everyone else. We have gone through times where Chris and I held on to our paychecks to make sure the bills got paid, which is what small business owners do. But so far this winter, we have been very fortunate to stay in the black and avoid the red.”

Recent expansion to include coverage to the communities of Ravenna, Streetsboro and Aurora not only opened doors to the Villager’s current advertisers by bringing in new customers, but also added pools of new advertisers for the paper.

[pulledquote] Somehow, in a world of downsizing, we were able to super size![/pulledquote]The additional change to a larger format paper allows the Villager to print more articles weekly (a current 12-page broadsheet paper is equivalent to the formerly-used 16-page tabloid style paper). An added benefit with The Vindicator as the current printer is improved registration and print quality, so readers are enjoying a more satisfying visual experience.

“When we were looking to improve our print paper and we started looking at options for printers, we actually had several vendors say that they were very impressed at our goals and what we were doing. With print media changing, going from a tabloid to a broadsheet paper was going against the grain. But when you look at how much more we can put into the paper for the same amount we were paying for a smaller paper, it just made sense to us. We can give the public more to read for the same cost. Somehow, in a world of downsizing, we were able to super size!”

Meanwhile, there’s a lot more going on at the Weekly Villager office than just publishing a weekly newspaper. It provides UPS shipping services while its partner company, Villager Printing, does custom printing of shirts, uniforms, banners, signs, and other marketing materials. The Weekly Villager is also in the process of becoming the Garrettsville Area Chamber of Commerce office, where people will be able to pick up information for local chamber businesses, Garrettsville information, Welcome Wagon packets, and other useful information. In addition, Photography by Krista and Villager Printing are now shooting on-site or studio portrait photos.

The Villager certainly IS bucking the trend, thanks to their formula for success during perilous times for print. Looking forward, Zivoder says, “Our goal is to provide a little bit of something for anyone picking up the paper.  We have amazing writers and columnists that provide a diverse range of coverage and topics — and we are looking to add more.”

Garrettsville  – If you’re looking for comfort food, it’s time to come home to The Pasta House. This Italian restaurant is downtown’s newest addition at 8126 Main Street, owned and operated by Sherry Quiggle and her son, Jeremy.

If these names sound familiar, they should. Jeremy took ownership of Italian Garden four doors up from The Pasta House two years ago, and the mother-son duo operate the pizzeria together. 

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Ravenna – Some people started preparing for the Christmas holidays as early as Halloween. Others got a start on their shopping by Thanksgiving or Black Friday. But even these early birds were put to shame by a group of young kids known as the Chesty Pullers Young Marines. Back on October 1, they started collecting 4,000 toys for 360 local families, so 900 Portage County kids could experience a Merry Christmas through Toys for Tots. Seventy-five local businesses and nearly 50 Young Marines, staff and parents did their part to make this happen.

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On January 2, the long holiday season was freshly behind us and it was time to get back into a normal routine. My FaceBook feed was full of glossy and hopeful well wishes for the new year… until I landed on this one from an old pal from high school. His post read, “My resume is basically a list of things I hate to do.”

Garrettsville -  The James A. Garfield School District has once again distinguished itself with highest honors. It earned the Excellent with Distinction (A+) status on statewide district report cards for the 2011-2012 academic year. JAG was one of only four among Portage County’s 11 school districts to achieve such a high mark, including Aurora, Kent and Field.

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Ravenna – The Chesty Puller Young Marines unit recently moved back to Ravenna from Cuyahoga Falls, and the organization is spreading the word they’ve returned ‘home’ and are re-engaged with the local community.
The Young Marines is a youth education and service program for boys and girls, ages 8 through completion of high school. A national organization, the Young Marines promotes the mental, moral, and physical development of its members. The program focuses on character-building and leadership, and promotes a healthy, drug-free lifestyle. The Young Marines is the focal point for the U.S. Marine Corps’ Youth Drug Demand Reduction efforts.
The Chesty Puller Young Marines has been a unit for 21 years, previously called the Ravenna Young Marines. The unit was founded in  October 1990. The 44th Recruit Platoon is currently completing their training. The local unit is named after Lieutenant General Lewis Burwell (Chesty) Puller, the most decorated Marine in the history of the Marine Corps, who saw combat in the years between the World Wars, World War II, and the Korean War.
The Chesty Pullers meet regularly on Tuesday nights, 6:30-9 p.m. at the Ravenna VFW post (just south of TSC), under the command of Ronald L. Pownall. Unit staff member Jamie Hilverding says there are currently 45 youth enrolled in the unit with four members in the Crestwood school system and four in the Streetsboro school system.
The unit recently marched in the Mantua Potato Festival and Ravenna Balloon-A-Fair parades. Several of the local Young Marines help the American Legion Post in Mantua with the flag duties at Crestwood’s home football games.

Upcoming events at various locations include:
October 13: 8th Annual Young Marine Ball
November 11:    Western Reserve Veteran’s Ceremony
December 19-22: Toys For Tots (distributing the toys collected over the next three months)
November 3:    Night at the Races Fundraiser
November 11:    Western Reserve Veteran’s Ceremony

In observance of September 11, the unit participated in the Summit County Stand Down, collecting enough items to create 500 packages for veterans this year.  “Each year, the number of veterans we serve at the Stand Down increases by approximately 10-15 percent,” Hilverding said. “ Last year, we provided supplies for 400 veterans.”
Other unit activities throughout the year include CPR training, campouts, historical encampments, flag-folding and flag retirement ceremonies, watercraft safety courses, clean-up days, Memorial Day and Flag Day ceremonies.
For more information, see www.chestypulleryoungmarines.com or  youngmarines.com. Or contact Recruiting Officer Katie Haring at 330-322-7275 (email: cpympaymaster@neo.rr.com).

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It’s back-to-school season! The kids have got their new supplies, clothes and shoes, equipped for a new year of hopes, possibilities and goals.They’re taking new classes, playing on new teams, joining new clubs, meeting new friends. As summer fades into fall and we turn another page in the calendar, September can be seen as the month of new beginnings. 

GARRETTSVILLE – A new grassroots organization called the 900 Coalition is hosting their first community fundraising event: “Tools of the Trades Day” on Saturday, September 8, at the former Paul’s Lumber Yard at 8018 French Street (off of Freedom Street) from 12 noon to 4 p.m. Vehicles from many different occupations and trades will be on display for kids and adults to explore. Inflatable bounce attractions will provide entertainment. Additional activities will be indoors.

“The 900 Coalition was recently formed as a way to generate funds for local projects that will have lasting beneficial impacts for the entire community,” says Garrettsville Police Department Sgt. Eric Dunn, Director of the 900 Coalition. 

Garrettsville – Restoration leads to revival. The renovation of downtown’s Buckeye Block Building is out to prove that.

Just a year ago, the village’s anchor Main Street building was in such a severe state of deterioration, officials feared it was a public threat and might need to be torn down. Along with it would go four keystone businesses: Garrettsville Foot & Ankle Clinic, Hearth & Home Fireplace Shoppe, Shiffer’s Clock Repair, and Miller’s Lawn & Garden. And at the heart of the sagging building was the long-vacant Irwin Hardware space.