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Mialie T. Szymanski

Mialie T. Szymanski
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In addition to her role as a contributing reporter for the Weekly Villager, Mialie T. Szymanski is the creator of the bi-weekly column “Puppy Tails”. This children’s story time column stars Doodle Dog, a floppy-eared puppy who has an optimistic perspective of the world around him. Szymanski's picture book “Doodle Dog Enjoys the Day” chronicles a day in the life of this “paws”itive pup. The upcoming read-aloud anthology “Puppy Tails: Adventures of Doodle Dog” is a collection of the columns and illustrations as seen in The Weekly Villager over the last year.

Newton Falls – Fields soggy from the recent rains and sharp springtime winds didn’t dampen the day for hundreds of local children on the hunt for thousands of brightly-colored plastic spheres left behind by a big fluffy pink bunny on the grounds near the Community Center on Quarry Street. On the last Saturday before Easter weekend, the sun shone overhead, glistening off baskets tightly clutched by children eagerly awaiting the signal to clamber through the rope fence sectioning off the tennis courts and scoop up as many eggs as they could gather.

On a pile of soft, cozy picnic blankets the floppy-eared puppy snoozed, very nearly to the point of snoring, in a slumber soothed by the calm breeze blowing through the nearby trees. The patches of grass newly filled with budding bulbs circled in their wavy lines around and around him, but he didn’t notice the patterned lands at all as he napped in complete relaxation on the colorful carpet. Doodle Dog contentedly curled and flexed his paws in drowsy oblivion, unaware of the goings-on near him but still safe, secure and blissful all the same. 

As he dozed, a dream took over his subconscious, directing his imagination in a fantastical dance while he slept. Nearly perfectly still in reality, Doodle Dog’s mind was anything but as it zipped and zoomed from one scene to the next almost as quickly as an inner tube soaring over the top of the lake or a go-kart going round and round the meadow. At a particular moment when it finally calmed, the sleeping Doodle Dog found himself in quite the strange world his thoughts had created.

While in reality the sky above Doodle Dog was a soft blue, misty in parts from a smattering of cottony clouds here and there, in his dream the natural ceiling swished and swirled with the melted rainbow from the racetrack, dashing across a cloudless canvas. The brilliant hues twisted and tangled over the treetops, reds and purples mixing with greens and blues. A radiant round sun shone through the shining shades, making the yellows even brighter. Within moments, a cluster of fluffy white wisps drifted onto the scene, the clouds poufy like a bunny’s puffy tail. One by one they floated through the curtain of color, dipping out to the other side and leaving a translucent trail. One by one each white puff entered the celestial crayon box, and then, unexpectedly, when they emerged each one was tinted a different color! Soon not only was the sky itself glittering with streaks of its own colors, but the beautiful backdrop was speckled with spots of painted clouds continuing to glide along, lazily wafting above the landscape below.

And it was to that landscape below that Doodle Dog’s imagination turned next without any particular reason or intent. His dream melted from one scene to the next almost as seamlessly as the clouds changing colors above him and soon he found himself watching the ribbons of the rainbow reach down to the ground, each separate shade aimed directly for the center of each earthly pothole that the floppy-eared puppy had helped dig not that long ago. While in reality the potholes were covered with their soft, cozy sod blankets, in his dream the little curious puppy saw the flowers sprout up from their beds, pushing through the earth and silently saying “good morning” to the spring. As he crept closer to the tiny baby buds, Doodle Dog did not see flower petals, silky and delicate, unfolding to feel the sun’s warmth. Instead, when the sun spotlighted on each previously-slumbering specimen, a shiny sparkle glinted from it! Carefully creeping even closer still, the floppy-eared puppy could now see that what had sprouted in front of him was not a tulip or a rose or a daisy or a snapdragon. Where a lavender-colored tulip should have been was a sparkling violet amethyst! And where a radiant red rose should have been was instead a ruby. Now every color of the ribbons from the rainbow connecting the earth to the sky were not only represented in the dipped clouds but were now being reflected, quite literally, in the colors of the gemstones growing up from the ground!

As the floppy-eared puppy continued down the winding rows of precious jewels, enjoying the view of emeralds the shade of evergreens and sapphires the deep blue of the ocean’s waves, he wondered if there had ever before been a bouquet of such bedazzling buds! The string of gemstones almost seemed as though Mother Nature was getting dressed up for a special occasion and the flowers-turned-sparkling rocks of a different sort served as just the perfect accessory. On and on they went, curving their colors up the hillside, the amethysts, rubies, emeralds and sapphires intertwining with unusual garnets and aquamarines as they too awoke newly sprouted. Then Doodle Dog, wanting to give each the attention it deserved, came upon the very last gem in the pattern. It had no color at all! Though it seemed at first glance to be an imperfection in the line of treasure, the perfectly clear, colorless crystal sparkled up at Doodle Dog, more unique and special than all the rest. He didn’t have a chance to find out its secret in his dream, however, as the warm sun in reality persuaded the floppy-eared puppy to wake up from his nap.

As he reluctantly coaxed his eyes open, the tree next to him caught Doodle Dog’s gaze. And there, nestled among its branches, was something that wasn’t wood or leaf or furry creature. As the sunlight glistened down on the earth, warming the sleeping buds in their earthy beds, it also shone on a speck that was rather familiar. Dangling from a nearby twig, a sparkling crystal-like object caught the light just so, and one by one the sun’s rays went in through the clear container and slipped out to the other side leaving a translucent trail. One by one each entered the colorless crystal, and then, unexpectedly, when they emerged each beam was a different color! The tiny crystal seemed to hold all the colors of the rainbow in one beautiful bundle. The floppy-eared puppy HAD found a gemstone bouquet in a very unique and special little package!

 

Newton Falls – March’s meeting of the Newton Falls Area Commerce Association tied up a few loose ends and set plans moving forward while discussing ideas for creating new opportunities for professional growth.

The agenda opened with time for special presentations and this month featured [member], the law offices of Turner, May & Shepherd. Representative Robert Gensler, Jr. took the floor for a few moments to explain that the firm handles matters such as probate law, including estates and family law, including adoptions, in addition to several other areas of the legal system. Bob also mentioned the importance of having a will in place so that the government is not left to decide how one’s wishes are to be carried out. Next month will feature “Santa” Rick Kerlin of Our Towne Construction.

The wind still whistled through the curious puppy’s floppy ears, but Doodle Dog had so much fun at the park he decided to go back again today to see what more he could find. As he made his way down the sidewalk, his little legs tilted his body slightly to the side as if automatically remembering how to curve and sway as the go-kart zipped and swerved and whipped through the blurry lines of competition. Doodle Dog almost had to convince himself he was now safe on firm ground! But as his furry paws met the solid concrete, it wasn’t long before the floppy-eared puppy found his land legs and it wasn’t long after that he found them leading him to the grassy green carpet of the park.

It was time to go outside – Doodle Dog was tired of being cooped up indoors! Some furry rodent had supposedly predicted that winter would be camped out for quite a while longer, but some other furry rodent claimed that wasn’t true. Doodle Dog didn’t know who to believe so the only thing he could do was go and find out for himself and see what his own floppy ears told him!

Doodle Dog uncurled his little body and slowly stretched his legs so that they peeked out over the edge of his cozy bed, extending his paws so that they untucked from the soft blanket keeping the floppy-eared puppy, his legs and his paws quite warm and comfy. About to curl right back up again, Doodle Dog thought of all the woodland creatures who lived in the park, in the meadow and in the forest at the edge of the lake with the warm blankets of grass and flowers and leaves and thistles to keep them cozy. He wanted to keep exploring outside today, but one glance out the window (that he still thought was hung in the wrong place) and he could see the land still dressed in snowy white. Many of the other animals spent this time of year tucked in their warm homes and snoring away. They had the right idea – Doodle Dog thought hibernating sounded pretty good right about now!

Newton Falls – Wedding season is nearly upon us and dozens of brides-to-be, grooms, and their family-and-friends-filled entourages stopped by Roby Lee’s Restaurant and Banquet Center Sunday on the hunt for the perfect dress, desserts, photographer, tablescape trend and flower arrangements during the 17th Annual Bridal Show. Forty-eight hours after the nation celebrated the day for romance (or those whose status this February is “unattached” chose to ring in “Single Awareness Day”), vendors in the business of all things love piled in to the venue’s reception hall to display their products and present their services to the crowd of novice wedding planners piecing together the event of their dreams.

Garrettsville – It’s not every day that librarians get to be the characters in the books on their shelves, but for the staff at the Garrettsville branch of the Portage County District Library, Valentine’s Day provided one such opportunity to play fairy godmothers for two local couples celebrating their love on the most romantic of holidays. When the clock struck noon on this year’s February 14th, the place where paperbacks, magazines and audiobooks normally live completed its transformation into a space befitting the most dreamy of fairy tale settings.

Though the insides of the new office were still slightly strange to Doodle Dog, the floppy-eared puppy figured the outsides would still be slightly familiar, so he slipped out the new door to the new porch stoop and onto a sidewalk that seemed a bit strange but indeed a bit familiar too. He remembered that the moving truck hadn’t gone that far at all and that he could still see the old building from where the new building lived. In fact, in all his explorations of the town, there was a good chance that he’d scampered by this very spot several times before this – it was just now a starting point instead of a middle one.

Newton Falls – The Newton Falls Area Commerce Association wrapped up 2013 with their December meeting, briefly discussing what had been accomplished during the year and spending the majority of the lunchtime gathering presenting ideas on what they hoped to achieve in the coming months.

The conversation opened with a recap of the items from the November meeting, beginning with a reminder of the area’s recently celebrated Small Business Saturday which traditionally is the Saturday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Though Newton Falls did not specifically host a town-wide event this year, the NFACA hopes to start planning now to encourage participation for the official 2014 festivities. One of the main goals for the upcoming year is to better promote the businesses in Newton Falls, and “Shop Locally” posters can be seen around town especially during the holidays, reminding customers that there are plenty of great shops and services right in their own neighborhood. Keeping business dollars locally will help the local economy and thus benefits the community even more. A committee will be forming after the first of the year to make a plan to promote the small businesses, even those that don’t necessarily have a physical store front.

Newton Falls – After all the dishes are done and the leftover turkey bits (and stuffing and veggie casseroles and countless pies and other desserts) have been organized into just the right Tupperware containers, there are many ways to spend the day following Thanksgiving. Some of the more courageous among us will brave the official start of the crazed holiday shopping season – more anticipated than the recent Browns vs. Steelers matchup or opening day for the latest sure-to-be-a-favorite Disney movie – while some will be the ones actually manning those retail stations and serving as crowd control. But residents of Newton Falls chose another option for their Black Friday that had nothing to do with greenbacks and everything to do with green boughs.

Newton Falls – Business resumed as usual at the November meeting of the Newton Falls Area Commerce Association.

The agenda opened with the financial reports for September and October as well as approval of the minutes for both months before proceeding to old business. The annual tree decorating has been scheduled for the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, November 29th, at noon. Anyone who wants to come out and help make the little spot at Four Corners Park (by Positive Images) festive for the holidays is welcome to join in the effort. Although the tree that was planted in 2012 did not last, another tree has already been chosen and will be transplanted with the intention of becoming a permanent fixture. The official tree lighting will be the following weekend on Saturday, December 7th at 6pm. Santa is expected to make an appearance, so bring out the whole family for an evening of Christmas merriment. Residents will have a chance to chat with Santa even earlier than Saturday as he visits the Newton Falls Family Dollar store on Thursday, December 5th at 5pm.

Doodle Dog was glad he had the chance to deliver pumpkins while the weather was still being mostly friendly because today the gentle breeze had turned into something that blew and blew and howled and howled and huffed and puffed against the windows on every side of the office. The floppy-eared puppy curled up and listened to the noisy mutant gusts and figured they probably just sounded a lot worse than they really were – at least he hoped so!

To distract himself and not let his imagination get away from him, Doodle Dog directed his imagination to think of good things instead. He immediately thought of the holidays coming up and how much he looked forward to helping out with the shiny decorations again. That little tree looked so pretty in the middle of the park and Doodle Dog was glad he had a paw in making it happy! Maybe that little snowflake still glistened on the tippy top of it. Doodle Dog felt like one of Santa’s elves designing Christmas magic for the little tree. And then the best part was wrapping presents to tuck under it and surprise his furry friends around the forest and in town. The glittering packages reminded Doodle Dog of the flecks of snow and ice making intricate patterns on the window when the weather was really, really cold. The floppy-eared puppy glanced up to see if the invisible ice skater had returned to his clear canvas, but not yet – right now the wind still blew and blew menacingly against the windowpane. Ahh!

Craig Beach – There is an empty store around the corner from the Covered Bridge of Newton Falls that at one time housed a video rental place – before movies-by-mail and over the Internet made such an establishment virtually obsolete – with a decidedly revolving name plaque of business monikers. But recently the  space was filled once again with a hustle and bustle and a dash of hope as people came together for the benefit of a neighbor. Dozens of local vendors crowded into the store, filling the shelves which once held movie cases, with a variety of wares. The big name home-party staples that are Tupperware, lia sophia jewelry, Miche Bags and Thirty-One joined with bakers (professional and home cooks alike), event planners, and numerous other organizations to join in to give a helping hand to a family in Craig Beach whose own home is now a devastatingly empty space due to a dangerous August fire that took not only their building but the house next to it as well.

All that hard work made Doodle Dog quite tired so he decided he wasn’t going to go too very far from home today, at least not for a little while. The impromptu detour had been fun and all, in its own way, but there is so much else to see and Doodle Dog didn’t want to be sidetracked for too long. That is, until something else interesting or intriguing happened to distract him along his path! Taking one step at a time, the floppy-eared puppy slowly made his way down the sidewalk, enjoying the light breeze fluttering over his nose, cooling his forehead and tickling his ears. He knew just where he could go to take several journeys and explore endlessly without moving his paws from one spot.

Soon Doodle Dog turned the corner to the library and slipped in the open door as a lady stepped outside. The little girl keeping pace beside her smiled brightly at the floppy-eared puppy from just over the tippy top of a stack of colorful books in her arms, so many piled up that she had to stretch a bit to peek out over the small slightly-wobbly tower. Following her mother, the little girl disappeared down the street as Doodle Dog quickly disappeared into the foyer of the library, a narrow hallway which soon opened up into an enormous cave of books. Seemingly endless rows of multihued bindings called out to the curious floppy-eared puppy, their pages protectively housing the everlasting stories between the covers. So many beautiful books to distract an explorer, but Doodle Dog knew exactly which one he wanted to find today.

There! Right near the bottom, perfectly kid-level and doggie-level too, the vibrant blue the color of the summer sky waved to him from the bookcase like an old friend gleeful at its visitor’s arrival. Doodle Dog gently nudged the soft book from its keeping-place and let it plop carefully to the carpet in front of him. The book opened to the first page and the story began, but Doodle Dog didn’t need the words to know what it said – he knew this tale by heart. Looking at the brilliant pictures, the floppy-eared puppy lightly pushed each page with his nose and listened in his mind as his memory told him the story:

“As the moon goes to bed, the sun wakes up And here we meet a sleepy pup  Looking forward to a bright fun day New places to see, new chances to play  Doodle Dog gets the morning news, Then sometimes takes an afternoon snooze  Lazily the clouds float by Fluffy white against blue sky  Hide and Seek count three-two-one Doodle Dog jumps and Doodle Dog runs  Until at the end of the sidewalk can be found Paw prints in the green, green grass and the dirt so brown  Doodle Dog loves to go for a walk And always makes sure to stop and talk  To the butterflies and the bees, To the flowers and all the trees  Then every night before it grows dark, Doodle Dog says a “goodnight” bark  As the sun goes to bed, the moon wakes up And tucks in safely a drowsy pup  Tomorrow is a bright new day With new places to see, new chances to play  This is the beginning, it’s not the end. Won’t you be Doodle Dog’s friend?”

The vivid sky blue of the back cover tucking the story closed, the floppy-eared puppy tilted the book upright and propped it against the bookcase. Perhaps he would leave it out for a bit in case someone else wanted to find it. There were more pictures to see and stories to read – Doodle Dog figured it would take his entire lifetime to explore even one section of the neverending collection. In fact, it was times like these that Doodle Dog nearly wished he was a cat… then he’d have nine lifetimes to read all those books!

But no matter how many other delicious choices his imagination would have a chance to happily devour, the floppy-eared puppy would always come back to his very favorite tale: the one about a curious floppy-eared puppy who loves to explore. And so, true to the legend set before him, Doodle Dog scampered off to the far reaches of the cavernous interior of the library, covered as distant as his eye, and imagination, could see with myths and fairytales and true stories, too, just waiting to whisk him away to another distant land and then another, all without ever leaving his cozy little spot!

 

Newton Falls – The hunt is on for the Great Chili Recipe of Ohio! Okay, maybe not quite all of Ohio, but “in all of northwest Trumbull County” would be a good starting honor…In any case, the recipe hunt is on and the hunt for cookers who think they may possess that extra-special concoction is very much in full swing as the annual Newton Falls Chili Cook-Off planning is almost at a full boil. It may not be a Food Network show, but the Chili Cook-Off has been an area staple for 24 years, which is a lot longer than most television episodes go without being cancelled (or “chopped” if you’re a true fan of kitchen vernacular). 

Newton Falls – It’s that time of year again (believe it or not): the air is growing a little bit crisper, the leaves are starting to turn a little bit more colorful, and the shops we know and love have seemingly morphed into purveyors of all things autumn with their warm-toned décor and pointed wafting of delicious pumpkin-y and cider smells. Not only do all of these favorite things signify the arrival of the chillier months, but they also serve as harbingers for some of Newton Falls’ favorite things: the yearly fall events looked forward to by residents and visitors alike.

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Randolph – The Portage County Randolph Fair concluded another successful season this week, celebrating its 155th year with the theme of “Boots & Jeans in 2013.”

A nearly weeklong festival of events kicked off bright and early on Tuesday morning with the crowning ceremony of the Horse King and Queen in the park gazebo, which is located just about as “in the center of it all” as a visitor could be. Throughout the coming days, spectators were invited into the sprawling fairgrounds where they could explore, among other intrigues, seemingly endless stables housing stalls full of various livestock. Dairy cows, beef cows, horses in sizes from little to big to even bigger, pigs, goats, sheep, and even the everyday man’s best friends that are puppy dogs made not-so-everyday by a doggie costume contest rounded out the parade of four-legged creatures. Horse shows in several categories and livestock judging added even more flair to the non-human attendees, bringing the animals and their people together to show what they could do and decorating the victorious with all manner of awarded ribbons and trophies for their efforts. Artists, bakers, quilters, collectors, fashion designers and musicians also shared their talents with several of the buildings framing examples of the many ways a county resident could spend free time. The grandstand played host to an array of special events as well including the fan-favorite demolition derby and tractor pulls. Various Boy and Girl Scout Troops and 4-H groups showed off the skills they have been learning with well-designed exhibits showcasing recent projects, progressing in the latter’s stated motto “To Make the Best Better”.

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Dear Lords and Ladies, you have been cordially invited to take a step out of the 21st century and into the 21st year of The Great Lakes Medieval Faire to help celebrate the 21st birthday of his young majesty Prince Philip!

As the moon goes to bed, the sun comes up
And here we meet a sleepy pup,
Who was walking through G-ville one bright sunny day,
Then saw The Villager and decided to stay.

Today is going to be a great day! Well, it BETTER be! Doodle Dog thought as he took a quick sip from his shiny silver water bowl and a quicker bite of kibble from his bright red dish, barely stopping to crunch it between his teeth before he zipped off to a corner of the office towering with boxes. There was a lot to do in that little corner and Doodle Dog was excited to check one more thing off his Doggie To-Do List!
The current project on his list was to clean up his area of the office, but over the last couple of years it seemed random objects had decided to make his home THEIR home too and had simply invited themselves into whatever spare space had once existed between Doodle Dog’s comfy, fuzzy blanket and basket of chewy toys and his neighbor: the bookcase overflowing with his favorite stories. Doodle Dog didn’t want to be unfriendly, but those uninvited objects were starting to overstay their welcome and he really needed his nice clean area back. Perhaps with a little nudge in the right direction, they would migrate back to wherever they had come from or, if not, then find a new place entirely!
With all the right intentions and his goal firmly in mind, Doodle Dog approached his mission at hand with all the gusto of somepuppy who knew exactly what he wanted and exactly how to get it, but as the little fluffy form that is Doodle Dog came nearer to the towering stacks of boxes, the little floppy-eared puppy realised just HOW big and menacing this project appeared! His early confidence quickly fading, Doodle Dog gulped and stopped right in his tracks, wrapping his tail around his front paws as he stared up at the mountain in front of him. A mountain that he was sure was growing and expanding into quite a scary kind of monster right in front of his eyes! Doodle Dog hadn’t bargained for this! But he knew there was a job to be done and he couldn’t back down now, so after he let himself be scared for a moment, the little floppy-eared puppy mustered his courage and imagined that the mound-of-mess-monster was no bigger than a molehill mouse (whether it was true or not!) and, just for good measure, he also imagined that he was not, in fact, a puppy of small size but was actually, for the time being at least, quite a bit braver, stronger and smarter than he seemed a moment ago.

As the moon goes to bed, the sun comes up
And here we meet a sleepy pup,
Who was walking through G-ville one bright sunny day,
Then saw The Villager and decided to stay.

Steam rose from the pavement covering the street outside the office window and little drops of dew that happened to plop on the sidewalk sizzled away within seconds. Summer was definitely here and it was definitely hot! Doodle Dog watched from inside his cool corner of the cozy couch, calmly guarding his little piece of air-conditioned earth. The floppy-eared puppy could see some of the townspeople walking very, very slowly so not to become too exhausted that they couldn’t make it home and some walking very, very quickly to find a cool place to relax as soon as possible. If Doodle Dog let his imagination get away from him, it might almost appear that some of the people were melting right into the concrete! First their shoes, then their socks, then the rest of them as they became shorter and shorter and shorter! His thoughts were so vivid that Doodle Dog almost began to think that HE was sinking too! But Doodle Dog shook his floppy ears and remembered where he was, on the comfy couch, simply sinking into the squishy cushions, and remembered that the people weren’t actually sinking into the street. Whew!
Doodle Dog looked at the left side of the couch cushion creeping up next to his front paw and at the right side of the couch cushion sneaking up by his tail. He knew he wasn’t really supposed to be up there in the first place, but the very middle of the couch was so very comfy that he decided he would let himself squish right down with it anyway, and sank a little bit deeper.

Newton Falls – While residents of Garrettsville and the surrounding neighborhoods are getting ready for next weekend’s Summerfest, the town of Newton Falls and its community members are hard at work planning for the rapidly-approaching Fourth of July festivities. Part of that preparation every year is the organization of the warm-weather favorite that is the annual Car and Bike Show which helps raise money for the approaching July activities.

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Fans of works such as Girl with the Pearl Earring and The Lady and the Unicorn  have a new story to enjoy, and the lucky few who crowded into the Flood Meeting Room at the Hudson Library and Historical Society last month were able to hear the words on the pages being read by the woman who actually penned them. 

It had been quite a while since Doodle Dog found himself outside after dark. Though indeed quite curious most hours of the day, the little floppy-eared puppy always tried to make sure he was home, tucked safely in the office, before the sun went to bed and the street lamps lit up to take over its job for the evening. It was then, on this particular occasion, just a bit unusual that as the shade of the sky deepened into a blue so dark it was almost violet Doodle Dog was not, in fact, inside his warm blanket in his favorite corner of the office, but was actually still admiring nature’s morphing ceiling… under the earth’s soft covering that is the sky itself!

Newton Falls – During the May meeting of the Newton Falls Area Commerce Association, the agenda focused on town events.

As the president, secretary and treasurer were excused, no voting could be done, due to only having one officer present. However, the gathering time was put to good use as much was to be discussed. The minutes from the previous meeting were accepted as submitted and will be revisited at the next meeting with a vote to officially enter them into record. As there were no specific communications that needed to be addressed and the financial report will be postponed until June, the floor was given to a special guest, Christine Newman who is the organizer of the Arts in the Park which will be in its third year this summer. Ms. Newman spoke about the upcoming festival, scheduled for August 10th, namely the benefits of having a gathering of creative artists, and the costs associated with creating the free event for the community. Local artists of varied genres gather in Veterans Park and use the backdrop of the waterfalls as an inspirational setting for an afternoon of demonstrations, exhibits, and hands-on activities for all ages. This year the organizers are looking for sponsors to help defray the financial responsibilities and there are multiple sponsorship levels available for those who wish to help support the cause. Ms. Newman’s specific proposal to the Association involved an option tailored to the multiple-business organization and will be reviewed by the Finance Committee and will then be voted on by the members at a future meeting. Sponsorships are open to anyone in the community regardless of business affliation, so for more information interested individuals can contact the Arts in the Park chairperson at (440) 781-4578. To see highlights of last year’s event, search for “Newton Falls Arts in the Park” on your favorite web-browser.

As the moon goes to bed, the sun comes up

And here we meet a sleepy pup,

Who was walking through G-ville one bright sunny day,

Then saw The Villager and decided to stay.

 

The rain had finally calmed to a slow drizzle and Doodle Dog decided he’d had enough of this hiding-inside-business. Wet or not, thundering or not, scary or not, the floppy-eared puppy was going to venture outside and face the stormy rain once and for all.

Well, maybe…

As Doodle Dog poked his nose out the front door of the office, a heavy stream from the gutter overhead gushed down suddenly, soaking the tiny buds peeking out of the mulch in the flower beds and painting the front steps dark with a fresh coat of water. Maybe the porch was far enough, Doodle Dog thought. And so he stretched out his front legs and settled onto the soft welcome mat safe under the sturdy roof of the porch. Getting comfortable on the mat that was just the size of the little floppy-eared puppy, Doodle Dog curiously peered out across the wood plank floor, over the low railings and through the open space between the two decorative pillars that were not only pretty but that served a very important purpose – holding up the roof! Doodle Dog’s gaze continued on past these very pretty, very important pillars to the street and the sidewalk that bordered it, and curiously watched the hustle and bustle that didn’t even halt one little bit despite the sort of gloomy, sort of drippy, sort of just plain yucky weather.

Over forty authors and illustrators who call Ohio home spent Saturday at the Hudson Library and Historical Society as part of this year’s National Library Week celebration. Representing several counties across the state, these writers also represented a wide array of genres ranging from adult non-fiction and fiction titles to inspirational stories for teens and creative picture books for the younger set. 

Newton Falls – For many Americans April 16th was a day to breathe a little easier now that their government-required financial filing is done for another year. But Newton Falls Mayor Lyle Waddell had more to celebrate last Tuesday than just the end of tax season.

Members of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber and their guests gathered at Ciminero’s Banquet Centre in Niles for a congratulatory dinner commemorating the accomplishments of the graduates of the 2013 Mahoning Valley Local Government Leadership Academy, a nine-week course that helps students become more effective leaders in their communities. 

Ahhhhh! Spring is here, spring is here, spring is here! Doodle Dog thought as he bounded down the sidewalk through town. Spring is here, spring is here, spring is here! Doodle Dog thought as he dodged a row of melty puddles made by the dripping mounds of snow that, although they were still here, were no longer massive mountains of mush and were quickly melting into miniature versions of their previous selves. Despite the remaining evidence that winter was not yet willing to take its annual vacation, it was also obvious that spring was coming whether winter and all of its piles of snow and ice liked it or not. In fact, spring wasn’t just coming, spring was here!

Newton Falls – Opening the March meeting of the Newton Falls Area Commerce Association, President Lyle Waddell mentioned that he had been repeatedly receiving calls from a production company interested in promoting the town by way of some type of video such as a mini movie or a commercial. Details of the potential project and the exact intention of the company are as of yet unclear, so Mr. Waddell stated he will look further into the matter before seriously considering the pitch. Also under the communication category, Secretary Lara Reibold suggested making progress on a suggestion that would allow members to use the Association’s logo with the statement “Proud member of…” on their business cards, individual websites, or as a decal in their shop windows to announce their status as a member in good standing.

Newton Falls – Several new faces and prospective members gathered at Roby Lee’s Restaurant for the Newton Falls Area Commerce Association’s February meeting. With what was the largest crowd in attendance in recent history, Association President Lyle Waddell started off the business meeting by requesting the financial report update and approval of the last meeting’s minutes before recognizing the various guests which included representatives from the local veterans’ organizations as well as association members who have not been able to attend many previous meetings but who plan to make a stronger effort in joining in the discussion to help promote local businesses. 

As the moon goes to bed, the sun comes up

And here we meet a sleepy pup,

Who was walking through G-ville one bright sunny day,

Then saw The Villager and decided to stay.

Tucked cozily in his blanket, the warm fabric wrapped extra tightly around his toes, Doodle Dog peered out the window to the town streets where the fluffy snow was falling again. Spring would be here soon, at least that’s what he heard from the neighborhood groundhog, but for now the sidewalks were still covered in white flecks and the townspeople continued to hurry along about their business all bundled up in thick coats and fuzzy scarves. As much fun as it usually was to watch the world bustling about, the floppy-eared puppy was getting just a bit bored with being inside. His recent trip to the park was indeed very exciting, but Doodle Dog wasn’t about to go back out in that chilly air or the even chillier icy cold water. His toes were finally warming up again, thankyouverymuch!

Glancing around the office for something to entertain him, Doodle Dog saw his favorite bookcase with all the pretty drawings on the covers. The office was empty of humans, nice and quiet which would be perfect for reading, but it also meant there was no one to read Doodle Dog a story. He could go to the library and find a little boy or girl to read to him, but that would mean going outside. Brrrrr! Doodle Dog shivered just thinking about it. No… he would have to figure out something else.

As he looked at the painted images decorating each cover, Doodle Dog thought about the beautiful princess walking through the forest on the green book sitting on the top shelf and about the knight in his shining armor riding his horse down a dirt path on the cover of the blue book nestled right in the middle of the bookcase. Would their paths ever meet? What problems would try to stand in their way? The floppy-eared puppy didn’t have to open the book to figure out what happened – he decided he could make up his own tale!

Curling up even deeper in his blanket, Doodle Dog closed his eyes and imagined what it would be like to walk down the forest path next to the princess, her long dress the color of daffodils in sunshine floating in the gentle wind that blew through the trees. He could almost feel the soft grass and dirt under his paws as he padded along and hear the woodland creatures scurrying about from their lush hollows. Together the floppy-eared puppy and the princess greeted the friendly animals who lived among the vines and brush, and they had made their way nearly to the edge of the forest where the sunlight broke through the leafy canopy overhead, when a very loud rumble startled Doodle Dog and made him jump behind the princess’s skirt. Being brave was sometimes overrated. The princess didn’t look too worried, but she stopped walking and peered around the last tree bordering the forest. Doodle Dog decided it was safe enough to peer around the princess as she peered around the tree, and as he tried to figure out what was making such a noise, he heard it again! This time there was no mistaking it – the thundering sound was coming from a nearby cave just to the left of the forest’s path. Not only that, but coming from the entrance of the cave with the thunder were billowing clouds. No, not clouds… smoke!

After a few moments, the princess slowly unwrapped herself from the tree and, once the floppy-eared puppy unwrapped himself from her ankles, she began to cautiously approach the cave. Doodle Dog swallowed his fear and followed her brave example to find out what was causing the noise and the smoke. Inside the cave, among the puffs of cloudy smoke, the floppy-eared puppy saw a shining pile of brilliantly-colored jewels and other treasures. Pretty! And right behind the giant mound of shimmering objects was… NOT one of the friendly woodland creatures: a very large, very scaly, very grumpy dragon! The mean old dragon thrashed its tail, knocking a layer of jewels in an avalanche to the floor.

But why do dragons have to be so mean? Doodle Dog wondered. The floppy-eared puppy remembered this is HIS story and he didn’t want the dragon to be mean. So he thought of what might happen to make the dragon be not so mean and before he knew it, the princess marched right up to the large, scaly, grumpy dragon and wrapped her arms around it and gave it a big, squishy, friendly hug, sort of like she’d hugged the tree in the forest. As Doodle Dog watched, the cave stopped echoing thunder and spewing smoke that looked like clouds, and the large, scaly, not-so-grumpy dragon reached down to one of the jewels that had tumbled to the floor and nudged it toward the princess. The sunlight from outside the cave glinted off the heavy jewel and the dragon ducked its head into the sunlight itself, spread its wings and flew out of the cave and up over the trees. The princess and the floppy-eared puppy stepped outside to wave at the dragon and at that moment the sunlight glinted off a knight in his shining armor who was riding his horse down the dirt path. The knight took off his helmet and the princess could see he was a prince in disguise!

Before Doodle Dog’s imagination could get away from him again, the floppy-eared puppy decided he better give the prince and princess a happy ending and one for the curious guard puppy too! Safe at home in the office, he nuzzled his nose in his blankets and finished his story before anything else had a chance to slither out of the cave…

 

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Six years ago I made my debut in The Weekly Villager with an article about the plethora of misspelled street signs that seem to have made their home along the roads in our community. On any given day, one only has to take a drive down the street and it doesn’t take long to find a professionally-made, permanent sign that has a typographical error as blatant as a street name with a few extra letters, a directional map transposing letters, or even a town name actually MISSING some very necessary letters. The intent was to do a follow-up article six months later to mention that in that time all of the signs I’d pointed out in my write up had been corrected, except one, and to see if any new ones had decided to pop up in the meantime. Life gets in the way of the best intentions, as life tends to do, and my writing assignments have been winding through other paths and following other directions ever since, leaving my pot of alphabet soup simmering on the back burner. (I’m certainly not complaining though.) I’ve continued to typo-spot and snap photos of these mischievous misprints whenever I’m out and about and now, three hundred bylines later, that second helping has turned into quite the scrumptious syntax smorgasbord.

Newton Falls – January 2013 for the Newton Falls Area Commerce Association started off with an invitation to get healthier through the NOACC Wellness Challenge. Members were encouraged to participate if interested and given information on what to do to be involved as well as the benefits of joining the challenge.

Newton Falls – Dozens of brides-to-be, their future grooms, and supportive friends and family members walked down the aisle from the foyer of Roby Lee’s Restaurant & Banquet Center last Sunday and into the reception hall which has served as the celebratory place for many newly-knot-tied couples. Serving as a glimpse to just a few of the myriad of possibilities to peruse in the planning process, the 16th Annual Bridal and Catering Show presented an array of all things nuptial whether it be the eye-candy that is gown fashions from Alfred Angelo and tuxedo options from American Commodore Tuxedo or the real sugar stuff of freshly baked cookies and deliciously-decorated cakes from the Warren Baking Company (their Red Velvet is DIVINE) and the aromatic assortment of flavors served by Carolyn’s Cakes.

Newton Falls – No, it wasn’t Black Friday. No, it wasn’t a Harry Potter midnight release party. And no, a famous celebrity from one of those vampire movies wasn’t making an impromptu appearance. But judging by the line of customers outside the door during the early hours of last Thursday morning, the store formerly known as Pamida was the place to be.

Newton Falls – It’s a new year and a new  look for one local hometown business that has been around for nearly twenty years. Known for the past decade and a half as Pamida, the one-stop-shop store located just on the outskirts of town on Rt. 534 has fresh paint, updated displays, a more customer-friendly layout, paving upgrades to the parking lot entrance and, most importantly, a new moniker on its bright, glow-in-the-dark sign.

Snowflakes landed one by one outside the office window, each one adding to the smooth blanket of white covering the town like a new cozy comforter keeping the grass warm. But the weather was anything but warm as the snow continued to drift down, some icy flecks floating lazily on a gentle wind before landing on a small pile, while other more menacing tufts sped straight to the ground with a very purposeful thud. Well, with as much “thud” as a soft little snowflake could do, even if it was a tough, menacing one.

Newton Falls – Ever since the Newton Falls Area Commerce Association announced they would be unable to host this year’s Home 44444 the Holidays due to lack of available volunteers from the community, various local groups have pulled together to plan their own holiday celebrations at the Community Center on Quarry Street. November saw a small gathering of homemade crafters presenting their wares in an attempt to promote a beat-the-shopping-season-rush opportunity for those wishing to avoid the big box stores and inevitable craziness that is the mall environment. This past weekend brought another such event: a Community Christmas festival to keep everyone’s spirits high with the gift-giving day right around the corner.

Newton Falls – There’s a relatively new trend emerging in the business world called the “3rd Place” and it has nothing to do with bronze medals.

Store owners have recognized the need for a space that people can come to and temporarily “forget” their responsibilities, or at the very least set them aside for a brief time. Typically, in daily life there is the home place and then there is the workplace, both of which harbor duties that need to be done and to-do lists longer than Santa’s delivery notes. The “3rd Place” serves as that middle ground, an in-between rest stop, a limbo of sorts where the sink full of dishes isn’t calling your name or the files on your desk aren’t threatening to bury you under their impending avalanche. Though the concept may seem like nothing novel to the centuries of townsfolk who stopped at the local watering hole for a nightcap or to shoot a game of pool before heading home from a hard day’s work, the modern 3rd Place ideally doesn’t require opening a tab or the upfront admission fee that is a cover charge at the door.

On a beautiful, crisp fall day, several area families joyously celebrated their newest additions. No, it wasn’t at the local hospital. Rather, gathered outside the castle-like Trumbull County Courthouse, holding tightly to brightly-colored balloons drifting in the autumn winds, community children gave thanks for the families that adopted them and new parents and new siblings gave thanks for the little ones that have now officially become a part of their families. 

A sure sign that Thanksgiving is around the corner is not the changing leaves, not the nip in the air, not even the countless advertisements and barrage of notices for Black Friday bottom-bargain-basement sales. Nope. The truest harbinger is that “turkey” suddenly becomes buzzword of the season. And this buzzword was in everyone’s vocabulary at the Newton Falls Fire Department’s Annual Turkey Raffle Friday night.