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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.

great-lakes-medieval-faireGeneva – Rain or shine, step back in tyme and the enchanted shire shall be thine!

Would you like to roam through a mystical woodland inhabited by fantastical faeries, intriguing imps and beautiful butterflies? Spend a day winding your way through a medieval maze of merriment around every turn? Come to the grand gates of Avaloch and allow the lands beyond to captivate you as gallant knights and lovely maidens await you.

For us 21st century folk, the door to the magical 13th century is located just off Rt. 534 in Geneva in the form of the Great Lakes Medieval Faire and, though it’s not quite like walking through that famous wardrobe or a certain blue telephone booth, it will instantly transport visitors to another place and another time quite effectively! Each weekend (Saturday and Sunday) from now until August 17th, you are cordially invited to promenade with the Royal Court, wander through the wooded forests and exchange pleasantries with paupers and princes alike. For an extra layer of excitement, each weekend venture presents its own unique theme, encouraging guests to envelop themselves in a different persona with every experience. During opening weekend of July 12th-13th, capes and super powers were a-plenty in honor of any Super Heroes, Super Villains, & Super Pets (even those in disguise!). There was a plethora of goggle-donning “doctors” in the house for July 19th-20th which was the Tyme Travel, Alter Ego, Steam Punk, Comic-Con Blast. Next weekend, July 26th-27th, needs only one word: pirates!! Trade your goggles in for an eye patch and stay out of the way (or join in the ruckus!) as the plundering invade Avaloch. Plaid is the word for August 2nd–3rd’s Celtic Celebration or if you prefer the elegance of a toga you’ll have your chance to party at August 9th–10th’s Togas, Tiaras, Masquerade & Dreams weekend. Wrapping up the season, the battling brutes have a chance to shine as August 16 th-17th is the Barbarian, Viking, & Mongul Conquest.

To procure entry into the festivities, tickets for adults are $22 at the gate, children are $6 (or buy online and save a few dollars). Desiring a longer visit to the kingdom than just a few marks on a sundial? A season pass is available at $50, valid for the remaining eight Faire days, or come simply for one consecutive Saturday and Sunday with a weekend pass which is just a few dollars more than your original gate ticket. No matter how you arrive or on what day you choose to knock at the gates of Avaloch, plan to stand ready at 10:45am to be officially welcomed during a ceremony featuring the royal family.

Aside from the abundance of entertainment to be discovered throughout the afternoon, Avaloch is famous for the exquisite marketplace featuring crafters of all talents. Those who love all things shiny will be continually delighted at the array of offerings presented in the way of bits and baubles to carry home a small piece of the shire. Even though it rained last weekend (or maybe it was the Wenches at it again) and making one’s way through the “path of least yuck” was a challenge, it was quite worth it as it caused one to slow down and appreciate the surroundings (and the covered booths available) while encountering gorgeous glassmaking demonstrations or humorously being caught off guard by a mini catapult pummeling passersby with marshmallows. (Note: to see a real catapult, and a pair of archers with real talent, the Field of Honor is the place to be.) Mine for your own gems or choose from an assortment of pre-arranged pretties. A visitor with a keen eye should keep a lookout for a certain character of the day sponsored by the Tanner Customs jewelry stand. Be one of the first to spot her and earn a very special shiny for yourself! (For a clue before you go, find them on the modern contraption that is facebook, in advance, under the secret name of “Medieval Millinery & Embellishments.” Shhh, don’t tell anyone I said so lest I be chased by dragons for giving away kingdom intel!)

 

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 best place to find the sunshine and the best way to see it for sure is to go outside and today was as good a day as any for meandering through town. Doodle Dog ambled out the office door, his tail wagging excitedly as he hopped down the front step and dropped onto the sidewalk.

Not only was the sun right there where he expected it to be, a bright, bold yellow ball high in the sky above him, but that sky itself surrounding that sunny orb spread a brilliant, beautiful blue on top of, below and every which way around it. A few white clouds here and there dotted the atmosphere like fluffy versions of the smattering of stars scattered in patterns on the fabric flags hanging from patriotic poles and delicately draped over balconies bursting with the colorful pride of the season.

The floppy-eared puppy scampered past the shops along the main street of town, only stopping for a moment to admire a simple scene of summery selections carefully clustered together to create a lovely window display. A red and white checkered blanket cushioned a tiny inflatable pool with plastic walls clear and see-through so passersby could spot the family of rubber duckies lazily floating on the top of clean, sparkling water tinted blue for extra effect. Soft ripples bobbed each duckie up and then down, one by one, as Doodle Dog watched the gentle, peaceful motion, and he only slightly wanted to jump after the creatures and chase them! (But he managed to refrain.) However, causing him to pause for much longer than a moment, the storefront a few windows down caught the floppy-eared puppy’s attention entirely. The bake shop had been decorated with several yummy designs, strawberries, blueberries and vanilla icing serving as edible art supplies. Masterpieces made of assorted munchies lined up like soldiers on the shelves and petite pastries were arranged just so that they became one small part of what turned out to be a giant star if viewed just right. Mmmmm! Doodle Dog would have to remember to come back to nibble a puppy-friendly treat, but not now. No, he was too excited that the sun was still following him and wanted to make the most of the day. Stars and bites would just have to wait!

As soon as he returned to his path, Doodle Dog noticed a small boy tugged a little red wagon filled with something else quite wonderful. The brim of a blue baseball cap pulled way down low shielding his eyes from the sun way up high, the boy took great care with each step to make sure his cargo stayed in place. Filling the space behind him, stacks and stacks of prettily-bound books formed a sort of fortress in this child-size carriage. Doodle Dog wondered how long it would take for the little boy to read all those stories, or maybe he already had! And then, perched on the books and riding in the very center of the wagon, a white cat as fluffy as the clouds above politely meowed at the floppy-eared puppy as he padded past. It would be easy to read all those books with a buddy to hear the stories too! Before continuing on his way, Doodle Dog took a moment to nudge the back of the wagon a few squares on the concrete to make the load a little easier for the boy to pull. From under his baseball cap, he giggled gratefully as he let his temporary guard dog give him a helping paw.

Down the hill the little boy went, his wagon, his books and his cat in tow. The floppy-eared guard dog could see they would be just fine on their journey, but decided it would be a good idea to follow them at a short distance behind in case they needed him. Eep! Not quite. They may not need help, but the guard dog might! Doodle Dog ducked as a bright cherry red cardinal and a blue jay with markings the color of a muted blueberry zipped after one another in an airborne game of tag so intense that for a moment all the floppy-eared puppy saw was a blur of purple until the birds finally became separate streaks zooming around him. The not-so-guard dog dropped to the ground and hopped out of the way as the feathers flew above him. When all was clear he followed where the wagon, its passenger and its conductor had disappeared on the path, sniffing his way to find them. Soon his nose picked up the scent of pages, fur and metal warmed by the sun and he not only found his new friends, but the glistening blue lake behind them. Next to the lake, a giant blanket spread over the ground, its tiny red and white squares playing patterns that disappeared under a plate and reappeared on the other side of a mug. Seated around the blanket were various humans chattering happily while smaller humans splashed on the shore. A little girl ran up and down the sandy bank of the lake trailing a kite, a patch of red floating against the blue sky and white clouds. The little boy took out his books and shared them with the other humans sitting there, making sure to place one next to him for his cat too. Then he patted a spot for Doodle Dog as well! Along with the tales, which were definitely treats in themselves, an assortment of summery yummies were spread on the blanket. The little boy chose an ice cream cone, soon beginning to drip from the warm day. The goopy vanilla swirled on top just like the icing on the cupcake in the bake shop window. Mmmm! The little boy offered the floppy-eared puppy a bite, but as Doodle Dog took a lick he wound up with frosty, sugary drops dripping ALL over his nose! The drops went from his nose to his paws and down to the blanket making it covered in red, white and goo! Ew!

 

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Newton Falls – It may only be June, a time when residents are finally out and about enjoying the warm weather or trying to find someplace cool to rest from the humid air and hot sun, but for one local organization, conversation has already begun about a different kind of heat. The Newton Falls Firefighters’ Auxiliary, who sponsors the Annual Chili Cook Off every fall, is planning for this year’s event and needs your hep! Soon to celebrate its 25th year of chili competition, the Cook Off is the most popular and well-received event that raises funds to benefit the town’s fire department, Station 43, and assists the local first-responders in obtaining vital equipment such as an inflatable boat for river emergencies that helps them help those in distress as well as advanced personal gear such as oxygen tanks and fireproof clothing to keep them safe while doing it.

ChiliPotThe festival itself features nearly two dozen contestants, who all  make their special chili recipe from scratch, right on the spot, starting at 11am the day of the event. Some are there just because they love to make chili, some come for the bragging rights, and some absolutely have one goal in mind: the $500 grand prize. But deciding which team’s chili will walk away with that prize – and the other prizes of $300 (second) and $200 (third) – is no easy task! Understandably, the organizers are in search of local residents who love chili to come cook, come eat (Chili Cups go on sale after the judging and allow you to sample any and all entries) and, most importantly, come judge! Though anyone who attends the Chili Cook Off has the option to purchase a vote and have their say in the People’s Choice award, the Auxiliary is specifically looking for seven brave community members who would be willing to taste every chili and help decide the score for the grand prizes.

To keep the final results as fair as possible, these official judges must be unaffiliated with the Newton Falls Joint Fire District and any of the teams who are entering the competition. (The unofficial requirement is that one should have a strong stomach or at least a tolerance for all manner of spicy!) Past judges have included townspeople, business owners, members from other emergency departments and even local celebrities such as radio station personalities. Once judging commences, the elite panel members are reasonably sequestered while the chili is served to them from coded containers so the only person who knows which team’s chili is in which jug is the assisting volunteer who scooped it from the pots! (And she’s not talking!)

If you’d like to participate as a judge for this year’s Chili Cook Off and help determine the winner, please contact the Newton Falls Firefighters’ Auxiliary IN WRITING at P.O. Box 472, Newton Falls, Ohio 44444. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just your name, information such as phone number and address, and a brief sentence saying why you are interested in becoming a judge.

Applications for cookers and table vendors will be open soon as well, so everyone can mark their calendars for Saturday, October 4th and join Station 43 in commemorating twenty-five years of chili celebration!

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The Newton Falls Area Commerce Association opened its May meeting by relaying any communications received since the last assembly. This included an email sent by Robert Gensler, Jr., who could not attend the meeting, expressing his comments regarding the proposed changes to the bylaws that were submitted during previous meetings. His email stated that he recommends no changes at this time.

After the minutes from last month’s meeting were approved, old business was addressed. First up was the Finance Committee’s recommendation regarding the Kiwanis Labor Day Run sponsorship request presented at the April meeting. To ensure no appearance of a conflict of interest due to his involvement in many city events, President Lyle Waddell, who is also the town’s mayor, turned the direction of the meeting over to the Vice President for this discussion. After much conversation about the mission statement of the NFACA, the desire to support community events and causes, and how to effectively and fairly utilize the association’s budget, the membership ultimately rejected the Finance Committee’s recommendation of donating $75 in favor of a higher contribution. The membership voted to donate $300 which would place them in the second tier of sponsorship (according to the guidelines offered by the Kiwanis members) and provide a larger spot on the T-shirts for the sponsoring logo. Since this amount is over the $75 threshold, as stated in the existing bylaws, the amount endorsed by the membership will then be presented back to the Finance Committee which has ultimate approval. As a matter of housekeeping, during this time the financial report was also presented and approved.

A second topic up for discussion is the continued attempt at coordinating a Small Business Saturday event. Mr. Jim Drake of the town’s Parks and Recreation committee was present to relay information about a wine tasting scheduled for August 16th on the grounds around the Community Center from 2pm-11pm. The event, intended to raise money for beautifying the parks, will include a concert by G-Force and opportunities for businesses or vendors to be spotlighted through advertising sponsorship. Mr. Drake stated that they will be inviting wineries from all over Ohio to participate, so this might be a good opportunity for the chamber to become involved and help out as co-sponsors. After much discussion, the membership voted to co-sponsor the event in conjunction with Small Business Saturday, and Carol Sole, the chairperson for the SBS committee, will be meeting with Mr. Drake to find out exactly what that will entail.

The floor was then returned to President Waddell who continued the agenda with new business. A committee is needed to plan the annual summer picnic, so “Santa” Rick Kerlin and Councilwoman Nancy Hoffman were volunteered to assist in that. There will be further discussion on the details of the picnic and whether to open the event up to the community, instead of just the NFACA members and their families, at the next meeting. As a reminder, membership renewals are due by the end of the month. Also, by way of membership news, new members Gionino’s Pizza and Accurate Land Surveying, LLC were voted into membership.

Also at the afternoon’s meeting, Mr. Paul Woodard, the school district superintendent, mentioned the recent successful Senior Service Day which is already being looked forward to for next year. In an effort to beautify the town, the students did mulch and landscaping work around the parks, and are even willing to help businesses beautify their properties during the next service day. The work the students did was commended and it was relayed that there are great kids in town – as much as we see vandalism, there is the other side too and we have hard-working kids in our community. Before moving to the next item on the agenda, Mayor Waddell expressed his gratitude for the students’ efforts.

By way of the city manager’s report, Mr. Haney reminded everyone that the water tower is under renovation, during which it will be cleaned and refurbished. To be noted, the water pressure in town might be a bit lower for the time being, and the efforts are expected to be completed, probably within the next 4-5 weeks. As an added touch, the words “Newton Falls” will now be painted in orange and black letters on the side of the tower. Also of note, the new additional Senior Van has been approved at Eastgate and will now go to the state level where it should be about 3-4 months before the city learns whether it will be funded.

Before open discussion, time was given to the current Vice President, yours truly, so that I could announce to the group in person that due to pursuing career goals and focusing on other professional obligations I will not be renewing my membership at the end of the month. Since the membership term does not run the same as the election term, that meant I would be resigning as Vice President and someone would be needed to fulfill the remainder of my term until the election at the end of 2014. After my remarks, during which I expressed gratitude for the honor of serving as Vice President, Carol Sole was nominated and elected to complete the open term effective June 1st. Also allotted a moment for brief remarks, Police Chief Gene Fixler reflected on the recent levy attempt and reassured that “the police department is always going to be there to give you the best service we can.” He noted that although the levy did not pass, which will affect operations, they will continue to do their best to help out whenever they are needed. The department is also looking into starting a civilian auxiliary program to help direct traffic, etc. during emergencies or community events.

During the brief open discussion it was suggested again that to promote goodwill in the neighborhood a series of community awards should be established recognizing pleasant aspects of the area such as “Prettiest Garden”, etc. which would also help connect the association to the town.

The next NFACA meeting will be noon on Tuesday, June 10 at Roby Lee’s.

 

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Newton Falls – After weeks of tantalizing tidbits of a ray of sunshine here or a that-IS-a-shade-of-blue sky there, isn’t it… (such a tease, that Mother Nature!) it seems that warm weather is now here to stay and creatures in all shapes and sizes, fur and feather, are getting the chance to come out and play. There is a plethora of events coming up for those of us of the two-legged persuasion, some to aid others, some to entertain, and some simply to help us finally (FINALLY!) enjoy the summery season. Here’s just a few of interest:

*Falls Home Remodeling is teaming up with the Red Cross to host a BLOOD DRIVE on June 9th from 2pm-6pm at their showroom at 104-A East Broad Street in Newton Falls. Those who meet eligibility requirements (17 years of age or older, at least 110 pounds, etc.) are encouraged to come by and help save lives. Be sure and bring a photo ID. If you can’t make this one, there will be another opportunity on June 18th from 2pm-6pm at the Community Center on Quarry Street. For more information about eligibility or to make an appointment in advance, call 1-800-RED-CROSS.

*From donating blood to kicking cancer’s tush: another great cause to help in the fight to save lives is coming to Newton Falls starting at 6pm on Friday, June 13th. The American Cancer Society’s RELAY FOR LIFE will be held at the NF High School throughout Friday night and into Saturday. To find out how you can help “create a world with less cancer and more birthdays,” or to buy a luminaria in advance, visit www.relayforlife.org or call Tristan Codner at 1-888-227-6446 ext. 2226.

*More summer fun traditions continue in downtown Newton Falls with the annual CAR SHOW which is celebrating its 28th year of lining the streets with classic vehicles on June 21st. Entrant registration starts at 9:30am and ends at 2pm with 131 trophies being awarded at 6pm. There is a $10 fee for show car parking/registration – as always this is a free event for spectators. Forty different classes will be spotlighted in one place! As if that isn’t enough shiny painted hoods under one afternoon sun, there’s a new class this year: Micro Cars! The event will also feature a Chinese auction, 50/50 raffle and a benefit raffle, proceeds of which go to the upcoming Fourth of July celebration. (I expect my favorite attraction, the coinciding Strawberry Festival sponsored by the First Christian Church, to return again this year as well, and you can bet I’ll be making a beeline right for the shortcake and ice cream smothered in juicy red berries. Mmmm.) And for those fans of the two-wheel variety, the bike show is the next day. For information, call Tony Sabo at 330-360-4546 or visit www.NFJULY44444.com.

*FIREWORKS, fireworks, fireworks! And a parade, of course, but the big news is always the Newton Falls fireworks, and on Friday, July 4th, the Community Center is the place to be for the yearly hoopla of carnival rides, games and music culminating in the light show across the heavens once night falls. Come for the morning display of firetrucks, floats and marching groups bedecked in festive colors starting at 10am and check out the rest of the fun activities until 10pm when all eyes will be on the sky!

*There’s always something going on at the Community Center, and when the July 4th festivities are done that “something” will be made a little bit more special by the Parks and Recreation Committee who are planning a unique event for the end of summer. An opportunity to raise money to maintain the parks, a WINE TASTING is scheduled for August 16th on the grounds outside from 2pm-11pm. More information will be available as preparations progress, but the organizational committees are expecting to invite Ohio wineries to participate and have already scheduled a band, G-Force, to provide music throughout the evening.

Whether you’re on vacation for the season or just have a day to take a break, Newton Falls has plenty to offer a quick get-away this summer.

 

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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 silver bumblebee glittered at Doodle Dog from his bookshelf, glinting as though reflecting  an unseen source of light. Nestled among the stories sleeping there, the tiny insect reminded the floppy-eared puppy of all the wonderful things that could surround him when he immersed himself in the world. Doodle Dog thought how fun it might be to see if any real bumblebees were flittering about with their black stripes and white wings sailing them through the airy landscape, so he scampered outside hopeful of what he would find.

But when the floppy-eared puppy reached the other side of the office door, it was not a bright, dazzling day that greeted him. As his paws touched the sidewalk, gray and smooth, the clouds overhead mirrored the same subdued shade. The quiet puffs made it look like rain was coming or as if the sky was about to cry, though no tears had fallen yet. Doodle Dog continued  through the streets hoping to find something to brighten the day, but as he meandered by storefront after storefront, it became more elusive still. He paused for a moment at the window of the yummy bakeshop, the treats of which usually cheered him up. Today, instead of the brilliantly-hued icings on cakes and puppy-friendly pastel pastries that always caught his curiosity, the platters in the treat case were filled with teeny truffles shaped perfectly round like mini moons, full circles in the sky. A few were cut open to reveal the creamy cookie center and they did look quite tasty. Covered in the darkest of chocolate, Doodle Dog knew these delicacies were not for four-legged friends so he kept going to the next window on his route! But as the floppy-eared puppy continued along, every view was the same. Even the formalwear shop in town that usually had bright dresses in the front windows – the display there too was bare of color as prom season was over and now smart tuxedos stood by each other enticing potential groomsmen to stop on in for summer ceremonies.

Enough of this! Doodle Dog decided to go to the park where he knew there was always another world of vivid and vibrant creations. As the floppy-eared puppy went by the last shop on the street, a stack of newspapers piled in front of the stoop toppled over from the wind and slid right under his paws. Stepping gently on and then off the newspaper, Doodle Dog continued along… the newsprint leaving a grayscale trail of paw prints on the stone-colored cement sidewalk behind him. Turning down the path that he’d walked many times before, Doodle Dog expected to see the lush, sprawling lawn of the park any minute now. He DIDN’T expect a series of black tiles alternating with a series of white tiles to be covering the meadow as he approached! A giant chess board greeted him, the oversized horses guarding the gate to the park seeming quite a lot more enormous than they already were to the little floppy-eared puppy looking up at them. His petite paws pattered across the slick surface as Doodle Dog carefully avoided a tower that resembled a castle and made sure not to run smack into a cluster of similar-looking pieces making up an army advancing across various parts of the pale panels and their contrasting counterparts. With their limited color palette, the sights around him were all starting to resemble an old timey movie with the voiceless actors – Doodle Dog half expected lines of static to roll across the scene in front of him.

The floppy-eared puppy had yet to see a buzzing bumblebee, but another type of tiny winged creature the color of a starless sky at midnight circled over the treetops. The crow quietly looped in and out of the forest’s edge clearing the very tips of the branches. And, on the other side of the park, Doodle Dog noticed another bird floating above the land too – a dove the color of the ocean’s snowy surf peacefully dipped on the air currents over the meadow. As he watched the pair of flying friends soar across the sky, the clouds above them billowed from a steely gray to silver to slate to a smoky charcoal as Mother Nature seemed to be in quite the murky mood! Even the soil surrounding Doodle Dog’s flower garden was under a shadowy blanket as the baby bulbs slept soundly. But there, in the middle of the garden, poking just out of the dirt, was an itty-bitty blossom the neon color of a bumblebee’s other brighter stripes. A yellow tulip shone through the shadows like a miniature sun, gleefully glowing with all its might. The tough, tiny tulip seemed to smile at Doodle Dog as he gave it a friendly sniff. And with that the floppy-eared puppy knew that even though today was gloomy and gray, the sun was only sleeping, and there would be more sunny days around the corner. Just in case, he knew the spot where his own personal planted sunshine bloomed and he would be sure and visit any time he felt lonely or needed some extra cheer!

 

Author’s note: In honor of my feline furbaby, Alistair, who is the inspiration for many “Puppy Tails” adventures and never minded that I write stories about a dog. You will be my sunshine always.

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continued from May 16th edition….

Though the film’s opening scenes chronicled events that happened on the grounds of Kent State, production took place on location at Hiram College because, our handlers said at our inquiry, Kent’s campus has changed significantly enough over the thirty years that Hiram’s facilities were closer to what Kent had looked like back then. In any case, I had just returned from my own small college out-of-state, so I felt right at home as a campus coed.

All of my scenes took place in the evening and since we needed hours of dark sky to allow for multiple takes, our filming schedule reflected the nighttime requirement. Though most of the production people reported at the crack of dawn, ready for a long day, my first call time wasn’t until 4pm. That didn’t mean I had it any easier, however, as I wouldn’t leave set until the wee hours of the next morning. Good thing I’d had practice staying up late (and being productive while doing it!) pulling study all-nighters during the previous semesters.

When not on set, we were kept in a “holding tank” in one of the campus’s lecture halls and every so often an assistant would come in and say they needed five or ten or however many extras for a given shot. Whoever volunteered first to follow the assistant would be led to wherever they were filming at the moment and instructed on where to stay and exactly what to do. Eager to participate, I was always one of the first extras to line up at the door and it completely perplexed me that many of my fellow background-fillers didn’t seem to care if they ever went to set, preferring to lounge in the lecture hall seats and chat with each other! While we waited for the next assistant to show up, we were kept entertained by a DVD playing on those oversized television carts, staples in public school classrooms, and stayed awake by munching on whatnots from the snack table (known in “the biz” as “craft services”). At one point when the assistant arrived, I excused myself from the conversation I was having with the girl next to me and asked if she was going too. Her response was that she wanted to find out what happened to the squad captain of the cheerleading flick we were viewing. I remember thinking “Did you come here to watch a movie or be IN one?!” Needless to say, it was the latter for me and I fully planned to take advantage of every moment so I enthusiastically went down the steps with the other extras who had gathered at the door. Ironically enough, at that particular instance we were directed to the college’s auditorium and, once placed in the theatre-style seats, told that for this scene we had to pretend we were watching a movie on the big screen and that while we were minding our own business, the main characters of the film we were making would be racing through the aisles and trying to stir up trouble.

So two girls I’d never met before that moment and I had to act like we were friends out for a fun evening, clinking soda bottles and munching on popcorn while we “watched” the fake show. The prop department provided us with authentic vintage items such as classic Coke bottles that were still intact with the liquid inside after all these years. WHATEVER YOU DO DON’T OPEN THE BOTTLE! We were told. Apparently simply holding it was enough to make the atmosphere seem real. But we were allowed to eat the popcorn, billowing out of era-appropriate containers, which I suspect was swiped from the craft service table anyway. The hardest part of the evening was that, although this particular scene was meant to be less than a minute or so of screen time, we spent four hours filming it due to all the different camera angles that the director wanted to employ, which involved far away shots, cuts to different parts of the theatre, and a series of close-ups when each actor said their lines. Four hours filming a scene… that eventually didn’t even get in the movie! When the final product was released the next year, the movie theatre scene had wound up on the cutting room floor!

Luckily, that was not the only scene I’d participated in as I had four more days of filming, all with later call times than the last. In what was quite possibly the most affecting situation for the storyline that I would be a part of, all hands were on deck in the middle of the campus green. All the extras, some dressed as students like me, some given helmets and unloaded rifles to represent National Guard soldiers, faced each other in the commotion that was to simulate the riot which would set off the rest of the events in the movie. Though we were all uncredited, nameless faceless surroundings, the director singled out a few of us to portray brave students who would break through “enemy” lines. Moving quickly through the group of appropriately-clad young adults, he pointed to this one and that one, and his assistant would tell “This One” and “That One” the choreography of the path they would run in order to ensure the effective placement of the cameras as well as for the safety of all involved. The guns may not have had live ammunition in them, but it would still hurt if one’s face smacked into the barrel while dashing around. After watching four other people become the featured few, to my delight the director soon turned to me and said “You! In the bandanna!” and with that I unofficially became “Girl in the Bandanna #5” and was given instructions on how to run through two very tough-looking soldiers and past the camera crew. I waited for my cue and while the others were waving large protest signs (provided by the art department) and shouting chants about love and war, I took off where I was told, secretly hoping I wouldn’t pull a Cinderella moment and leave my sandal in the mud for a crew member to trip over. (Thankfully, I didn’t.)

There are several other noteworthy instances, but quite possibly my favorite one of the experience was the last scene we filmed that week. It was already 2am and this time a group of us were seated on the hillside listening to one of the main characters played by Meredith Monroe (famous most recently as Hotch’s wife on Criminal Minds) quite determinedly protesting the use of napalm during the Vietnam War. After the protest, Jonathan Brandis’s character walks from the hill to talk with her, picking his way through the extras sitting on the grass, but he had to start his path off scene for the camera to catch him mid-stride so the director made him back up and back up and back up…. until he backed to where I was sitting and stepped right on my bare toe! Once we had been placed we weren’t allowed to move, or make noise, so I just had to wince from behind him. But hey, it wasn’t so bad… how many people can say Jonathan Brandis, the hot former-child star, stepped on her toe?

Shortly thereafter we all followed another actor, Jay R. Ferguson, who had been riled up by the protest and decided to burn down the ROTC building nearby, encouraging us all to run after him. The climactic part of the scene involved him breaking a window and throwing a small torch inside. In the movie this is quite an effective moment, but I try hard not to smirk when I remember seeing a fully-geared up firefighter crouching inside waiting with a fire extinguisher to snuff out the torch the second it cleared the window.

The director had been concerned we would not wrap the scene by the time the sun came up and we would lose the dark of night. By now it was after 5am and the sky was just starting to lighten. We all waited as the director’s assistant yelled “checking the gate!” to make sure the shot was clean and then shortly after we all cheered as “gate is clean!” was announced. After the wrap was official and I made my way to my car parked near the actors’ trailers, I happened to walk right by Meredith at her door. In my one groupie moment of the whole experience, I mentioned I was a fan of her work as Andi on Dawson’s Creek and requested a photo, to which she kindly obliged, even enlisting a crew member friend nearby to snap my camera. In many old-timey Hollywood movies, the iconic ending scene involves the characters riding off into the sunset, but as I drove off, the sun rose in my rear-view mirror, setting in mind a chapter in my story I will never forget. And, if I ever do, it’s immortalized on the silver screen so all I have to do is watch the DVD!

 

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Garrettsville – There’s been, understandably, a bit of increased interest as of late for materials at the library involving historic downtown Garrettsville’s main street of buildings. One such request is that of copies of the movie The Year That Trembled which was filmed thirteen years ago at locations around the area. A few prominent scenes feature the characters mingling on the street and the camera frames include glimpses of the hardware store and nearby shops that were recently lost on an afternoon that closed down that section of town and caused curious and concerned passersby to stop and observe for a while.

Actress Meredith Monroe (best known most recently as Hotch's wife on Criminal Minds) and me after we wrapped filming.

Actress Meredith Monroe (best known most recently as Hotch’s wife on Criminal Minds) and me after we wrapped filming.

Back in the summer of 2001, the same section of town was closed down for a different reason, causing curious and excited passersby to stop and observe for a while. Those who were in the vicinity at that time would remember film crews, directors, make-up artists, hairstylists, and the other various human moving parts needed to make a movie set successful crowding onto the sidewalks and going about their tasks as though they were as normal an occurrence as the usual commuters puttering by on their ordinary-day way to restaurants, shops and offices. Famous faces plucked straight from Hollywood completed the landscape, stepping in to their designated spots once the lighting and camera positioning was finally just perfect for them to most effectively deliver their lines according to the filmmaker’s vision. And, just as memorable, of course, is the contained excitement of the local townspeople patiently observing the action from behind the roped-off areas.

But a lucky few, including this writer, had the opportunity to get in on the action and rub elbows with the actors, interacting with them on screen as lineless extras filling in the backdrop around the central performers.

The summer after my freshman year of college, I came home during the break between semesters looking forward to relaxing and catching up on the “read for fun” booklist I’d been compiling throughout the year. But an invitation in the newspaper announcing an open casting call in search of local citizens to appear in a movie, set at nearby Kent State University in the not-so-nearby 1970s, sounded too intriguing to overlook and swiftly deposited that list to the back of my mind. Not too long after I attended the casting call in person, informal headshot and brief bio in hand, my phone rang with the voice of a casting assistant letting me know that I had been chosen for several scenes and giving me details on when and where I was to report for my call times as well as what to wear. Though the principle actors had the assistance of the wardrobe department, we had to dress the part ourselves and were told a few guidelines for appearing on screen such as how the color red is difficult to read properly on camera while white clothes won’t “pop” well. Since it was a historical piece we also had to choose clothes appropriate to that time period which, thankfully, was remarkably easy for me due to a recent trend in retro styles. We were encouraged to shop at thrift stores which may have older clothes ready for the finding, but one stop in a family member’s well-stored trunk and I had several vintage choices at my fingertips. The one problem was that I was not quite the right size to fit into those wonderful options so we had to get creative. My favorite find was a pair of genuine bellbottoms, dark blue denim with beautifully-embroidered back pockets, but alas, they were too small for my 21st century frame so we cut the flowery panels off the jeans and stitched them to a pair of my contemporary counterparts. The slight flare of the modern bootleg invoked the older style just enough and at least the backside was authentic! With present-day replicas of a blue peasant blouse, kerchief hair accessory and Birkenstocks completing my summery 1970s college look, I successfully made it through the costumer’s careful inspection with a stamp of approval or, in this case and more importantly, permission to continue to the set.

What happened once I fell into step with the silver screen celebrities? Tune in next week for this adventure’s exciting sequel!

 

Peeking around the corner of the office building, Doodle Dog leapt back before a hurried woman rushing past him stepped on his paws. That was close! What was all the excitement about? The curious floppy-eared puppy crept out again, certainly not nearly as quickly as the two-legged traveler dashing down the driveway in front of him. Even at his easygoing amble, Doodle Dog soon came upon the very center of the town which seemed unusually busy, busy even for it being the most popular place at the most popular time of day. Keeping an eye out so not to get squished, the little floppy-eared puppy made his way down the sidewalk, weaving around ankles of lampposts and between the legs of the iron benches parked at various helpful points along the main street for weary shoppers to sit and peruse a while. But there was no time to be a spectator today as there was too much to see and too much of a chance of getting swept up in the current of activity! Well, that is, of course, unless you are a little puppy who has a talent for blending into the scenery and quietly observing.

Doodle Dog did just that, effectively disappearing into a crevice of wall between two shops. Melting into the impromptu mold, the puppy may very well have always been a fixture in that part of the structure rather than a momentary visitor to the architecture. From this vantage point, Doodle Dog was able to safely survey the scene on the sidewalk. At each section of every so many concrete squares, a table was set up with various merchandise and artistic wares. One table had wonderful smells wafting from it, scenting up the air with lilac one minute and fresh citrus fruits the next and chocolate chip cookies the next as a lady stirred a small pot filled with what appeared to be gelatinous, goopy crayons. Really yummy smelling gelatinous, goopy crayons! As she continued to swirl the little wand in the pot, the goo changed color and with it the scent in the air. Quite curious and magical indeed! Another table held similarly deliciously-smelling items, but these ones were not dissolving into a jar rather were being devoured by customers sampling the treats. Real edible ooey-gooeys like brownies and cinnamon buns, carefully crafted by a chef’s talented hands, were disappearing just as quickly as they appeared on an array of plates and platters arranged on the portable counter. On and on down both sides of the street the town’s delights were on display.

Meandering safely from his melted-in perch, the floppy-eared puppy’s nose found a particularly intriguing exhibit that did not include smelling sweets or tantalizing treats. Instead a stack of books next to a table caught his attention as he recognized the characters on the covers and the spines. He knew the legends were from an assortment, some written, some gathered, all collected by a pair of brothers who loved fairytales just as much as the little curious puppy and loved sharing the stories just as much as he did too. Sitting at the table next to the stack of books were two men busily hunched over their work. Though their facial features were similar enough that Doodle Dog figured they were brothers, that’s where the similarities ended. One had longish blonde hair that swished into his eyes as he peered over his glasses focusing on what was in his hands. Working quickly, he carved and etched something into a metal strip, fashioning it a bit here and then working the edge a bit there. Soon a set of stripes appeared and then a pair of giant eyes and some spindly legs and several wings. It reminded Doodle Dog of the shadowy shapes of the puppet show bugs. Ew! At least these ones wouldn’t bite! While the blonde brother worked, the other man concentrated on his own projects, just as varied from his cohort’s as their appearance. He had short dark hair which showed off a zealous expression in his eyes as he centered his attention on making tiny sculptures out of colorful clay. Soon a herd of miniature horses galloped in unison, the ponies prancing across the table in a dainty dance, some with wings, some with tiny spikes on their foreheads like a mythological unicorn in one of those fairytales, all with beautiful, unique markings on their multi-hued backs.

Doodle Dog stopped to indulge his curiosity for a while and as he watched the clay squishing between the artist’s fingers, soon they were not forming hooves and swishing tails, rather a paw suddenly appeared and then two floppy ears. Within moments it was no longer a ball of clay – it was a tiny Doodle Dog! The itty bitty floppy-eared puppy settled onto a clay fairytale book, the perfect perch for the petite pup! The artist gave Doodle Dog a kind smile as he gently placed Clay Doodle Dog into a small bag, tucking him into a cushion of plastic bubbles. And, just before offering the handle to the real floppy-eared puppy, the other artist dropped a tiny silver bumblebee into the bag too. It wasn’t as scary as the other kind of creepy crawly critters in the collection so Doodle Dog gave a grateful bark and continued on to explore the rest of what the fascinating setting had to offer!

 

Newton Falls – The April meeting of the Newton Falls Area Commerce Association began with a discussion on any communications received since the last meeting. NFACA President and Newton Falls Mayor Lyle Waddell mentioned that Patrick Hartory, an Ohio author, sent an email querying the association’s interest in having him come speak about customer relations. The membership expressed that this may be a viable option and further conversation with Mr. Hartory is expected to take place. Following that part of the agenda, the previous minutes and the financial report were approved, with discussion about how best to store the archived minutes. They are available online on the website, however, a hard copy has also usually been kept for quick reference.

Guests from the Kiwanis Labor Day Race Committee were given the floor to discuss the upcoming race were held on September 1st. The 4-mile run (4 to celebrate the 44444 zip code) is celebrating its 25th year this fall. New Kiwanis member Cassie Stroup has taken the lead in this year’s race organization and she mentioned that they hope to have even more participation this year. This past year there were 200 runners and 40 walkers so the committee is looking forward to getting the word out early with the fact that there are a few significant changes to how the race will be presented, most notably a new route around town. The committee is also hoping to create a scholarship fund this year so that 80% of the proceeds will still go to the Senior Citizens Van but then 20% will go to a scholarship for local students (capped at $1,500). There will be business sponsorship opportunities for this event, such has contributing advertising stuffers for the goody bags, so anyone interested can talk to a committee member, check out the facebook page or otherwise do an online search for information about the event.

The featured NFACA member for April was “Santa” Rick Kerlin of Our Towne Construction who mentioned that the home improvement business was started last year and they do work such as concrete work, construction work, etc. He also said that they focus on giving back to this community as they live and work in this community. Locals will recognize Kerlin and his crew as well-known characters around Christmas time. In addition to participating in the NFACA, Our Towne Construction is also a member of the Garrettsville Chamber of Commerce and the Regional Chamber. Next month will be feature Tanya Allman with Huntington Bank.

By way of old business, the streetlamp banners are ready to go to the printers – they should be hanging up around town soon. Small Business Saturday is still in discussion and several ideas were offered to tie the event in with another event such as the annual car show, yard sale, or a specially-planned wine tasting.

In new business, advertising methods and member-to-member discounts were discussed as well as the recent presentation made by the Kiwanis. A motion was approved to let the finance committee discuss the Kiwanis’ request for monetary sponsorship and give a recommendation to the membership on how to proceed.

During the city manager’s report, Mr. Haney mentioned that Tire Collection Days are May 1st and 2nd from 8am-2pm at the street department off of Church Street. This is in conjunction with City-Wide Clean-up Day on May 2nd during which the high schoolers will be helping to clean up Veterans’ Park. In other news, work on the water tower will begin soon so residents may notice workers way up high taking care of some maintenance issues. Street paving planned for this year includes Ravenna Road, Water Street, and Arlington areas. The turn lane arrows in downtown will be restored as soon as weather permits. Also to be noted is an Income Tax issue on the forthcoming ballot. It will involve a .5% income tax up for vote (imposed on earned income only) that is expected to raise $250,000 to stabilize the city budget. Since 2005 the city has lost $430,000 and the new money would be used for the street department, police department and Parks & Rec.

Before the meeting adjourned, time was given for open discussion and it was noted that several new businesses are coming to town. The Pit-Stop Tire building by the Dairy Queen, a Mexican restaurant moving in to the old Faces Café, another photography studio moving into the freestanding building across from Cole Valley (that at one time was a dance studio, then a photography studio, and most recently an art studio) are just a few of the new storefronts popping up.

The next NFACA meeting will be noon on Tuesday, May 13 at Roby Lee’s.

 

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.

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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.