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Garrettsville – For those who have envisioned Main Street to be taking on the Grinch form of Christmas spirit this year due to its lack of buildings, you’re in for an unexpected surprise this Christmas season. Last Christmas, beautifully restored buildings showcased glistening Christmas lights in each window in support of the upcoming holiday. Local shops displayed unique homemade Christmas decorations in their front windows. All was well in Garrettsville last year, some may have even called  it a picture-perfect town. 

This year, Christmas in Garrettsville will look different due to the March 22 fire. But even through difficult times, Main Street will once again shine bright during this upcoming Christmas season. In addition to the Christmas tree and decorations sponsored by the Rotary,  a local church called Overtaken is once again doing what they do best — going beyond the four walls of the church and bringing the true meaning of Christmas to their community, Main Street, to be exact.

On December 19, 2014 from seven to nine at night, prepare yourself to step back in time to the town of Bethlehem. Overtaken will be presenting their first live nativity scene. Actual animals as well as people from the church will be taking on the role of the famous characters that witnessed the birth of Jesus Christ. After you enjoy the beauty of the historical event of the birth of Jesus, another surprise will be awaiting you. For all the coffee lovers of Garrettsville, you will be delighted to be able to get a sneak peek at the Garrettsville Coffee Mill that will be opening soon. The Coffee Mill will be serving hot coffee as well as hot chocolate and Christmas desserts. A group from the Garretttones, will be presenting some classic Christmas carols, the Christmas story will be shared as well. So clear your calendars, this is an event that is free for your whole family and one that you are certainly not going to want to miss. Plus, Jesus Christ, the true meaning of Christmas, will be glorified and that in itself is a good reason to come. 

Newton Falls – For years, inhabitants of Newton Falls would be intrigued as a newly-cut and freshly-decorated evergreen tree sprouted up seemingly overnight in the traditional spot of Four Corners Park. And each year, when the holiday season completed, that otherwise healthy, sparkle-covered bunch of boughs would disappear just as seemingly overnight, just another Christmas memory, until its successor took its empty place the following winter. Eventually it was decided that a permanent tree planted in that plot could beautify the area all year round and provide the setting for the glitzy greenery on a continual basis for each annual lighting ceremony to come. The first large blue spruce selected for such a task unfortunately did not last until even the next year, so it was replaced with a similar tree waiting to fulfill its festive duties. All seemed well until that tree then began to lean a bit under the weight of the giant ornaments during the post-Thanksgiving trunk-trimming merriment! Would it too follow the apparently new tradition of standing in the square for not even a full year? It appeared it would take a Christmas miracle, but…

Despite concerns that yet another anonymous donor would have to step forward to rescue the holiday habit, the tree that proudly stands representing the seasonal spirit of the community is indeed still the one that was planted over a year ago! Though the tree itself is something older, the decorations themselves are something new, replacing the bulky though beautiful adornments with something a bit shinier and a bit sleeker which were shown off during this past weekend’s lighting ceremony.

On Saturday, residents and visitors to the small town gathered together to welcome a familiar face who returned from his post at the North Pole. Delivered to the scene by a local fire engine, Santa took a few moments to greet old friends and meet new ones who escorted him into the park singing strains of “Here Comes Santa Claus.” Though the brisk winds contained quite a bit of chill, they also carried with them the carols sung by community members who braved the cold to spread a bit of cheer. While Santa made his rounds, giving hugs and extending warm wishes for the winter, a uniformed helper made sure every child there received a stuffed toy, many tots hugging plush kittens, puppies and teddy bears while watching in anticipation for the tree to join in the joy.

Sounds of the season transitioned from songs to momentarily hushed silence to an excited countdown before finally erupting into cheers as the switch flipped and the shadowy scene disappeared, making way for the main event of the evening. The big man in red was dwarfed (or elfed?) only by the tree itself, in all its glistening glory as he directed the chorus of carolers back to singing Christmas favorites. Accented by the tiny but mighty crowd, the tree radiated in its new decorations, draped elegant strings of lights and a glowing star shined in the night.

Mantua – Last week, the entire Crestwood Primary School — all 400+ students and staff — had the chance to witness a special holiday performance. Thanks to generous grants, CPS staff and students boarded nine buses and ventured to the Breen Center for the Performing Arts in Ohio City. But the wheels on their buses weren’t the only ones spinning round and round on this half-day field trip. The Dancing Wheels Integrated Dance Company provided some wheels of their own.

In terms of dance, the “Babes in Toyland” show entails everything from traditional ballet to modern dance, with some acrobatics added in for good measure. In addition, it features an ensemble of what the group refers to as “stand up dancers and those who sit down.” For those used to a typical ballet, this may seem confusing. But to Monica Grebb’s class of second graders, they just rolled with it. Prior to the trip, CPS teacher (and part of the team responsible for bringing the opportunity to her school), Grebb, reminded her class, “ Some of the dancers are in wheelchairs, and some are not in wheelchairs.” But as the performance ended, the children didn’t seem to notice the difference, calling it, “fantastic” and “awesome.” 

Educator Eileen Kelly, another part of the team responsible for the school trip, added, “We’ve seen a student ballet here at school and at a theater before, but the children have never seen a professional production. The bonus with this particular performance is that it showed them that people of every ability can participate and add value.” Chase, a kindergartener shared, “I liked when the nutcracker got the bad guy,” while second grader  Reagan added, “I liked when little Bo Peep found her sheep.” Hannah, also in grade two, added, “It was a fun bus ride. We got to see all the sights and a different world than we see at home.”

CPS Principal Cindy Ducca concurred, adding, “It’s important for our children to experience life outside of school, within their global community. It’s a nice opportunity for them to get dressed up and enjoy something wonderful with their peers.” In fact, one kindergarten teacher shared that a parent told her that her son was so excited for the trip, he spent 30 minutes picking out his shirt and tie the night before. 

Principal Ducca continued, “The kids were so excited to go, and so respectful at the performance. They asked great questions at the end, too. But the main reason we wanted them to experience this particular performance was to show them that no matter what they may have against them, the sky is the limit to what they can accomplish.”

And it appears that CPS students heard that message loud and clear. The children were so amazed by the physical feats of the professional dancer troupe, one student marveled, “At the end, while we were clapping, I expected the dancers to get up out of their wheelchairs to take a bow.” 

The school’s field trip to see the performance was made possible by grants from the Hiram Community Trust, the CPS PTO, The CPS Principals Account, and an anonymous donation on behalf of Dancing Wheels.

Director and performer Mary Verdi-Fletcher founded the Dancing Wheels Company group over thirty years ago. Today, the group is recognized as America’s first physically integrated dance company. This local treasure has performed throughout Northeast Ohio and across the nation, and has been featured on CNN and ‘Good Morning America’ as well. For more information, visit dancingwheels.org.

James A. Garfield Teacher is One of Twenty-Five Chosen to Participate in ‘Auschwitz: The Past is Present’ Program

Garrettsville – USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education and Discovery Education have selected Steven Howell, a teacher at James A. Garfield High School in Garrettsville, as one of only 25 teachers from around the world to participate in a unique professional development program in Poland as part of Auschwitz: The Past is Present.

Auschwitz: The Past is Present is a global communications and education program that will support the official observance of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz on Jan. 27, 2015. This unique educator professional development opportunity is just one component of the education initiative between Shoah Foundation and Discovery Education.  The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and the International Auschwitz Council are the organizers of the official commemoration event.

Howell will join educators from 11 different countries representing four continents in attending a four-day workshop designed to deepen their understanding of the historical landscape of Poland before, during and after the Holocaust and increase participant knowledge of authentic sites including Auschwitz-Birkenau.

During the program, he will work with IWitness, the USC Shoah Foundation’s educational website that brings testimonies from survivors and witnesses of genocide, including the Holocaust, from the Institute’s Visual History Archive to secondary schools via multimedia-learning activities. Sixteen activities based on testimony from survivors and witnesses of Auschwitz will be available in IWitness by the official commemoration. Four new activities have been released to date. 

Teachers will also have the unprecedented opportunity to meet with a large number of Holocaust survivors prior to attending the commemoration ceremony at Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. 

“Survivors shared their stories because they understood how vital it was that future generations never forget what happened at places like Auschwitz,” said Dr. Kori Street, USC Shoah Foundation Director of Education. “By bringing teachers to a place where so many atrocities occurred is a way to show survivors that we take seriously our responsibility of keeping their voices strong forever.”

Select content from IWitness will soon be available to Discovery Education Streaming and Discovery Education Social Studies Techbook™ subscribers.

“Discovery Education is honored to partner with an amazing organization like USC Shoah Foundation to provide this powerful, life-changing professional development opportunity to educators across the world,” said Bill Goodwyn, President and CEO of Discovery Education. “This experience will build educators’ digital-media literacy skills and give them the tools to provide engaging, primary-source resources to their students to strengthen the understanding and importance of remembering the Holocaust.”    

The Auschwitz: The Past is Present Professional Development program will begin in Warsaw on Jan. 23, 2015 at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews and conclude at the official ceremonies at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum on Jan. 27, 2015. 

“After 20 years of teaching in a small rural high school, I have seen firsthand why teaching the Holocaust is important – and the potential that it has for transforming students’ lives,” said Howell. “Learning about the Holocaust is not just a history lesson. It provides students a lens through which they can view contemporary issues. My experience in this program will provide me with teaching tools and strategies to bring to my classroom.”

By working together on this important project, USC Shoah Foundation and Discovery Education are filling an ever-present need to keep history alive for generations to come. Interacting with testimony as a primary source in IWitness shows young people how the past informs our present and what this means to students today.

USC Shoah Foundation and Discovery Education are also creating an exclusive Virtual Field Trip to bring the 70th anniversary commemoration directly into classrooms to provide students everywhere with a deeper understanding of the continued importance of the Holocaust.

Available to schools across the United States and globally in the spring of 2015, the Virtual Field Trip will provide students with firsthand accounts from survivors returning to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, and motivate them to engage in a meaningful dialogue about history and its relevance today.

Mantua – Now that the Christmas season has begun, you may be on the hunt for an unusual gift for a special someone. Look no further than Mantua’s Secret Attic. Located on East Prospect, next door to Miller’s of Mantua Restaurant, the Secret Attic has a wonderful mix of vintage and collectible Christmas décor as well as handmade items, wooden furniture and reclaimed mantle pieces. In addition, the shop also features jewelry, candles, soaps and body scrubs. 

This weekend, they’ll be celebrating the first year in business with a Holiday Open House. To make the season bright, on Friday, December 5th, the shop will be open late — until 8 pm — so that the young and the young-at-heart can stop in before or after their visit with Santa at Mantua’s mini-park.  Open both Friday and Saturday, they’ll be offering holiday refreshments as visitors browse through Kringle-approved vintage and new offerings. Stop by to share the Christmas spirit, and to take advantage of door prize and gift basket drawings.

With new items added regularly, you never know what treasures await at Mantua’s Secret Attic on East Prospect Street in Mantua. The shop is open Wednesdays through Fridays from 10 am – 6 and Saturdays from 9 am – 3 pm. For more information, visit the shop’s Facebook page.

Ravenna – The inaugural Robinson Memorial Hospital Hospice Hope 5K Run/Walk was held on October 4, 2014. Robinson Visiting Nurse and Hospice staff coordinated the day’s events to raise funds to continue providing care to  uninsured and underinsured Portage County residents. Robinson Visiting Nurse and Hospice serves over 300 patients a year.  In 2013, over $127,000 in charity care was provided to ensure a patient’s comfort at the end of life regardless of their ability to pay.  

Despite the poor weather, 173 runners/walkers came to the Ravenna High School stadium to begin the course. The run/walk went through neighborhoods, utilized the bike and hike trail, ending in front of the stadium.  

The overall winners were Joel Dagenhardt with a time of 17:22 and Grace Homany who finished at 23:40.  

Other winners, by age bracket, were:  

1-14 Troy Dyers Calli Hahn

15-19 John Kilbourne Morgan Englehart

20-29 Dennis Kirimi Ashley Kassimer

30-39 Andrew Adam Meredith Black

40-49 Robert Black Jessica Bittence

50-59 Joe Tarantino Kathy Beers

60-69 Darrell Gammon Linda Black

70 + Bob Chittenden Phyllis Spangler

With the help of our Gold Sponsors: Altercare Post-Acute Rehabilitation Center, Inc., The Woodlands at Robinson Health and Rehabilitation Center, and Giving Well Family Foundation; our Silver Sponsors: Dave and Kathy Pangallo, Bill and Eddye White – Twin Star Lanes, North East Ambulance Service, and Giant Eagle of Ravenna; and numerous Bronze Sponsors and friends of Hospice, the event was able to raise over $10,000.  The day would not have been as successful without the assistance of the Ravenna Police and Service Department, the Ham Radio Club, the residents of Lincoln Street, our many volunteers and the Ravenna High School.  

For more information on Robinson Visiting Nurse and Hospice or how you can help people at the end of life, contact 330-297-8899.

Fill A Cruiser for the Nelson Garrettsville Community Cupboard

Garrettsville – This Saturday, while you are out running errands, consider stopping by the Garrettsville Save-A-Lot where the Garrettsville Police Department will be having a Fill-A-Cruiser event  from 10 am to 3 pm.

The officers will be collecting non-perishable food items for the Nelson Garrettsville Community Cupboard which has seen a two-fold increase in the number of people they are assisting this year. 

In addition, the officers will be accepting cash donations which will be used  for the Hiram-Garrettsville Shop-With-A-Cop program. 

Garrettsville – After a three year hiatus, he’s back. Mr. King returns to the stage at James A Garfield School writing, directing and producing his play  “The Right to Bare Arms.” The play mixes modern day and ancient times together as a small island learns to overcome fear, to survive the curse that it has been said to be under. 

The modern day island is bound by ancient laws, such as no fishing with a shot gun, no bare arms in public, no milking their neighbors’ cow, one must only talk in the ancient language and butter is the only thing allowed on biscuits and muffins.  The islanders believe they are under a curse from Witch Golda, which causes the island to sink into the sea when anyone breaks a law. The town is so bound by the laws that no one is able to work, therefore they become dependent on the king for survival.   

Then, the cupbearer’s daughter, Maya, who doesn’t believe in curses, is determined to challenge the laws of the land and possibly be the source of the island’s demise. Maya encourages some of the young women to follow her point of view which lands them all in jail for challenging what she calls outdated laws.

The play has a king, a witch, knights, and even a jester to add humor and fun into the mix. The knights undermine the king and have a plot of their own, if only one could just figure out the good knight from the bad. The evil witch, who just wants to marry the king, has a naïve town believing in her curse as she plots against the town to get the king to love her. The king’s daughter falls for a commoner, women determined to rebel against authority all come together with one cause in the end and it is to overcome fear to save their island.

Mr. King does a great job intertwining the ancient times with the modern day and adding plenty of humor to the mix. The roles were cast well and the play was quite entertaining. Leaving an audience chanting bravo, bravo! 

Welcome back, Mr. King, we hope this is the “first” of many more to come

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hiram – At the start of the last regular Council meeting, Hiram Mayor Lou Bertrand swore in Firefighter Austin Bracken to the Hiram Fire Department. Firefighter Bracken, a Garrettsville native is currently in EMT school. Upon completion of the EMT program, he will serve the Department in that capacity as well.

In his Police Report, Chief Ed Samec shared that his Department received the AAA Platinum Award for their extensive programs within the local community. This is the second consecutive year the Department has received this prestigious honor. In addition, Samec reported that Corporal Gilbert received the Hiram Police Department MADD Officer of the Year for being instrumental in removing impaired motorists from community roadways. Moving on, the chief reported to council that his department had received a body camera and support equipment valued at roughly $1,500, at no charge from the Ohio Department of Public Safety. The unit will be worn on an officer’s uniform to record audio and video during shifts throughout the community. Similarly, Chief Samec requested permission to use Police Capital Funds to purchase two Taser® units for training and field use by his department. Samec stated matter-of-factly, “In my experience in other agencies, aggression ceased in 99% of situations where a taser is used.” Council passed the motion unanimously.

In his report, Assistant Fire Chief Mark Kosak shared that plans to implement increased staffing at the Hiram Fire Department would be discussed at the upcoming Safety and Finance meetings. He reported that the average response time for calls in October was 5 minutes and 49 seconds, which reflects an increase in calls to township residents.

In his report, Mayor Lou Bertrand shared that Dr. Robert Greenwood had been sworn in as a part of the Zoning Board. In other news, he shared details of his meeting with Hiram College President Lori Varlotta regarding the Beautification committee. The previously defunct committee is a joint effort between the village, the township and the college, with the College maintaining and disbursing the funds. At the upcoming meeting, Mayor Bertrand has requested copies of the original endowment document as well as fund balance and expenditure information. All members of the committee have been seated, and the Mayor is optimistic about moving forward.

In legislation, Council approved a Resolution acknowledging the transfer of the 29,000-foot Hike & Bike Trail from Hiram College to Hiram Village as project sponsor. The project, which is paid for through an ODOT grant, is the first part of a multi-phase plan to connect Hiram College and Village to the Portage County Headwaters Trail.

In the Public Comment portion of the meeting, Township Trustee Kathy Schulda requested that Council entertain a request to formally detach from the Village the property where the Hiram Township garage is located. The less than .25 acre parcel property is located at the edge of the Village, south of the cemetery on Ryder Road. As a part of the agreement, the township has agreed to cover reasonable expenses associated with the proposed agreement, and will continue to maintain the .25 miles of Ryder Road from State Route 82 to the Township garage, which is under the jurisdiction of the Village.  Schulda also noted that, should the Township ever sell the property, the parcel will revert back to the Village of Hiram. After much discussion on the matter, Council member Paul Spencer suggested merging the Village and Township entities, stating, “ It would be the best thing — look at Aurora.” In summation, Council President Tom Wadkins informed Schulda that council will consider the township’s request and provide a response at the next council meeting.

The next meeting of the Hiram Village Council will be held on Tuesday, December 9th at 7pm. Residents are encouraged to attend.

Hiram -  Two schools, separated by over 250 miles, came together in another heartfelt moment on Friday night in Hiram.

The Mount Saint Joseph women’s basketball team, located in Cincinnati, paid a visit to Hiram to cheer on the Terriers against Albion (Mich.).

Mount Saint Joseph had played at Baldwin Wallace earlier in the evening and wanted to support Hiram in its game against Albion (Mich.). In addition, the Lions wanted to pass along a gift of appreciation to the Terriers.

The teams last met on November 2, at the Cintas Center on the campus of Xavier University.

The game, originally scheduled for November 15 at Hiram, was moved up and to Cincinnati to accommodate Mount Saint Joseph freshman Lauren Hill and her wish to play “One Last Game”. Hill has an inoperable tumor.

Hill finished the game with four points as Mount Saint Joseph defeated Hiram. Everyone involved in the contest was deemed a winner.

On Friday, Mount Saint Joseph presented the Terriers with a framed “Play for 22″ shirt, signed by the entire team.

Earlier in the evening, Hill appeared in her second game of the season for the Lions and finished with two points.

Hiram College was honored to participate in such a special game earlier in the month. Our thoughts and prayers are with Lauren, her family and the Mount Saint Joseph community.

In Mantua, Black Friday means more than just scooping up the latest deal, or the official start of the Christmas holiday season. It’s also the much-anticipated day that the bridge at the South end of the Village on State Route 44 officially re-opens.

Victor Botosan, Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study (AMATS), was present at the recent ribbon cutting ceremony. His organization provided roughly $135,000 grant for the bridge and sidewalk project through its Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). The Downtown Mantua Revitalization Corporation (DMRC) raised matching funds of approximately $29,000, and the remainder was funded through generous donations from F & S Automotive, Sierra Trucking, Perfect Choice Auto Collision, Stamm Contracting, and Tom VanAuken, owner of the Bank Building.

According to Craig Dunbar from ODOT, the project start of late July was delayed due to utility issues. Prior to starting construction work on the bridge, utility poles needed to be relocated to accommodate the bridge’s new pylon support structures. Construction officially began at the start of September, and will be completed once the grass has been seeded on Black Friday, Dunbar stated.

Jodie Fiala from DMRC couldn’t be happier. “This is going to open Mantua back up,” she remarked. Businesses like Miller’s Restaurant, K & K Meats, and Mantua’s Secret Attic saw a reduction in visitors when the bridge blocked the main artery through town. They look expectantly to the return of commuter traffic as the holiday season begins and the road opens. Angie Zoller, Manager of Barky Mart gas station and convenience store, agrees. “We’ve continued to see lots of our regular customers throughout the road closure, but have missed the flow of morning and afternoon commuters. Now that the bridge is open, it will be nice to get back to our regular routine.”

Village Administrator Kate Rogers concurs. “With the road open, the Fire Department can go back to regular operations.” During the closure, the Mantua-Shalersville Fire Department, located south of the closure, opened a satellite station to the north of the closure, in order to reduce fire and rescue response time to Village and Township residents to the north. Dean Stebbins, Owner of F&S Automotive, saw a reduction in tow truck and service response times to the south, as well. His company made room at their facility north of the road closure to accommodate the satellite Fire Station’s fire and rescue vehicles and staff. In return, the MSFD provided space for F&S towing vehicles at the station to the south. “We help the community, and the community helps us,” he explained.

“With the road open, this should make a big impact on businesses in the downtown area. School bus routes will return to normal, and our side streets should see much less traffic, as well,” Rogers concluded. And in the Village of Mantua, that’s the best Black Friday deal to be had.

Winter weather is officially upon us.  With this weather comes the ‘polarizing’ topic of Snow Days. Our first weather related two-hour delay on Tuesday was a great example of how making a call to alter the school day in any way is on that brings cheers and jeers.

When I was a child I participated in all of the rituals that supposedly helped the snow day cause.  I wore my pajamas backwards.  I flushed ice cubes down the toilette.  I even opened the door to the refrigerator and danced the snow-day dance.  While I will not disclose the age at which I stopped wearing my pajamas backwards, I will share that my two boys still do the same things in an effort to spend a day outside in the snow each time inclement weather is in the forecast (and though they beg ferociously, their pleas do not weigh into the decision).

Calling off school is not an easy decision.  As a parent, I realize the inconvenience it causes many families with last-minute child care.  As a teacher, I know how a day off disrupts instruction. As the superintendent I realize the lost instructional time it causes.

The calling of a snow day

Is there a magic number of inches of snow needed to call school?  Is there a specific street that has to be impassable?  The answer to each of to each of these aforementioned questions is no.  The driving factor when calling school off is the safety of students.

When poor weather is forecasted the the district transportation supervisor and I begin driving the streets of Freedom, Nelson and Garrettsville between 4:00 and 5:30 AM. We look for how passable and slippery the streets are for a school bus and if the road crews have been able to keep up with the storm. I also call the village police chief.  He is out on the roads early and is usually alerted of any accidents or areas that may present a challenge for our buses.

Once the district streets have been assessed we meet back at the board office to examine the weather forecast.  We look to see if the weather will be improving, maintaining or worsening as the day goes on. If the roads are impassable but the forecast is promising and trucks are working on the roads we try to call a two-hour delay.  This will allow time for the roads to be cleared by the village and township crews.  If the roads are impassable and the forecast is poor we will likely call a snow day. Again, student safety is the driving factor when considering the cancellation of school. We will make every effort to make this decision by 6:00 AM and begin our notification procedures immediately.

Where to check for delays/closings

If you are a parent, you should make sure you have your email, text or voice notifications set up in Edline.  This is the first system we will use to notify you of any cancellation or delay.  If you need assistance setting this up, you should contact your building principal.

We will also notify the major television (3, 5, 8, 19 and 43) and radio stations (FM: 99.5, 105.7, 98.1, 106.5, 100.7, 102.9  AM: 1100, 640).

Finally, you can always check the district website (garfield.sparcc.org) Facebook page (facebook.com/jagschools) or Twitter feed (twitter.com/jagschools).

In closing, I will never discourage students from pajamas antics, ice cube tricks or special dances. While these strategies may help children sleep better knowing they have done their part, please know that the district is taking every precaution to ensure student safety on days when weather may impact their ride to school.

As always, if you have any questions please feel free to contact me directly at the office (330.527.4336) or on my cell (216.534.7413).

Go G-Men!

Mantua - Veterans Day was originally known as Armistice Day, which commemorated the signing of the armistice, which ended World War I on November 11, 1918. Although it became a federal holiday in 1938, President Eisenhower changed the name to Veterans Day in 1954 in order to include all US veterans. And on Veterans Day, 2014, children and adults honored local veterans at Crestwood Primary and Intermediate Schools, first at a solemn ceremony and flag raising outdoors, immediately followed by a ceremony in the cafeteria of the Primary School.

The school hallways were decked in red, white, and blue, covered with students’ patriotic artwork thanking veterans for their service to the nation. After the second grade choir sang, families watched a slide show honoring the service of countless veterans from the area, supplied by students and their families. Veterans from all branches of service were honored during the event. One such veteran, 94-year-old Bill Wysong from Aurora, was the special guest of his great-grandson, second-grader Grant Wysong. The elder Wysong is a US Army veteran who served on the Pacific front during the Second World War. He enjoyed observing the day in such a special way with three generations of his family.

In addition, in honor of Veterans Day, flags representing each branch of service were flying high at the Mantua Veterans Memorial. This was the first Veteran’s Day observance at the Memorial, which was dedicated last Memorial Day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

One down, one to go.

The Christmas Walk, in its 17th incarnation since being revived in 1980, seems to be off to a relatively good start.  The weather has been fairly co-operative—dampish  occasionally, cold often but frequently bright and seasonal.  What do we expect?  It’s November in Ohio! (Just a word of warning  : Typhoon Nuri or something is going to drag another polar vortex-type weather system down from Alaska to the “lower 48”.  Over here in the “effete East” we may miss the worst of it but the AOL weather item said that high temperature in Great Falls, MT would by about 7 degrees on Tuesday and a broad swath through the middle of the country would have high temperatures—high temperatures– for Wednesday below freezing.)

Anyway, plan to bundle up if you’re going to hit the second weekend.  The sights are worth seeing at all of the stops.  I was particularly taken with the Nelson United Methodist Church.  It’s such a simple country church, so nicely displayed.  Barb Shilling and her crew from the quilt club, the Village Piecemakers, with the quilt array over the backs of the pews, set a perfect tone for a bicentennial celebration; some of the patterns might have been recognized by families who sat in those seats so many years ago.  The lunch was outstanding also; I may be forced to head back out there to sample more of the homemade desserts.  The trail bosses for that round-up were Norma and Valorie McCullough and all of the “li’l doggies” were  up for the trip.  Pastor Rick was relegated to working in the chuckwagon too.

Every stop had its attractions : bodacious displays of craftsman(or woman)ship, humungous trees, amazing renovations and restorations, family moments, wit, humor, plants, views, histories, collections of every size and description…the interesting parts of any community.  We’re all missing the businesses that were downtown but determined to be like “The Little Engine That Could” by giving this biennial event our very best effort.  Sort of like the old tales of starlets being discovered in Hollywood sitting on a stool in a drugstore, we’re hoping that some enterprising soul(with pots of money) comes along, sees this place and how we’re doing and says, “Gosh, this little town really has grit and gumption and good looks and great schools!  Why don’t I come here to open my office/ grow my business/expand my production/research or develop a new enterprise?”  Yeah.  Why not?

If you see or hear this person wandering around loose, notify the Chamber of Commerce immediately, if not sooner, so they can throw a net over the individual and we can get started with the planning.

The picture in last week’s Villager was a good start, an idea with some imagination and consideration of the town and its possibilities.  Keep the ideas coming.  Let the discussion engage everyone.  Let the future be in harmony with the past but not chained to it.  Don’t forget that there are still businesses on the intact side of Main Street which could use a boost right now.  Pete Kepich of the Main Street Grille and Brewing Company is showing the way by sponsoring the Christmas tree downtown, set up by the Rotary.  Others have been pitching in as well.  We’re all in this together, folks.  “Garrettsville Strong” is more than just a slogan, it’s our way forward.  Get on board.

Mantua – On Saturday, October 25th, volunteers joined forces to complete a myriad of projects in Mantua as a part of the Make A Difference Day national day of service. Community-minded residents, CHS students, and Eagle Scouts took part, using a little bit of elbow grease to help make their local community that much better.

That day, volunteers spent time sprucing up the railroad switching station/guard house on the Headwaters Trail, as well as sprucing up Village signs and benches. Trail repairs were completed at Mantua’s Glacier Esker Trail, and work was also completed at the nearby Rotary Grove site. In addition, volunteers went door-to-door in the Village sharing coupons to encourage residents to shop locally, and providing information regarding the Village’s Road Levy.

The Downtown Mantua Revitalization Corporation (DMRC) organized Make a Difference Day in Mantua. That day, volunteers in Mantua joined with millions of volunteers across the country to improve the lives of others.

For more than 20 years, USA WEEKEND Magazine, together with the Points of Light charitable organization, has held Make A Difference Day, the largest national day of community service. To find out how you can help make a difference in Mantua, contact the DMRC at 330-274-4040.

Elvis Presley was there, and so were Marilyn Monroe and even Joe DiMaggio! Dropping in from Oz were the Wicked Witch of the East and even one of the flying monkeys! If you looked in the corner, there was Elly May Clampett, and on the dance floor Tippi Hedren was surrounded by “The Birds!”

All of these characters, as well as many, many more gathered at Sugarbush Golf Club last Saturday night for the Masquerade Scholarship Ball, where hand carved pumpkins lit by votive candles  decorated each table and pumpkins, owls and ravens, black cats, a witch and tiny orange lights adorned  the mantle above the fireplace. The James A Garfield Art classes, under the direction of Libby Frato-Sweeney were responsible for the cleverly carved pumpkins.

The first place award for costume (s) went to Aaron King and his entourage for their Hillbilly Wedding. Second place went to Trish and Tom Brett as The Spider and The Fly, while Gail and Mike Mikula as the Wicked Witch of the East and the Flying Monkey took third place honors.

Music was provided by popular band, The Boys are Back, who also got into the action by dressing up for the occasion, and the delicious meal was catered by Special Moments of Streetsboro.

The Masquerade Scholarship Ball is held biennially in the years when the Business Showcase is not being held by the Garrettsville Chamber of Commerce. In 1997 three Chamber members, Barb Bejger, Joann Vance and Marty Paul went to Girard to see how their Chamber of Commerce was organizing and running a business showcase, and they were so impressed they proposed holding one in Garrettsville. The event was so popular it was held annually for several years, but when attendance began to drop off, it was decided to have a Masquerade Ball every other year to raise additional monies for the Scholarship Fund. This was the fourth year for the dance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8088 Main St, Garrettsville, OH 44231.

Hiram –  “TREE House exemplifies what is distinct about Hiram,” beamed Dr. Debbie Kasper, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at Hiram College. From its radiant heat in the basement floor to its R60-rated insulation in the attic, the TREE House is a model of energy efficiency and sustainability.

Work was done by local contractors, and supported by volunteers from faculty, staff and the community.

Local resident Scott Robinson supplied the fine carpentry work. Mike and MJ Viggiani from Mike’s Electric in Hiram, OH completed electrical work. They installed the energy-conserving LED lighting systems and energy-monitoring systems to enable Hiram College to track energy usage throughout the structure. Dominic Gualtieri, of Gualtieri Construction in Hiram, worked on foundation and footer work, helping the TREE House, much like trees themselves, grow from the ground up. Using less traditional materials like foam blocks, and simple tools including a drill, a reciprocating saw or other cutting tool, and plenty of zip ties, Gualtieri remarked, “the process is easy enough for an average homeowner to do.”

Insulation guru Nate Adams from Energy Smart Home Performance in Mantua, lent his expertise to the project as well. According to Adams, at the start of the project, blower door tests — used to measure a home’s airtightness, — were measured at 6,700. The team’s goal was to reduce that number to 2,000. After all the work the team has completed, the TREE House now scores under 1,000.  A Home Energy Rating System (HERS) index rating measures how energy efficient a home is. A score of 100 is the goal for structures to meet the 2009 standards. Adams continued, “The TREE House started at 208, but is now listed at around 50.”

According to Jim Zella, the architect and builder from Hiram who served as the Project Manager, “Air leakage is the most important factor for energy use. To improve comfort and reduce moisture problems, tighter is better. But if a home is too tight, air quality may suffer.” To solve this issue, an Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) was installed to give the bad air a way to get out. The ERV pulls fresh air in, while filtering incoming air and exhausting stale air. In the process, exhausted air helps to warm the incoming air, making the system more effective.

Zella shared how the old siding, which contained lead paint, was left in place and encapsulated in cement board siding. This not only kept harmful materials out of a landfill, but serves to diminish the heating system requirements of the building. Since the envelop of the house is tight, it doesn’t require as much energy to heat. “I’m very pleased with what took place at this green and sustainable project,” Zella continued. It was truly a team effort that resulted in a reduction of energy usage at the TREE House — a whopping 75% lower than the original structure.

Several foundations have helped fund this project, including the Kent H. Smith Charitable Trust; Dominion’s Higher Educational Partnership; and the Lubrizol Foundation. In addition, private donors have also given their support, including Jane & George Rose, Merrill Preston, Jr.; Damaris Peters-Pike & Ken Pike; Steve Zabor, and Kathryn Craig. The overwhelming support is what Kasper says made it, “genuinely special and rare. All in all, it has been a grand learning experiment, and the kind of thing Hiram does best,” he continued. “What we’ve created is a wonderful space to teach and meet and learn.”

The windows on the first floor and some of the second floor have been replaced with more energy-efficient models; the rest will be replaced as budget allows. The old parts of the home were repurposed on site, for example, old windows now top display tables created by local artist Barry Bishop, and an unneeded door was transformed into a corner shelf for a quiet space off the kitchen. One of the goals of this project was to show people how to salvage pieces of older homes, preserving the character while diverting useful items from the landfill. Water collection system will irrigate the on site gardens.

“We’ve been working so hard and dealing with unexpected issues on a nearly daily basis for so long now, it feels really surprising — in a good way — to have most of the major work behind us and to think we’ll actually be able to use the house,” shared Kasper.  One member of the Environmental Studies Department has already moved in, while the rest of the Department is scheduled to do so over the holiday break.  “Ever since the grand opening, we’ve been getting lots of questions from students who are eager to use the space!  They will be very happy to know that we plan on teaching several classes there this spring,” beamed Kasper.

The next steps for the TREE House will be to learn how to effectively use the space, given its collection of advanced technologies. In addition, the team will be hard at work compiling data they’ve been collecting throughout the process. “We learned a lot through the process, and continue to do so,” shared Kasper. The TREE House team has documented throughout the process, and will share that data so that others can learn from their experiences. Data regarding the various systems and cost savings will be posted on the TREE House website hiram.edu/sustainability/tree-house. In addition, over the next few months, information about some of the most important features will be shared on informational placards that will be posted throughout the house, allowing visitors to learn more and link to the website for additional resources.

Minor work is still being finalized on the TREE House, with a schedule for public access to be established in early 2015. Contact Debbie Kasper at kasperdv@hiram.edu for more information.

Garrettsville –  The strongest structures are those built with the strongest foundation. The same is true for education.  Student success is often predicated on a strong foundation of literacy and mathematics. James A. Garfield Elementary has always provided students with a strong academic foundation, and Ohio recently affirmed this effort.  Last week the state of Ohio recognized James A. Garfield Elementary students, teachers, staff, administration and community for maintaining high academic achievement among their students, including many from economically disadvantaged circumstances that can make learning difficult.  They were named a School of Promise as well as a High Performing School of Honor.

The awards are extremely prestigious.  There were only 98 Schools of Promise and 48 High Performing Schools of Honor from around the entire state. Each program has different criteria.

To qualify as a School of Promise, a building must meet these criteria:

• Eighty percent or more of students in grades that took the 2013-2014 Ohio Achievement Assessments must have rated Proficient in reading and math, including economically disadvantaged.

•  Score an Ohio School Report Card grade of A or B on their Annual Measurable Objective, to narrow performance gaps between student groups.

• Receive an A, B or C on student learning progress through the school year and a grade of A or B on high school graduation rate, if they were high schools.

• Serve at least 40 percent economically disadvantaged students (JAG Elementary currently serves 41%).

The Schools of Honor initiative builds on the Schools of Promise program, recognizing schools that exceed Schools of Promise criteria. To be a High Performing School of Honor, a school must:

• Be Title 1 eligible and serve 40 percent or more economically disadvantaged students.

• Have 90 percent or more of all students score Proficient on the Ohio Achievement Assessments over the last five years.

• Have 80 percent of all groups of students (economically disadvantaged, students with disabilities) who are Proficient.

• Show progress in meeting Annual Measurable Objectives and student learning progress over a five-year period.

High Progress Schools of Honor are buildings that have made the greatest five-year gains.

We should all be very proud of our students, staff and administrators.  This award affirms what we have known for some time.  Our teachers work hard to foster great relationships with kids.  They use data to help learn about student strengths and weaknesses and then work together to make sure all students grow. This, coupled with the support of a great community and parents is an obvious recipe for success.  Congratulations to James A. Garfield Elementary School staff, students and administrators on their phenomenal work.

Hiram – Hiram College’s innovative degree completion and retention programs helped the Akron region secure a $1 million grand prize from CEOs for Cities for its growth in college degree attainment over the past four years.

CEOs for Cities announced on Oct. 29, 2014, in Washington, D.C., that the Akron Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) had the biggest improvement in degree attainment in the nation, out of the 57 regions competing in the National Talent Dividend. The Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education (NOCHE) accepted the award on behalf of the Akron MSA educational community which is composed of Hiram College, Kent State University, Northeast Ohio Medical University, Stark State College and The University of Akron. These funds will make possible additional college attainment initiatives throughout the region.

“This award helps to symbolize and actualize the collaborative partnerships that exist between Hiram College, the other regional colleges and universities in Northeast Ohio, and NOCHE,” said Lori Varlotta, Ph.D., president of Hiram College. “Hiram takes great pride in being a part of the region’s efforts to improve degree attainment. I am especially proud, however, of Hiram’s success in educating and graduating–in very large proportions–first generation students most of whom ultimately live, learn and earn in Northeast Ohio.” Dr. Varlotta attended the award ceremony, along with presidents from Kent State University, The University of Akron, Northeast Ohio Medical University and Stark State College, the colleges and universities that are part of the Akron MSA.

Hiram College’s share of the grand prize will be put toward degree completion initiatives.

Two of the defining efforts that led to the Akron area’s recognition were collaborations between Hiram College and other institutions in the region:

• Success Scholarships: Hiram College, Kent State University and The University of Akron awarded scholarships to students within a semester of graduation who had a small amount of unmet financial need. These completion scholarships of less than $1,000 each made the critical difference in earning a degree for local college graduates over the past few years.

• Pathway Programs: Hiram College, Kent State Universities and the University of Akron all prepare future physicians for medical school through focused pipeline programs, in partnership with NEOMED. Through Hiram College’s B.A. to M.D. Pathway Program, up to five Hiram sophomores who aspire to be future primary care providers are accepted each year into NEOMED. Upon successfully completing a Hiram baccalaureate degree and passing the MCAT, students will have a seat waiting for them in medical school.

Hiram College also contributed to regional degree attainment through several of its own initiatives. The MAP-Works program, implemented in 2011, has positively impact traditional student retention. In 2013, students who accessed their MAP-Works report persisted from fall to spring at a rate of 91 percent, compared to a rate of 81 percent for those who did not access the report. A survey-based program, MAP-Works empowers faculty and staff to positively impact student success and retention by identifying student issues and concerns early in the term.  The program provides Hiram with the information necessary to identify and coordinate interventions with transitioning, high achieving, and high-risk students.

Over the past year, Hiram College awarded bachelor’s degrees to 32 students who completed requirements entirely on a community college campus. These students, the first of many to come, earned their bachelor of arts in accounting within 18 months of enrolling in Hiram’s partnership program with Lorain County Community College. 82 percent of these students earned their degree while working, and they boasted an average grade point average of 3.4. Hiram College now has established partnership programs at Lakeland Community College and Cuyahoga Community College, Eastern Campus.

According to CEOs for Cities, the Akron MSA produced 2,139 more postsecondary degrees than four years ago for an astonishing 20 percent increase. The increase in degrees awarded was a result of cross-regional and cross-sector collaboration including two-year, four-year, public and private higher education institutions and their many collaborating partners. The Northeast Ohio Talent Dividend galvanized support for collective impact in raising educational attainment across four metropolitan areas, including Akron.

“We are so proud to recognize the achievements of Greater Akron and its peers across the country,” said Noel Harmon, national director of the Talent Dividend. “This award is the result of years of hard work, and we are hopeful all of Northeast Ohio’s cross collaborative efforts provide inspiration and a roadmap for other cities as they work to increase postsecondary attainment.

Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education (NOCHE) has been leading Northeast Ohio Talent Dividend in four metropolitan areas (Akron, Canton, Cleveland, Youngstown) since 2009, as part of the national contest.

“Northeast Ohio boasts a gigantic increase of 92,000 more college degree holders since the Talent Dividend began, a substantial gain of almost three percentage points in attainment,” said Shawn Brown, vice president of the Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education. “The accomplishments in Summit and Portage Counties are significant, and they are part of an even bigger success story on college access and completion that has accelerated brain gain across Akron, Canton, Cleveland and Youngstown.”

Burton – Enjoy a day of holiday shopping in the country at a collaborative event featuring local artists, craftsman and direct sales vendors.  This event takes place Saturday, November 29th from 10am – 4pm and Sunday, November 30th, 2014 from 11 am to 6 pm at the picturesque Red Maple Inn at 14707 South Cheshire Street in Burton, Ohio.

Unique gifts, stocking stuffers, local crafts, chocolates and more will be available to purchase or custom order.  Every vendor will donate one item to go into a basket which will be raffled off to one lucky winner.  Proceeds will go to Sponsor-A-Family in Geauga County.  Last year’s event raised over $300!

Some of our vendors include Origami Owl, Gold Canyon Candles, Thirty-One Gifts, Buckeye Chocolates, Pampered Chef, Lilla Rose, Avon, Libby Lane Creations, His Daughter Soaps and Scrubs, Haute Mess Creations, Two Cheeky Cats, Jenny’s Jewelry, Hand Painted Ornaments, Beaches and Dreams Travel, Reversible Aprons and more!

We hope you will join us at this stress-free holiday shopping event!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Garrettsville – The Garfield Stadium was a sea of pink Friday night as the G-men football team held a “pink out” night to pay tribute to those who have conquered breast cancer, those who are conquering the disease and those who lost the battle prior to the Mogadore-G-men game.

Earlier in the season, several of the football moms decided that since so many of the players families were touched by the disease, they would pay tribute to those family members. They chose October because it is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The group designed a t-shirt and organized the sale of the shirts for the game. The proceeds from the event will be split, with a portion of it going to the Melissa Knight to help with her on-going medical costs as she fights the fight and the remaining portion will go to the junior class. The shirt had a dark pink ribbon on the front laced similar to football lacing that had the slogan “Tackle Cancer” on it. The team sold over 100 pink t-shirts.

Friday night, prior to the game, they honored those who have won the battle, those who are fighting the battle and those who lost the battle by wearing the pink t-shirts and by giving recognition to those family members. The football players then escorted their family member a crossed the field prior to the game.

Those honored were, one year survivors Judy Blewitt, escorted by her grandson, Christopher Blewitt, and Kathie Lutz escorted by her grandson, Kyle Borelli and honorary grandson Christopher Blewitt.   Ante Dejanovic and his dad, Mio honored Ante’s mother and Mio’s wife, Kasenna who lost her battle five years ago. Devin and Dayne Karlovec escorted their grandmother, Rella Hoskins, who is a 30 year survivor, Brad Martin escorted his aunt, Jonnie Manista who just finished chemo, he also honored his grandmother Bonnie Nedelka who lost her battle 14 years ago, Hayden Nichols escorted his grandmother Janet Nichols who is a four year survivor. Chandler Stefanek escorted his grandmother, Pat Stefanek, who is a 20 year survivor, Noah Owens escorted his grandmother, Mary Anne Dunning and lastly, Melissa Knight was escorted by her daughters, Sierra and Alexis Knight, and Dalton Fall. Melissa is currently fighting the disease.

Although the stands and sidelines were a sea of pink, the game was all green as Mogadore defeated the G-Men 49-7.

Mantua – While some kids treasure their extra days off school by sleeping in, on NEOEA Day, several kids donned  rubber boots, joined their families to hunt for treasures in the heart of Mantua Village. At Mantua’s Buchert Park (4800 East High Street), the group met Ryan Moss from the Ohio Division of Natural Resources. Moss donned his waders to enter the river, showing firsthand some of the hidden treasures that can be found in a typical Cuyahoga River monitoring exercise.

First, Moss used a Turbidity Tube — a narrow PVC tube roughly two feet long — to show participants how to measure the river’s water clarity. Looking through the side of the tube, the water appeared remarkably clear. But changing perspective and looking through the top of the tube, participants realized that because of sediment, the bottom was hidden, just as the river’s bottom is hidden from view. Moss’s next step, however, shed plenty of light on some of the interesting creatures that call the Crooked River home. And while the depth and current of the river made it impossible for the children, mostly third graders from Crestwood Intermediate School, to enter the river, Moss brought some of the river to them.

Moss used two plastic shoebox-sized bins as mini aquariums, which he filled with river water. Taking a three-foot section of netting, Moss entered the river and used his feet to jostle the rocks resting on the river’s bottom, sending its former occupants into the waiting net. After carefully closing the net, Moss exited the river, opening the net flat so that the group could locate critters, examine them, and place them into the waiting bins. Hidden among the fall leaves, participants found crayfish, a multitude of insect larvae, tiny freshwater clams and a water penny beetle. Moss and a team of volunteers monitor the Cuyahoga in various locations during early spring, summer and fall to test water quality of the river by the variety of creatures found within it. According to Moss, the river quality at Buchert Park rated excellent that day.

After releasing their treasures back into the river, participants followed Rosemary Krupar, CIS third grade teacher and Teacher-Ranger-Teacher for Cuyahoga Valley National Park, down the nearby Headwaters Trail to investigate the Oak Ridge Trail. The boisterous group startled a snake sunning itself along the trail as they identified leaves, explored the woods, and enjoyed the crisp fall day.

Nature Treks is a free extracurricular program to provide outdoor education to Crestwood students and their families. During several sessions throughout the 2014-2015 school year, families will meet at various sites in the area for interactive nature experiences. These sessions take place on select weekdays when school is not in session. For more information on upcoming Nature Treks, contact Rosemary Krupar at Crestwood Intermediate School, rkrupar@crestwoodschools.org.

Hiram – Justin Lonis is the founder of Justimagine, LLC, located in his hometown of Mentor, OH. The company’s first product is the Advanced Balance Board, which was developed by Lonis as a senior project while he was still a student at Hiram College. The idea was born after Lonis, a 6’6” basketball forward at Hiram College, injured his ankle. Essentially, his design consists of a balance platform with an LCD display that shows the number of touches, or times the platform tips, in a given time period. His innovative product aids in lower body stability testing, ankle stability, and rehabilitation. A recent Hiram College graduate, Lonis won first place in the Entrepreneurs’ Organization’s Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) this month.

His idea and resulting business plan earned first place at Hiram’s IdeaBuild Competition, and third place at the regional competition. He earned first place at the GSEA in Cleveland. Following his mom’s advice, he is trying to retain as much equity in his company as possible. He’s currently in the prototype phase of his invention — or as he stated, “It’s more selling a dream than a product.” He estimates that the prototype is 90% complete, and he plans to show a completed prototype at the next round of competition in early November. Potential users of his product include orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists, and athletic trainers.

As a part of the Cleveland competition, Lonis was thrilled to be a part of the sold-out Thrive event, sponsored by the Cleveland Entrepreneurs’ Organization earlier this month. The event featured Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. “Just being in the competition gave me access to over 300 entrepreneurs. The insights they provided made it the most valuable experience for me.” It also gave Lonis the chance to play Air Combat — co-piloting an actual fighter plane flying over Lake Erie — and manning the controls during simulated dogfights. “It’s the coolest thing I’ve ever done!” he beamed. Lonis reinvested his prize winnings into his company, and will move on to compete in the US Nationals in Chicago next month. A victory in Chicago would qualify Justin for a chance at the title of Global Student Entrepreneur of the Year (GSEA) in April 2015 in Washington, DC.

Justimagine, LLC currently holds three USPTO provisional patents and has working relationships with local area colleges, hospitals, sports teams and entrepreneurial agencies. More advanced versions of the initial product may be used to help quantitatively diagnose concussions. But Lonis admits that his biggest challenge is simplifying his “elevator pitch” — the 30-second summary of his product for potential investors or buyers of his product. “It’s a huge challenge for me. My goal is to break it down in a way that even my eight-year-old brother, Mikey can understand.”

The GSEA (Global Student Entrepreneur Awards) is a global competition hosted by the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) for students who own and operate businesses while attending high school or college. During the competitions, nominees like Justin compete against their peers from around the world. With more than 1,700 competitors from more than 20 countries, EO GSEA is an awesome opportunity for student entrepreneurs to make connections, find resources, and grow their businesses.

The Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) is a global network of more than 10,000 business owners in 46 countries. They strive to inspire students to entrepreneurship by showcasing undergraduate business owners through the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA).

Garrettsville - The week leading up to homecoming is always an exciting week as the student council held spirit week with various themes. Monday’s theme was camouflage, Tuesday was tie-dyed, Wednesday was class t-shirts, Thursday was pink for breast cancer awareness and Friday was black and gold. Besides the themed days, they had a bonfire night, hall-decorating contest, fence decorating contest, and float-decorating for the parade.

Friday night’s festivities began when the parade stepped –off at 4:30 followed by the coronation of the King Evan Beach and Queen Sara Petrie at the game.  The band was not left out of the festivities. The Marching Pride was joined by the 8th grade band and the alumni band members, boosting their numbers to 170 marchers as they performed the half-time show before a record crowd. The combined band played many of the band’s favorites like the “Garfield Fight Song,” “Cleveland Rocks,” “The Hey Song,” and “Land of a 1000 Dances,” bringing back memories for many of the alumni in attendance. The G-men came up short in the game, giving the Pirates a 13-7 win.

The class winners were as follows: Hall decorating, and float decorating went to the senior class, the junior class won the fence decorating, the sophomore class was declared the overall spirit week winner by having the largest percentage of their class participating in the class shirt day, pink for breast cancer awareness day and for black and gold day. The freshman class won the camouflage day.

The week-long festivities were capped-off by the “Winter in New York” themed dance Saturday night.

Geauga County – When preparing for the 60th season of the Geauga Lyric Theater Guild, a decision was made to highlight some of the shows from the past decades. Last performed at GLTG in 1978 and 2001 under the older title, “Ten Little Indians”, “And Then There Were None” has always been a popular title by Agatha Christie.

“And Then There Were None” is the classic mystery of  ten strangers called together in a mansion on an island, only to be anonymously accused of murder, and then begin to die, one by one.  Energetic and bubbly director Debbie Cluts challenges the actors to go beyond their comfort zone, to bring their characters alive.  Previously a part of the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival, Cluts is new to GLTG as a main stage director. She has worked in the GLTG summer workshop program, directing last year’s “Dragon Tales”.

The cast is a comfortable mix of Geauga Theater regulars and brand-new actors to our stage, with some of the people traveling from Strongsville and Lakewood. One of our teen actors, making the transition into adult roles, finds it very enjoyable. “I love the combination of our light-hearted cast and dark-humored show. It brings a captivating energy to rehearsals which I’m certain will only grow as we near performance time”, says Halle Blados, who will be playing the role of Vera. “The intricate details that Agatha Christie put into her characters and story are masterful, and the build of tension in each progressing scene is intense. Whether you’ve never seen the play or have seen it twenty times, anyone who wants a chilling mystery— especially in time for Halloween— will find everything they want within “And Then There Were None”.

Reservations for And Then There Were None are being taken now. Join us in our 60th anniversary season at Geauga Lyric Theater! Thanks to our Marquee sponsor, H&R Block.

The Geauga Lyric Theater is located at 101 Water Street on the historic Chardon Square.  For more information or to purchase tickets go towww.geaugatheater.org or call 440-286-2255.

Mantua – Miller’s of Mantua celebrated their grand opening this past weekend when husband and wife team Jason and Nicole Miller opened their new restaurant on East Prospect Street. The Miller’s new restaurant is located in the space previously occupied by Jake’s Eats. In a nod to the previous owners, the new Miller’s menu features some previous customer favorites, including the Jake’s Plate at breakfast, and the Jake’s Salad and Jake’s Club on the lunch and dinner menus. But they’ve added their own spin with daily specials like Tuesday’s pasta night and a Friday fish fry.

Facebook friend Yvonne shared, “different name but same delicious food,” while Claudette added, “great place to meet up with friends.” In addition to providing daily good food and a great place to meet, Millers also became good neighbors, collecting non-perishable foods for the 4Cs food cupboard throughout their Grand Opening weekend.

Miller’s of Mantua is open Tuesday through Sunday — visit them on Facebook or at millersofmantua.com for hours, daily specials, and events.

Mantua – This October 25th, millions of volunteers across the nation will unite to improve the lives of others as a part of Make a Difference Day. That same day, volunteers in Mantua will be working together with the Downtown Mantua Revitalization Corporation (DMRC) locally, as a part of this national program. USA Today Weekend and the Points of Light organization created this largest national day of community service over 20 years ago, and although Make a Difference Day has been taking place each October, this is the first year for a special workday in Mantua Village.

During that Saturday from 8:30 am until 3 pm, volunteers will be repainting street stanchions, weeding & trimming flower gardens, sweeping sidewalks & removing leaves and litter to help beautify Mantua. Volunteers from Crestwood High School’s Senior Seminar group have already signed up. Residents, service clubs, and others are also invited to join in.

From 11:45 – 12:30, volunteers are invited to take a break and enjoy lunch at the nearby Glacial Esker Trail, where Portage Park District staff will share information about the trail. Parking is available at the Mantua Water Treatment Plant on Line Street and Mats Road, off of Orchard Road. The talk is sponsored by Portage Park District and Mantua McDonald’s.

You can help make a difference, too. Gather a group of family or friends and make plans to help DMRC support Mantua on Saturday, October 25th. For more information on this program, contact Greg at (330) 274-0218 or DMRCemail@gmail.com, or visit makeadifferenceday.com and search for the ‘Mantua Means More!’ project.

Garrettsville – On Saturday, October 11th the Daisies of Girl Scout Troop 90206 learned valuable lessons in community service, fundraising, and salesmanship by selling pumpkins which were donated by J.A. Garfield alum Dennis Pochedly.

The girls, and their parents, raised $556 for the #GarrettsvilleStrong fund in only five hours! The remaining pumpkins were donated to the Nelson-Garrettsville Community Cupboard.

On Sunday, $402.26 was raised for the fund by customers taking part in the Streetsboro Chipotle fundraising event. Thank you to everyone who supported these great fundraising events.

Garrettsville – On Wednesday, October 1st, Rich Hoffman from Sky Plaza IGA presented the Nelson Garrettsville Community Cupboard with $500 worth of IGA Gift Cards to help those in need this holiday season.

In addition, IGA also presented the Garrettsville Area Chamber of Commerce with a donation of $312.50 for #GarrettsvilleStrong which was  raised by the IGA bottled water fundraiser they held this summer.

Garrettsville – The Garrettsville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Masquerade Scholarship Ball returns this year and promises another evening of spooky fun for a great cause.

Saturday, October 25, 2014  attendees will pack Sugar Bush Golf Club located just outside village limits on State Route 88. The doors will open at 6 pm, with a catered dinner served at 7 pm. Tickets for the event are $30 each, $60 a couple, and $200 for a table of eight. Tickets must be purchased early, as the event usually sells out quickly. Tickets are available at Huntington Bank, Middlefield Bank, Dairy Queen, Skylanes Bowling, Ellerhorst Russell Insurance or by calling  330 527-2463.

Although the event is a Masquerade Ball, costumes are not required; however those who choose to wear a costume will be eligible to compete for prizes. There will be plenty of food, dancing, cash bar, 50/50 raffle and a lottery tree. Live music will be provided by “The Boys are Back”.

It promises to be an evening full of fun, so mark your calendars, purchase your tickets and join the Chamber at the Masquerade Ball!

Garrettsville – Don’t miss out on the largest fundraising event of the season. Be there October 25th as Ted  “Leapin’” Lysiak, and the rest of the Garfield Inspectors take on the Harlem Ambassadors in a one-day-only event never before seen in the area. This one-of-a-kind fundraising event pits our local team of Garfield High School alums, teachers, and administration against nationally renown basketball players for two great causes‚ raising funds for the Garrettsville Area Chamber of Commerce’s #GarrettsvilleStrong rebuild fund; and Phase II of the James A. Garfield Stadium Improvement Project.  

Representing the Garfield Inspectors are:

Ted “Leapin’” Lysiak (Garfield Superintendent)

“Big Jim” Pfleger (Garfield Athletic Director)

“Techno” Tom Bartz (GHS/GMS Technology)

Josh”Calculating” Camuso (GHS Math)

Mike “Proton” Paes (GMS Science)

Steve Zivoder (Class of 2009)

Toby Gerez (Class of 2008)

Marcus Roach (Class of 2002)

Jon Daley (Class of 2007)

Cody Berg (Class of 2012)

CJ Carlise (Class of 2009)

Ben Goodknight (Class of 2009)

Bring the whole family to this fun-filled, family-friendly evening of basketball showmanship featuring high-flying slam dunks, ball-handling tricks, and hilarious comedy routines at Garfield High School Gymnasium. Tickets have been affordably priced so you can bring the whole family without breaking the bank.

Pre-sale tickets are available now at area businesses including: The Villager; Charles Auto Family; Miller’s Family Restaurant; Garrettsville DQ Grill & Chill (8013 State St); Second Style and the James A Garfield School offices.

Ticket prices are as follows: Adults‚ $10; Students (12 & Under) $7; Seniors $7; Family 4 Pack (4 Tickets & 2 Bags of Popcorn)  $30. Call 330-527-5761 for ticket information.

Tickets can also be reserved online at garrettsvillearea.com/tix

In addition to the basketball show, attendees will also enjoy a great Chinese Auction, raffles, and more. There will also be a chance to win an autographed basketball, purchase Harlem Ambassadors souvenirs, meet the Harlem Ambassadors during a free post-game autograph session. The Garfield All Sports Boosters will also have snacks and beverages available for purchase throughout the evening.

This event has been brought to you by the Garrettsville Area Chamber of Commerce, Garfield All Sports Boosters, and these sponsors: Charles Auto Family, Ellerhorst Russell Insurance, South Wood Apartments, The Weekly Villager, Villager Printing, Sky Lanes and Fairfield Inn of Streetsboro.

For more information about your Chamber of Commerce please visit GarrettsvilleArea.com

Burton – Autumn is the perfect time of the year to visit Burton Village.  The beauty of fall is never the same from year to year as the hardwood trees explode into an amazing array of colors.  Slower days and starry nights combine for a soothing season before being tucked in for a long winter.

The Burton Chamber of Commerce’s annual fall tradition of an Ox Roast and Ox-Tober Fest will be October 11 & 12 on the Village Green.  The Log Cabin and Green will be the center of the weekend’s activities.   Come enjoy the lush fall foliage while enjoying a delicious ox roast sandwich along with a frothy beer in the beer tent and foot stomping polka music. It will be a celebration of good food, good drink, good people and toe tapping music.

The original German Oktoberfest began with the marriage of the Crown Prince of Bavaria in 1810.  Today, the folk festival observance is linked to the bounty of the harvest and the goodness of creation.   The tradition of a Burton ox roast goes back nearly 60 years when the Burton Volunteer Fire Department began serving the hearty meal as a way to raise funds for new equipment.  It was later passed on to the Burton Chamber of Commerce to continue the fall ritual.

The Chamber will be serving delicious roast (ox) beef sandwiches along with baked beans, coleslaw and dessert until 8 P.M., or sold out.  Later in the afternoon hot dogs and brats will be added to the menu.   All the work is done by an army of volunteers from Burton and the surrounding area and proceeds benefit the Burton area.

Take time to enjoy music in the beer tent.  Saturday from noon to 4 Patty C & the Guys will be playing polkas. From 5 to 8 come rock & roll with the Ted Riser Band.  Tap your toes Sunday from 2 to 6 with button box music from Kathy Hlad and Julie Tabaj.

The celebration begins both days at 10 A.M. The beer tent will be open until 8 P.M.

It may be fall and the maple trees are getting ready for winter, but maple syrup will be flowing in the Log Cabin in the park. Learn how pure maple syrup will be made come spring and enjoy a sweet maple treat or sit a spell in a rocker and enjoy the warmth of the fire in the huge stone fireplace.

There are a lot more things to see and do Ox-tober Fest Weekend. Each fall, the Scarecrows return to Burton Village.  Business around town put up fun, not scary, creations. Kids of all ages enjoy touring town and seeing the fall handiwork.  They will remain up until October 30.

Burton Village is home to an array of unique locally owned businesses.  Explore the glass-blowing shop filled with unique works of art for the home, the vintage furniture store, the new funky boutique with clothing, jewelry and accessories, art in flowers at the florist, the old-fashioned hardware store or the gift and Amish rug shop. Each store is filled with items not found in a big box store or mall.

The park will be filled with craft vendors selling an assortment of items from 10 to 5.

For those who are enjoying their visit and don’t want to leave, the Red Maple Inn and Goodwin House B&B offer comfortable accommodations.

The Apple Butter Festival will be held on the grounds of the Geauga County Historical Society the same weekend.  Large copper kettles are set up and fresh apple butter is being made.  You can sample some fresh from the kettle on homemade bread or take a jar or two home to enjoy later.

Fall in Burton Village is a special time of the year. October 11 & 12 will have many extra things to see and do.  Plan to bring the family and spend the day, or two. For more information call Tom Blair, 440-834-4949, Amy at the Log Cabin, 440-834-4204 or visit www.burtonchamberofcommerce.com.

The Hiram Village Fire Department has two levies on the ballot next month — the renewal of a 2-mil EMS levy and an additional 3-mil Fire Protection levy. Mr. Dave Loader, a long-time resident of Hiram Township, shared the reason he plans to support these valuable tax levies in November.

Early one morning late winter morning in 2013, Dave’s son-in-law Rob stopped by the house, to drop off a grandson for Dave to babysit. Shortly after Rob’s arrival, however, without notice, Dave suddenly dropped to the floor. Dave related the story he’s been told, since he has no memory of what happened — the last thing he remembers is talking with Rob.

Luckily, as Dave fell, his son-in-law caught Dave’s head in his hands, guiding it gently to the floor. He then grabbed the nearby phone and immediately dialed 911, summoning the Hiram Squad, who arrived within 5 minutes. According to Hiram Village Fire Department Chief Bill Byers, “On that snowy morning, the Fire Department received a call to assist a man who had fallen. Upon arrival, the team found Mr. Loader not breathing, with no pulse.” He was in full cardiac arrest. Dave’s heart had stopped, but the Hiram EMS crew was able to use the automated external defibrillator (AED) restart his heart. “The team was able to resuscitate him, but could not transport him via Life Flight due to poor weather conditions. They braved icy roads to transport Mr. Loader to Geauga Hospital,” explained Chief Byers. Dave was told that the AED was needed again on the way to University Geauga Hospital. For saving his life on that blustery day, Dave credits, “my son-in-law, Rob; the Hiram Squad; and God — all three worked together in perfect timing.”

The next thing Dave remembered was waking up in University Geauga Hospital, where he spent several days. During that time, it was determined that Dave would need surgery to place stents to improve blood flow to the arteries in his heart. But to further complicate matters, it was learned that Dave’s heart had shifted inside his chest cavity. This was due to the fact that several years prior, Dave had undergone a lobectomy, in which part of his lung was removed to combat lung cancer. As a result, according to Dave, his heart had moved, making the surgery more challenging. After Dave and his family consulted with his doctors, it was decided that the procedure would take place at University Hospital’s Cleveland location. Dave made a full recovery.

Dave and his wife Danielle, have lived in Hiram since1967. They moved to the area when they left California, where they had both been stationed in the Air Force.  His wife, who is originally from Mantua, wanted to return to the area where she was raised so they would be surrounded by family as they started their life together.

They have four daughters, four sons-in-law, and 11 grandchildren. Rob, who is married to their youngest daughter, is the newest son-in-law to join the family. “We joke that after this experience, Rob quickly moved to the top of my list as favorite.”

Also at the top of his list is renewal of the Hiram Village Tax Levy for Emergency Medical Services, which will be on November’s ballot. Renewing this levy will allow the Department to have two people on duty around the clock. “Because I know firsthand that quick response is so important,” Dave concluded.

Rootstown – Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) continued the celebration of its 40th anniversary and campus expansion efforts with the dedication of the NEOMED Education and Wellness (NEW) Center on Monday, Sept. 29, 2014. During the dedication, Summa Health System of Akron, Ohio, announced that it will be offering on-site, primary care services to the community beginning in 2015.

The 177,000-square-foot facility was made possible through a public-private partnership between NEOMED, Signet Development and Integrated Wellness Partners and is a major step in shifting the overall culture of health and wellness for the campus and surrounding community. The NEW Center provides medical education alongside a state-of-the-art fitness environment, physicians’ offices, advanced practice pharmacy services, conference and event space and more.

“This facility not only grows our campus in an exciting new way, but it is the cornerstone of our community wellness initiatives,” said Jay A. Gershen, D.D.S., Ph.D., president of Northeast Ohio Medical University. “By collaborating with other health professionals, NEOMED is bringing an innovative vision of health and fitness to Portage County, one that promotes true wellness by addressing every avenue of care to develop and sustain healthy, active lifestyles.”

These synergies between education and wellness are further enhanced through a new partnership with Summa Health System, which will be occupying 7,000-square-feet of outfitted space on the first floor of the NEW Center in the coming year. The health system will offer comprehensive primary care, non-emergency daytime walk-in care, corporate and employee health services, pharmacy consultation,  physical therapy and lab services to the NEOMED and Rootstown communities, while also serving as a training ground for NEOMED students.

“We are excited to enhance even more our longstanding relationship with NEOMED,” said Summa Health System President and CEO, Tom Strauss. “As we continue to transform the delivery of health care away from a model of sick care to one that truly promotes healthy living, having outstanding facilities such as the NEOMED Education and Wellness Center is critical. I applaud the community for coming together to make this initiative possible, and we are proud to be involved in such an important way.”

In addition to addressing the primary health care needs of the community, the NEW Center offers first-floor amenities focused on nutrition and physical wellness. Two new public eateries, the Bistro and Erie Island Coffee House, offer healthy eating options, and Sequoia Wellness, a facility that focuses on building healthier communities by encouraging a comprehensive view of wellness that incorporates fitness, nutrition, exercise, education and more, has memberships available to the community and campus. The Conference and Event Center, located on the second floor, can host formal and informal events for up to 500 guests and will be utilized for professional and community meetings, lectures and presentations about medical field advancements, as well as personal events such as weddings, services and other private gatherings.

As a medical university, education also plays a large part in the overall use of the NEW Center. A state-of-the-art lecture hall serves as a main educational classroom for interprofessional and college-centric learning for students on the NEOMED campus;  the third floor of the facility is dedicated to Bio-Med Science Academy, the public STEM+M high school on NEOMED’s campus.

“We are truly honored to be a part of the extraordinary campus transformation at NEOMED and our team is delighted to collaborate with the University on a project that is already enriching the academic experience for NEOMED students, enhancing the delivery of health care services for the community, and creating a hub of activity on-campus for all of Portage County,” said Tony S. Manna, chairman of Signet Enterprises, LLC.

Connect directly with the NEW Center at http://www.neomed.edu/newcenter.

Mantua – Last Friday, on a gorgeous fall day, the kids at Crestwood Primary and Intermediate Schools strapped on their sneakers to raise money for field trips, field day, and educational opportunities at their schools. Instead of hitting the sidewalks to sell candy, wrapping paper, or other items to family and friends; to raise much-needed funds, parents and their students sought out community sponsors. They asked for support, not just of the schools, but for student wellness, as well.

crestwood-mantua-walkathon-october-2014-outdoorOver the course of the school day, each student in every class — from preschool through grade five — as well as teachers and staff — took a one-mile hike around the perimeter of the campus. Their teachers led the way through the campus green space, wearing pedometers to track the number of steps. At the end of the day, the grand total of 1,287,442 steps was reached — or nearly 130 miles!

Students wore shirts to signify their grade levels; Preschool wore light blue, Kindergarten in yellow, first graders were in dark blue, 2nd graders wore orange, 3rd graders wore red, 4th was in grey, with 5th graders in white. And most everyone wore a smile as they enjoyed being outdoors for the school-wide activity.

In addition to raising an estimated $2,500 per school, the event also raised awareness of healthy choices. Before starting their walk, students warmed up by jumping rope and using hula-hoops. One first-grade participant rejoiced, saying, “Watch me — I was made to hula hoop!” Halfway through their hike, participants stopped for a water and music break. Accompanied by such songs as ‘These Boots Are Made for Walking’ and “Happy,” they continued their trek, refreshed, and with a kick in their step.  After completing their mile, each participant received a healthy snack of apple slices and a bottle of water, courtesy of McDonalds & Subway in Mantua, and Giant Eagle in Ravenna.

Event sponsors included: Ace’s Well Service, Sayre Construction, Fortis College, RDP Printing, Star Therapy, Streetsboro Family Days/ Allen Alloy, Coldwell Banker Streetsboro, Mantua Station Drug, NAPA, Oscar Brugmann Sand & Gravel, OK Brugmann Jr & Sons Inc., Aurora Auto Wash, Candance Academy, Piranha Technologies, Trinity Farm, Varkala Services, Inc., F & S Automotive, Carlton Harley Davidson, Kuchenbecker Farms, Express Systems, Sunshine Cupcakes, Advanced Rehab, Montgomery’s Pallet Service, Derthick’s Farm, Portage Trim, Gateway Towing, Kristoff Electric, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Crestwood Intermediate School Staff, Valerie Agle (Equestrian Vet Clinic), and Streetsboro Sports Medicine – Dr. Bartsokas.

Due to the success of this first-time event, teachers, staff, and parent volunteers look forward to holding it again next year.

Garrettsville – The James A. Garfield Local School District cut a ribbon on Saturday, September 20 marking the amazing (120 days!) completion of the addition to the James A. Garfield Elementary School, bringing about the relocation of the district’s fifth and sixth graders to the Campus of Excellence, with all of the system’s students sharing the same venue.  This was made possible through a $5million Straight A Grant from the State of Ohio(The only application to have received unanimous approval) and through the outstanding efforts of a blue-ribbon design and construction team—including local firms  Scotchman Electric(Scott Russell), Doug Seaman Decorating and Rocky Gardens Landscaping(DeanHorvath).  The application process opened one year, to the day, before the ribbon-cutting ceremony and was a total team effort, spearheaded by Superintendent Ted Lysiak and Treasurer Tracy Knauer. Board members, administrators, educators, staff members, students and a community advisory group all played a part in the final concept.

With the awarding of the grant, the clock began ticking and the race was on!

Bob McCullough of Hammond Construction, Melanie Friedman of FMD Architects spoke briefly of the challenges faced.  Charlie Fury, superintendent of the whole construction project, was praised.

Guy Pietra, Board President, and Rick Patrick, Mayor of Garrettsville, offered thanks and appreciation to key players who were major factors in the co-operating elements which made the timeline work—Don Long, Carrie  Dornack, principals; Ellen Rybak, GEA president; maintenance and custodial staff; students and teachers; village maintenance crews and permitting bodies.  It was an over-all effort, one illustration of which was the newly-waxed floors   of the building, done early that morning by Elementary head custodian, Judy Gyulai, since “her” building is now “our”  building and she’s proud.

The refreshments and the tour were icing on the cake.

It’s not just about the building.  It’s about BUILDING for the future.

Portage County - NAMI Portage County is inviting walkers to participate in the Sept. 27 Walk for Recovery in Kent to support people with mental illness and their families.  Later, there will be an 8 p.m. benefit concert for NEOMED’s Early Identification and Psychosis Programs in Northeast Ohio at The Kent Stage featuring the band, “Dark Side of the Moon.”

The Walk for Recovery is a chance for residents to help families and individuals in Portage County who live with mental illness and addiction every day. Volunteers will be walking from United Church of Christ at 1400 East Main St. to downtown Kent along the Kent State University campus. Registration starts at 9:30 a.m. in the chapel. Walkers head out at 10 am from the church parking lot.

Staff from the Rock and Recovery program of 91.3 The Summit will be sharing inspirational music and talking to walkers at the halfway point, Hometown Bank Plaza, the use of which was donated by Hometown Bank.  Rock & Recovery is an online and HD radio listening experience that strives to empower persons in recovery.

The Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation is the presenting sponsor for the second year in a row.  To date the project has received other major gifts and support from Coleman Foundation, Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County, OMNOVA Solutions, the International Chemical Workers Union, Townhall II, BeST Center at NEOMED, Children’s Advantage and Family and Community Services.

Volunteers will be raising money to increase education about mental illness and addiction and support persons working on recovery.  All money raised will stay in Portage County. Supporting the Walk for Recovery helps NAMI Portage County continue to be a resource for persons with mental illness and their families as well as be an advocate with them and for them.  If you would like to be a team captain or are interested in being a walker, call 330-673-1756, ext. 201, for a registration form and information. If you are interested in helping as a volunteer, or have any questions, contact NAMI Vice President Roger Cram at rfcram@aol.com.

NAMI Portage County is a local affiliate of the national NAMI which works to educate against the stigma of mental illness, to advocate for better treatment and to support persons with mental illness and their families through education and services. For more information, go to www.namiportagecounty.org.

The benefit concert will support the FIRST programs in Portage and surrounding counties. FIRST early identification and treatment of psychosis services help individuals who are newly diagnosed with serious mental illness. FIRST is a program of the Best Practices in Schizophrenia Treatment (BeSt) Center of the Northeast Ohio Medical University and area mental health organizations. In Portage County, the program is supported and implemented by the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County and Coleman Professional Services.

The Kent Stage is located at 175 E. Main St., Kent. Tickets are $15 general admission and $10 for students. Tickets may be purchased at www.thekentstage.com, the box office or the door. For more information, go to www.neomed.edu/bestcenter.

Garrettsville – James A. Garfield High School’s Marching Pride Band took this past weekend by storm as they performed four times in 24 hours.

Garrettsville-James-A-Garfield-Marching-Pride-BandFriday afternoon, the band loaded the buses and headed to Waterloo for the football game. They performed what they refer to as their show one tunes, which were “Moves Like Jagger,” “Treasure,” “Pompeii,” and “Can’t Hold Us,” The band, as usual, really rocked it out. Besides the half-time show, the band played numerous snippets of tunes in the stands to keep the crowd in the game. The band returned to the school at 10:30 pm knowing they would be back in the morning for what many dubbed “the longest day.”

On Saturday, they went right back to it.  They loaded the buses and headed for Hiram College. The Marching Pride was scheduled to play the pregame and half-time shows for the college’s homecoming. The “Pride” took the college by storm as they played like never before. They played “Moves like Jagger,” Treasure,” “Pompeii,” “Hang on Sloopy,” and then the National Anthem.  Folks in the stands heard compliments from many of the fans sitting around them. Some even asked how does a band that size sound like they have 500 instruments rather than 100, and are you sure that is a high school band?  Etc. The Pride once again did Garfield Schools proud.

The band kicked it in high gear as they performed the half-time show at the college. They once again impressed the alumni and the fans with their performance selecting tunes they have played at the football games this season. The band was treated to lunch of hot dogs, chips and Gatorade before boarding the buses to return to the school.

The students then had an hour to rest before performing before the alumni at the annual alumni dinner. The band treated the alumni to the school’s Alma Mater, the Fight Song and “Hang on Sloopy.” The kids, chaperones and band directors had been at it all day and they were starting wear down, but were hanging tough.

2014 Marching Pride

2014 Marching Pride

Following the alumni performance, the band boarded buses to head to the Stow Band Show for their final performance of the night.  There were eight bands scheduled to perform in the program which appeared to be done according to band size. This put the Marching Pride third on the program. The Marching Pride wowed the crowd with their music and moves on the field, and once again the fans in the stands reported they had heard numerous compliments on the band’s performance.

The evening did not end with the bands scheduled slot time. The Pride and their fans were treated to grand finale of nearly 1000 instruments playing one song together.  The eight bands honored those who are serving and have served our country by performing Lee Greenwood’s hit, “God Bless the USA.”  The grand finale` sent chills down one’s spine and gave everyone an idea of what a 1,000 instrument band would sound like.  It was awesome, and a great way to finish off the longest day  — STRONG!

Garrettsville – The Cupboard is all about Community and its offering a new service for families   still working hard to regain their feet; it’s called the Weekend Snackpack Program.  It’s being made available to eligible students in the James A. Garfield Local School District on a monthly basis and provides a bag of healthy and easy-to-prepare snack foods sent home on the third Friday of each month; this would be approximately 15 healthy  between-meal snacks for after school and on weekends to supplement regular meals.  Food allergies will be taken into account in selection of snacks.

There is no cost to families and distribution will be handled with the utmost discretion.  Participation is strictly confidential and arranged by school counselors.  Names and information will not be shared with anyone else.  Applications for participation in this program are available from school counselors.

This program is being made possible through the co-operation of the Nelson-Garrettsville Community Cupboard and the James A. Garfield Local School District and a $10,000 nationwide grant originating with Massachusetts Mutual Financial Group, whose local representative is Christopher Perme of the Perme Financial Group, Garrettsville.  Over one hundred students are enrolled so far and there is room for more.  The community cares.

Ravenna – The Portage County Health Department would like to remind all parents of incoming kindergarteners and 7th graders that their children will be required by Ohio law to have certain immunizations in order to attend school. Kindergarteners are required to have 5 doses DTaP, 4 doses Polio, 3 doses Hep B, 2 doses MMR, and 2 doses Chickenpox. 7th graders are required to have a combination booster shot of tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis vaccine, otherwise known as Tdap. Additional vaccines are recommended for this age group including the meningitis vaccine and the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. All of these vaccines are available at the Portage County Health Department.

Regular Childhood Immunization Clinics are held every Wednesday from 8:00am-12:00 noon at the Portage County Health Department. Additional locations for childhood immunizations provided by the Portage County Health Department are Kent City Health Department-every 3rd Wednesday from 3:00pm-5:00pm and Windham Renaissance Family Center-every 4th Tuesday from 11:00am-3:00pm.

Cost is $10 per shot, FREE to those who cannot pay. Medicaid, Buckeye, Care Source, and United Health accepted. Please bring immunization records.

Mantua – Now that the weather is turning crisp, many folk’s thoughts turn to drives through the country for pumpkins and a chance to see the changing leaves. And nothing says country like a visit to Derthick’s Farm, a 200+ year-old family operation in Mantua.

Starting this weekend and running through the start of November, Derthick’s Farm is home to a massive corn maze, where folks come to get “corn-fused” while navigating through a complex maze cut into field of corn. But the experience is enhanced this year, as Derthick’s holds its second annual A-Maze-ing 5K Adventure Fun Run on Sunday, October 5th.

This year’s event builds on the success of last year’s A-Maze-ing Race event, which coincided with Crestwood High School’s Class of 1988 25th reunion. Last year’s race was held in memory of several CHS class of ’88 members who lost their battles with cancer, and all of the proceeds went toward cancer research. This year’s race proceeds will benefit both The Meghan R Brant Memorial Scholarship Fund, in honor of former CHS ’88 classmate Meghan Brant, and the Crestwood 4C’s Food Cupboard.

The A-Maze-ing Adventure Race course winds through rolling farmland, and includes such obstacles as hay bales, large tires, gates and a balance beam. In addition, a less-strenuous two-mile trail walk is also available. Due to the rough nature of the course, strollers are not permitted. Preregistration is $20.00, any received by Sept. 25th earn a free commemorative race t-shirt. Entries will be accepted on race day at 8:30 am at a cost of $25. Each entry includes a free maze pass valid for one Corn Maze admission during regular hours, through the close of the corn maze season.

In addition, Derthick’s will host a farm market on race day, featuring a variety of spices, oils, jams, and jellies and lettuce from nearby Mantua Gardens. For more information on becoming a vendor, call MaryEllen at (330) 351-3124. For more information or to register for the October 5th event, visit hmapromotions.com.

Derthick’s Farm photograph appears courtesy of Amanda Saylor Huebner.

Freedom – Charlene Cermak of Freedom loves children. “I see children through God’s eyes,” she explained, “No matter what they look like, they’re innocent pure, and gorgeous,” she continued. But this 65-year-old self-described “active grandma” had an experience recently that caused her to think of children in a new way. Now she thinks of one in particular as her hero.

Char loves her grandchildren, and keeps in touch with her four granddaughters in far away California via Skype. Due to health complications, which require her to administer breathing treatments and oxygen therapy throughout the day, making the cross-country flight very difficult. But those health issues don’t stop her from planning special outings with her grandsons in nearby Austintown.

It’s what happened during one of those special outings with grandsons Jacob, age 9, and Jordan, age 4, that Char felt compelled to share. She explained, “People always talk about the bad things kids do. A lot of children don’t get credit for the good they do.” The story begins at Chuck E. Cheese arcade in Boardman, where Char took her grandsons Jacob and Jordan, their first stop on an afternoon of fun. After the arcade, they planned to see a movie, and then get some ice cream. But their plans for an afternoon of fun changed in an instant.

Char had an adverse reaction that, “hit me like a ton of bricks,” she shared. She found Jake intent on a game, with his cup of tokens next to him. “Jakey, we’ve got to go. I can’t breathe,” she told him. Forgetting the game and the cup of tokens, he immediately grabbed her hand and his little brother’s hand, and helped guide Char outside and to the car. Once she made it to the vehicle, Char had couldn’t respond when Jake asked, “Grandma, are you okay?” Thinking quickly, Jake ran to the nearby BestBuy store and asked an employee to call 911.

Amazingly, the ambulance arrived within minutes. The EMTs were eventually able to open Char’s lungs and restore her breathing after administering three treatments. She would receive two more treatments at the hospital as well. “I was really worried when my Grandma couldn’t breathe,” Jacob shared. Char is convinced that the quick thinking of her grandson, in addition to the skills of the EMTs, saved her life.

After the ambulance arrived, Jake called his mom, who left work immediately to come and pick up her sons. While they waited for her to arrive, an employee from a nearby Dollar Tree brought the boys some small toys to keep them busy while they waited for their mother to arrive.

“He’s my little hero,” Char beamed. “There’s no doubt in my mind. If he hadn’t responded so quickly, I wouldn’t be here today.” When asked, Jacob admits that he does feel like a hero. Especially when Grandma calls on the phone and asks, “Is this my hero?” When asked how that makes him feel, he quickly responds, “happy, because my Grandma can breathe now.”

Hiram - Members from the Hiram College community, past, present and future, made citizens all over the United States see red last Saturday.

Gathering at over two dozen locations around the country as part of the annual Alumni Volunteer Day, about three hundred alumni, friends and family – the largest registration in the event’s thirteen year existence! – invaded various sites in the name of lending a Hiram Hill helping hand.

Donning bright red T-shirts received specially for the occasion, or accented by other HC-representing flair, generations from several decades of Hiram history mingled and worked together while supporting an assortment of projects. Alumni who recently celebrated a 50th year class reunion painted walls alongside graduates who moved their own tassels across the mortarboard only a couple of years ago. Hands of inexperienced quilters were taught how to tie fabric strips into knots for children’s blankets by seasoned seamstresses while also linking decades of campus stories, interweaving the figurative threads as well as the literal ones. The options for serving were just as varied as the participants as, in addition to painting or quilt-tying, volunteers could register for opportunities to mend fences, paint playhouses, move (or even build!) furniture, perform general administrative tasks, landscaping, pantry stocking, or even to directly assist current students by clearing thorny brush from the James H. Barrow field station, an active research facility utilized frequently by Biology or Environmental Studies majors.

Approximately half of the College’s living alumni are located in Northeast Ohio, so many of the tasks were scheduled throughout Portage, Trumbull, Stark, Ashtabula and Cuyahoga counties, but the Terrier Spirit was out in force in places ranging all the way from Boston to Atlanta to Phoenix! And it wasn’t only distance that spanned further than one would imagine, it was time as well as two of the projects didn’t actually take place on Saturday the 13th which will effectively turn the whole month into a wonderful way to welcome in autumn: though April is officially National Volunteer Month, thanks to hundreds of Hiramites September is temporarily taking that title for the Terriers.

Kicking off the efforts the previous weekend, volunteers were invited to the Birds in Flight Sanctuary in Warren where new drains were installed and nets were repaired to provide a safe place for rescued feathered friends. The event served as a bit of a preview to the amazing objectives that would be accomplished during the upcoming main attraction. Warren also hosted an activity on the “official” day, encouraging those with an appreciation for the humanities to spend the morning sprucing up the Trumbull Art Gallery which recently made a major move to a new location. With paintbrushes in hand, participants may not have created the framed pieces lining the walls, but thanks to their efforts in coating the trim boards around the interior of the building, the facility itself is now framed even more beautifully.

And for those who share the love of fuzzy friends, the four-pawed have certainly not been forgotten as this year’s collaboration will wrap up with the final weekend’s activity taking place in Kirtland at the Holden Arboretum in honor of the Rescue Village’s Woofstock festivities. (Doodle Dog will be proud!) On Saturday, September 20th, volunteers will set up tents, tables, chairs and other supplies to help organizers prepare for the furry fundraiser on Sunday, September 21st.

Alumni Volunteer Day is not just for Hiram College graduates – friends and family are more than welcome – so for more information or details on how you can be involved next year, contact the Hiram College Alumni Office toll free at (800) 705-5050 or visit http://alumni.hiram.edu.

For more information on the quickly-approaching Woofstock, contact the Geauga Humane Society at (440) 338-4819, on the web at http://www.geaugahumane.org or find them on Facebook. With a one-mile dog walk, agility course, pet-friendly activities and adoptable dogs, it’s a great day to be a fan of canines. (Who knows, you might even find your very own floppy-eared puppy to bring home!)

Ravenna – For a child, being able to draw may be the only way of telling adults about a terrible, frightening or violent experience. Two young area children who are working through trauma have been drawing for NiCole Bartlett, a therapist at Children’s Advantage in Ravenna.

One of the simple drawings shows a family room with a mother and beloved pet. The other is Bartlett’s office with a poster that reads “Color Outside the Lines.” These are the children’s safe places from bad dreams, anger and fear.

Bartlett and fellow staff members at Children’s Advantage, a mental health center treating children, teens and families, trained for a week with national experts this past summer to further develop the agency’s services for Trauma Informed Care. TIC is a general term for trauma services including the use of sensory tools such as drawing and music to support children and teens as they talk about how trauma has affected them. The focus is not on the behavior but what caused the behavior. TIC further guides the therapist in ways to separate the child or teen from the traumatic experience and allow him or her to heal.

The trauma may be abuse experienced by the child or teen; witnessing family violence; homelessness; illness; separation from family; or being involved in a horrific incident such as a fire or accident.

“The art shows me what it is like for this child. It important to understand what has happened to him or her. We become a witness to the trauma which is very important to the kids. They welcome it,” said Bartlett.

The Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County provided funding for the training which included staff from the Children’s Advocacy Center of Portage County located at Robinson Memorial Hospital. The center works with children, teens and their families when abuse has been reported, reducing the number of interviews and supporting families with education and referrals.

Children’s Advantage Clinical Director Mary McCracken said the agency is seeing numerous youngsters whose symptoms mirror how adults react when they experience or witness violence or terror. CA staff is specifically using Structured Sensory Intervention for Traumatized Children, Adolescents and Parents (SITCAP) therapy and seeing progress with youngsters and families.

“My child was having great difficulty with bad dreams and seeing creepy shadows. The process with the art and talking helped her. She no longer dreams like she did and she feels safe. In my opinion, it is very important to heal from trauma so you move forward in life,” said one of the parents. The names of the families interviewed were not used to maintain confidentiality.

Jean West, a SITCAP trainer and school social worker from Missouri who led part of the training in Ravenna, explained that children who have experienced trauma will have behavior problems, physical problems such as stomach and headaches, depression, anxiety and often lack the ability to trust adults. They carry shame and often blame themselves. They are more likely to run away and become involved with the juvenile justice system.

“Safety and familiarity are scary. Chaos becomes normal,” she said describing long-term trauma victims.

With the activity of drawing or another form of expression, the young person can identify the trauma even if he or she cannot give it a name. With the help of a therapist, the feelings and behaviors are named, talked about and “contained ” or understood, an important way allowing the child to re-establish order and control.

SITCAP therapy is based on brain and physiological research with youth.  The workshop included presentations by Dr. William Steele, founder of the National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children™ who developed the therapy method. His work treating children with trauma started in 1990 before children were included in the diagnostic category of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Part of the training for the local workshop, SITCAP is used in thousands of schools and agencies across the country and undergoes continuous field testing and rigorous evidence-based research.

Steele explained that prolonged exposure to stress from trauma causes changes to the brain that reduce a young person’s ability to verbalize emotions. His method gives therapists the tools to help youngsters de-stress with drawing, relaxation, deep breathing, exercise, talking and music.

CA case manager Traci Gibbons said a breakthrough for one of her teen clients came when the teen brought her a cd with music she had copied. Gibbons said the music described how the young person felt; giving Gibbons the key to unlock the trauma and start the healing process.

Working with parents is also a large part of the method, helping them understand what their child has experienced, Steele told workshop participants.

“I was shocked to learn that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder affects children and could cause behavior change. We are now aware of the cause of our child’s behavior and how to help him make positive changes. He began to talk about his feelings with the therapist and he felt safe again,” said a parent of the second family interviewed.

Children’s Advantage receives funding from the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County to provide mental health services to children, teens and families who are Portage County residents.

The Great Garrettsville Fire

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

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

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

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

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

Funding a Miracle

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

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

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

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

New fundraisers associated with GarrettsvilleStrong include:

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

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

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

Ongoing GarrettsvilleStrong efforts include:

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

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

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

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

Revival & Restoration, Continued

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day’

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

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

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

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

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

New-Hoses

Garrettsville – The Garrettsville-Freedom-Nelson Joint Fire District is pleased to announce we have been awarded a Federal AFG (Assistance to Firefighters Grant) by FEMA for 2014. The grant was submitted last year, with an extensive selection process taking place before acceptance or declination by FEMA. The grant was proposed and awarded with the purpose of replacing a significant percentage of our fire hose inventory that was manufactured as early as 1984 (and non-compliant with NFPA fire code). The grant was awarded at $24,901 with a 5% contribution by the fire district. This means the fire district only paid $1,245 for $24,901 worth of equipment. Actual amount of FEMA money awarded to the fire district was $23,656. The grant replaced 500 feet of 1 ¾’’ (diameter) hose, 1,600 feet of 2 ½” hose, 1,500 feet of 3” hose, 2,000 feet of 4” hose, six nozzles, and three siamese adapters. No grant writing costs were incurred due to all grants being collaboratively managed by fire district employees. All received equipment has been placed into service with our thanks to FEMA.