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Garrettsville – We received many requests.  Some wishes were large and some were small.  We had a wish all picked out.  Then we received a letter from Portage County Children Services’ Director, Penny Ray.  Penny nominated Samantha Mitchell.  Samantha is a mother of an infant son.   She lives in Ravenna.  Two friends from Family and Community Services also nominated her.

The wish was very simple – she needed home furnishings and supplies for her baby.  Samantha is an enthusiastic mother who is looking for work and trying hard to make a good life for her son and herself.

Upon hearing this story, there was no doubt- this was our Christmas wish to be granted.  The shopping was immensely fun.  Chris Perme was an enthusiastic financial partner, but his schedule did not allow him to shop for the gifts.  So our editor agreed to help with the shopping.  Instead of taking the list as suggestions, we decided to treat it as a shopping list.  We bought ALL of the suggested items – a baby swing, cookware, a microwave, and more.

After buying the items, we wrapped it all up and delivered it to our winner on December 23.  This was the best part of all.  Four of us delivered the gifts.  It still took multiple trips from car to Samantha’s home.   I can honestly say this made my Christmas.  I was happy to help such a grateful young lady.  The smile on her face when we carried in the gifts just made my heart smile.

My fellow Santa, Chris Perme, shared these sentiments.  “It started as just something nice to do for the community.  It ended up being a bright spot of my Christmas.  It is truly better to give than to receive.”

On behalf of Perme Financial Group, the Weekly Villager, and me, we wish Samantha and her son the very best.  We were happy to meet her and make her our 2010 Christmas Wish recipient.

A Special Election will be held on Tuesday, February 8, 2011.
Those residents of Geauga County residing in the Cardinal Local School District who would like to vote an absentee ballot should make arrangements now.
In order to request an absentee ballot for the Election, registered voters must fill out an absentee application. Each request must have the applicant’s original signature. Requests may be mailed to:
Geauga County Board of Elections
470 Center St., Bldg. 6-A
Chardon, Ohio  44024
440-279-2030
The Board of Elections will accept mail-in requests for absentee ballots for the February 8, 2011, Special Election thru noon on Saturday, February 5, 2011.  Voters may also vote absentee in person at the Board of Elections office January 4, 2011, through the close of business on Monday, February 7, 2011.
The Board of Elections will be open extended hours for absentee voting on Saturday, February 5th, from 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon
Voters can download an Absentee Application on line at:
http://www.co.geauga.oh.us/Departments/BOE/Absentee.aspx

A Special Election will be held on Tuesday, February 8, 2011.Those residents of Geauga County residing in the Cardinal Local School District who would like to vote an absentee ballot should make arrangements now.In order to request an absentee ballot for the Election, registered voters must fill out an absentee application. Each request must have the applicant’s original signature. Requests may be mailed to:Geauga County Board of Elections470 Center St., Bldg. 6-AChardon, Ohio  44024440-279-2030The Board of Elections will accept mail-in requests for absentee ballots for the February 8, 2011, Special Election thru noon on Saturday, February 5, 2011.  Voters may also vote absentee in person at the Board of Elections office January 4, 2011, through the close of business on Monday, February 7, 2011.The Board of Elections will be open extended hours for absentee voting on Saturday, February 5th, from 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 noonVoters can download an Absentee Application on line at:http://www.co.geauga.oh.us/Departments/BOE/Absentee.aspx

Because of voter support in November, the Geauga County Public Library system will reinstate opening at 9:00 a.m. six days a week at Bainbridge,   Chardon, Geauga West, and Middlefield libraries beginning January 3. Sunday hours remain 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Story-time classes continue, and additional programs for school-age children, teens, and adults will begin soon.
The website has been updated and provides valuable information, databases, catalog connection, and ebook titles. The Ohio E-Book Project found at www.geaugalibrary.net offers titles to library card holders that can be downloaded to such devices as Nooks, Sony e-readers, and Kobos.  If you have questions about accessing any library service, there is now more time available for staff to assist you!

Mantua – A simple “Thank You” does not seem to be adequate to express our appreciation for all the help we received during the holiday season. Because of the wonderful support 4 C’s received from the community we were able to serve many people this holiday season. We supplied food and gifts for 175 families and that includes 200 children. A special thanks goes out to C-Act, Ravenna Giant Eagle, Monroe’s Orchard and Farm Market, Hilltop Church and all the area churches, Barky Mart, the Mantua Chamber of Commerce, the Knights of Columbus, Crestwood Lions, Kiwanis, American Legion and all of you in the community who donated food items for our give-away.  A thank you too, to our wonderful volunteers, who spent hours packing it all up and distributing it. Every year we realize how blessed we are to live in such a caring community. 4 C’s Council says, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!”

Garrettsville – James A. Garfield Intermediate School presented Carols and Choruses recently at their annual Christmas Concert. The 5th and 6th grade concert was under the direction of Mr. Gaither and had something for everyone.
The concert started off with a new addition to the music department, the hand bell choir. The ten member hand bell choir played two holiday numbers that delighted those in attendance. They were followed by the jazz band, which performed two selections as well.  The concert moved on to the Fifth Grade Choir, which I must say, was awesome. The choir performed “Christmas Canon” written by Pachelbel and arranged specifically for this performance by Mr. Gaither. This selection was performed in five-part harmony featuring Ramsey Goodner on the violin while Nick Crawford tickled the ivories. The performance knocked the socks off the audience as everyone sat mesmerized by the harmonious sounds coming out of fifth graders’ mouths. The kids did such a wonderful job one could easily forget they were listening to fifth graders. The talent these students displayed totally wowed the audience and made them a difficult act to follow.
Although the choir was a tough act to follow, the sixth grade band stepped up to the plate to put on a concert to remember. We heard many favorite carols, including some new ones, all to usher in the season of good tidings and great joy. Those kids really rocked the house!
The holiday season would not be complete without fruitcake and this concert was no exception. The kids sang a fun selection, “Everlasting Fruitcake” which had the audience chuckling over the lyrics as they sang about the fruitcake that would reappear no matter how hard they tried to get rid of it. The evening closed out with the choir leading everyone in a Christmas Carol sing-a-long. The students and Mr. Gaither made this a concert to remember.

The state’s largest land conservancy is applauding the renewal of a federal tax incentive for private landowners – especially working family farmers – who protect their land with a voluntary conservation easement.
Western Reserve Land Conservancy, which serves a 14-county region in northern Ohio, endorsed the move by Congress to renew the incentive, which had expired at the end of 2009.  The tax incentive has helped the Land Conservancy work with willing landowners in our community to preserve more than 22,000 acres of productive agricultural lands and natural areas.
Conservation-minded landowners now have until December 31, 2011 to take advantage of a significant tax deduction for donating a voluntary conservation agreement to permanently protect important natural or historic resources on their land.  When landowners donate a conservation easement to the Land Conservancy, they maintain ownership and management of their land and can sell or pass the land on to their heirs, while foregoing future development rights.
The enhanced incentive applies to a landowner’s federal income tax.  It:
• Raises the deduction a donor can take for donating a voluntary conservation agreement from 30 percent of their income in any year to 50 percent;
• Allows farmers and ranchers to deduct up to 100 percent of their income; and
• Increases the number of years over which a donor can take deductions from six to 16 years.
“Conservation easements have become an extremely important tool for protecting our treasured natural resources in northern Ohio, and we thank Congress for recognizing the need to renew this incentive,” said Land Conservancy Vice President Eddie Dengg.  “Our whole community wins when thoughtful landowners voluntarily conserve their land this way, protecting wildlife habitat, clean drinking water, productive agricultural land, parkland and scenic landscapes.”
Anyone wanting more information about the voluntary conservation easements can contact the Land Conservancy at (440) 729-9621 or info@wrlandconservancy.org.
According to the Land Trust Alliance, the national organization that provides a voice for land trusts in Washington, D.C., bills to make this incentive permanent have 274 House and 41 Senate co-sponsors from all 50 states, including majorities of Democrats and Republicans in the House. This legislation is supported by more than 60 national agricultural, sport and conservation organizations.
Western Reserve Land Conservancy was formed in 2006 when eight local land trusts joined forces in the largest-ever merger of its type.  The Land Conservancy, which works to preserve the scenic beauty, rural character and natural resources of northern Ohio, has preserved more than 350 properties and more than 22,000 acres.

Hiram – In planning and zoning matters it was earlier reported that the Commission has recommended that Hiram Village adjust its fees on par with other area community zoning permit fees. The new zoning fee schedule will be submitted to Council at the January 2011 meeting. An organizational meeting for 2011 is scheduled for January 4th beginning at 7pm.
The Commissioners’ hearing on the annexation is rescheduled for January 24th beginning at 9am. The hearing will continue until all relevant data has been submitted to that board. The Board will then consider the Petition for Annexation and vote to allow or deny. Their decision can be appealed by either side to the Portage County Common Pleas Court and will not become final until that court decides the appeal, if any.
The demolition of the old Hiram School is now in progress, with the county contract executed and the two demolition permits having been issued for the bid contract of $66,900 to Ace-Zuver, LLC.
Last month the Village applied for a $50,000 NOPEC energy efficiency grant. The grant will be utilized to make energy-saving permanent improvements in village structures. This grant should be awarded shortly.
A grant from Ohio Public Works Commission for $177,500 to fund a Hinsdale Road extension will be awarded in July 2011 with construction completed within a year. Although the extension is now on College property, it will be dedicated to public use.
The Hiram Police Department has recently applied for a $30,000 Federal Grant for the purchase of a police vehicle. This grant would fund the vehicle 100% and there would be no need to use village funds for the purchase.
On Tuesday, December 14th a change-of-command ceremony was conducted swearing in Hiram’s new Fire Chief Bill Byers. Fire Chief Gary Bott has served the community for 36 years, beginning in 1974. Gary now carries the rank of Captain and continues to serve his beloved community. Both Village Mayor and Hiram Township Trustees participated in the change-of-command ceremony and the Rev. Jeff Jackson gave the invocation and benediction. On Monday, January 3rd a meeting is scheduled to discuss the Fire and Police contract with the college and an agreement is expected shortly.
Effective January 1st, Hiram has adopted a newly-revised village income tax, Ord.#2009-31, replacing the 43-year old ordinance. A full copy is posted on the village’s website at www.hiramvillage.org. Other pending legislation includes Ord. # 2010-22, Increase in Fines for Parking Violations will see its third and final reading in January; and Ord.#2010-24, Uniform Trash Hauler for Village and Township will see its second reading in January.
Upcoming meetings for January are the Planning and Zoning, Tuesday, January 4th at 7pm in the Fire Dept. and a Regular Council Meeting, Tuesday, January 11th at 7pm in Council Chambers.

Nelson Township – The Nelson Township Trustees met for their regularly-scheduled meeting last Wednesday with all trustees and fiscal officer in attendance.  The meeting was moved to the community house due to lack of heat at the maintenance building. The trustees stated that the fuel line that runs from the tank to the maintenance building was plugged with salt and need to be flushed out. Until it was completed, they were unable to use the heating system at the maintenance building. Currently, they were using an alternative heat source to keep the pipes from freezing.
The first item on the agenda was to open the sealed bids for replacement doors and windows at the community house.  The window bids ranged from $12,940 – $22,515 and door bids ranged from $5,980-$ 13,900. After some discussion the trustees decided they would table a decision on the bids until they discussed bids with their architect. This decision was based on the fact that the bids were as one trustees stated “All over the place.”
The trustees then discussed the option of possibility renting fuel tanks from Western Reserve. The fuel tanks woulc be  to replace the ones the township uses now to refuel equipment. The current ones are not compliant with the new codes and the cost to upgrade the old ones is out of reach for the township right now. The agreement with Western Reserve would include tank maintenance, changing filters and nozzles. They decided to postpone any decision on this matter until next month, due to a very tight budget.
Speaking of money, Trustee Leonard said he is looking into refinancing the mortgage or trying to prepay the loan on the township garage. After further investigation he discovered that there is a possibility of refinancing or paying down the current mortgage without penalties.  Currently, the township loan is structured so that out of the $21,626 paid annually  $8,000 is applied to the principal and while also paying $13,626 in interest. Leonard was sure he could find a method that would save the township money. Trustee Turos stated that they didn’t have extra money to pay down the loan and when they looked at this issue before, the local banks would only go 15 years, they would need 30 years like the current loan. Turos also stated there was a concern that doing this would bring the township funds too low. The fiscal officer stated that they have $1000 in the debt reduction fund that could be used toward prepaying the mortgage. Trustee Leonard said he will keep looking into the issue to see if he can find a way to save the township money. In other cost-cutting measures, Trustee Wilson has elected to take Medicare Part B rather than the township’s medical insurance. The township will pay Wilson $150 per month to cover his $150 reduction in Social Security benefits each month. This is expected to save the township approximately $12,000 a year. Since there was no other business to discuss the trustees closed out the 2010 year.
They opened the 2011 organizational meeting and on the agenda was choosing a chairman of the board, establishing a meeting date, employee evaluations and making  temporary appropriations.  The board voted Joe Leonard to serve as chairman of the board. They also set the meeting dates as the first and third Wednesday of each month at 7:30 pm at the maintenance building. The trustees went into executive session to discuss employee evaluations, salaries and benefit packages.  The trustees returned from executive session and, there being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.

Nelson Township – The Nelson Township Trustees met for their regularly-scheduled meeting last Wednesday with all trustees and fiscal officer in attendance.  The meeting was moved to the community house due to lack of heat at the maintenance building. The trustees stated that the fuel line that runs from the tank to the maintenance building was plugged with salt and need to be flushed out. Until it was completed, they were unable to use the heating system at the maintenance building. Currently, they were using an alternative heat source to keep the pipes from freezing. The first item on the agenda was to open the sealed bids for replacement doors and windows at the community house.  The window bids ranged from $12,940 – $22,515 and door bids ranged from $5,980-$ 13,900. After some discussion the trustees decided they would table a decision on the bids until they discussed bids with their architect. This decision was based on the fact that the bids were as one trustees stated “All over the place.”  The trustees then discussed the option of possibility renting fuel tanks from Western Reserve. The fuel tanks woulc be  to replace the ones the township uses now to refuel equipment. The current ones are not compliant with the new codes and the cost to upgrade the old ones is out of reach for the township right now. The agreement with Western Reserve would include tank maintenance, changing filters and nozzles. They decided to postpone any decision on this matter until next month, due to a very tight budget. Speaking of money, Trustee Leonard said he is looking into refinancing the mortgage or trying to prepay the loan on the township garage. After further investigation he discovered that there is a possibility of refinancing or paying down the current mortgage without penalties.  Currently, the township loan is structured so that out of the $21,626 paid annually  $8,000 is applied to the principal and while also paying $13,626 in interest. Leonard was sure he could find a method that would save the township money. Trustee Turos stated that they didn’t have extra money to pay down the loan and when they looked at this issue before, the local banks would only go 15 years, they would need 30 years like the current loan. Turos also stated there was a concern that doing this would bring the township funds too low. The fiscal officer stated that they have $1000 in the debt reduction fund that could be used toward prepaying the mortgage. Trustee Leonard said he will keep looking into the issue to see if he can find a way to save the township money. In other cost-cutting measures, Trustee Wilson has elected to take Medicare Part B rather than the township’s medical insurance. The township will pay Wilson $150 per month to cover his $150 reduction in Social Security benefits each month. This is expected to save the township approximately $12,000 a year. Since there was no other business to discuss the trustees closed out the 2010 year. They opened the 2011 organizational meeting and on the agenda was choosing a chairman of the board, establishing a meeting date, employee evaluations and making  temporary appropriations.  The board voted Joe Leonard to serve as chairman of the board. They also set the meeting dates as the first and third Wednesday of each month at 7:30 pm at the maintenance building. The trustees went into executive session to discuss employee evaluations, salaries and benefit packages.  The trustees returned from executive session and, there being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.

Garrettsville – James A. Garfield Schools will be sponsoring the Mobile Dentist again this year.  They will arrive at the Elementary, Intermediate, Middle, and High Schools on January 26.  We have invited the Smile Programs to bring their on-site preventative dental care services to our schools because we know how important good oral health is to a child’s overall health.  The program can provide services to families who need financial assistance, accepts insurance and/or can subsidize fees for persons who can partially cover the cost of an exam and services.
The dentist will arrive at the Elementary, Intermediate, Middle, and High Schools on January 26.  A mini clinic will be set up in the buildings and the dentist and team will provide preventative services for students who return the registration forms that were sent home.  If you would like to register, you may also contact your child’s school.

Girl Scout Troop 632 of Garrettsville took a moment out of their Christmas break to spread some holiday cheer at The Woodlands in Ravenna. The girls brought smiles to the residents by singing some holiday favorites throughout the building. This is the third year that the Troop has gone to The Woodlands to carol. The residents and the staff are very welcoming and enjoy the chance to listen to the girls. This opportunity also helps the girls to understand that something as simple as singing can bring joy to others.

You see it in the movies… someone is having an emotional meltdown, babbling away about their seemingly insurmountable troubles… then a good friend gives them an alarming slap in the face. Suddenly, the babbling idiot looks up, refreshed and ready to move forward with new energy and a fresh perspective. “Thanks! I needed that,” they say.

Traveling to Nicaragua last week was my proverbial slap in the face. This was no classic resort vacation, where I was pampered and restored with VIP accommodations, R&R and therapeutic spa treatments. In fact, under any other circumstances, I would have considered it a disaster: Only a dribble of cold water in the sink and shower (and don’t you dare drink the untreated tap water!); sparse dormitory-style accommodations in simple bunk beds with hard pillows; toilets that can’t handle toilet paper; up before 6 a.m. each morning; simple mid-day meals of turkey-and-cheese sandwiches made by the side of the dirt road each day; sudden, unexplained blackouts… You get the picture.

And yet, this was luxurious compared to the plight of the people outside the high walls of the Land of Judah orphanage in central Nicaragua, where my Living Waters mission team stayed for the week. Along the roads from Managua to Masaya and Granada, and in the small towns and villages like Masatepe, San Marcos, Santa Teresa, Casares and Los Medranos, I witnessed crushing poverty among the people. They weren’t hidden away in contained slums; they were everywhere, walking along the road, riding a bicycle or motorbike, sometimes heaped along with dozens more in the bed of a pickup truck or crammed into a rickety bus.

They were walking for hours to get to work at the big chicken processing center or picking coffee beans for our special shade-grown blend of gourmet brew. They were gathering firewood along the side of the road; or grazing their scrawny cows or horses along the berm of the highway; or burning their heaping trash wherever it happened to pile up (because there is no trash-pick-up program in Nicaragua)… or begging for a handout at the airport and tourist attractions.

The homes we passed by ranged from miserable to inconceivable. The best ones were made of adobe-type material with either clay or thatched roofs. Others were made simply of sapling pole frames with sheets of cardboard and plastic stretched across. Most North Americans wouldn’t find these shelters fit for a stray animal.

Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America (about the size of the state of New York); one of the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean to the east. North of it is Honduras; Costa Rica lies to the south.

This tropical nation has been pretty much out-of-sight-out-of-mind since the Iran-Contra affair blew onto the scene during the Reagan era. But this country appears to be suffering from a deep, pernicious neglect. Consider these statistics from Global Exchange, Britannica and the Central Intelligence Agency:

The five major causes of death in Nicaragua are: 1) circulatory system diseases; 2) infectious and parasitic diseases; 3) accidents and violence; 4) respiratory diseases; 5) cancer.

Nicaragua’s health care crisis is pretty simple: There’s only one physician per 1,882 patients and one hospital bed per 804 persons. The life expectancy of the average Nicaraguan is 71 years.

Beyond that, 16 percent of the working-age population is unemployed; 36 percent is under-employed. Those fortunate enough to secure a minimum-wage job rake in cordobas equivalent to $4 a day. (Per day; not per hour.) Nearly 50 percent of the population exists below the poverty line.

The nation of Nicaragua relies on international economic assistance to meet internal- and external-debt financing obligations. The country cannot sustain itself.

These statistics are overwhelming. Immersing ourselves into this reality was nearly unbearable at times. It seemed that our efforts here would prove fruitless at best. As an extension of the indigenous Christian missionary organization, Messiah Project Nicaragua, our mission was “to reflect God’s love by bringing relief to physical suffering along with spiritual truth and direction through Jesus Christ to those without hope.” All we had to offer were songs of praise and encouragement, a funny puppet show, an encouraging message, practical Christmas gifts for the children, our prayers and hugs.

All of these small measures were warmly and graciously received by the throngs of people who met us at the intersection of a rural dirt road, in an empty urban warehouse, in the back yard of someone’s home, in a church recently built by the faithful community once ruled by gangs… even by a community subsisting across the road from the local dump. The former gang leaders now are indigenous street preachers who deliver the Good News as well as a food program, medicine, vitamins, reading glasses, radio programming and even a public lending library. These efforts are nothing less than revolutionary. The effect is miraculous.

So, Nicaragua has been my slap in the face this Christmas season. I’m not sweating the small stuff any more. I realize – despite my troubles – I am richly blessed. My New Year’s resolution is to hold on to this Nicaragua state of mind.

The stage at W.D. Packard Music Hall hosted several notable characters over the last few months.
In September Dr. Elliot Engel, a PMH fixture, entertained loyal fans and newcomers alike as the opener for this year’s Trumbull Town Hall Lecture Series. Dr. Engel, a professor, scholar, and literary performer, graciously stepped in when the planned speaker, actor Jamie Farr (or Corporal Klinger to M*A*S*H fans) had a scheduling conflict. Recounting the origins of the American fairytale, The Wizard of Oz, Dr. Engel explained, in his own special way, just how this fantastical tale came to exist. Mixing true history with a bit of believable legend, he led those in attendance on a special journey of L. Frank Baum’s life and the creation of this classic story, adding the bit of flair and humor that his fans have come to expect, and which will keep newcomers keeping an eye out for his next visit.
October stirred up quite a crowd as visitors were treated to the Taste of Home Cooking Show. With a practically sold-out attendance of 1300 tickets, audience members watched as six delectable dishes were whipped up just for them, with a suspended video camera projecting the step-by-step action on a big screen behind the capable instructor. Sponsored locally by the Tribune Chronicle, the event offered menu items ranging from a simple soup to gooey dessert and the ingredients featured in the various recipes were included in goodie bags given to each spectator. Dozens of themed door prizes donated by area businesses were given away, adding to the excitement, and local vendors answered questions about products, passed out samples, and offered merchandise specials should anyone be adventurous enough to put their newly-learned kitchen skills to good use.
November saw an Emmy and Oscar winner from the small and silver screens grace the small stage. As the next speaker in the four-part Town Hall Lecture Series, actress/comedienne/musician Cloris Leachman entertained, amused and bemused guests with her stories of working alongside celebrities, coming into her own on Broadway, and even of riding the streetcar in the small Iowa town where she grew up. The spry 84-year-old discussed her determination at a young age not to become one of those “gray people” (the dreary 9-5ers surrounding her on that streetcar), shared her wisdom on growing old and preparing for the looming end (“Cremation sounds like you’re going to wind up as a non-dairy coffee additive.”) and confessed her distaste of dying: “I hate death, I hate the thought of dying. Whoever thought up that rotten idea…?” In true Cloris style, the lighter moments reigned as she took time to tickle the ivories, sang a few bars of “I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy” and recited ad lib “As You Like It.” She also shamelessly plugged her recent endeavor, “Raising Hope,” a comedy on Fox (after Glee!) in which she plays the not-quite-all-there great-grandmother Maw Maw of the infant title character.
The highlight of the morning presentation was the opportunity after her speech to buy her autobiography, co-written by her former husband George Englund, along with personalized autograph and photo op. (For those who may have missed the fall speakers, the Town Hall Series will resume in March with an appearance by Tom Gjelten, a national security correspondent. Damaris Peters Pike, a local Women of Note impersonator, will wrap up the season in April as Dolores Hope, the wife of the legendary Bob Hope.)
And now in December, though the weather is growing cold, the stage very much remains hot ringing-in the holiday season with the Big Band sounds of Packard backing up the soaring vocals of England-born, Ohio-transplant singer Helen Welch. This past Friday, the Hall held a free concert Jingle Bell Swing performance inviting the audience to get into the spirit of the season. Among the usual Christmas favorites, Welch led into intermission with a medley from the musical  “Chicago”, starting with “All That Jazz” and blending it with the equally jazzy “Razzle Dazzle ‘em.” It is safe to say that whatever their favorite part of the show, the spectators very much enjoyed the razzle and the dazzle of the evening.
Though some of the events require ticket purchases (The Town Hall Lectures are $5 with a student ID) Packard Music Hall offers many family-friendly experiences for free. The next free W.D. Packard Concert Band performance is scheduled for January 17th at 3pm. Check out http://www.packardmusichall.com for more details and a current listing of all upcoming events.

Pictured above (front L-R) Marilyn Paul, Jessica Bittence, M.D., Dave Vaughn, Commissioner Maureen Frederick, Stephen Colecchi, Eric Hummel, (back L-R) Jack Monda, Commissioner Chris Smeiles, Ty Barksdale, Rick Coe, Mayor Craig L. Moser

Garrettsville – The cold and snow did not deter folks from attending the ground breaking ceremony for the new Robinson Health Center in Garrettsville. On December 9, 2010 about 20 people gathered at the intersection of Liberty Street and South Street, the future site of the Robinson Health Center to observe and or take part in the ceremony. After the ceremonial ground breaking the group was treated to coffee and donuts.

The 1,644 square foot facility is expected to open this summer (2011) and will be home to Garrettsville Family Medicine.  Dr. Jessica Bittence from Hiram will be the primary physician at the center.
Stephen Colecchi FACHE, President and Chief Executive Officer stated that “Garrettsville has always been a key part of the hospitals service area. The addition of the health center will further support our mission of continually improving and extending our care to the communities that we serve.”
The center will be an affiliate of Robinson Memorial Hospital, which is a progressive hospital serving Portage County and the surrounding communities. The facility is the second-largest employer in Portage County including an urgent care facility, a free-standing comprehensive imaging facility, a network of physician practices, and off-site health centers and medical facilities throughout Portage County.  Robinson’s staff includes 350 physicians  representing over 30 medical specialties.
Robinson Memorial Hospital is recognized as one of the best places to work in Northeast Ohio by the Employer’s Resource Council and has been designated as a Magnet Hospital by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. The hospital is an affiliate member of Summa Health System.

Garrettsville – Owners of The Garden Bistro  decided late Sunday night  that December 12th would be their  last official day of business. Co-owner Tawny Criblez stated via e-mail that “we have exhausted many possibilities, but the decision was made late tonight to no longer operate.”
The Garden Bistro opened in the spring and provided diners with affordable meals and delicious desserts. Owners will be meeting again to tie up any loose ends. No additional information was available at the time of publication deadline.

Newton Falls – Not too many people use maps these days, instead they find their location or destination using cell phones and GPS equipment, not so with the 5th and 6th grade class of SS. Mary & Joseph School in Newton Falls. The class worked together as a team to create an elevation map of the United States.  The Social Studies class worked together drawing patterns, molding, coloring and arranging the pieces like a giant puzzle to form the 4×8  likeness of the United States. After the lesson was complete the students were able to identify a state by its shape, name of its capital and they could also give historical facts pertinent to each state. If you think the lesson ends here you would be mistaken. The classroom teacher Ms. Folan says, “next comes the Math lesson”. The students will calculate, compare and contrast the areas and populations of the 50 states.

Garrettsville - The James A. Garfield Elementary School music teacher Mr. Ken Fox and the third graders kicked off a celebration for the winter season on Wednesday, December 1st. As the first snow of the season fell softly outside, the children presented their audience with a wonderful mixture of music, poetry, chants and musical instruments.

Newton Falls – Enhancing the bridge by the waterfalls are the new stone planters donated to the Flower committee from the benefit held last year at the Riverview Inn.  The event, the D.J. Jagers Poker run, was organized by Debbie Sutherland and Sarah Corley.  Proceeds were donated to the Newton Falls Flower Committee to expand the beautification of the town.  The Newton Falls street department secured the planters with steel rods and bolted them to the supports.  The new planters as well as the other parts of the city were decorated for the Holidays on December 1st.

Lori Rankin who owns the Flower Shoppe arranged the centerpieces for each planter.  The live greens placed throughout town were donated by Jill Weekly and Terry Hardbarger who filled all of the large planters.  Much appreciation also goes to Scott Nussle of Nussle Florist for his continued assistance, City Manager Jack Haney, City Clerk Kathy King, City Councilwoman Nancy Hoffman, Ashley King Grunder, and Doris Lingo who joined the flower committee members Judy Babyak and Alma Griffith on a very cold morning to complete the Christmas decoration.  Thanks to everyone for a job well done.

Pictured are Debbie Sutherland who organized the benefit at the Riverview Inn that purchased the new bridge planters and Lori Rankin, owner of The Flower Shoppe, who arranged the décor for the planters.

Newton Falls – At the first council meeting of December, the snow-blanketed roads did not keep concerned citizens away.

All officials were present and, after opening the proceedings, Mayor Waddell started the meeting by announcing that, on the heels of the recent budget meeting, it was mutually agreed there will be no laying-off any officers in the police department.

Members of the public addressed the constant “infamous” 3-2 vote, pointing out that the new mayor will have little chance to make a difference if current council remains intact as is. Others chastised council for reportedly setting a bad example of a productive society and giving a negative reputation in representing the town to other communities, going even so far as to comment “This town is the laughingstock of the area right now.”

When it was time for individual reports, Mayor Waddell thanked everyone who came out to vote in the recent recall election. Acknowledging it was a close race, he also thanked those in particular who supported him. “We all need to move forward now,” he said. He mentioned his commitment to the oath of office that he took during his inauguration ceremony. “I take the oath of office very seriously,” he said, specifying a line in the oath which references NOT being influenced by any individual or group. He reassured that his loyalty lies with the betterment of the city and not with any particular individual or entity.

Then Mayor Waddell announced that he will be donating 25% of his salary to a town charity, starting with the next council meeting. For consideration, send a letter to the mayor’s office (19 N. Canal Street, Attn: Mayor) with information about your charitable organization. Each respective meeting’s beneficiary will be drawn at random from the submitted letters and will receive a $50 check from the mayor.

By way of individual reports from council members, Councilman Monteville thanked the officers who recently saved a local gentleman’s life, and intends to include a proclamation of appreciation on a future agenda. The City Manager mentioned the new holiday decorations in town, brightening the community for the Christmas season. Home 44444 the Holidays is Saturday and organizers, in conjunction with the NFPD, will be attempting to fill-a-school-bus with non-perishables from 10am-4pm at the high school. Also be sure and check out the Identi-kits available at the event, courtesy of the police department. Councilman Luonuansuu then made a motion to adjourn immediately into executive session. The motion passed by 3-2.

Closing public comments reiterated the same points made earlier, with most opinions expressed concerning the town’s financial situation and/or the unfavorable impressions residents of other towns have of Newton Falls by the regular bad press in recent history. Encouraging comments included support for the hardworking members of the police department, gratitude for the positive relationship between the PD and the fire department, and hope for constructive changes in the coming months.

Mayor Waddell closed the meeting by saying “This is an absolutely great community and I still believe that.”

Hiram – In the information age, sharing critical heath care information with emergency medical providers – even when you can’t talk – just got a whole lot easier for all Hiram College students and faculty. My LifePlan, a Ravenna, OH-based health care information technology and services company started by Ruth Skocic ’06, has partnered with the College to provide My LifePlan’s MyChoice service to all current students and faculty, as well as to all incoming freshmen. Parents of Hiram College students can rest assured their children’s vital medical information can be immediately available to medical and rescue workers in the event of an emergency.

My LifePlan integrates the latest biometric technology and Web-based access to provide first responders and hospital emergency staff with secure, immediate access – via a fingerprint scan or ID card – to patients’ critical information. This includes medical history, emergency contacts, allergies, medications and advanced directives, speaking for a person who may not be able to speak for him or herself.

Skocic, a former nursing home social services director, founded My LifePlan in 2006 to provide health information services and technology. She wanted individuals to be able to control their medical information and personal directives – and provide that information to authorized emergency and health care providers in a timely, secure fashion when every moment counts.

“Hiram College is recognized nationwide as a premier facility for higher learning, and we are honored to work with their team in providing students and faculty with the safest possible campus experience, as well as giving parents valuable peace of mind that their children are protected,” said Skocic. “MyChoice empowers life-saving personnel to thoroughly assess a situation and deliver the best possible care and treatment – when every second counts.”

And while the company’s growth has gone global – it provides services to China and Israel, for instance – Skocic’s experience as a Weekend College student at Hiram keeps her attention right here at home, too. She wanted to give back to her alma mater while growing her company. Earlier this year, My LifePlan announced the successful deployment of MyChoice with the fire department of Stow, OH, and executed a definitive master collaboration agreement with Akron General to begin rollout of the MyChoice service at multiple emergency departments in surrounding communities.

For more information about My LifePlan, go to www.MyLifePlaninc.com.

Burton – The Burton Grille and Pizzeria in the center of historic Burton Village will be transformed into an elegant dining location the evening of Friday, December 31, 2010.  Plans are to close the restaurant to regular dining at 3:00 p.m. on that date.  Later, when the doors re-open, the interior space will have become festive and glittering, and ready for serving an exceptional New Year’s Eve dinner.

But don’t expect to find pizza on the menu.  Instead, diners will be treated to hors d’oeuvres, a choice of fish or beef, several accompaniments, and a selection of fine desserts. A vegetarian meal will also be available.  Diners are permitted to bring their own alcoholic beverages.

Joe Brown, the owner of Burton Grille said, “I wanted to offer a festive and fine dining option close to home for New Year’s Eve.”  Brown continued, “This menu is a lot of fun for me.  Our regular menu leans toward Italian food, and our usual desserts are centered around our homemade ice cream.  This once-a-year change gives me an opportunity to get creative with a very upscale menu and desserts that we otherwise don’t offer.  For instance, I can get beautiful maple wood from an Amish friend, so we will be serving maple-glazed salmon – each piece baked and served on a slab of maple wood.”

Dinner will be served at only two seatings:  6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.  When you call to reserve, you select your dining time.  All diners are expected to arrive at, or close to, their chosen time.

Because space is limited, it is necessary to reserve and pre-pay in advance for this New Year’s Eve elegant dinner.  The meal pricing is “prix fixe”, which means that the overall price is set in advance, and includes all of the courses of the meal.  The cost is $37.50 per person.  A separate children’s menu will be available at reduced cost.  To reserve your space, call or stop in to the Burton Grille before December 24th.

The Burton Grille and Pizzeria is located in the center of historic Burton Village, across from the Burton Log Cabin.  The address is 14614 East Park Street.  Burton Village is midway between Warren and Cleveland – about 40 minutes east of downtown Cleveland.

For more information, telephone Burton Grille and Pizzeria at 440-834-9050.

Windham – Pleasant surprises come from all places.  Mine started in the form a flyer in the Nelson town hall for the “First Snow” concert.  I figured that if they weren’t that good, it was still only $6 and for a good cause.  Then I found that low price sometimes is no indicator of quality.

“First Snow” is a Trans-Siberian Orchestra cover band, and the age “eight-to-eighty” audience at the Renaissance Family Center reflected their classical-to-rock range of style.  By the groups third song, they had included all three T-S O Christmas CDs. Keyboardist/singer Beth Salisbury gave an interesting interpretation of “Prince of Peace”.  She then added a traditional version of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”.  Most of the night showcased their rock side, as guitarist/singer Kevin Bennett perfectly reproduced the T-S O vocals on “This Christmas Day”.  Their self-titled song “First Snow” included a “snow machine” that chased away the photographer that was blocking the middle aisle up front.  Drummer Scott Weiner even contributed a rousing drum solo.  The band branched out into a blues song, and then young Ethan Long soloed on acoustic guitar with “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”.  “Christmas Jam” was especially amazing, with Bennett, Salisbury, Long and multi-talented Brian Briggs each taking turns with impressive guitar solos.  Bennett then contributed a heartfelt song that he had written about his father after his passing.  The keyboardists also delighted the crowd with “Flight of the Bumblebee”.

Some of the band returned as Division Bell, an impressive Pink Floyd tribute band with only three instrumentalists.  Both bands battled sound system problems throughout the night;  I would have loved to hear Monique Orban’s vocal gymnastics on “Great Gig in the Sky”.  The members were also a tribute band to the group Heart, as the crowd got one last treat with the song “Barracuda”.

In one night these talented musicians had three established bands “looking over their shoulders”.  Windham was really fortunate to host such a team of incredible musical talent December 4th, and it won’t be too soon if they can be persuaded to return.

Mantua – In the polymer industry, constant changes and improvements are the essential ingredients to servicing customer needs effectively.  Mantaline Corporation of Mantua, Ohio has recently added key new processes and materials to its portfolio in its efforts to offer current customers an avenue to “best available” technology as well as position itself to fulfill the expectations of the new customers it is pursuing.

Over the last several months, Mantaline has improved their manufacturing systems, expanded their customer base and added new processes to their portfolio.  The corporation now works in three new market segments: off-road construction vehicle window seals, medical industry freezer seals, and automotive sunroof seals. In addition to the three new markets, Mantaline has also broadened its capabilities to offer new in-line and finishing options for automotive and non-automotive customers alike.

How does Mantaline consistently develop new processes and products?  The answer comes down to having the right people on board.  According to Engineering VP Kyle Jackson, “it takes gifted, talented and dedicated folks to bring a consistent flow of innovation on-line.”

It is the mix of different engineers with varying skill-sets and ideas that has allowed Mantaline to break through some of its previous barriers.  By having people look at challenges from different angles, old restrictions break down and new methods of operating are created. Mantaline encourages its engineers to work directly with customer counterparts to address any constraints in process technology and then make those processes more robust and appropriately cost-effective.

The goal of Mantaline’s pursuit of process excellence is twofold:  minimize off-line finishing and maximize start-up efficiency.  Mantaline is working to integrate tooling design and effectiveness into manufacturing processes to achieve tighter tolerance on seals while reducing total cost.  The focus on increased level of tolerance capability and product complexity is directly related to customer needs: current and future.

Mantaline is also attacking waste and other ancillary cost centers.  Returnable packaging, handling and storage of process materials and qualifying alternative, lower cost materials are all areas that Mantaline’s pursuit of efficiency has touched.

These initiatives have an added customer benefit: Mantaline is much better able to handle customer “lower volume” production requirements; a level of flexibility not lost on customers striving to maintain their own commercial relationships.  “How we set up ‘built in flexibility’ across our manufacturing lines makes us more efficient across a spectrum of volumes,” said Jackson. “Shorter runs and running a wide variety of different products on the same equipment makes us more attractive to our customers, no doubt about it.”

It is its flexibility and efficiency that really permits Mantaline to service customers who themselves must deal with a wide variation is production requirements.  “Our ‘adaptability’ helps customers who need flexibility in their supply base and are struggling to find it,” said Jackson.

Mantaline, a material-driven and customer-driven company, is changing the polymer industry by increasing efficiency and cost effectiveness with new processes and new outlooks.

Last Wednesday Mr. Lyle Waddell was sworn in by the Hon. Philip Vigorito with a standing-room-only courtroom of witnesses.

Newton Falls – The votes have been cast, counted, verified and validated, and it is official: Newton Falls has a new mayor. Last Wednesday Mr. Lyle Waddell was sworn in by the Hon. Philip Vigorito with a standing-room-only courtroom of witnesses.

Earlier in the month, city residents voted in favor of recalling then-current mayor, Patrick Layshock, following months of contention between officials at various city meetings. Poll-goers selected Mr. Waddell from three candidates up for consideration to take over Mr. Layshock’s duties should the recall be successful.

Surrounded by family, friends, and local supporters, Mr. Waddell took the oath of office before shaking hands with and inviting those in attendance to his home for a reception. City Manager Jack Haney had the honor of opening the proceedings and introducing Mr. Waddell and Judge Vigorito by mentioning that “We are all here tonight as witnesses of democracy at work.”

The new Mayor Waddell intends to bring professionalism and productivity back to the city meetings and he hopes to put a stop to the infighting and bickering that have been prominent in previous forums. With several ideas he hopes to put into place in the very near future for the benefit of Newton Falls, residents can look forward to a forecast including an optimistic outlook and potential for positivity in the quickly- approaching New Year. “We need to reach our hand out and support each other,” Mr. Waddell stated. He also plans to bring in new industry and business to the town while looking at improving the tax base, aiming most importantly to stop wasting money. Mr. Waddell will share his thoughts for the town’s growth at the next regularly scheduled council meeting on December 6th. Members of the public are invited to attend.

Of the 611 school districts in the state of Ohio James A. Garfield schools are beginning to set themselves apart from most. The dedication and professionalism of teachers, staff and administrators in the district have earned continued academic distinction. Furthermore, wise economic decisions have made the district the best value in Portage County and the third best value in the state when it comes to providing an excellent education to our kids.

The district earned its first state Excellent rating for the 2007/08 year and again in 2008/09; the only other district in Portage County to achieve this was Aurora City Schools. Last year, 2009/10, the James A. Garfield Schools were rated Excellent with Distinction, earning a perfect 26 out of 26 indicators, AYP (average yearly progress), Value Added and the Performance Index (101). The high school has been identified as Excellent for the last seven (7) consecutive years, and last year the elementary school also earned an Excellent with Distinction ‘perfect’ rating, making history as the first Garfield School building with this distinction.

Last week the state reported 74% of our third graders passed the Ohio Reading Achievement Assessment given in October. With that high achievement, we anticipate them scoring in the 90% range on the spring test.

These continued results are achieved by our hard-working and dedicated teachers. They inspire our students to work hard and excel! This Excellent with Distinction rating was achieved with us having the third lowest per pupil expenditure of the 81 districts earning this rating out of 611 school districts. Garfield has spent the least per pupil in Portage County the last ten years. Last year the per pupil amount was $7,697, which is 27% less than the state average of $10,512. It is obvious that both the adults and students are appreciative and work every day to keep the costs down while working to continue to improve the good education for the students. It is heartwarming to feel the warmth and respect that is shared by residents, faculty, staff, administration and kids. Respect, hard work and dedication produces awesome results from everyone working together!

Windham – While we all gathered around our Thanksgiving tables there were folks in the area that had no one to share their dinner with or didn’t have the means to have a holiday dinner. The Renaissance Family Center opened their doors to provide not only a dinner but an entire day of activities for those who might have spent the day alone.
The day started off at 9 am with the parades on the big screen. Those who were not interested in the parades could opt for cards and board games. Now if you enjoy the more physical games, you could head outside in the rain and join the younger sector in a game of flag football. The cold rain didn’t stop the game, just like real football, the game went on in spite of the weather.
Noon signaled the dinner bell, so to speak, as folks began to form a line for a traditional Thanksgiving feast. Turkey, whipped potatoes, dressing, gravy, sweet potatoes, and corn topped off with luscious lemon squares for dessert. Everyone took a seat and enjoyed the scrumptious meal. After dinner were football games on the big screen, more games and activities for the children. The day ended with everyone being thankful for a day to share with others.
The day was designed to provide an “adopted” family for those who might  not have a place or family in the area to celebrate with.
The center traditionally hosts free meals on the fourth Thursday of each month. Thanksgiving Day was the fourth Thursday of the month so they just moved the celebration to the noontime meal rather than the evening. The center served approximately 60 thanksgiving dinners this year.

Left to right, Victor Fackler, Junior Steward; Clint Wright, Junior Deacon; Rev. Fred Bell, Chaplain; Dan Schaer, Trustee; Glenn Showalter, Junior Warden; John Porter, Treasurer; Guy Alexander, Master; William B. Owen, Secretary; Roger Norton, Senior Warden; Richard Collopy, Senior Deacon; and John Grosell, Senior Steward.

Garrettsville – The proud Masons of Garrettsville Lodge #246 recently held their 157th consecutive installation of officers. The Lodge members have been meeting at the same location since 1874 and are proud to count among their past members James A. Garfield who served as Lodge chaplain while president of Hiram College. Pictured above are the newly installed officers.

Middlefield – Celebrate Christ’s coming at Sparrow Christian Bookshop in Middlefield during the month of December.
The Church Boys will perform in the shop on the evening of Friday, Dec. 3rd from 6pm to 8pm. The Church Boys are a local quartet and will perform many Christmas and gospel favorites.
On the evening of Wed. Dec. 8, at 7pm, The First United Methodist Church Junior Choir will perform special selections from their annual Christmas musical – It’s A Wonder-Ful Life.
For all your Christmas gifts, music, cards and ornaments, stop by the bookshop.   Sparrow Christian is located at SR 608 and SR 87. Christmas hours are:  Dec. 6- Dec. 19 Mon-Fri 9-8pm, Sat. 9-6pm. Dec. 21 – Dec. 23 9am-9pm, Christmas Eve. 9am-5pm. 440.632.0011, sparrowchristian.com

As many of our readers know, I normally write a column about Law & Government.  That is great fun to write and I enjoy the community feedback.  But since this is Thanksgiving week, that means Christmas is right around the corner.

There are many blessings in our community.  But I know there are also many families that are struggling now.  So I approached the Weekly Villager editor and asked if she would help publicize a contest to grant a Christmas wish.  Since you are reading this, she obviously said “yes.”  I knew she would!

Then I called my friend and fellow small business owner, Chris Perme.  He is a financial advisor by trade, but do not let that stuffy title fool you.  Chris is the guy we call when we need generosity first and details later.  I asked him if he would help fund my little idea.  Without any details, he said yes!

So here is what we are going to do.  We will grant the Christmas wish of a local person and/or family.  Note this is not a “holiday” wish…because we believe in Christmas!

We are interested in “needs” not “wants.”  In other words, if you have fallen on hard times and need help for Christmas, we want you to send in your story.  (Versus those folks who have had a healthy year of prosperity and just cannot afford a fancy hotel in Aruba.  Sorry, no trips.)

Write to us and tell us your story.  Please limit your story to two pages.  You may include photos or drawings if that helps tell your story.  We will choose one winner, and do our best to make their Christmas wish come true.  Please give us as much information as you can.

Anyone who lives in Portage County or anywhere in the Weekly Villager’s circulation area is eligible.  You may nominate yourself or anyone else you would like.  Children are dear to our hearts, but we will consider all stories that are submitted.

Stories should be mailed to:

“Tommie Jo and Chris – Grant my Christmas Wish!”
c/o Weekly Villager
8052 State Street, Suite 1
Garrettsville, OH  44231

You can also drop it off.  It must include your name and phone number as well as the contact information of the person you are nominating.  We must receive all entries by December 11.

We look forward to making someone’s Christmas a little better.  Tell all of your friends about the contest and watch the paper for the winner.  Enjoy the most wonderful time of the year!

Pictured above is the James A. Garfield Band Booster Two Grand Dinner Winner Cathy Lukasko of Brookfield, Ohio.

Garrettsville – The First Annual TWO GRAND DINNER reverse raffle and silent auction was held at the Sugar Bush Golf Club on Saturday, November 13, 2010.  A packed house enjoyed appetizers courtesy of Glenna and Quentin Spaur, dinner courtesy of Guido’s of Ravenna and amazing desserts made by Sherry Jones and Pat Stoneman.  Ticket sales were limited to 300 and each number was drawn randomly from a bingo machine.  Every 10th  number drawn received a prize.  The grand prize winner was Cathy Lukasko of Brookfield, Ohio, aunt of one of the band members.

Throughout the evening, guests participated in a HEADS or TAILS 50/50 raffle (winner, Casey Everett), a weekend getaway in a Pirates’ Treasure Chest (winner, Mary Koval), 50/50 raffle (winner, Jeff Pesecky) and The LOTTERY TREE raffle (winner, Betty Mishler).  Multiple winners took home prizes and Strawberry Daiquiri LolliPops from the LOLLIPOP TREE.

Guests also bid on and won 36 different items in our silent auction ranging from a 3-person Lake Erie Fishing Charter, to Fossil handbags and everything in between.  A huge thank you goes to all who donated, purchased tickets and worked tirelessly to hold this event!

The Garfield Band Boosters sponsored the dinner to raise funds for new uniforms for the marching band and to benefit the band programs, grades 5-12.  The current uniforms worn by the MARCHING PRIDE are 27 + years old and are in dire need of replacement.

Organizers of the event are excited for next year and will have tickets available for purchase in October 2011!   Go Band!!!

Ravenna – Shopping on the day after Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be stressful. After more than 29 years as a family celebration in downtown Ravenna, Midnight Madness has proven it.  It’s that time of year when local merchants stay open until midnight to welcome shoppers and diners. Some merchants will be serving light refreshments and be decorated for the holiday season. Enjoy this spirit of the holidays with decorative greens and holiday lights in downtown Ravenna.

Sponsored by the Ravenna Merchant Association and the Ravenna Area Chamber of Commerce, the late night shopping spree is intended to initiate holiday gift-hunting and seasonal cheer.

“It’s the single best sales night of the year” said to Jack Ferguson, executive director at the Chamber of Commerce. “Many downtown merchants do more than 25 percent of their Christmas business on this night.” Plus the Ravenna Balloon A-Fair annual Christmas Parade “Christmas Through the Eyes of a Child”, will step off at 7PM.

As is the case with the entire holiday season, however, Midnight Madness isn’t just about shopping.

The M & M Railroad train and Fire Engine will parade through the streets between 6 and 8 p.m., offering free rides to anyone and everyone Friday night.

Bring your lawn chairs and join in the singing of Christmas Carols as The Ravenna High School performs on the courthouse lawn.

In addition, Santa & Mrs. Claus will meet with children of all ages immediately after the Christmas parade to learn what they wish for during the holiday season. Santa will be  at the Buckeye Mini Mall, located at 250 Main Street.

The evening has become a tradition in the community. Over the years, some of the participating merchants, all of which will be open until midnight, have developed traditions of their own.

For more details call the Ravenna Chamber of Commerce at (330) 296-3886 Monday – Friday 9 am to 1 pm.

Mantua – Just in time to curtail the tendency to pack on cold-weather pounds, Head 2 Toe Massage & Body Work at 4667 Prospect Street in Mantua has expanded next door with Head 2 Toe Wellness Center at 4669 East Prospect St.

The expanded business is showcasing its new services by offering free yoga and Zumba classes   through November 28. Proprietors John and Kristine Goad are hosting an official grand opening on Monday, November 29, followed by an open house on Sunday, December 5. Their commitment to helping others and continuing education has led them to extend beyond their established massage services to create Mantua’s new Head 2 Toe Wellness Center in the retail space vacated by the former Flower Nook.

In addition to Zumba and yoga classes, the wellness center offers Pilates, Tai Chi and chair yoga instruction, stress management seminars, nutrition workshops and personal training. A team of local instructors staffs the wellness center: Lillian Kolodziej of Garrettsville offers personal training, Zumba, Pilates and fitness boot camp. Marianne Rieske of Garrettsville teaches chair yoga (for those with limited mobility). Amy Hickens teaches Zumba dance classes. Robert Ziska of Kent is a yoga instructor.

These classes are a natural addition to the array of massage services John already offers through his massage studio next door. It’s all designed for those “looking for ultimate relaxation and a healthier you,” according to the Head 2 Toe website. “Massage has been found to improve circulation, joint range-of-motion and flexibility. It can reduce many common ailments such as stress, muscle tightness, aches and pains – even anxiety and depression.”

John offers custom-made massage oils, scrubs, salts and bath soaps. He is also a distributor Young Living Essential Oils and Visalus products. “My work is based on the belief that my customers’ needs are of the utmost importance,” Goad says on his website. “I am committed to meeting those needs.”

Goad graduated from the Cleveland School of Massage. An “ethical massage practitioner,” he specializes in Swedish massage with deep pressure, but also offers reflexology, polarity and Kates’ Method. He combines all techniques in every massage to maximize the benefits of each. The Goads blend all of their own oils to ensure the highest quality ingredients with no fillers, to provide nourishment to the skin.

Kristine — a medical assistant by trade — is the business manager for the neighboring businesses. She and her husband moved to Mantua from Maple Heights about five years ago and established Head 2 Toe Massage at the corner of Main and Prospect streets one year ago.

With the founding of the wellness center, the Goads’ hope is to provide local residents with a full range of conveniently-located health and fitness services. Not to be confused with services offered by nearby Advanced Rehabilitation Services, Head 2 Toe specializes in general wellness opportunities, while Advanced Rehab specializes in physical therapy and medical rehabilitation services. The two establishments work together and refer clients to each other when applicable.

Head 2 Toe Massage is open Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and by appointment on weekends. Class times vary at the wellness center. Call (330)569-4340 or visit www.H2ToeMassage.com for complete class schedules and pricing.

Burton – The holiday season is fast approaching.  Historic Burton, Ohio, has so many ways for you to celebrate this magical time of year.  Mark your calendar for the weekend of November 26 as the beginning of all the fun.

The festivities start on Friday, November 26, from 9 am until Noon at the Geauga County Historical Society’s Century Village at 14653 Park Street.  Here you can have a pancake breakfast while visiting Santa, peruse a holiday gift store and take a wagon ride, if the weather permits.  Also be sure to make a card to send to a soldier, as that is so important to do this time of year.

Reservations are requested and can be made by calling 440-834-1492.  The cost is $7 for adults, $4 for children 6 to 12 years old and free for children under 6.  Sorry, but no member discounts can be used for this event.

Later that evening, stop by the Gazebo in the park to watch the lighting of the Christmas tree.  After the lighting of the tree, there will be caroling and then refreshments at the Burton Congregational Church.  This event is free and starts at 6 pm.

There will be other events happening around the square all weekend, such as live music at Coffee Corners, hot chocolate and cookies with Santa in the afternoon at the Log Cabin, special events and demonstrations at many of the local stores and a gingerbread house display at the Burton Public Library.  You can also drive east on Route 87 a little ways to White House Chocolates to watch candies being made from 10 am until 6 pm (White House Chocolates is closed on Sunday).

Santa stops by Burton again on November 27 at the Atwood-Mauck American Legion Post 459 located at 14052 Goodwin Street in Burton.  Here is another chance to have breakfast with the jolly man in the red suit from 9 am until 1 pm.  You can even do some gift shopping at the craft fair that runs from 9 am to 3 pm on Saturday at the post.   Proceeds from this event will benefit Atwood-Mauck’s scholarship fund.  The cost to have breakfast with Santa is $6 for adults, $3 for children 6 to 12 and free to children 5 and younger.  You can reach the American Legion hall at 440-834-8764 with any questions.

On Sunday, November 28, you can visit the Crossroads Country Store at Century Village from 10 am until 5 pm.  Santa has also set up shop there with lots of Christmas goodies and you can visit Santa at the Log Cabin from 12 pm until 4 pm.

If, perhaps, you cannot get to Burton on the weekend of November 26, you can enjoy many of the Burton activities again the following weekend on Saturday, December 4 and 5.  The gingerbread houses will still be on display at the library, Santa will visit the Log Cabin in the afternoons, hot chocolate and cookies will also be available there, and Coffee Corners will be having live music.  White House Chocolates will be making chocolate candies on Saturday also.

On Sunday, December 4, the Red Maple Inn (just south of Burton Square) will be hosting a Christmas Floral Design Show and Luncheon from 10:30 am until 1 pm.  Seating is limited and reservations are required.  Please call A.H. Christianson’s at 440-834-9760 to make your reservations for this delightful event.

As you can see, the people and businesses of Burton are full of Christmas spirit and they want to share it with you.  Any one of these events, or a few, are a great way to get into the holiday mood, so think about coming out to Burton and visiting with Santa, enjoying some treats and doing a little shopping.  A good time will be had by all.

Garrettsville – The turkey has been eaten, pie plates hold nothing but the remaining crumbs, Thanksgiving has passed, and Christmas is yet to come. What better way to start off your Christmas season than to attend Garrettsville Chamber of Commerce’s annual Holiday Lighting ceremony!

Bring your family to celebrate this tradition that began in 2001 as a way to bring some cheer back into the community after the September 11th tragedy. That first year a tree was lit downtown and shops were decorated for the season. Unfortunately, a blizzard kept most people from coming out to celebrate that first year, but future years have seen a rise in community attendance.

The second year of the lighting ceremony also included a Holiday Social at the high school, which has since been taken over by the Curtains Up Theatre. Each year Chamber adds something new to the lighting ceremony. What began with the tree now includes the Clock Tower and surrounding bushes and the Police Department.

What holiday event would be complete without caroling, cookies and a special visit from the man in red? Santa arrives each year in the bucket lift of a fire truck, coming down Main Street to arrive in front of the Clock Tower to greet each child, get a heads up on their wish list and pass out a treat.

Grab your boots, your camera, and your family, even the neighbor, and head down to Garrettsville Chamber’s Holiday Lighting Ceremony on Saturday, November 27th at 6pm at the Clock Tower on High Street.

“And he did hear a sound rising over the snow. It started in low. Then it started to grow.” Join in the holiday caroling and wish your neighbors goodwill.

Taking the approach that it certainly does take a whole village to raise a healthy child, the state of Ohio now mandates that schools are somewhat responsible for keeping children from becoming obese.

Governor Ted Strickland signed Senate Bill 210 — the Healthy Choices for Healthy Children bill — on June 10, 2010. The law mandates that school districts implement specific activities to inhibit obesity, such as measuring each student’s Body Mass Index, offering healthier meals in lunchroom cafeterias, and providing more opportunities for physical activity.
Childhood obesity is considered one of the most profound public health issues confronting Ohio and the nation today, according to Healthy Choices for Healthy Children, a coalition of organizations dedicated to preventing and decreasing childhood obesity in Ohio. The coalition advocates for public policy in Ohio that supports research-based solutions to the childhood obesity epidemic, such as this new law.

“The ABC’s of ending childhood obesity are accountability, bipartisanship, and comprehensive solutions,” says Nationwide Children’s Hospital CEO Steve Allen, M.D, a coalition leader and promoter of the legislation. “Accountability means holding everyone that interacts with our children accountable to higher standards, from parents to schools to businesses. Bipartisanship means lawmakers from across the political spectrum taking responsibility for our children’s health. And, comprehensive solutions mean making change at all the places our children interact with food and exercise. This legislation accomplishes all three, in a way that will help our children avoid becoming the first generation in Ohio history to live shorter lives than their parents.”

The law is designed to improve the nutritional value of foods offered during the regular and extended school day, and to raise the bar for physical education. The bill also provides for Body Mass Index (BMI) screenings upon school entry and in the 3rd, 5th and 9th grades, and a pilot program for daily physical activity during the school day.

An amended version of the bill includes opt-out waivers for a requirement of 30 minutes of physical activity and BMI screenings for school districts demonstrating financial hardship. The Ohio House of Representatives passed an amended version of the Senate bill, creating a pilot program for districts to provide 30 minutes of daily physical activity in grades K-12. Districts participating in the pilot will be recognized on their district report card.

Key provisions of the bill include offering more nutritional choices for the a la carte menu and vending machines, providing free breakfast to all students eligible for free and reduced-price lunches when funds are appropriated, creating a statewide council with teacher representatives to address childhood obesity, creating a school district waiver for the body mass index (BMI) measurement requirement, and incorporating the importance of healthy eating habits and physical activity into the health curriculum. Implementation will begin during the 2011-12 school year, starting with BMI measurements taken for students.

This is nothing new for local students at Garrettsville’s James A. Garfield School District, says Superintendent Charles Klamer. “For the past five years, freshmen and sophomores have had their BMI measured and we research ways to lower it. In 2008/09 we partnered in a wellness grant with the Portage County Health Department and Kent State for BMI testing in grades 3 and 6.”

Additionally, Sue Rossi, grade 5-8 physical education teacher, was awarded a Kohl’s Fitness Grant last year, and again this year. This includes a partnership with Akron Children’s Hospital for 7th and 8th graders. Along with BMI testing, Rossi incorporates instruction on how to control BMI with physical activity and sensible eating habits.
“I believe Garfield Schools have been proactive with academics but also with solid physical education activities,” says Klamer. “Teaching proper exercise and nutritional information are important.”

In terms of providing healthy eating options, the superintendent says, “Our cafeteria has offered fresh vegetables and fruit
every day with lunch for over 25 years. Our secondary schools only offer limited sweet items. The Garfield Schools will be ahead or on target to implement the activities specified by this new law.”

Considering that 70 percent of the cost in health care is related to chronic disease, and obesity is a major cause of chronic disease, this law is expected to help to reduce the disease burden on taxpayers by helping children learn to lead healthy, active lifestyles early in life. It is hoped to improve students’ future quality of life and also help to take billions of dollars in unnecessary costs out of Ohio’s health care system.

Middlefield – If you are looking for a unique place to buy locally-made, handcrafted gift items, you need to stop by Amish Home Craft & Bakery.  They are located at 16860 Kinsman Road in Middlefield, just 1 1?2 miles east of downtown Middlefield.  Their regular hours are Monday through Saturday from 9 am until 4:30 pm and closed on Sunday.

Owner, Jonas Miller, Jr., spoke with me about the diversity of visitors that come to the shop.  They have several return customers from Utah, Texas, and as far away as  Dubai.  I took a look at their guest book and there were visitors from Arizona, Nevada, Canada and the Czech Republic.  While I was there Mr. Miller was regaling visitors from the far west side of Cleveland with delightful local stories.

The store provides its customers with a variety of handmade items.  They have items for the children such as Amish dolls, wooden trains, wooden puzzles, story books, use-your-imagination toys and games, corn hole bags and warm blankets.  You can pick from many items for the home, like quilts of all sizes, natural soaps from Pine Breeze Farms, rugs, table runners and placemats, baskets of every size and shape, wall hangings, hickory rockers and coat hooks.  You can also find lamp parts and other smaller household items.

Other items available are a line of Nature’s Sunshine herbs, supplements and vitamins.  Nature’s Sunshine first encapsulated herbs in 1972 and has been around ever since.  Miller’s Country Jams are available as well as other canned items and honey.

The homemade items are one component of this adorable shop and the other component is the daily bakery.  The Millers have an on-site bakery kitchen and offer a large variety of baked goods.  You will find several varieties of breads, cream rolls, cakes, pies, cookies, donuts, crème sticks and fry pies.  Now with the larger ovens, they are able to offer large fruit danish and other specialty baked items.  The bakery is in and of itself a worthy reason to stop by.

With the holidays fast approaching, you can get special orders made for your holiday meals.  By calling 440-632-1888 (let it ring as the phone is not in the shop or the house), you can order pies, dinner rolls, breads or sweets so you can do other things and enjoy the holidays more without the extra work for you.

The renewed consumer interest in locally-made products makes shopping for gift items and home items a perfect option at Amish Home Craft & Bakery.  Mr. Miller told me that most of the items they offer are locally made either by Amish or Mennonite artisans.  Buying there helps local economies and helps your personal economy because the pricing is extremely reasonable.

Christmas is a great time to stop by and do gift shopping, but don’t forget gifts for yourself and your dinner table.  You will be glad you stopped by.

Garrettsville – “People are flying blind,” says financial planner Chris Perme of this generation of retirees and those soon approaching retirement.

“We are living through the Great American Retirement Crisis — a perfect storm for Baby Boomers whose retirement benefits got whacked 30-40 percent at just the wrong time, thanks to the recession. Now people who have overspent and under-saved are very concerned about outliving their income.”

Previous generations worried about dying before reaching the Golden Years of retirement, but now — with rising longevity and exponential rises in living expenses — people are worried that their bodies will hold out, but their retirement portfolios won’t.

Due to this very real threat, Perme finds himself “busier than a one-armed paper hanger.” Since 1989, Perme has offered retirement services, annuity and life services, disability income insurance and executive benefits for individuals from his office at Perme Financial Group in Garrettsville. These asset management services address six key areas: financial position, adequate protection, wealth accumulation, tax reduction strategies, retirement analysis, and estate planning.

Now, more than ever, retirees are coming to him for advice and resources — as well as “someone to trust, someone to listen,” as Perme puts it. “I’m a financial therapist. By listening to people’s dreams and fears, I can customize solutions for their particular situation. Some advisors prescribe to people a list of financial products even before they know their clients’ goals. That’s backwards. And it wastes individuals’ money.”

With all of this in mind, Perme has begun hosting free public seminars to equip the community — especially those aged 55-70+ — with the knowledge they need to navigate through the new and confusing realities of retirement planning.

By sending out mailers to 6,000 individuals, he drew people from Garrettsville, Mantua, Hiram, Chagrin Falls and beyond to The Main Street Grille and Brewing Company restaurant last month, where Perme supplied dinner as well as a half-hour PowerPoint presentation covering Social Security, pensions, projected tax rates and other retirement issues.

Titled “But What if I Live? The American Retirement Crisis,” the content is based on a book, But What If I Live: The American Retirement Crisis: A Retirement Guide for Baby Boomers, by Gregory Salsbury, Ph.D., executive vice president of Jackson National Life Distributors LLC, the distribution arm of Jackson National Life Insurance Company.

Salsbury’s motivation for the book is “My profound worry is that the Boomers will be the first generation that will be worse off in retirement than the generation before.” Perme plans to offer these community service events quarterly with the next seminar expected in March or April.

The seven key issues that now stand between Boomers and their retirement goals are identified as: 1) the Aging of America, 2) Disappearing Pensions, 3) Social Insecurity, 4) The Tax Axe, 5) The Invisible Enemy – Inflation, 6) The Healthcare Nightmare, and 7) Red, White & Broke. This final element exposes how Americans aren’t saving enough for retirement. In 2004, America’s savings rate hit its lowest point since the Great Depression and personal bankruptcies hit an all-time high. In spite of these trends, the spending continues, according to Salsbury.

Essentially, Perme says people need to prepare for retirement with forethought and a strategy. They cannot afford to let it simply creep up on them from behind. “You’ve got to have a plan. How much money do I need for the next five years after retirement… and the next five years after that… and the next five after that?

“Where is that income going to come from? Your pension? Social Security? Assets? If it’s too confusing to figure on your own, you need a financial planner who will walk with you, hold your hand, and help you reach your goals. I enjoy bringing that security to people, protecting their wealth and generating income for them. It’s a lot of responsibility and a sacred trust.”

For more information, see www.ButWhatIfILive.com, www.permefinancialgroup.com, or call the Perme office at (330) 527-9301.

Newton Falls – Cloey Essa is all girl. She loves wearing dresses and her pageant crown; however, there’s more to this 7-year-old first grader.

Cloey is “Little Miss Buckeye Tourism”. She and her mom decided to use the title to give back where they can. One way they are doing this is making gift boxes for soldiers deployed in Afghanistan.

Chrystal Paszkowski, Cloey’s mom says that they are very lucky to be able to help the soldiers to feel the love and support from even the smallest of children, and to help people less fortunate than they are.

Cloey is trying to gather donations of cash and  monetary items to make care packages for troops overseas. It’s something that hits close to home. Her dad has been deployed four times.

Her father, James Anthony of the 583rd Police Detachment out of Austintown says “It’s nice getting a box like this for a unit. It was like Christmas every time we got one, like Christmas or your birthday. Always something new and exciting.”

The giving doesn’t stop here. Cloey has also raised $330 for homeless kids by holding a bake sale on October 16th  at Lakers Food Mart in Lake Milton. Her parents say they couldn’t be more proud of Cloey and all that she wants to do to help the community and also to show her love and support for the brave men and women who fight for our freedom everyday.

Cloey has been–and wants to continue to be–a role model for everyone. Cloey’s mom Chrystal says  “It helps everyone to understand, and  appreciate that just because she’s small, that doesn’t mean she can’t do things that older people can do.

On Saturday, November 13th Cloey Essa, “Little Miss Buckeye Tourism”, will be having a meet and greet at Newton Falls Brew Basket from 8 – 11 a.m. While there, she will be collecting donations for the gift boxes, and will continue to collect items and cash donations until November 30.

In addition, if anyone has a family member or friend that is deployed overseas, and has the correct address, Cloey will personally send them a box of “goodies.”

Listed below is a partial list of some items needed or wanted for these boxes:

Hard candy, cookies and candy bars, small notebooks and ink pens, deodorant, shampoo & body wash, playing cards, toothbrushes & toothpaste, gum, pretzels , mints and $10 phone cards.

There are more items you can purchase which could be boxed and shipped. Cash is also needed to defray shipping cost on these boxes — all donations are very much appreciated.

Maschek’s vision for the Irwin Hardware Building.

Garrettsville – Main Street has avoided the wrecking ball and will retain its storefront profile, thanks to action taken by Garrettsville Village Council and Mayor Craig Moser.

“We are moving ahead with needed repairs on the Irwin Hardware Building,” Moser reports. “Council authorized the mayor and clerk to do so at the October 21 meeting.”
Work has already begun on the two repair projects that will shore up the sagging Irwin Hardware Building and retain the four businesses that depend on its structural integrity. The building at 8143 Main Street is privately owned by Michelle R. Ward Clayton, but has stood vacant for years and is under foreclosure.
Two adjacent buildings containing the businesses of Shiffer’s Clock Repair & Sales, Miller’s Lawn and Garden, Hearth & Home Fireplace Shoppe, and podiatrist Dr. Michael Maschek are structurally integrated with the Irwin building. These business owners would have been forced to relocate if the Irwin Building was to be demolished. They threatened to leave Garrettsville altogether if council chose to demolish rather than repair the structure. After much deliberation, council decided to accept the lowest bids for two repair projects from two different contractors.
Commercial Roofing Systems had the low bid of $20,500 for reframing and reroofing the two-story addition in the northeast rear corner of the building, where the roof  has collapsed. These repairs began November 1.
Paxson Builders submitted the low bid of $12,800 for repairing and resealing the main roof of the building and repairing the bowed-out front beam facing Main Street. This repair project should also start soon.
When completed, the repairs are expected to substantially improve the weather resistance of the building. “Most important, the needed repairs will move us away from considering the total demolition of the three interrelated properties,” Moser says.
Upon completion of the repairs, the village will place the incurred costs on the tax duplicate ($33,000 in unpaid back taxes), plus a number of liens and a past-due water bill to set a purchase price for sheriff’s sale. So, should the building be sold, the village would be reimbursed for its expenses. The village may also exercise its right to eventually sue Clayton for damages, according to Council President Rick Patrick.
Should no buyer come forward with an adequate offer, council has been approached by private developer Mike Maschek, who is committed to repairing, renovating and improving the Irwin Hardware Building to restore it into a useable space… “if and when he can gain ownership of the building for a nominal sum,” Moser says. “The village will move through the legal process toward this end. Mr. Maschek has a nice vision for this renovation.”
Maschek’s vision includes a one-year timeline from time of purchase to restore the original look of the front face of the historic building. Maschek would place two rows of five shuttered windows across the second and third floor levels, install new siding, replace the old metal awning over Miller’s Lawn & Garden with one that matches the canvas awnings over the clock shop and podiatrist’s office, re-open the front entrance over a central stairway that leads to an old ticket booth on the second floor, accentuate the ticket booth with stonework, create at least two new office/retail spaces for rent, and place moulding across the front  exterior to restore the Western Reserve architectural style to the building.

Garrettsville - Garrettsville Village Council wrestled with the pros and cons of either demolishing or repairing the Irwin Hardware Building, with several members initially hesitant to allocate public monies for a privately-owned building. Despite the controversy, detractors had to agree that the privately-owned building has become a very public hazard, due to its deterioration in the heart of the business district.
Village Council had no choice but to act before winter weather set in and caused even more structural damage. “It’s in the whole town’s best interest,” says Council President Rick Patrick. “This is a good plan. Even if we had decided to tear down the building, it would have cost the village at least $100,000 — then what? Just leave a gaping hole on historic Main Street? If this building came down, the whole block would go down with it.”
Speaking of historic Main Street, council members and contractors rediscovered an old stage still standing upstairs in the Irwin Building. Talk began about perhaps restoring it later in order to bring live theatre and musical performances back to the historic Buckeye Hall, as it was originally called.
Discussions about the stage undoubtedly evoked fading memories of the Old Opera House, built in 1889. For 75 years, Garrettsville’s Opera House was a village showpiece. The three-storied building–with its imposing bell tower–was considered the village’s cultural center for generations, hosting dances, plays, graduations, movie shows, lectures and holiday parties. It housed village hall, an auditorium, the fire station, police headquarters and council chambers.
After 69 years, structural weaknesses were discovered by state building inspectors and the future of the Opera House began to be questioned. Estimates for correcting its faults kept increasing and the huge building became a drain on the village treasury when rental fees from the auditorium stopped. The famous old landmark fell to the wrecking ball in 1964. Only the clock was saved in a new clock tower built 14 years later on the same site at the corner of High and Maple Streets, now surrounded by parking lots.
In addition to this sad history, council members recalled that Mantua’s old hardware store burned down about 20 years ago, and even now Mantua’s Main Street has an empty lot where that storefront once stood, despite the village’s efforts to attract new business there.
Village Council did not want to bring the same fate to Garrettsville, so, according to Patrick, “We did what we had to do, before it’s too late.”

Windham – Windham Village Council met for their regularly scheduled meeting with all council members and the fiscal officer in attendance. The council approved the fiscal officer’s expenditures, and the September bank reconciliation. Items on the agenda were: the purchase of new cruisers, revisions to income tax filing requirements, mineral rights lease, water and sewer agreement with Portage County and questions from the public.
The board authorized $55,000 to purchase two new police cruisers from Ford Motor Company. The agreement will be a three-year lease to purchase.
An ordinance to revise and amend section 181.07b of the Village of Windham income tax code and filing was defeated. This would have required village residents to provide their 1040 federal when filing their village income taxes.  Some council members stated that they objected to this because of privacy issues. They felt that the social security numbers of their children and other items on the 1040 form other than income was none of the village’s business. After a discussion was held on redacting private information the council decided they would review the ordinance during their committee meeting next month and revisions will be made before being brought to a vote again.
Council then approved a gas and oil lease with Kenyon Energy, LLC for the rights to explore oil and gas on village property. Part of the contract would require that the energy company do a water study before or after they start drilling to ensure the water quality remains as it was prior to the drilling. The energy company will pay $550 per acre for the exploration of minerals. The village owns approximately 100 acres that would be involved in this lease.
The board approved a resolution authorizing an agreement with Portage County, Ohio for water and sanitary sewer discharge. This agreement is part of the contract the village has with the arsenal. The contract is to sell water and sanitation services at the current rates residents pay. The tap-in fees for the arsenal are expected to generate approximately $250,000 for the village.
Residents  asked questions about when they would name a new chief, inquiry on the ballot, and the library building. The mayor stated that the new chief should be announced in the next week or so. A resident and a council member questioned the ballot inquiry about moving the council offices to Renaissance Family Center (RFC) when the center is owned by the church. How can we enter into a lease with RFC when they do not own the building was asked? The mayor stated that the item on the ballot was an inquiry and if RFC doesn’t own the building then they would not be entering into a lease with them. (Council objects to entering into any lease agreement with a religious organization such as a church. Currently the church is the registered owner of the facility.) He said they were just trying to see what the public’s preference was prior to making a decision on the issue. Several residents and a council member thought the item on the ballot was deceptive, especially when they do not know who has the authority to enter into a lease agreement.
A resident asked what was going on with the library. The mayor responded by saying that after council toured the facility they have determined that a new facility would be needed. The council agreed to subsidize the cost for a new facility providing it was located within the village limits; however the library board would have to search for an acceptable facility. (Public libraries in communities rely on either community subsidy or the community providing a proper facility for the library) Other questions to council were: What happens to the current building if village offices and council chambers move to another facility?  Does the village have a reserve set aside for emergencies? The response to the building move was that they will either rent it or demolish it. The resident stated that if it is good enough to rent why don’t they just stay there? The mayor stated that it would be a short term rental and ultimately the building would need to be demolished in the near future. The mayor responded to the question about reserves and stated that the village has a 10% carry over to pay for emergencies.
The village council meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 7 pm in council chambers.

Garrettsville – The November 3rd Garrettsville Area Chamber Meeting was held at the Nelson United Methodist Church. Thank you to Pastor Rick for hosting the meeting and a big thanks to Pam and Norma for the tasty breakfast.
Ruth Simera gave the treasurer’s report and was happy to announce that there is over $2000 in the flower basket fund for next year. The recently held Masquerade Ball brought in approximately $2,200 for the scholarship fund.
Roger Angel invited everyone with children and grandchildren to come to Story Hour on Tuesday nights at the Dairy Queen. Children are welcome to wear their jammies, bring a blanket and settle down in front of the fire with a free cup of hot chocolate.
Hallie Higgins mentioned the need for donations for the People Tree again this year. The retired Telephone Pioneers, that have provided toys in the past, are no longer able to donate toys for walk-in families and to fill in the gaps. Lists will be available shortly if you would like to participate in the Adopt-a-Family program. This year the maximum age for children on the list is sixteen. Volunteers are needed for bell ringing, moving day, distribution, and clean up day. If you are able to volunteer time or would like to donate, please contact Hallie.
Jackie Reinearson spoke about the upcoming Holiday Social that is scheduled for December 4th. Admission to the social is a donation of a new toy that will be donated to the People Tree. New this year is a Letter from Santa. The cost of this letter is $8 and letters will be mailed to children with an ornament from Santa. Curtains Up Theater has been working hard on this year’s play, Miracle on 34th Street, which will be presented at the Intermediate School. The live greenery sale will also begin soon to help you get ready for the holidays.
Tommie Jo Marsilio and Kathleen Clyde were recognized for winning at the polls on November 2nd. Tommie Jo will be taking office as a Portage County Commissioner in January, while Kathleen will be taking office as State Representative. Both of these hometown girls fought a hard battle and captured a deserved  win. Congratulations!
At  the Chamber Board meeting in October, a letter that was sent anonymously was discussed. The Board members decided that it was best to share the overall meaning of the letter to the Chamber members. The writer conveyed that he/she feels that only certain people say what is or is not happening for Chamber events. He/she feels that any new idea not in line with thoughts of those people are shot down rather than discussed and built upon. It is this persons thought that Chamber will remain as it is without any new ideas that could bring about good things for the community as a whole.
Many of the members suggested that the person who wrote the letter step up and get involved more or even take over and chair one of the committees. However it was brought to everyone’s attention by a Board member that this letter described the desire to feel involved and have his/her thoughts heard, not take over a position but simply to be an equal part of the group.
The Board wishes to convey to the person who wrote the letter, and any others who feel the same way, that they realize that perhaps after being involved in Chamber for many years and trying things, they are quick to say what won’t work. It is not the intention of the Board to alienate people and they encourage new ideas. The Board members expressed their apologies and asked that anyone who had an idea please bring it to the meeting or call one of the Board members if you are not comfortable speaking in a group setting.
The letter brought about an introspective look into the Chamber and is a positive step in changes for the betterment of the group and community. A listing of all committees and positions will be included in the next newsletter. All members are encouraged to select committees that they wish to be a part of and also write down any ideas that they may have for Chamber to help better the community.
If you would like to join the Garrettsville Area Chamber, you don’t have to be a business owner, simply a community member who has an interest in the betterment of the community. For more information on becoming a member, contact Gretchen at (330) 527-2121.

Garrettsville – Where? Garrettsville. You know, north of Ravenna, tucked up in the corner of Portage County. And for the many who didn’t know we existed, or barely gave us a passing notice, we are definitely on the map now, thanks to the election last week.
James A. Garfield graduates, Tommie Jo Marsilio and Kathleen Clyde, are hometown girls with hometown values. Each girl threw her hat into the race for a chance to bring about a change in government by looking at it from a whole new perspective.
Congratulations to Kathleen Clyde, State Representative of Ohio’s 68th District. Kathleen is looking forward to fighting for our values, jobs, kids and seniors in the Statehouse. She will focus on economic development in our area and work to strengthen our education system. Kathleen thanks everyone for their support during her campaign and looks forward to their continued support during her term in office. She is ready to listen to her constituents whose tremendous knowledge and experience will be her most important asset in Columbus to help her make a difference in these difficult times.
Congratulations to Tommie Jo Marsilio, Portage County Commissioner in winning her seat in a heated debate, breaking through the long-time Democratic control of Portage County. She is looking forward to working hard for the residents of Portage County and making sure that accountability is brought to government. Tommie Jo thanks all who have supported her in her campaign and who continue to support her as she is preparing herself to take office in January. She would like everyone to know that she is still the same person she was before she won the election – a hometown girl who works and pays taxes just like the rest of us. She welcomes the opportunity to speak with any resident about concerns they might have and promises to work toward making government serve and protect its citizens. Tommie Jo is looking forward to being your voice in the Portage County Commissioners office.
Tommie Jo would like to invite those who supported her, volunteered during her campaign, or who would like to join in the celebration of a win for the people of Portage County, to a party on Monday, November 15th at the Brimfield Comfort Inn at 6:30pm. If you would like to contact Tommie Jo you may email her at TommieJo@neo.rr.com.

Garrettsville – Where? Garrettsville. You know, north of Ravenna, tucked up in the corner of Portage County. And for the many who didn’t know we existed, or barely gave us a passing notice, we are definitely on the map now, thanks to the election last week.James A. Garfield graduates, Tommie Jo Marsilio and Kathleen Clyde, are hometown girls with hometown values. Each girl threw her hat into the race for a chance to bring about a change in government by looking at it from a whole new perspective. Congratulations to Kathleen Clyde, State Representative of Ohio’s 68th District. Kathleen is looking forward to fighting for our values, jobs, kids and seniors in the Statehouse. She will focus on economic development in our area and work to strengthen our education system. Kathleen thanks everyone for their support during her campaign and looks forward to their continued support during her term in office. She is ready to listen to her constituents whose tremendous knowledge and experience will be her most important asset in Columbus to help her make a difference in these difficult times.Congratulations to Tommie Jo Marsilio, Portage County Commissioner in winning her seat in a heated debate, breaking through the long-time Democratic control of Portage County. She is looking forward to working hard for the residents of Portage County and making sure that accountability is brought to government. Tommie Jo thanks all who have supported her in her campaign and who continue to support her as she is preparing herself to take office in January. She would like everyone to know that she is still the same person she was before she won the election – a hometown girl who works and pays taxes just like the rest of us. She welcomes the opportunity to speak with any resident about concerns they might have and promises to work toward making government serve and protect its citizens. Tommie Jo is looking forward to being your voice in the Portage County Commissioners office.Tommie Jo would like to invite those who supported her, volunteered during her campaign, or who would like to join in the celebration of a win for the people of Portage County, to a party on Monday, November 15th at the Brimfield Comfort Inn at 6:30pm. If you would like to contact Tommie Jo you may email her at TommieJo@neo.rr.com.

Newton Falls – This election season residents of Newton Falls visited the polls, not once, but twice.
In addition to the usual opportunity to vote for various state officials and cast a yea or nay toward potential levies, a special election was held on Thursday regarding what could arguably be the recognized figurehead of the town: the mayoral seat. The occasion was unusual because voters had two questions to answer: first, whether or not the current mayor, Mr. Pat Layshock, should remain in the position or if he should be removed from office, vacating the seat earlier than the expected end of his term. The second question offered a choice among three candidates vying to be Mayor Layshock’s successor should he, in fact, be recalled.
For months the council meetings in Newton Falls have been tense, with council voting consistently split; a 3-2 vote is common on most issues. Members of the public who wish to stand and speak at the forum often feel they are not being heard and their concerns are not being taken seriously. Many residents blame this discord on what they call Mr. Layshock’s ineffective management and personal issues amongst the various city officials affecting the productivity of the meetings.
The public had their say last week at the polls.
Mr. Layshock was indeed recalled.
With a tally of 526 to 500, the ballot results were split nearly down the middle, but the count weighs against the current mayor. Taking his place will be Lyle Waddell, a vocal resident of Newton Falls with city experience who intends to bring professionalism back to the council meetings. Referring to the gatherings as business meetings – in other words not the appropriate time and place to carry out personal agendas – Mr. Waddell hopes that under his leadership potential grievances will be guided through the proper channels. Mr. Waddell will take office as the new mayor after the Board of Election verifies submitted provisional ballots and the final vote becomes official. However, even if all 17 reported provisional ballots happened to be in Mr. Layshock’s favor, it would not be enough to alter the already counted outcome.
Open to the public, council meetings are currently held at the Community Center on Quarry Street, the first and third Monday of each month at 6pm, or can (usually) be viewed on the public access channel for those who wish to watch from the comfort of their homes. Only time will tell if Newton Falls can expect new episodes in the fall line-up, or if citizens will simply be watching reruns of the same old storyline unfolding with a new leading man at the helm.

Newton Falls – This election season residents of Newton Falls visited the polls, not once, but twice. In addition to the usual opportunity to vote for various state officials and cast a yea or nay toward potential levies, a special election was held on Thursday regarding what could arguably be the recognized figurehead of the town: the mayoral seat. The occasion was unusual because voters had two questions to answer: first, whether or not the current mayor, Mr. Pat Layshock, should remain in the position or if he should be removed from office, vacating the seat earlier than the expected end of his term. The second question offered a choice among three candidates vying to be Mayor Layshock’s successor should he, in fact, be recalled.For months the council meetings in Newton Falls have been tense, with council voting consistently split; a 3-2 vote is common on most issues. Members of the public who wish to stand and speak at the forum often feel they are not being heard and their concerns are not being taken seriously. Many residents blame this discord on what they call Mr. Layshock’s ineffective management and personal issues amongst the various city officials affecting the productivity of the meetings. The public had their say last week at the polls.Mr. Layshock was indeed recalled.With a tally of 526 to 500, the ballot results were split nearly down the middle, but the count weighs against the current mayor. Taking his place will be Lyle Waddell, a vocal resident of Newton Falls with city experience who intends to bring professionalism back to the council meetings. Referring to the gatherings as business meetings – in other words not the appropriate time and place to carry out personal agendas – Mr. Waddell hopes that under his leadership potential grievances will be guided through the proper channels. Mr. Waddell will take office as the new mayor after the Board of Election verifies submitted provisional ballots and the final vote becomes official. However, even if all 17 reported provisional ballots happened to be in Mr. Layshock’s favor, it would not be enough to alter the already counted outcome.Open to the public, council meetings are currently held at the Community Center on Quarry Street, the first and third Monday of each month at 6pm, or can (usually) be viewed on the public access channel for those who wish to watch from the comfort of their homes. Only time will tell if Newton Falls can expect new episodes in the fall line-up, or if citizens will simply be watching reruns of the same old storyline unfolding with a new leading man at the helm.

Freedom Township – A large portion of the November 4 Trustee Meeting was a presentation by Mr. Ratiff of Western Reserve Farm Co-Op regarding changes being made in diesel oil used for equipment requiring its use. These changes include cleaning out or replacing storage tanks as well as potential price increases for the fuel.
A group of residents attended the meeting asking for information on drilling in the area. One resident said they received a card in the mail, but had no other information. Trustee Zizka, who has attended two different meetings on the subject, relayed all the information he was aware of.
Zoning Inspector Derthick reported issuing two permits as well as updates on progress made on remedying some problems. Computer problems were discussed.
Mr. Hammar reported $105,100 has been approved for work on Stamm Road to be performed in June 2011.
Mr. VanSteenberg reported receiving 70 tons of grit and would like to order more to equal 150 ton. He also said the new leaf bagger was received and works well. Mr. Martin said with the new bagger the work was done in one day as opposed to three days with the old bagger. Mr. VanSteenberg also spoke about the section on Hankee Road where the ditch is located right next to the paved road. Trustees approved his suggestion for 140 ft. of 12” plastic pipe with the accessories needed to connect same. Also it was decided to install delineators at the edge of the pavement.
Mr. Hammar said the furnace in the Town Hall has been hooked up for gas usage.
Trustees approved reimbursement for travel expenses to those who attend the Ohio Township Association meeting in 2011.
Trustees tabled further discussion on both the diesel fuel change and potential changes in replacement windows to be installed at the Town Hall and the rental and church properties.

Freedom Township – A large portion of the November 4 Trustee Meeting was a presentation by Mr. Ratiff of Western Reserve Farm Co-Op regarding changes being made in diesel oil used for equipment requiring its use. These changes include cleaning out or replacing storage tanks as well as potential price increases for the fuel.A group of residents attended the meeting asking for information on drilling in the area. One resident said they received a card in the mail, but had no other information. Trustee Zizka, who has attended two different meetings on the subject, relayed all the information he was aware of.Zoning Inspector Derthick reported issuing two permits as well as updates on progress made on remedying some problems. Computer problems were discussed.Mr. Hammar reported $105,100 has been approved for work on Stamm Road to be performed in June 2011.Mr. VanSteenberg reported receiving 70 tons of grit and would like to order more to equal 150 ton. He also said the new leaf bagger was received and works well. Mr. Martin said with the new bagger the work was done in one day as opposed to three days with the old bagger. Mr. VanSteenberg also spoke about the section on Hankee Road where the ditch is located right next to the paved road. Trustees approved his suggestion for 140 ft. of 12” plastic pipe with the accessories needed to connect same. Also it was decided to install delineators at the edge of the pavement.Mr. Hammar said the furnace in the Town Hall has been hooked up for gas usage.Trustees approved reimbursement for travel expenses to those who attend the Ohio Township Association meeting in 2011.Trustees tabled further discussion on both the diesel fuel change and potential changes in replacement windows to be installed at the Town Hall and the rental and church properties.

Hiram – The Eastern European Ensemble, Turli Tava, will perform at Hiram College on Thursday, November 18 from 12:00-1:00 p.m.  The location is Frohring Music Hall, 11746 Dean Street.  The free concert is part of the College’s convocation series.
Turli Tava plays energetic and creative music strongly rooted in Macedonian and Bulgarian dance traditions.  It takes its name from a spicy gumbo of the Balkan regions, a mix of flavors that reflects the cultural blend of Turli Tava’s repertoire.  The musicians in the group have been playing for Eastern European communities in North America and Europe for decades.
Leader of the group is Walt “Vlado” Mahovlich (clarinet/saxophone/gajda), an accomplished multi-instrumentalist from the Cleveland Balkan community.  Walt  also leads the well known folk group Harmonia.   Other members are Sasho Dukovski (accordion/keyboard/vocals) and virtuoso percussionist Rumen “Sali” Shopov.
The public is cordially invited.  For further information call Dr. Tina Dreisbach, Hiram College Music Department, 330-569-5303 or email dreisbachts@hiram.edu.

Hiram – The Eastern European Ensemble, Turli Tava, will perform at Hiram College on Thursday, November 18 from 12:00-1:00 p.m.  The location is Frohring Music Hall, 11746 Dean Street.  The free concert is part of the College’s convocation series.Turli Tava plays energetic and creative music strongly rooted in Macedonian and Bulgarian dance traditions.  It takes its name from a spicy gumbo of the Balkan regions, a mix of flavors that reflects the cultural blend of Turli Tava’s repertoire.  The musicians in the group have been playing for Eastern European communities in North America and Europe for decades.Leader of the group is Walt “Vlado” Mahovlich (clarinet/saxophone/gajda), an accomplished multi-instrumentalist from the Cleveland Balkan community.  Walt  also leads the well known folk group Harmonia.   Other members are Sasho Dukovski (accordion/keyboard/vocals) and virtuoso percussionist Rumen “Sali” Shopov. The public is cordially invited.  For further information call Dr. Tina Dreisbach, Hiram College Music Department, 330-569-5303 or email dreisbachts@hiram.edu.

Area residents who have lost someone to suicide will gather Nov. 20 to find support and to honor their loved ones at the 12th Annual National Survivors of Suicide Day sponsored by the Portage County Suicide Prevention Coalition.
“What we know is that every 16 minutes someone in the United States dies by suicide and every 17 minutes someone is left to understand the loss. There have been more than 20 suicides this year in Portage County which, sadly, is close to a new record. Our mission is to continue to educate our community about the causes and to provide support,” said Paul Dages, coalition coordinator and emergency services coordinator at Townhall II.
The free event runs from 12:45 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Sue Hetrick Building of Coleman Professional Services, 3922 Lovers Lane, Ravenna. Other sponsors are Coleman Access, located in the Hetrick Building, and the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County.
Coleman Access will be one of 260 simultaneous conferences for survivors of suicide loss taking place throughout the U.S. and around the world. At each site participants will watch a special 90-minute broadcast by the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. AFSP is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy and to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide.
In the U.S., conference locations will show the broadcast from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. At the Portage County site, the group will follow up with a discussion about the broadcast. The discussion will be led by psychologist Dr. Joel Mowrey, associate director of the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County; Becky Dempster, chief officer of Coleman Access and a suicide survivor; and survivor and advocate Iris Angle of Aurora.
“We have a very low key approach. Survivors can share what they are able or just listen. For some it is the first time they are able to tap into a support system of others who have experienced the same devastating loss,” said Mowrey.
Walk-ins are welcome but pre-registering is recommended. To sign up, call Mowrey at 330-673-1756, ext. 203, or email him at joelm@mental-health-recovery.org.
Persons who cannot attend the Ravenna event that day can watch the free live webcast from 1-2:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time and participate in a live online chat immediately following. The site address is www.afsp.org. Registration is required from your home computer. The webcast will be saved on the AFSP site so that survivors can watch it again throughout the year at anytime. Past webcasts are also available for viewing.
The Portage County Suicide Prevention Coalition was established in 2005 by local human services agencies to provide education about preventing suicide, eliminating the stigma surrounding suicide and supporting survivors, those persons who have someone close to them who completes suicide. Any interested person is welcome to join the coalition which meets at 3 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month at the MHRB, 155 E. Main St., Kent. Call Dages at 330-678-3006 for more information.
Go to the MRHB Web site at www.mental-health-recovery.org to find information on local resources for persons seeking help to prevent a suicide.

Area residents who have lost someone to suicide will gather Nov. 20 to find support and to honor their loved ones at the 12th Annual National Survivors of Suicide Day sponsored by the Portage County Suicide Prevention Coalition.“What we know is that every 16 minutes someone in the United States dies by suicide and every 17 minutes someone is left to understand the loss. There have been more than 20 suicides this year in Portage County which, sadly, is close to a new record. Our mission is to continue to educate our community about the causes and to provide support,” said Paul Dages, coalition coordinator and emergency services coordinator at Townhall II.The free event runs from 12:45 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Sue Hetrick Building of Coleman Professional Services, 3922 Lovers Lane, Ravenna. Other sponsors are Coleman Access, located in the Hetrick Building, and the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County.Coleman Access will be one of 260 simultaneous conferences for survivors of suicide loss taking place throughout the U.S. and around the world. At each site participants will watch a special 90-minute broadcast by the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. AFSP is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy and to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide.In the U.S., conference locations will show the broadcast from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. At the Portage County site, the group will follow up with a discussion about the broadcast. The discussion will be led by psychologist Dr. Joel Mowrey, associate director of the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County; Becky Dempster, chief officer of Coleman Access and a suicide survivor; and survivor and advocate Iris Angle of Aurora.“We have a very low key approach. Survivors can share what they are able or just listen. For some it is the first time they are able to tap into a support system of others who have experienced the same devastating loss,” said Mowrey.Walk-ins are welcome but pre-registering is recommended. To sign up, call Mowrey at 330-673-1756, ext. 203, or email him at joelm@mental-health-recovery.org.Persons who cannot attend the Ravenna event that day can watch the free live webcast from 1-2:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time and participate in a live online chat immediately following. The site address is www.afsp.org. Registration is required from your home computer. The webcast will be saved on the AFSP site so that survivors can watch it again throughout the year at anytime. Past webcasts are also available for viewing.The Portage County Suicide Prevention Coalition was established in 2005 by local human services agencies to provide education about preventing suicide, eliminating the stigma surrounding suicide and supporting survivors, those persons who have someone close to them who completes suicide. Any interested person is welcome to join the coalition which meets at 3 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month at the MHRB, 155 E. Main St., Kent. Call Dages at 330-678-3006 for more information.Go to the MRHB Web site at www.mental-health-recovery.org to find information on local resources for persons seeking help to prevent a suicide.

Newton Falls – June is widely known as the typically popular month for wedding bliss, but November turned out to be the special time for one lucky local bride and her adoring groom.
Last fall, Rob Lee, the owner of Roby Lee’s Restaurant and Banquet Center in Newton Falls, announced that he and his staff were offering an opportunity to area brides who might not be able to have the wedding of their dreams. A strong believer in the fact that “every bride deserves her special day, regardless of her circumstances,” Rob invited those interested to write a letter explaining what having a complimentary reception would mean to her. Though Rob received many entries that were very worthy of the gift, he was especially touched by the hardships described in a letter from Katie Kiser, a bride-to-be from Windham. Discounted packages were awarded to runners-up. Rob’s decision was announced at the annual bridal show last November.
This November, Katie and her fiancé, Christopher Royer, were married at the United Congregational Church of Christ in Windham before celebrating their union with friends and family in the beautifully-bedecked banquet hall at Roby Lee’s.
Katie says she always wanted to have her reception at Roby Lee’s, but the wish had been put on hold. Family members from both sides of the bridal party saw the call for essays in The Villager and immediately alerted Katie and Chris, suggesting that they apply. When Katie learned her letter had been chosen, she was grateful and understandably ecstatic. “We had considered staying engaged and postponing the wedding until next year to save up,” she said, “but when this came through for us, it made everything possible.”
For the ceremony, the bride wore a lovely strapless gown and was attended by bridesmaids in chocolate brown. After the newlyweds had their first dance as husband and wife, the best man, Kevin Roark, and matron of honor, Kim Kiser, offered words of encouragement for Katie and Chris’s new life together. The new Mr. and Mrs. Royer are planning a honeymoon sometime next spring. The rest, as they say, is history. (And, well, herstory, too.)
The Villager and Roby Lee’s helped this couple’s wedding dreams come true, and it could happen for you, too. Rob is extending the offer again this year and invites brides to submit a letter to be considered for a reception held in 2011. “In appreciation of all our past brides,” the donated package, valued at $4,000.00, includes appetizers, dinner, and dancing facilities with linens, centerpieces, and decorations, for approximately 200 guests and will be scheduled on a Friday or Saturday, dependent on hall availability and with consideration of the couple’s plans. This year’s winner will be announced at the 14th Annual Bridal and Catering Show on January 16th, 2011. To apply, pick up a copy of the official contest rules at Roby Lee’s Restaurant in Newton Falls, then submit your story by December 20th. The bride must also register in person the day of the January Show, held at the restaurant, and be present to win. (No phone calls, please.)

Optimist Club PumpkinNewton Falls – Last Saturday members of the Optimist Club of Newton Falls held their annual Pumpkin Painting Party, welcoming the area’s youngest residents to the Community Center for a day of painting pumpkins just in time to get into the spirit of Halloween. Each pint-sized guest was given a miniature wooden pumpkin to decorate using any number of art materials, perfect to hang in a window or perk up an otherwise dull refrigerator front. Instant photos were available if kids wanted to pose with their creations or become a temporary pumpkin themselves.

The Club’s mission includes continuing to be a “friend of youth,” a goal members achieve by hosting events throughout the year such as the summer Family Fun Day and gift basket raffles at various NF festivities. Proceeds from the raffles and donations go directly for the children, covering expenses of the upcoming activities and occasionally even modest scholarships as funds are available. The late October day provided lunch, crafts, and an afternoon of optimistic fun, all free for kids under 12. Officer Bailey of the NFPD was on hand as well, supplying Kid Passports for Safety, a pocket-sized booklet for parents to fill out with vital information about their children. Should the children ever become missing, the Passport would contain necessary identifying facts, health information, and even a lock of hair for DNA purposes, all items that can help the local police department in the search to locate a child.

Founded in 2001, the Optimist Club will soon celebrate a whole decade of promoting positivity, and invites kids, especially, to join in optimism!

The next party sponsored by the Club will be a Breakfast with the Bunny held the week before Easter. Organizers plan to schedule it to correspond with the Easter Egg Hunt, so look forward to this event come Spring.

Garrettsville – Kids growing up in this small town have limited entertainment options. There’s the movie theatre, the indoor sports complex, the bowling alley, a couple fast food joints, a park or two… and the Roller Hutt. Since 1990, Craig and Linda Dlugokecki have provided a safe and happy place for youngsters to hang out and have some fun. Twenty years later, they’re still rolling!

It all began shortly after the Dlugokeckis and their sons moved to Garrettsville. Craig had been managing a roller skating rink in Chagrin Falls, so he had his eye on Garrettsville’s rink, the Rainbow Arena, located at the corner of Hewins Road and State Route 88. He became the third owner of the skating rink on Father’s Day, 1990. After a three-month overhaul of the 1948-era building, the Dlugokeckis opened the Roller Hutt — and with it — a new era of roller skating in Garrettsville.

Twenty years ago, sons Jason and Justin were just 12 and 8, and their favorite pastime was speed skating. By 1992-93, Roller Hutt was the state champ in speed skating with a team of 28 local youth. Jason was individual state champ for five years.

Even now, both Jason and Justin (and their wives) are integral players in the family business. Justin built and maintains the Roller Hutt website. The boys built the Fortress of Fear haunted house 11 years ago inside Roller Hutt and operated it there for four years. Now, Jason and Dawn Dlugokecki operate the Fortress of Fear Scream¬park (including Fearanoia) adjacent to the Roller Hutt. This Halloween haunt was recently rated 48.6 out of 50 at http://HauntWorld.com.

Jason is also bringing speed skating back to Roller Hutt for children aged 5 and older. Practice for the Garrettsville Riders Speed Team will be two times a week for two-hour sessions.

Along with the speed skating, Roller Hutt offers a perfect place for kids to hang out on a Friday night, to rent skates and equipment, to play laser tag, to have a birthday party, to have a fundraiser, or to take lessons. And the Roller Hutt Pro Shop has all the skates and accessories a serious skater needs.

Even in this economic climate, Roller Hutt offers plenty of affordable options, including $1 Wednesday Nights, Saturday evening Cheap Skates, and Sunday Family Matinees, where parents get free admission with a paying child. The Dlugokeckis haven’t raised their rates in nearly eight years, so skaters get a bargain every day.

Roller Hutt is open Wednesdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Fridays 7:30 to 10:30 p.m., and Saturdays offer beginner skating from 10:30 a.m. to noon, then regular all-skates from 1:30 to 4:30 and 7:30 to 10 p.m. Sunday skating is from 2 to 5 p.m. Laser tag runs Wednesdays 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Saturdays 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., and Sundays from 2 to 5 p.m.

Roller Hutt recently introduced Tikki Treats Snack Shack, featuring Hershey’s Hand Dipped Ice Cream in flavors of butter pecan, strawberry and chocolate. Throughout the year, Tikki Treats will serve cones, floats, sundaes, smoothies, slushies, soft pretzels, popcorn, chili dogs, popcorn, French, fries, pizza and other festival food whenever Roller Hutt is open.

10268 Hewins Road has been the address for fun on wheels in Garrettsville for generations. Always adapting to the times to stay relevant to the 16-and-younger crowd, the Roller Hutt continually rolls out new programming. Check it out at www.rollerhutt.com or call 330-527-4633.

Two years ago Windham football season started with the usual elements, players, coaches, cheerleaders and fans but  one important element was missing on the field. The band.

Two years ago Windham football season started with the usual elements, players, coaches, cheerleaders and fans but one important element was missing on the field. The band.

Windham – Two years ago Windham football season started with the usual elements, players, coaches, cheerleaders and fans but   one important element was missing on the field. The band. The band helps lead cheers and adds to the spirit of the game, but they were absent on that opening day two years ago. They were absent all season except for a brief appearance of a seven-member pep band for homecoming that year. Well, that was then and this is now. This season the band has 26 members, including majorettes and a flag line, and now performs at all football games, home and away. Although they may be small in numbers as far as marching bands go, they are mighty in sound. When I first heard them a few weeks ago I thought they were bigger than 26. They had a rich sound that made one think they were larger than they really are.

What was the change? Everyone says the band director played a big role in the growth and rejuvenation of the marching band. In 2008 Becky Kresen came aboard as the band director bringing with her a fresh vision for the school’s instrumental music department. When Kresen came to the district, she told the board it would take maybe five years to rebuild the band program and probably three years before they would be able to put a marching band on the football field. Well here we are two years into the rebuilding program and she already has developed a quality marching band and so much more.

In the elementary school she started recorders for the fourth graders and then added xylophones for the third graders. She also has plans to add boom whackers to the program for 2nd graders. Kresen explained that when the kids are exposed to musical instruments prior to taking up instrumental instruction  they have less difficulty with the instrument because they already have the concept of reading music under their belts and all they have to do is learn the mechanics of the instrument.

Kresen has impressed the Board of Education so much that they approved the purchase of new uniforms last year. The school board and the music boosters jointly purchased 30 or so uniforms with the plans to have 60 uniforms purchased by the end of three years. When all the uniforms needed are purchased, they will continue to buy a few each year to replace the older ones as they wear out. The uniforms they purchased were $432 each with a reversible/removable breastplate. The band uses the breastplate for marching band and removes it for concert band.

The band that started off as a seven member pep band two years ago has grown beyond just marching at football games. This year they have marched at the Ravenna Balloon- a-Fair, their homecoming parade, Memorial Day Parade, and performed at two band showcase nights at Mogadore and LaBrae Schools. Along with the marching performances, this year they have plans to enter their first solo’s ensemble contest. As they continue to grow and develop, expect to see more of them at area competitions.