It was “business as usual” for the Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary Club on April  13 as the group caught up on community activities and projects under way.

These included mention of the semi-annual Trash Pick-up on St. Rte 82 between Garrettsville and Hiram villages.  What a surprise, right?  InterAct Club members from Garfield High School and Boy Scouts from local troops will be pitching in and the finale may well be at the Garrettsville McDonald’s.  The headwaters Trail Project is still in the works and moving along.  Recruiting is under way to find students from Garfield and/or Windham High schools to participate in the annual Rotary Youth Leadership Award camp coming up in June.  This is a fine opportunity for students who will be seniors next year to build skills, focus aspirations and have a good experience in the process.  The G-H club is trying out ClubRunner to co-ordinate its operations and brighten an online presence.  Everyone is urged to check it out.  Possibility of a fund-raiser during the Community Yard Sale was discussed.

Carol Donley reported on the proceedings of the Four-Way Speech Contest recently held at Aurora High School and co-ordinated in fine fashion by the Rotary Club of Aurora.  There were over 30 entrants in the competition, with many speakers with considerable experience.  The audience of friends, family and Rotarians numbered somewhere around one hundred fifty.  Quite a challenge!  A ten to twelve-minute presentation is a daunting proposition at any time and the speakers, including local champion, Megan Ryser, acquitted themselves well.  A committee to further define and focus the rules for the competition in the future will be forming to ensure the high standards which the contest addresses.

The meeting closed with the recitation of those high standards, The 4-Way Test.

G-H Rotary meets on Monday at noon in Cal’s II in Sky Plaza, Garrettsville.  Visitors and prospective members always welcome

Garrettsville - In November of 2014, Justine Egrek (Collier), along with her business,Natural Radiance, L LC, moved into State Street Salon. State Street Salon, located at 7997 State Street in Garrettsville, is owned by stylist Bobbie Habbyshaw. Habbyshaw,who has been at her State Street location for 17 years, gladly welcomed Natural Radiance, exclaiming, “Justine is the professional I have been looking for! She is very skilled and extremely attentive to her clients’needs. Justine has been a complete joy to work with!”

Garrettsville - In November of 2014, Justine Egrek (Collier), along with her business,Natural Radiance, LLC, moved into State Street Salon. State Street Salon, located at 7997 State Street in Garrettsville, is owned by stylist Bobbie Habbyshaw. Habbyshaw, who has been at her State Street location for 17 years, gladly welcomed Natural Radiance, exclaiming, “Justine is the professional I have been looking for! She is very skilled and extremely attentive to her clients’ needs.  Justine has been a complete joy to work with!”

Though new to the Garrettsville area,  Justine has been doing hair since 2006. Her training began at the Ohio Academy PaulMitchell Partner School where she studied the foundations of coloring, cutting, and styling. After completing school and passing her state board exams, Justine entered the salon world as a Managing Cosmetologist. Working extensively with the Goldwell Color System, Justine loves customizing color to complement a specialty haircut. Always eager to learn new techniques and services, Justine has studied and mastered fusion hair extensions, hair pieces, and keratin smoothing treatments. Continuing education has taken her to Chanhassen,MN. for a workshop on thinning hair options, Chicago, IL . for advanced cutting techniques at the Sassoon Academy, and New York City,NY. for certification in Japanese Thermal Straightening. “It is always exciting to learn something new and being educated in a variety of services allows me to properly address the specific needs of each client,”says Justine, “Hopefully, my next adventure in training will take me to France to study the organic skin care line that I am now carrying!”

Strongly believing in the importance of working with natural products, Justine is elated to introduce Phyt’s organic skin care to the state of Ohio. Phyt’s, created in 1972 by biologist and naturopath John Paul Llopart, was the first skin care line to be certified organic with 100% of ingredients being naturally derived. The Phyt’s product line contains a wide array of skin care products as well as a full line of makeup. Justine not only loves the Phyt’s products for how well they work, but also for their consideration of the environment- “It is great to be working with a company that has been a pioneer in the organic skin care industry; from ingredients all the way to manufacturing and packaging. Products that are as good for your skin as they are the environment is a win-win. I look forward to more people discovering how amazing the Phyt’s products are!”

Justine is now offering skin care consultations that include an assessment of your skin, an at-home care regimen, and suggested preventative maintenance.

Whether you are in need of a customized color and cut, skin care and makeup of the highest quality, or even something a little more adventurous, like 22”hair extensions…Justine can take care of you! To schedule an appointment, please call 330-968-8082.

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The 17th Annual Portage County Environmental Conservation Awards Benefit Dinner was held on Saturday, April 11, 2015, and a fine evening it was.

The appetizers were contributions of local gourmet-type friends of the park district, using an array of locally-sourced foods.  The music was provided by the semi-locally-sourced Byrne Brothers, Jay (of Garrettsville) and Greg (imported from the West Coast).  The catering(speedy and good) was by Special Moments, out of Streetsboro.  The environmental awards highlighted everything from Hiram College’s TREE House to the Downtown Mantua Revitalization Corporation to Emerald Environmental of Kent, to Kent’s Haymaker Farmers’ Market, to Lifetime Achiever, Ann Ward, and Virginia Shaw, donator of the most recent and highly significant acquisition of the Portage Parks District, the Shaw Woods. Jay Byrne crafted the black walnut plaques that were presented.

Chris Craycroft, Portage Park District Executive Director, was the speaker for the evening.  She introduced many of the ecological heroes and laborers in the vineyards who have  simply been part of the whole movement to give Portage Countians the access to their own natural wealth.  These included the Foundation board of trustees, the new judge of Portage County Probate Court, the board of commissioners(honoring Gary Cross for 16 years of service), new hires(Craig Alderman, Operations Manager), volunteers (Joe Malmisur, for one) and many others.  She also gave a brief look ahead  at what the money from the levy passed in 2014 will  be doing in the way of park district  programs and projects.  The park district foundation’s logo, the dogwood blossom, was prominent in the signage on the tables and throughout the tables laden with silent auction prizes.  Attendees were offered         wrapped dogwood whips—plantable shoots—upon departing.

It was a benefit dinner in the best sense of the term; all of Portage County has been and will be benefitting from the Portage County Park District.

At their last meeting, village council heard from Mary Greer, spokesperson from the Concerned Citizens organization, on the topic of injection well integrity.  According to Ms. Greer, residents in Portage County should be educated about the rate of breakdown of the cement casings in injection wells, especially since the county is soon to have 26 wells. Those wells are used to store potentially harmful waste products from injection (fracking) wells not only in Ohio, but from surrounding states, as well. The integrity of the casings is of paramount importance, since the cement-lined wells store the waste deep underground, near aquifers used for human consumption. According to Ms. Greer, “No studies on injection well integrity are yet complete, so we won’t realize their failure until there is nothing we can do about it.” She concluded, “We can’t decide if we want more injection wells unless we understand them.”

In other news, Mayor Linda Clark announced that the EPA has approved a recycle plan. She stated, “In the near future, Portage County Solid Waste will be billing Mantua Village residents for collecting their recycling for the period of July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015.” She continued, “As the EPA has put a final plan into place for Portage County, the Village will begin the bidding process for a private provider for Village recycling services.” Once bids have been received, Council will have the opportunity to select the most cost-effective vendor for these services, whether it be Portage County, or a private company. Details will be forthcoming on this matter.

In  legislation, Council voted unanimously to postpone Ordinance 2015-01 indefinitely. This ordinance would have amended the Zoning Map of the Village by changing an area of property on State Route 44 south of the Village from the C-1 Commercial Zoning classification to the R-R Rural Residential classification.

In other Legislation, council approved an ordinance appointing Joe Urso as Interim Police Chief beginning in April. Officer Urso will temporarily fill the position during Police Chief Harry Buchert’s six to eight-week leave of absence for knee surgery and recovery. In similar news, council also approved an ordinance authorizing a chaplain program within the Mantua Village Police Department.

In other news, council discussed the village’s permanent budget for 2015, and announced that a budget workshop would be held prior to the next village council meeting. That meeting is set for Tuesday, April 21st at 6 pm, with the regularly scheduled council meeting to follow at 7 pm.

Moving forward, council discussed Ordinance 2015-14 at length. This ordinance relates to amending the village’s codified ordinances relating to the number of members on the Mantua Historic Landmarks Commission from seven members to five. The new ordinance would also place a residency restriction on members of the Commission, such that only village residents and business owners could be appointed. After much discussion, Council members Giles Seith, Paul Janson, Ben Prescott, and Bill Zoller voiced their opinions that the commission should remain a mix of qualified individuals from both Mantua Village and Township. Mr. Eric Hummel, a current Landmark Commission member, urged Council, saying, “We are in the process of accomplishing a lot of good for the community. Please keep our group in tact, and keep our good work going.”

Eventually, a vote was taken, and the ordinance was voted down by all of council, with the exception Marty Hura.  Since the Commission will remain at seven members, two members, Renee Henry and Carole Pollard, whose appointments had expired, were reinstated to their positions. Both women are Mantua Township residents and will serve three-year terms.

The next regularly-scheduled meeting of the Mantua Village Council will be held on Tuesday, April 21st at 7 pm. Please note that a budget workshop will immediately precede the meeting at 6 pm. As always, residents are encouraged to attend.

Garrettsville - Tuesday, April 7, 2015 Chuck Klamer tendered his resignation effective at 12:01 a.m. on April 8, 2015, the date of Garrettsville’s April village council meeting.  Mayor Rick Patrick asked for an executive session after the regular meeting to inform council members of Klamer’s resignation and to discuss their options for a replacement.  Council had the option of opening the position up for applicants or appointing a replacement for the remainder of Klamer’s term.  The mayor and council discussed whom they should appoint and unanimously decided to offer the position to Garrettsville resident, Sheri Johnson.

Johnson, a newcomer to public office, has roots in Garrettsville going back a couple of generations and has lived here her entire life.   She currently works in administrative support at Charles Chevrolet here in Garrettsville.  Johnson has also been very involved in the schools and the community, holding several voluntary positions over the years including: James A. Garfield Schools Hall of Fame Chairman, J.A.G. Sports Booster Treasurer, J.A.G. PTO President, OGSO Board Member and Secretary & Treasurer for Portage North Softball League.  Sheri admits she was a little leery of the idea of being on council but after talking with both Mayor Patrick and Council President Tom Hardesty, she felt honored to be considered and trusts that the mayor and everyone on council will be supportive as she learns her way.  Johnson will be sworn in at the May village council meeting.

In other business, council passed Ordinance 2015-10 establishing a penalty for not filing an annual village income tax return.  A penalty of $100 will be assessed this year for any qualified resident who fails to file a tax return by the deadline.  Council also passed Ordinance 2015-11, which changes requirements for parking for multi-family dwellings within the village.

Council discussed a letter to council from resident Patricia Mikula.  Mikula asked council to address the problem of the trucks parking overnight and leaving their rigs running.  She stated that it is very disturbing to the residents in the area.  The diesel engines and air conditioning units make a lot of noise during the night.  Village Solicitor Stuck stated that the police department would be notified to enforce the existing noise ordinance and ticket violators.  Council also determined that the area in question is not zoned to allow the truck parking and will notify the property owner.

Next Sarah Durica, Secretary of the newly formed Garrettsville Baseball League, addressed council about the organization and asked for assistance in scheduling time for use of the ball fields.  The new league is community based and currently has four teams that will be playing other sandlot teams around Portage County.  Durica stated that the organization has applied for their 501c3 and they would be willing to list the village on their liability insurance.  Solicitor Stuck told Durica that the village will need a copy of the non profit status paperwork when it comes in and then the village can proceed with arranging a scheduling mechanism to make field time equitable for all those using the ball fields.

Council President Hardesty brought up the needed repair of pavement on Freedom Street just off South Street.  The pavement has deteriorated to a point where something has to be done before there is further damage to the base, which will cost more money to repair.  Council approved the expenditure.

During round table discussion, Council President Hardesty informed council about the opportunity to apply for a grant through CDIS -Community Development Implementation Strategy (formerly Community Development Block Grant Program – CDBG) for the repair and upgrade for the municipal parking lot off Center Street behind the Maschek property.  The grant, similar to the CDB Grant received last year for the sidewalk replacement in the fire-damaged area, would require no matching funds.    Hardesty got approval to submit the paperwork due April 10th.

Councilman Hadzinsky asked council if they wanted to discuss what is going on with the budget.  The mayor asked that they hold off on discussion until the May meeting.  The mayor stated that the police chief had been asked to reduce his 2015 budget by $100,000.  The mayor also stated that the department was given a deadline of the May council meeting to come up with the cuts.

If you’d like to know more of what is happening in your community attend a meeting.  The next regular Village Council meeting is scheduled for May 13, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. at Village Hall.

1,100 Holocaust survivors call Cleveland home. On April 15th, survivors were honored and those that perished in the Holocaust were  remembered during a program held at the Green Road Synagogue in Beachwood.

Guests witnessed a moving ceremony where six of Cleveland’s Holocaust survivors and their families will light memorial candles to remember those who perished. A seventh candle will be lit by a World War II veteran and liberator, and an eighth candle will be lit to represent “Righteous among the nations.” Children will also participate in a “March of the Generations,” to signify that Jewish life after the Holocaust continues.

Additionally, a Holocaust Education video  premiered at the commemoration. The video explains the importance of Holocaust curriculum in our schools and across all faiths. As part of the Holocaust education curriculum, local schools entered the Yom Hashoah V’Hagvurah Creative Arts Contest, where students were invited to create original written and visual arts pieces to incorporate this year’s theme, “70th Anniversary of the Liberation: Keeping the Memory Alive.”

James A Garfield High School students participated in this contest and are proud of  Creative Writing Winners –  1st Place – Jane Rader, 10th Grade and 3rd Place – Michaela Paroff, 10th Grade. As winners of this creative writing and visual arts contest, their work was displayed at Cleveland’s annual Holocaust commemoration on April 15 at Green Road Synagogue

Adults (front row) Aimee Beelen, Lexi Dall, Melissa Duvall, Samantha Smith, Krissy Rossi, (Middle) Tiffany Bolton, Sara Apthorpe, Raelynn DeBevitts,Katie Gembicki, Assyria Gray (Back), Ashley Anderson, Cullen Davis, Rebecca Varga, Cody Tetting, Diana Ball Not pictured David King

Garrettsville - This past Sunday, over 43 contestants competed in a closed audition held at James A. Garfield High School, hoping to keep their dreams alive by becoming the next Garrettsville Idol.  Judges Danny Deakins, Wendi Brown and Jackie Rinearson were given the difficult task of selecting those who would receive a golden ticket to move on to the semi- finals. After some lengthy deliberations, 35 contestants’ dreams of being named the next Garrettsville Idol were still alive and they will have the opportunity to compete in the semi- finals held on May 17, 2015.

There will be two incredible shows for the Garrettsville Idol Semi-Finals. The first show will start at 4pm and will feature the youth and teens, while the second show will start at 6 pm and will feature the adult contestants. Each contestant will perform an entire song with music accompaniment before a live audience at James A. Garfield High School’s Iva Walker Auditorium. The winners of the semi-finals will advance to the finals held Sunday June 28th during Summerfest.

Tickets for the semi-finals are $3 for each show and are available at Sky Lanes Bowling Alley. You can reserve tickets and pick them up at the auditorium on the day of the performance by calling Aaron King (330) 524-2646.

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Located in the heart of historic Garrettsville, Ohio the Villager Emporium is your destination for fabulous locally-crafted gift items and a variety of home decor pieces. Villager Emporium is also home to Chic & Shabby, Cavalier Technologies, Villager Printing, and CT Designs.
Located in the heart of historic Garrettsville, Ohio the Villager Emporium is your destination for fabulous locally-crafted gift items and a variety of home decor pieces. Villager Emporium is also home to Chic & Shabby, Cavalier Technologies, Villager Printing, and CT Designs.

Garrettsville  – “When the door closes, find a window to crawl through.” Or put in local terms, “When your business burns down, collaborate with an established business owner to stage a comeback.” Such is the case for Chic & Shabby, a beloved home decor shop which customers can now rediscover as a vendor at Villager Emporium, located at 8088 Main Street (corner of State Routes 82 & 88) in Garrettsville.

Chic & Shabby  burned to the ground one day before its fifth anniversary on March 22, 2014, along with the entire historic Buckeye Block on Main Street. Owner Kimberly Del Torto’s expectation of celebration was stolen away and in its place were charred ruins of utter devastation. Del Torto lost her 4,000-square-foot corner building (the former Root Department Store, built circa 1820) at 8111 Main Street and 90 percent of her inventory. As cleanup and paperwork dragged on through the weeks and months that followed, the expectation of re-establishing Chic & Shabby seemed to fade further from her grasp. She adapted, changed course, and pursued another career goal as a real estate agent.

I really missed it.

But the Chic & Shabby dream refused to die. “I really missed it.” Del Torto admits. “I can’t give up my love of hounding and refurbishing, and meeting people. ‘’I’m not ready to surrender it.”

So one year later, on March 22, 2015, Del Torto was handed her keys to The Villager Emporium, where  items representing her French cottage/rustic/utilitarian/eclectic line of home decor are now available for sale, as of April 9. Shoppers will find furniture like dressers, butcher blocks, islands, wicker pieces and end tables; and statement decor with springtime, garden and nautical themes, including lamps, mirrors, wreaths, plates, and other items featuring iron and burlap accents.

While Del Torto won’t be in the store on a daily basis, she is “really excited to be back on Main Street, where the Villager Emporium is hosting Chic & Shabby’s return. The floorspace is comparatively limited, but as one Facebook fan put it, ‘Some is better than none!’ I’m just glad to have the opportunity to be back in business and back on Main Street — there’s no other place I’d rather be.”

The store is open  Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 10am – 5pm;  Thursdays 12 noon-5pm; and  Saturdays 10am-2pm. On the first Thursday of the month —Twilight Thursday — it is open extended hours until 7 pm, along with all of the other shops in the town.

We knew there would be additional ways to utilize our space.

Villager co-owners Zivoder and Gerez moved the  area’s weekly newspaper to Main Street nearly two years ago for better visibility and access.  “Chris and I knew when we decided to buy the building that it would not only give us the opportunity to showcase the newspaper, but also the printing, embroidery, gift items and clothing we were already doing.  We also knew that there would be additional ways to utilize the rest of our space,” says Zivoder.

In mid-2014, office space was made available to Cavalier Technologies, LLC.  Cavalier’s  home-grown business provides full-service computer repair and technology consulting solutions and sales to residents and businesses in underserved areas including Hiram, Garrettsville, Middlefield, and surrounding areas. Owner Chris Cavalier  maintains a service desk on the main floor, where common tech supplies are sold (including iPhone and Android accessories); and his repair shop is located on the second floor.

Last fall Gerez and Zivoder dedicated street-level space as “The Villager Emporium” in honor of the Bejger’s “Cornerstone Emporium” that had been a Main Street staple for years.  The Emporium quickly became a showcase for selling local crafts and gift items produced by area artisans, including pottery by Missy Steele and photography by area artists.

Not surprisingly, an expansion was soon deemed necessary, so “Grandma’s Attic” has been established on the second level, where customers will find Amish crafted items (bird houses and feeders, rag rugs and linens), kitchen items, locally-crafted wood furnishings, and even has vendor specializing in toddler to little girl items (hair bows, tutus, dress-up). Various local quilters also have beautiful items for sale.

Today at the street level, customers will find a dedicated retail space for Chic & Shabby’s signature reclaimed home decor, lamps, knick-knacks and furniture;  Lyons Market Jams and Jellies, and a dedicated area for the Villager Emporium signature line of handcrafted items.

Stop in to check out our selection of locally crafted soaps and bath fizzers. Our signature line of bath products are handmade in small batches right here in historic Garrettsville, Ohio. Create a one-of-a-kind Mother's Day gift when you pair an assortment of bath products with a lovely basket from Chic & Shabby.
Stop in to check out our selection of locally crafted soaps and bath fizzers. Our signature line of bath products are handmade in small batches right here in historic Garrettsville, Ohio. Create a one-of-a-kind Mother’s Day gift when you pair an assortment of bath products with a lovely basket from Chic & Shabby.

If you are in the market for Garrettsville memorabilia be sure to check out the Emporium’s line of  photo candles, mugs, coasters and prints – all created in downtown Garrettsville. T-shirts, jackets and hoodies bearing various Garrettsville designs can be found as here as well.  A candle line with scents inspired by the area — such as Crane’s Pep-o-mint and Primitive Quilt Shop (inspired by Shaker Tree) — is also featured here, along with a Villager Emporium line of goat milk soaps, sugar scrubs, lotions and vegan lip balms.

One year since the Buckeye Block fire, signs of rebirth are evident on Main Street. Dreams may be deferred for a season, but adaptability, resilience and determination result in a new crop of possibilities.

Stop by 8088 Main Street to see what’s in store — new things are arriving daily!

Garrettsville – The James A. Garfield Alumni association will be marking its 10th anniversary this fall while recognizing  “old timers” of the classes of ‘2005, ‘95,  ’85, ’75, ’65, ’55, ’45, ’35, and as far into the past as possible.  Come one, come all.  Bring your friends and family, classmates (and teachers, if they’re still tottering about) and folks in the neighborhood.  Tom Klem is recruiting attendees from the Class of 1995, Andrea Fox is  attempting the same for the Class of 2005.  Anyone out there who’d like to do the same for your class, have at it.  Y’all come!

The festivities will begin with an away football game at Pymatuning Valley on Friday, September 18.  Go, G-Men!  On Saturday, September 19 doors at the Garfield Elementary School will open at 5:00p.m. for socializing and dinner is to be served at 6:30.  The program will include recognition of the honored classes, possibly selections by the Garfield Marching Pride(They’re in demand for band shows, so might be on a tight schedule); Superintendent Ted Lysiak  may take you on a trip back through time to see what was going on in your big year .  Could be any number of student-originated displays of talent.  AND there will be the faces that you haven’t seen in…how long?

If you have not received your invitation card in the mail by May 15, contact any organizing committee member (Judy Toth, Ruth Harrington, Christine Pittsinger, Tom or Sheri Colllins) or call Helen Louise Bouts.  Got a yearbook to share?  Bring it along.  Over 1600 individuals have graduated from the schools that make up the James A. Garfield Local School District.  How about making it 200 at the dinner?  Reservations are $18 and are due by September 2 so the catering by Guido’s can be finalized.

And…if you’d like to be part of the committee to plan for the next affair, volunteers are always welcome.  Just drop your name at the door; they’ll call you.

Garrettsville – Spring is finally here and the Silver Creek Garden Club is hard at work preparing another season of beautiful hanging baskets, planters and flower beds that enhance the Village from spring to autumn. Each year almost $3000, and a significant number of volunteer hours are spent by the organization’s dedicated club members.

The Silver Creek Garden Club relies on donations from businesses, area residents, and the annual calendar fundraiser to raise the monies for their service project. Watch for the annual Garden Club plant sale during the Community Yard Sale May 16th & 17th, as funds raised from their sale will be used to purchase mulch for the flower beds at the Village Park.

This year the hanging baskets will be themed in pink in honor of long time member Faye Carlisle who passed away last December. Hanging baskets are planned to appear along State Routes 88 & 82, and at $55 to $75 per basket, expenses can add up quickly. Anyone interested in contributing to the flower basket fund can make a tax deductible donation by sending their contibution to the Garrettsville Area Chamber of Commerce (Post Office Box 1, Garrettsville, OH 44231). Please be sure write “Flower Baskets” in the memo line of your check.

The Silver Creek Garden Club is a member of the Garrettsville Area Chamber of Commerce. They are one of the many great organizations that help make Garrettsville a good place to visit, and a great place to live.

Pictured above : 1st row - Janice McDaries, Gay Combs, Pam Workman; 2nd row- Penny Culver, Elizabeth Warren, Joyce Caldwell, Dorothy Saltsman, Geneva Staton and Nancy Lance; 3rd row- Sheila McDaniel, Carol Kyle and Nancy Thomas. Not pictured: Charlene McDaniel
Pictured above : 1st row - Janice McDaries, Gay Combs, Pam Workman; 2nd row- Penny Culver, Elizabeth Warren, Joyce Caldwell, Dorothy Saltsman, Geneva Staton and Nancy Lance; 3rd row- Sheila McDaniel, Carol Kyle and Nancy Thomas. Not pictured: Charlene McDaniel

Newton Falls – The Prayer Shawl Ministry at the First Church of God, Newton Falls, Ohio, just celebrated their 4th year Anniversary knitting crocheting and doing projects for God’s work. It is a fast-growing group that began with only 8 members and has grown to 45 members. They meet twice a month to enjoy fellowship, food and friendship while working on their projects.

Over 300 Prayer Shawl Lapghans have been given to people suffering from illness and many other needs. These shawls and laps have been given locally and mailed throughout the United States and to troops overseas. The group has also done many projects to help others including; making Little Dresses for Africa, making almost 300 hats for S.t Jude’s and Akron Children’s Hospitals, making hats and scarves for the Warren Family Mission for their coat giveaway, making hats, booties and small blankets for Akron Children’s Hospital, and just recently some of our members have begun to make Prayer Quilts and making sun catchers for the families who have lost loved ones.

If you are interested in joining us, we meet the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month in the library of the First Church of God, 426 W. Broad St., Newton Falls, Ohio.

Chief Byers shared, “The 911 outage this January is a prime example of how a battle-tested method is still relevant.”

Hiram – Chances are, if you’re anywhere near Hiram on any given Saturday, you’ll hear the loud blast of a siren promptly at noon. No matter where you happen to be, whether it’s the Village or the Township, the piercing blast of a test siren should help residents rest easier. Families can feel safe, even as spring brings the potential of severe weather, knowing that they will be notified in the event of an emergency. Even during a power failure, without access to TV, radio, or even telephone systems, Hiram’s emergency alert siren will sound a warning of potential danger.

There are now four sirens placed strategically throughout the area to notify residents of tornados or other extreme circumstances. One is located in Hiram Rapids near the baseball field, where Winchell Road meets the eastern portion of Allyn Road. Another, which was installed more than fifteen years ago, is located in the park near the Hiram Police and Fire Stations. A third siren, installed by a landowner, is situated in the 5300 block of Pioneer Trail. The fourth siren, which was installed last fall, is located on State Route 82 near Rolling Meadows, and was funded by Hiram Township. According to Hiram Fire Chief Bill Byers, purchase and installation of each siren cost roughly $20,000.

Stressing the importance of this seemingly old-school system, Chief Byers shared, “The 911 outage this January is a prime example of how a battle-tested method is still relevant.” Byers referred to the 911-outage caused when a steam pipe burst, damaging an AT&T switching station. That random event knocked out 911 service in Summit, Portage, Stark and Medina Counties for two-days.

Chief Byers remarked, “Our early warning system can alert residents, day or night, to monitor weather reports. For a community our size to have such thorough coverage required local officials to think creatively, to provide such a benefit without incurring additional costs for taxpayers.”

 

*** CORRECTION (Made 4/15/2015) ***

In a cover story in last week’s issue entitled, “New Sirens Help Keep Families Safe,” it was stated that local developers funded the fourth emergency siren. While the cost of purchase and installation of the siren was originally to be financed by the now defunct Village Builders of Hiram, according to Hiram Township Trustee Kathy Schulda, payment was never rendered.

According to Ms. Schulda, when Village Builders ceased operations, Trustees made an agreement with the builder, stipulating that for each lot sold within the Village Gate development, a $300 payment would be made to the Township until the cost of the emergency siren has been recouped. Thus far, three lots have been sold in the Village Gate Development. At this time, the Township has yet to receive any payment. Ms. Schulda concluded, “He needs to do the right thing, and honor his commitments to the community.”

Garrettsville –  Spring is barely making a comeback right now, but it’s already getting late to plan for the summer. Once school lets out for summer break after June 4, parents will be faced with the seasonal dilemma: How to keep the kids safe and happy while the adults are away at work.

This summer, a menu of new day camp options is being offered by the Garrettsville YMCA, located in the former Intermediate School building on Park Avenue. Registration is under way for Garrettsville YMCA Summer Camp, to be held June 9-August 21 for children aged 5 (if they have completed kindergarten)-12, Monday through Friday. Camp hours are 9am-4:30pm, but Child Choice Centers are available before camp each day, starting at 7am; then after camp through 6pm daily. Morning and afternoon snacks are provided.

James A. Garfield Schools Superintendent Ted Lysiak sees the local Y as a partner in the community which provides a continuum of care for students and families, even when school is not in session. “The YMCA has provided programming at the Park Avenue building since September 2014 with several youth sports leagues. Now it’s increasing its role with summer day camp and a public pre-school and before- and after-school program starting this coming fall.”

The YMCA is committed to the healthy development of kids through a broad range of activities that instill positive values and build self-confidence while emphasizing the Y’s four core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. The theme for summer camp at the Y is Summer of Fun; Lifetime of Memories, where kids “will get to try new things and learn lessons that will serve them throughout their lives,” according to the Y’s camp flyer.

Campers will play games and sports, do arts and crafts, spend time outside, get messy, go on field trips on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, participate in community projects, enjoy swimming every Thursday at the Geauga YMCA, and make new friends. The school-age program offers fun weekly themes that align with Ohio’s Common Core K-12 state standards. The curriculum includes activities in the following areas: arts & humanities; character development; large motor skills and fitness; literacy; science and math, STEM, nutrition, and service learning projects.

Weekly themes are as follows:

June 8: We Are Family – Building Our Community

June 15: Once Upon A Time

June 22: Ooey Gooey

June 29: Party in the USA – A Celebration of Independence

July 6: Color Crazy

July 13: Holidaze

July 20: Super Heroes – You Can Be One Too!

July 27: It’s a Jungle Out There

August 3: Wacky World of Sports

August 10: Wacky Water Palooza

August 17: Blast Off

The Garrettsville YMCA — where Melissa Matz is the director of operations and licensed child care — is affiliated with The YMCA of Greater Cleveland. Register online by selecting the Garrettsville location and the weeks your child(ren) will attend camp at www.clevelandymca.org . Or call (216) 263-6860.

The cost for summer camp is $135 per week (4-5 days)  or $100/ per week (1-3 days). Each week of summer day camp requires a $25 deposit (deposits are non-refundable and non-transferable). An annual membership fee of $25 per family is required for those not currently a YMCA member. You can become a full facility member when registering for summer day camp and pay a zero joiner fee (a $100 savings).

Take advantage of the Y’s camp deposit payment plan by registering before April 17. All deposits on this plan must be paid in full by May 15. Publicly funded child care participants are accepted. Financial assistance is available for those who qualify.

Garrettsville – There is a Princess Party & Book Signing at the Village Bookstore on April 18th from 2 to 3 pm. Young ladies are encouraged to attend in their favorite princess dresses. They will receive gifts and have a chance to meet Freya, the Goddess of Love, who will read the first chapter of The Enchanted Necklace, a new classic fairy tale written by Hiram College alum James Bradley Clarke.

The Enchanted Necklace is princess fairy tale intertwined with Norse mythology. Silya, the feisty ten year old Princess of Norway, eagerly awaits the arrival of her cousin and best friend, Princess Hedda of Denmark. The princesses are both looking forward to the summer solstice celebration, but trouble lurks in their future since magical villains see the girls as being vital for their deadly conspiracy. Hedda and Silya find themselves cast into a dangerous adventure filled with fire giants, female warrior angels, and the God of Thunder. Can the princesses save themselves and their kingdoms, or will the forces of chaos overwhelm and destroy them?

After the reading, the princesses in attendance may purchase a copy of the book signed by Mr. Clarke and Freya, and then they may pose for a photograph with Freya as well.

The Enchanted Necklace is an illustrated early chapter book that is ideal for students 8 to 12 years old. The book is also ideal for reading aloud to younger children at bedtime.

James Bradley Clarke is a 1991 graduate of Hiram College. He currently resides in Cuyahoga Falls and works as a manager within Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in Akron.

Garrettsville - A staple on North Street for almost twenty-four years, Mark’s Automotive will be closing the doors for good the week of April 13, 2015.  Mark Johnson, owner and operator of Mark’s Automotive has decided to retire and “enjoy life a bit”.

Mark admits he’s a little nervous about retirement, and it will be strange not to be heading to his garage to open up in the mornings, but he’s finding plenty to keep himself busy, including putting together a 1948 Harley motorcycle.  Mark will also be taking a motorcycle trip out to Sturgis, North Dakota, in August with some friends. From there they’ll take “the long way home” including a few stops like Arizona.

It was always a dream for Johnson to own his own automotive repair business.  He learned to be a mechanic growing up on the family farm and when he got older he worked as a mechanic for Johnson’s Service Station.  Deciding it was time to venture out on his own, Mark sold everything he owned and with a little help from his parents (and he’s proud to say he paid back every penny) Mark’s Automotive opened the doors in August 1991.  Mark says times have changed a lot since then and he feels it’s time to get out of the business.

The for-sale signs went up a few weeks ago and the auction date for the garage’s contents has been set for May 2nd.  Mark wants to thank every one of his customers for their many years of business.

According to Pam Baynes, wife of Hiram’s new Assistant Fire Chief Brandon Baynes, “Many of us know of or have heard of the ‘brotherhood’ of firemen. For those of you who wonder, it does exist. I have seen it. But for me, it’s not just a brotherhood. It’s a ‘familyhood’.” She’s gotten to experience this unique bond first-hand over the past 22 years that her husband, Brandon has been a fireman/paramedic.
Photo courtesy of Pam Baynes

Hiram – According to Pam Baynes, wife of Hiram’s new Assistant Fire Chief Brandon Baynes, “Many of us know of or have heard of the ‘brotherhood’ of firemen.  For those of you who wonder, it does exist. I have seen it.  But for me, it’s not just a brotherhood. It’s a ‘familyhood’.” She’s gotten to experience this unique bond first-hand over the past 22 years that her husband, Brandon has been a fireman/paramedic.

“I have to say, most of my best friends are either firemen or firemen’s’ wives. We were babies when we met,” she explained. “As families do, our family continues to grow every year with babies or marriages.” As her husband built his career, from Garrettsville, then on to the Community Ambulance, Hiram Fire, Mantua and then the Bedford Heights Fire Department, their family added three children, along with countless firefighters and their families into the fold. And recently, when former Hiram Assistant Fire Chief Mark Kosak left to fill the Chief position at Ravenna Township, Brandon Baynes accepted the role. “We as a department, and the community as a whole, are really lucky to have Brandon take Mark’s place as our Assistant Chief,” shared HFD Fire Chief Bill Byers.

But the promotion means different things to this devoted couple. Pam explained, “Brandon is a man of very few words. In his eyes, it is no big deal. Its just part of the job.  For me, it means a whole lot more. I was filled with pride because he was finally admitting to himself and the Village of Hiram that he is fully capable to fill the role,” beamed Pam. “And it means a lot the kids,” referring to their children, daughters Aspen and Leighton, and son, Everett. They think it is really cool that daddy is the second boss.”

Pam shared some thoughts on her husband’s new role, “In my eyes, Brandon Baynes is one the most humble people you will come across in your life.  I don’t say that because I am married to him. I say it because it’s what people tell me.” She went on to explain that a friend of Brandon’s from the Bedford Department has told her on several occasions that he would follow Brandon’s lead on any fire, which says a great deal about his character.

To help celebrate the special occasion, their son Everett participated in the swearing in ceremony, pinning a badge on his biggest hero, while the rest of their family — including those in uniform, looked on. “All three of my kids are extremely proud of their dad, whether he is the Assistant Chief or not.  And let’s face it, every 6-year-old boy would love to have his dad be a fireman or policeman.”

Portage Trim and Mongoose Motorsports, of Ravenna, have teamed up to become one of the most formidable custom motor vehicle shops around.

Ravenna – Two titans in the world of custom cars have formed a partnership in Northeast Ohio. Portage Trim and Mongoose Motorsports, of Ravenna, have teamed up to become one of the most formidable custom motor vehicle shops around.

Portage Trim, founded over 30 years ago by Bob and Kathy Mosher, grew from a respected automotive accessory shop in the early years, into a large and highly respected custom upholstery shop today.  They have a top-notch team and their work has been showcased on popular TV Shows, including several cars at Barrett-Jackson.  Building cars for Street Rodder Power Tour and Hot Rod Power Tour, among other projects, have earned them numerous prestigious awards nationwide. “We are excited to be working in a larger facility, its the same great people and quality we are known for, with just a lot more room now.” said Chris Mosher.

Mongoose Motorsports, owned by Gary Krause, has also earned a highly respected reputation for finely crafted and award-winning custom cars. Gary and his team at Mongoose were selected to build the hero car in “Fast Five”, a movie from Universal Studio’s action franchise “Fast N Furious” as well as numerous cars for customers all over the world.  “The two companies coming together means bigger and better things for our customers”, said Krause. “We have experts in both areas now under one roof, with nearly 33,000 square feet of creative space for the coolest custom dream cars to become a reality.”

Licensed through General Motors to build the Corvette Grand Sport and Corvette GTP, Mongoose Motorsports provides classic car restoration and repair, performance upgrades, as well as  race car preparation and maintenance.

The fusion of the two businesses, now resides at 1340 E. Main Street in Ravenna, and will include the award-winning custom interior team from Portage Trim as well as the car building experts of Mongoose.  Hours are Monday through Thursday, 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM, and Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, by appointment.

For more information , call Portage Trim at 330-296-5511 or Mongoose at 330-296-1963.

Armed with a photo scavenger hunt prepared by Timbrook, kids and adults gathered in groups in the lobby to plot out their course of attack. Each group had a mission to see as many of the museum’s art objects as possible, as well as a visit to the Museum’s well-stocked café and gift shop, before heading back home on the bus later that afternoon.

Mantua – During two special Saturdays in March, Crestwood Intermediate School (CIS) Art Teacher Patricia Timbrook hosted groups of CIS students and their guests on an excursion to the Cleveland Museum of Art on University Circle. While the groups arrived at the museum aboard a Crestwood School District bus, this was so much more than just a typical field trip. Armed with a photo scavenger hunt prepared by Timbrook, kids and adults gathered in groups in the lobby to plot out their course of attack. Each group had a mission to see as many of the museum’s art objects as possible, as well as a visit to the Museum’s well-stocked café and gift shop, before heading back home on the bus later that afternoon.

The image-driven scavenger hunt guided groups around the Museum’s multiple levels, taking them past marble and bronze sculptures from Ancient Greece and Rome, and giving them the chance to see real history up close and personal, like ancient Egyptian sarcophagi and other amazing items they have studied in textbooks at school. One highlight was a visit to the Armor Court, which houses the Museum’s collection of 300 pieces of European arms and armor — including a medieval knight astride his similarly armed steed. In addition to armor, knives, and swords, richly colored tapestries adorned the walls, transporting parents and children alike back in time to the days of Camelot.

The Cleveland Museum of Art features the nation’s largest multi-touch microtile screen!

Another visitor favorite was a trip to Gallery One, an innovative space that blends art and technology and features a 40-foot collection wall. The interactive wall — the nation’s largest multi-touch microtile screen — displays images of over 4,000 items in the Museum’s permanent collection. Through the screen, visitors can find out more about their favorite pieces, share them via social media, or create a custom-tour. Hands-on activities throughout Gallery One allow visitors to explore masterpieces by Picasso, Rodin, and Schreckengost, providing a stronger grasp of the how the work was created. In addition, the free ArtLens app provides additional audio and video content on the collections, while helping visitors navigate through the Museum’s extensive collections.

Although the Museum offers much more than can be seen in a single afternoon, Timbrook hopes students and their families will be encouraged to return again — to enjoy the collection that includes sculptures, paintings, textiles, jewelry and more. For more information, or to plan your trip, visit clevelandart.org. While general museum admission is free, transportation was provided through a generous grant from the Hiram Community Trust.

Hiram – The Hiram College Athletic Department and the NFL have teamed up to present “The Football Officiating Academy” on April 10 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Les & Kathy Coleman Sports, Recreation & Fitness Center and Henry Field on the campus of Hiram College.

This is a co-ed program for passionate potential officials who are college athletes. This one-day orientation will introduce the basics of football officiating:

• Instruction from the NFL, College and High School Officiating Representatives

• Introduction to the rules of the game and on-field officiating mechanics

• Step-by-step guide on how to get started

The first part of the orientation will take part in the Hiram Team Room, with the second portion moving out to Henry Field.

Admission to the event is free, but registration is required. Please register at hiramterriers.com

Pictured are (front row from left): Taylor Petersal, Active Minds member at Hiram College; Samantha Hughes, President of Active Minds at Hiram College; Hannah Sharma, Hiram College’s Counseling intern. Back row from left: Jacob Henderson, Active Minds member at Hiram College; Dr. Kevin Feisthamel, Director of Counseling Health & Disability Services at Hiram College; Dr. Joel Mowrey, Executive Director of Portage County Mental Health & Recovery Board; Paul Dages, Emergency Services Coordinator Townhall II; Micaela Lippert, Vice President of Active Minds at Hiram College.
Pictured are (front row from left): Taylor Petersal, Active Minds member at Hiram College; Samantha Hughes, President of Active Minds at Hiram College; Hannah Sharma, Hiram College’s Counseling intern. Back row from left: Jacob Henderson, Active Minds member at Hiram College; Dr. Kevin Feisthamel, Director of Counseling Health & Disability Services at Hiram College; Dr. Joel Mowrey, Executive Director of Portage County Mental Health & Recovery Board; Paul Dages, Emergency Services Coordinator Townhall II; Micaela Lippert, Vice President of Active Minds at Hiram College.

Active Minds of Hiram College held a panel discussion on suicide prevention as part of their “Green Week” – a week of mental health awareness activities on campus. Students gathered during their lunch hour to hear from mental health professionals about preventing suicide and local resources.

Active Minds Hiram is a local chapter of a national organization whose mission is to promote awareness about mental health and decrease stigma towards it on campus.

Warning signs and risk factors for suicide vary by age, and often occur in combinations. Students should watch for friends who have withdrawn from regular social activities, are talking about ending their life, or are feeling hopeless.

“Ask the person if he is ok,” said Hannah Sharma, a counseling intern at Hiram College “Just taking the time to listen to someone who is troubled can make an enormous impact.” Dr. Mowrey, Executive Director of the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County, added that “it is a good idea to ask the person if they are considering killing him or herself.  It is a myth that if you ask if a person is suicidal that you will make them suicidal.”

An audience member asked what a person should do if their friend confides that they are considering suicide, but asks you not to tell anyone. “I would rather have a friend alive and mad at me than no longer living,” said Paul Dages Emergency Services Coordinator of Townhall II.

Dages urged students to call the Townhall II hotline at 330-678-4357. “As required by our certification with the American Association of Suicidology, our policy is if you call our hotline and are concerned about your loved one, we will call them if you provide their phone number.”

“What people are looking for is for their emotional pain and suffering to end and sometimes view suicide as a way to end the pain,” said Dr. Feisthamel, Director of Counseling Health & Disability Services at Hiram College. “Fortunately most people do not want their life to end and are open to alternatives that help them relieve their pain and feel better.”

Short term counseling is available on the Hiram campus for all students at the health center.

Portage County residents can call either Townhall II at 330-678-4357 or Coleman Access at 330-296-3555 for crisis support.

The James A. Garfield Historical Society enjoyed three rings of excitement—celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, Open House(with potluck dinner) for the public and a slightly irregular monthly meeting for March, held on Tuesday, March 17, rather than on Monday, March 16.  All in a good cause.

Dinner featured green punch, green veggie/bread dip, Irish lamb, Irish buns (nothing like those outside in the street), Irish butter and considerable Hibernian good cheer to go with all the rest of the victuals.

The business meeting featured an announcement of a special meeting to be held on Monday, March 30 at 7:00 p.m. to view and discuss samples of work produced by Microdata of Newton Falls as a possible solution to the problem of aging and failing technical equipment.

Upcoming programs were noted  April will be a “Show and Tell” evening; May will feature a ”Pie Night”, using historical recipes, no doubt.  June, weather permitting, will be an opportunity for a cemetery tour in the Maple Avenue oldest-in-town cemetery.  Freedom West Cemetery may also be a venue for a cemetery tour at some date.  Movie Night may also be on the agenda.

Gene Semplak gave a report on maintenance work to be done in the basement/cellar and was told to begin investigating prices on storm window installation and other window work as well.  Julie Thompson  continues working in the “Past Perfect” program to update the organization’s cataloging and indexing of materials.

The treasurer’s report indicated that taxes were done; the recent audit of the books was sparkling clean.

Also to be discussed at the special meeting on March 30 : taking on an intern from Hiram College to help organize collections, materials and documents owned by the society.  The individual proposed for this position has experience in working with children and managing tech issues.  Hours would run from 5 to 10 hrs. per week, from September 1 to December 15.  The proposed stipend is to be $300.

The group voted to continue offering a $500 scholarship to a graduating senior at James A. Garfield High School.

Judy Thornton continues to seek information about barns in the district—how old, who built, type, tales about, all kinds of interesting things.

Make no mistake, the whole initiative to Save the Mantua Center School has divided the current township trustees—split them three ways as to what to do with the old school building. This not a new development either, because historically there has been much mud-slinging since the purchase of the school in 2004.  The community has demonstrated overwhelming support for saving the school and making it into a community center.  Trustee Vic Grimm, was the one who saw to it that the building was purchased in the first place and is, of course advocating strongly for its use as a community center, a center of township government and more.  Another, newer trustee John Festa, who is up for re-election this fall, seems ardently opposed to saving the school, and apparently has been, if you believe the words of  many various committee members, actively impeding all the committees.  He has, for example, slowed down the process by demanding inordinately long periods of time between meetings so that “the public will be informed”, making it difficult for continuity and committee members to do their jobs. Most recently he has e-mailed to all involved, including the Director of Portage County Regional Planning Commission Todd Peetz, that he is upset that the sub committees have been meeting together and “intertwining” and he is ready to step in and stop this kind of thing from happening.

To quote Festa verbatim on March 5, 20015, in an e-mail to all various committee members:   … “I am once again concerned about the direction the committees are taking. It seems to me, there is an overreach of responsibilities by some and the lines between them are becoming blurred & unrecognizable… Never was it intended for any of the committees to become intertwined with each other… (Mr. Peetz), could you please look into this for me? That is, if you feel it’s part of your duties as Facilitator. If not, then should we consider it part of the Trustees duties as managers to address? If so, I will.”

One wonders if Mr. Festa couldn’t be any more blatant about his motivation about control.   The third trustee, Jason Carleton, also a newcomer to the township government scene, is in the middle.  The issue has become so heated that outspoken zoning board members, for example, have been non-renewed, —not reappointed by vote of the trustees. This is an almost unheard of action by township trustees who most often have great difficulty filling volunteer board positions. Now other various board members fear the same fate.  Apparently, you cannot disagree with trustees in Mantua Township.  None of this has gone unnoticed though.  It is a fact that people have recently made trips down to the Board of Elections to enquire about and begin the process of recall of trustees.  To complicate matters even more, a sort of behind-the-scenes dark figure-often referred to as the unofficial, self appointed “Mayor of Mantua Township” looms large in all the gossip, street talk and township meetings.  To settle a grudge, this person has apparently publically stated (verified by several) that he will see to it that the school is torn down. When Trustee Grimm was asked in a public meeting on January 21, 2015 if this was so, he confirmed it.

Despite this political haggling, the township people, generations of whom have gone to that school, seem overwhelmingly to support developing the school, as is, into the township center.  Yet as in most big business dealings, the situation seems rife with potential conflicts of interest and secondary gain for……….lots of people involved.  The building committee is made up of several fine, upstanding local community contractors– residents who obviously and unequivocally have the best interests of the community in mind. This does not seem to be at issue. What does seem at issue is the process by which the whole effort to deal with the school has been waged. Just as with the other recent township functions this process has been controlled by one or two trustees, thereby excluding Trustee Grimm.  According to Grimm, the building committee was picked solely by Festa.  The builders/remodelers, the trustees, the Township, any of these could stand to make big money depending on which way this will go.  And of course, no matter which way it goes, needless to say, the carpenters, the cement people, the roofers, the electrical contractor could make big money if they convince the building committee that the building needs hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs to make it useable. It is also rumored that the building could be sold to a third party waiting in the wings who could develop it much like was done with the Village School Building in Mantua for a handsome profit. What seems to stand out most is that there has been little or no thought to potential conflicts of interest at any level and that there is much micro managing of the process by one trustee.

Interestingly, surveys done by non-partisan contractors confirm that the building is quite sound, in excellent condition, and is ready to be used. According to Grimm, in 2004, before the building was actually purchased the Portage County Building Department assessed it and approved it stating that it does meet ADA requirements (Americans with Disabilities Act). Likewise the Portage County Electrical Department assessed it and approved it citing only minimal, minor changes to be made.  The building is usable as is. Everything works.  It does not need anything.  Dave Sommers Architects studied the building in 2004 and reported its condition as SOUND.

Skip Schweitzer, in addition to being a reporter/writer for The Villager, is an appointed member of the Utilization Committee for the Mantua Center School. 

Twenty winning teams from the local Leadership and Legacies History Contest held at Windham High School earlier this month, advanced to compete at Youngstown State University this past weekend. Out of those 20 teams, five of them qualified for state competition that will be held at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio on April 25, 2015.  Winners from state will have the opportunity to compete in the national competition held in Washington D.C. later in the year.

The teams that qualified for state are as follows:

– Columbine School Shooting Project by  Louie Howell, Kammie Kiser, Megan Turk and Darah Fall.

– Jesse Owens display by Bailey Rutherford, Elijah Martin, Hunter Shackelford and Devin Larlham.

– Aces and Airplanes in WWI by Tim Murton

– Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire by Gina Brown, Haley Schjenken and Cole Bryson

– Chernobyl Project by Brevin McCrae, Ericq Williams, Dawson Swearingen and Danny Chambers.

Congratulations to all the competitors and good luck at state!

The March 23 meeting of the Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary Club featured the program by Adam Wohlever, District Manager of the Ohio State Parks Division of Natural Areas and Preserves.  He outlined his path from Amherst, Ohio (Sandstone Capital of the Nation) through the USMC, Hocking State and the U.S. Park Service to land in Nelson, Ohio, and Eagle Creek State Nature Preserve, among others.

Ohio has 136 nature preserves, beginning c. 1971 with the opening of Mentor Headlands, and serving as living museums preserved for their own good and the good of communities which interact with them.  Public access is low-impact but co-operative relationships with other entities are designed to efficiently carry out the purposes of the five districts’ ecological management goals.  State budget cuts have had an impact on operations; a major source of support now comes from the check-off on Ohio state income tax returns.  Check the boxes, folks!  The division—smallest in the system– strives to provide quality service to the public as well as invaluable experiences in nature.  There are volunteer opportunities and scheduled activities, showcasing unique wildflowers, plants and landforms—think cave protection, prescribed burns, hikes, etc.

Complementing this most informative presentation was information on the in-progress Fit & Fun Festival coming up on Saturday, May 30.  The Charles Auto Family has stepped up with a donation.  Ronald McDonald will make an appearance, the Portage Park District will be co-operating, new games and inflatables are on tap, family activities over the summer will be encouraged, Robinson Memorial will have input, a logo is coming, more is coming….  It’s all a big GO!

And…Tom Collins had more info on the student foreign exchange situation.  Delores McCumbers reported that the flowers planted around town, particularly along the creek, by the club, lo, these many years ago are coming up and could use some TLC.  Lisa Muldowney spoke of her attendance at the recent fund-raiser held by the Ravenna Rotary Club and presented some ideas gleaned for possible local application.  Ted Lysiak offered tickets and sponsorship opportunities for the upcoming Night at the Races held at the Ravenna Elks facility, sponsored by the JAG All Sports Boosters for the stadium project fund.  Trish Danku presented an idea used by the Medina Rotary Club involving flags: more to come.  The Christmas Tree from downtown will get a permanent home.  Amy Crawford gave a shout-out concerning the approaching production of  “The King and I” at Garfield High School.

G-H Rotary meets at noon on Mondays at  Cal’s II in the Sky Plaza.  Visitors are welcome.

Can you sing? Do you like to be on stage performing before others? Are you available April 12, May 17 and June 28, 2015? If your answer is yes to all of the above, you need to consider auditioning for this year’s Garrettsville Idol. Garrettsville Summerfest announces the audition dates for this year’s Garrettsville Idol, the grand finale event that closes out the Summerfest Festival every year on the fourth weekend in June. Adults will compete for a $1,000 cash prize awarded to the winner at the finals held during Summerfest, while the youth and teens will each compete for $500.

The open-call auditions are scheduled for Sunday, April 12, 2015 at James A Garfield High School at 1 p.m. (Use event entrance) Contestants are asked to come prepared to sing an entire song without musical accompaniment. The closed audition, with no audience has been broken down into the following three age brackets youth 8– 12 years, teen 13-17 years and adults 18 years and up. The youth auditions will start at 1pm, the teens at 2pm and the adults will start at 3pm. Please arrive 15 minutes early to fill out a biography sheet for our program.

Registration can be done online at www.garrettsvillesummerfest.com/idol click on Garrettsville Idol and fill out the registration form. One may also register by mail; label the top of paper with Garrettsville Idol include name, address, email address, phone number, and date of birth and send it to Garrettsville Summerfest at 8311 Windham Street Garrettsville, OH 44231. Idol registration can also be dropped of at Skylanes Bowling. Registration can be done at the door but they prefer folks to register prior to the event. More information, including the rules, can be found at www.garrettsvillesummerfest.com or by calling Aaron King (330) 524-2646.

Please note: Contestants must be available all three date to be eligible to audition.

Garrettsville Coffee Mill Mike Maschek
It took six months for developer Mike Maschek of Hiram to renovate the historic feed mill at the intersection of Main, Center and Water streets. Maschek had gained ownership of the dilapidated mill property from Marty Paul in May 2014. By December, its exterior had been transformed from a sagging eyesore to a beautiful centerpiece for the village.

It took six months for developer Mike Maschek of Hiram to renovate the historic feed mill at the intersection of Main, Center and Water streets. Maschek had gained ownership of the dilapidated mill property from Marty Paul in May 2014. By December, its exterior had been transformed from a sagging eyesore to a beautiful centerpiece for the village. By January 2015, it was set to open for business as The Coffee Mill.

But the doors remain closed while the yet-to-be-named new tenants struggle to equip and furnish the 3,000-square-foot, three-level structure (a coffee shop on the main floor, a wireless lounge in the basement, and a meeting place/community room on the third floor).

Good things come to those who wait.

“We just have to wait while they gather the funds,” Maschek says. “Good things come to those who wait. But I have to admit, it is agitating. It hurts me too to wait, so there’s a chance I may have to sell it outright. I’ve never been crazy about owning buildings and being a landlord. For me, it’s more about restoring and.. renovating.”

Originally, Maschek had discussed retaining ownership of the building and leasing retail space out to former Buckeye Block business owners who had lost their storefronts in the March 2014 fire. His next option was to rent it out to others  who would manage The Coffee Mill he envisioned. But its materialization is taking too long.

While he will wait a bit longer, Maschek is fielding offers from other potential buyers who continue to approach him with new concepts for the mill. Maschek says he may be pressed into a position of considering these offers.

Regardless of whether Maschek retains ownership of the mill building, he still retains 150 square feet of property behind the building for future development. Since sagging out-buildings have been cleared away from behind the mill, Maschek says the footprint is actually larger than the former Buckeye Block Building. He has suggested that a restaurant with patio dining overlooking (and extending halfway across) Silver Creek would be a great asset to the village.

Built in 1852, the mill has served the village as a carriage shop, general store, and feed supplier before going out of business more than a decade ago. Its renovation began in May 2014. It still sits vacant, waiting to percolate.

Scott and Trish Snyder of Mantua had a simple idea when they started their part-time business making handcrafted wooden rocking horses for children of all ages. “For every 10 Trott Wood Creations we build, we pledged to give one away,” they explained. As they sold their original rocking horses, dragons, and other creations through local art shows and events, the idea for Hero’s Rock was born, giving Trish and Scott the mission to build tribute rockers for the children of fallen heroes. According to the two self-described hippies, “It was a play on words but it seemed so perfect — The most important thing to each of these heroes was their family…their rock.” In addition to customized rocking horses for small children, Hero’s Rock also creates Treasured Chests for older children, providing a place to hold treasured keepsakes of their loved one. Each custom piece features a laser-engraved portrait and service title of their loved one, so that their hero will never be forgotten.

What began as a quest to do something nice for a stranger was now quite personal…

The first rocker was modeled after the Apache helicopter that fallen pilot Christopher Thibodeau flew. It seemed fitting to the pair, who learned from Chris’ mother Doreen, of her son’s lifelong dream to be a pilot. She was touched at the couple’s offer to build a gift for her grandchild, sharing that shortly after Chris had found out he was to become a father, he had told her he wanted to build his baby a rocker. Unfortunately, Chris never got the chance to build it, or to meet his son, Liam. “What began as a quest to do something nice for a stranger was now quite personal. One of this young man’s final thoughts was to build his child a rocker. We were now fulfilling his wish. It was definitely personal!” Trish shared. They have built five more custom rockers since that time.

There were guardian angels, our fallen heroes, watching over us…

But recently, the future of that program was placed in peril on a Saturday evening in early March. Just as the Snyders sat down to dinner, the roof of their barn, which housed both Trott Wood Creations and their Hero’s Rock charity, collapsed under a heavy load of snow. Luckily, no one was hurt, although Scott had just returned from the shop only an hour prior to the collapse. Amazingly, during the collapse, the paint shop and build shop escaped the brunt of the damage. Trish explains, “There were guardian angels, our fallen heroes, watching over us, holding it up over those important areas.” Mantua’s first responders were able to access those areas to salvage the materials for two recent projects – the tribute police cruiser rocker and the nearly complete Patriotic Pony, allowing the Snyders to fulfill those important commitments.

The police cruiser will be given to Charlee, the four-year-old daughter of fallen Akron Police Officer Justin Winebrenner. Officer Winebrenner lost his life confronting a gunman while attending a fundraiser for a youth football league. The Patriotic Pony will reside at a Fisher House, which is similar to a Ronald McDonald House, where families of wounded soldiers can stay, free-of-charge while their injured loved one receives treatment. The image of local fallen hero Specialist Adam Hamilton, who did not have children, will be remembered on the Patriotic Pony. Eventually, it will be placed in one of the 27 Fisher Houses for the enjoyment of the children of our fallen and wounded heroes who come to visit.

“Somehow, we’ll figure out how to get back up and running,” Scott stated. “When the weather is nice, we’ll be able to do some of the work on our back porch,” he remarked. As previously scheduled, on the Sunday after the collapse, local families came to help with the clean-up efforts. When they did all they could outside, they gathered in the Snyder’s kitchen to add their red or blue handprints to the Patriotic Pony rocker as had been originally planned. Among the volunteers were the Thibodeau family, as well as Adam Hamilton’s family and friends.

Scott’s voice is filled with emotion at the outpouring of support they’ve received. He relates a bittersweet memory of the first of many clean-up days, sharing how “our first hero’s father crawled through the shop wreckage to save the wood for someone else’s fallen hero.” Overcome with emotion, he paused to collect his thoughts. Trish continued, explaining their drive to continue their efforts, “We see someone who risked and sacrificed their life for us, and now their child will grow up without a father. Watching all those news stories, and seeing what those families have lost, we want to do something, however small, to help make their child feel better in a rotten situation. At first, we wanted to do something nice for Liam and his family. We had no idea what it meant to them, the day we delivered the Apache One,” she marveled.

heros-rock-mantua-Shop-CollapseAs the process to create each custom piece is long, done amidst Scott and Trish’s fulltime work schedules, families are encouraged to share stories and watch progress via the Here’s Rock Facebook page. Right before the rocker is finalized, however, there is a “blackout period” where no project photos are shared. “We want the family to be surprised when we deliver the rocker,” Trish explains. Throughout the process, however, friends and family members post stories and photos, easing the burden they each share. “One family member told us that they were so busy being sad, they had forgotten the sweet little memories,” she continued, “the stories they shared together during the process helped them heal, so that by the end of the process, both sides of the family came together in a celebration of life.”

Since the first rocker, Hero’s Rock has created five other custom designs for the children of fallen military and first responders. They’ve never known any of the families they have created rockers for, but have come to be considered family afterward.  Both Trish and Scott’s fathers served in the military – Scott’s dad in WWII, while Trish’s served in the Korean War.

“We’ve had offers come in from near and far, for things like trailers to move items, storage space, and workshop space,” Scott marveled. The following weekend, Scott’s employer, Eclipse Engineering and Construction from Chagrin Falls, sent a crew and machinery to take down and remove the remains of the building. As time and weather permit, volunteers have continued to help remove salvageable items as building remnants are removed. Updates are available on the Hero’s Rock Facebook page. As of last weekend, Trish posted that they are almost three quarters of the way done with the clean up. Unfortunately, they learned that building codes have changed since the original barn was constructed. Now, in addition to building a new structure, they also need replace the existing concrete pad and start from scratch. “We have not gotten prices back yet, but it is getting expensive. There are other fundraisers in the works. The support we have received has been overwhelming. We will rise again and Hero’s Rock will be rockin’ like never before. Thank you all!” she posted.

To find out more about their efforts, visit herosrock.us, or like the Hero’s Rock page on Facebook. To help with their rebuilding efforts, visit gofundme.com/herosrock.

Crestwood Intermediate’s Improv Scholars took first place in the Improv Games category at the Destination Imagination Region 15 Tournament last weekend at Hiram College. The team will advance to the State Tournament in April. (Pictured left to right: Hannah Herron, Josh Delaney, Drake Rennecker, Deanna Stahl, Rylee Forristal, Mia Gullatta. Jacob Waite was not available for the photo.)
Crestwood Intermediate’s Improv Scholars took first place in the Improv Games category at the Destination Imagination Region 15 Tournament last weekend at Hiram College. The team will advance to the State Tournament in April. (Pictured left to right: Hannah Herron, Josh Delaney, Drake Rennecker, Deanna Stahl, Rylee Forristal, Mia Gullatta. Jacob Waite was not available for the photo.)

Hiram - This past weekend, 60 student-led teams from 12 area schools converged at the Hiram College campus for the District 15 Destination Imagination (DI) Competition. DI is an educational program where student teams solve open-ended challenges, then present their solutions at regional, state, and global tournaments. Competitors range in age from Early Learners (ages 4 through 7) to High School students, although only Elementary, Middle and High School students participate in State and Global events. The challenges include technical, scientific, fine arts, improvisational, structural and community service. Teams learn important life skills like time management, collaboration, conflict resolution and creative and critical thinking.

The Destination Imagination program encourages teams to have fun, focus and take risks, while incorporating STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), the arts and service learning. Throughout the process, students learn patience, flexibility, and persistence, as they work with their teammates to solve a challenge. The path to this competition actually began last fall, when teams of two to seven students each chose one of six challenges to solve. They spent months creating, developing and practicing their solutions. The top-scoring teams from last weekend’s event will advance to the state tournament, to be held in Mt. Vernon next month.

The technical category, entitled Creature Feature, asks teams to build a creature that uses technical methods to perform team-chosen actions. The team must present their creature’s story, using two team-choice elements that show off the team’s interests, skills, areas of strength, and talents. The winning team of the Creature Feature – Elementary Level was YOLO from Woodridge Elementary, who shared what happens when two spies watch a scientist go down a manhole. The Middle School-level winning team was SSOS from Woodridge Middle School.

In the Scientific Category, called Making Waves, teams must design and construct a sound machine that produces two different sounds. They must incorporate two visible displays of sound waves into their presentation.  The winning team of the Making Waves – Elementary Level was DI Pie from Falcon Academy of Creative Arts, and the winning teams at the Middle and Secondary Levels were Umm…I forgot their name from Barberton Middle School and douBleStuff from Aurora High School, respectively.

In the Fine Arts challenge, entitled Feary Tales, teams must present a team-created fairy tale about a character that faces and deals with a phobia. The winning teams of the Elementary Level were Sparkle Sisters from Linsey, and Robotic Unicorns from Woodridge Elementary. The Middle School winning team was Fun Sized, who gave no school affiliation, and the Secondary Level winning team was the Noodles from Barberton High School.

In the Improvisational Challenge, or Improv Games, teams must create three independent improvisational sketches, integrating randomly selected situations and settings. The winning team of the Elementary Level was the Crestwood Improv Scholars from Crestwood Intermediate School, who showed a glimpse of life at the Holly Jolly Christmas Workshop. The Middle Level winning team was Dusty Red Piano from Kenston Middle School. There were two winners of the Secondary Level in this category: M pi R Strikes Back from Woodridge HS and I Have No Idea from Aurora HS.

In the Structural Category, called Lose to Win, teams design and build the lightest structure possible that continues to support the weight of the pressure board while parts of the structure are removed. In addition, during their presentation, they must tell a story about how something is transformed and revealed to be something completely different. The winning team at the Elementary Level was 100% Awesomeness of Dynamite from Woodridge Elementary.

In the final category, Service/Learning, or Brand Aid, teams are encouraged to use the creative process to identify, design and carry out a project that addresses at least one real community need. They can use graphic arts and sounds to create an effective brand, and create a live presentation that highlights the project and goals.  The winning Elementary Level team was GOGO 6 from Barberton Middle School. The winning Secondary teams were Purple Pride and the Pixelated Purple Penguins, both from Barberton High School. For more information on Destination Imagination, visit idodi.org.

The fifth grade students of Newton Falls Middle School recently had a guest speaker to discuss the topic of the Underground Railroad. Jean Watkins, was invited by Miss Megan Perrine to speak about this era of history and share her talents for quilting with her social studies classes.

Newton Falls – The fifth grade students of Newton Falls Middle School recently had a guest speaker to discuss the topic of the Underground Railroad.  Jean Watkins, was invited by Miss Megan Perrine to speak about this era of history and share her talents for quilting with her social studies classes.

Mrs. Jean Watkins has a background of arts and crafts and is the founder of  J.W. Etc.  She and her husband at the time made water-based varnish for the arts and crafts industry.  Products such as Right Step and White Lightning were popular items in their line of business.

She was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and her family moved to Newton Falls, Ohio when she was 12 years old.  She attended the Newton Falls school system completing grades 6-9 and then completed her high school years at Linden Hall Academy in Lititz, Pennsylvania, where she graduated.  This is the oldest school for girls in the country.  She said those years were the best years of her life.  She loved the history and the surroundings of Linden Hall and regrets not spending her adult life living in that community.  From there, she attended Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio for one year and then ended up graduating from The Art Institute in Pittsburgh.  She says she always has had “an artistic flare and seems to be hand-powered.”

Afterwards she moved to California with her husband.  They lived in Thousand Oaks which is outside of Los Angeles and directly inland from Malibu. She had one son, who was killed in the army at 19 years of age.  Later, she moved back to Pittsburgh and then moved back to Newton Falls where she currently resides.

Jean has always been particularly fond of the Civil War era, “an interesting period in history, but at the same time, a sad period” for the United States.  Jean liked this time period for its fabric and materials that were used to make clothes and linens.  Her quilts are a reproduction of the original fabrics.  The first quilt she made was a twin flannel in 2001.  She has made eight quilts total since she started sewing quilts.

Jean had sewn the freedom quilt she brought in for the class presentation back in 2010.  Freedom quilts were one way that abolitionists used to help those using the Underground Railroad system.  These quilts were maps or messages for slaves escaping to freedom. Abolitionists would air out their quilts by hanging them over balconies to help those heading towards freedom. Some houses of abolitionists were “stations” for runaway slaves to rest, eat and be given directions for the next part of their journey north to free states and even as far as Canada.  Jean has been intrigued by how each square of these quilts denote a different message for those runaway slaves.

Mrs. Jean Watkins is available to speak at other schools and community functions.  She may be reached at 724-601-7324 or jeanwatkins175@gmail.com.

Ravenna – You are invited to attend Ravenna’s 27th Annual Easter Eggstravaganza at on April 4, 2015 at John Tontimonia City Park at Oakwood Street. The event is co-sponsored by Ravenna Parks and Recreation and Title sponsor United Healthcare Community Plan. Make our Eggstravaganza an annual spring tradition in your family. Bring your children, grandparents, uncles, aunts, nieces, and nephews to a guaranteed great beginning to festive weekend of Easter. Game booths will be available for children to try their luck for prizes. Tickets will be available to purchase for the game booths. Around 10:00 a.m. a very special visitor will arrive to get us all in the egg hunt spirit. Over 5,000 eggs will be filled with candy and contain special prize tickets from the Ravenna Women of the Moose. Check out the times below for each age group’s egg hunt times. Be sure to bring a bag, basket or container for the candy you find in your eggs. This annual event is held rain, snow, or shine. We hope to see you there!

Egg Hunt Times and Ages: 10:15 am 1 – 18 years with disabilities 11:00 am 1 – 2 years with parents 11:00 am 1 – 2 years without parents 11:10 am 7 – 8 years 11:20 am 9 – 10 years 11:30 am 3 – 4 years 11:40 am 5 – 6 years

Gift baskets, eggs and candy compliments of Ravenna Giant Eagle. Easter eggs and candy compliments of the Ravenna Women of the Moose #540.

Touch-a-Truck

While you are at the Easter Eggstravaganza be sure to stop by to get a close look at the City of Ravenna vehicles and equipment purchased by your tax dollars and used by city employees. The 5th annual Touch-a-Truck is what every boy and girl loves to see – fire trucks, a police car and big trucks. City employees will be on hand to answer your questions regarding the various pieces of equipment and vehicles.

Rotary’s Santa Project was really busy this year and donations resulted in $510 that we were able to pass on to Hallie Higgins and the People Tree.
Rotary’s Santa Project was really busy this year and donations resulted in $510 that we were able to pass on to Hallie Higgins and the People Tree.

Garrettsville – It was a buoyant mood at the Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary Club on Monday, March  16 as the group heard from incipient new member, Adam Jenkins, of Edward Jones Investments, and Megan Ryser, of Garfield High School, who will be competing in the 4-Way Speech Contest, representing the local club.

The group agreed to hold reports to presentation at the regular monthly business meeting so as to allow sufficient time for programs and speakers.

Tom Collins spoke about his experience at a recent PETS(Presidents-Elect Training Seminar) weekend.  He felt that this was a good learning experience, with opportunities to meet people and pick up ideas about programs and procedures.  In the course of recommending visitations to other clubs’ activities, he mentioned the Reverse Raffle being held at the Ravenna club on Thursday.

Carol Donley brought a message from Lisa Schwan, whose family is one of the host families for the local foreign exchange student.  The federal government has upped its monitoring of these students and their whereabouts.  She also brought scoring sheets for the upcoming speech.

Megan Ryser—a wallflower who only participates in band, drama, athletics, NHS, church youth group—gave a great presentation, focused, animated and articulate.  She firmly addressed the four points of the 4-Way Test :  Is it the TRUTH?  Is it FAIR to all concerned?  Will it build GOODWILL and better FRIENDSHIPS?  Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

She approached this through her participation on the cross country team.  A health issue led her to think, and think analytically, about the benefits of universal vaccination.  Lives put in danger by exposure to the unvaccinated, costs of health care, developing relations between researchers, benefits         worldwide resulting from successful vaccination programs…all figured in the exposition of her position.  It was a slam-dunk!  Good luck in the competition.

Treasurer Amy Crawford reported that the Rotary Grant check had arrived.  Ted Lysiak announced the speakers for the remaining two meetings of the month—interesting.  April 25 has been set as the date for the semi-annual roadside clean-up.  Trish Danku will be the point person on the trial run of Club Runner, giving G-H a greater presence on the internet.

Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary meets Mondays at noon in Cal’s II, Sky Plaza, Garrettsville .  Visitors and prospective new members are always welcome.

Garrettsville – The Garfield Alumni Association is giving a heads-up to all individuals who attended—that’s graduates, plus—the schools/townships which make up the James A. Garfield Local District; that’s Freedom, Garrettsville, Nelson, the eastern remnants of Hiram, pieces-parts of Charlestown or Windham. If you’re a G-Man, listen up!  Mark September 19th, 2015 on your calendar

This will be the 10th anniversary of the founding of the group by Don Moore and will be honoring the classes of ’45, ’55, ’65, ’75, ’85, ’95, and 2005.  Special class-year table reservations can be arranged with prior notification (by May 15, if possible).  Make your class reunion part of the festivities!

Announcements are going out soon (May) in the mail.  Call 330-309-2734 if not contacted

The weekend begins with an away football game at Pymatuning Valley on Friday; Garfield fans are always welcome.  On Saturday,  the social hour at the Elementary School begins at 5:00, the dinner, catered by Guido’s, will be served at 6:30.  Donations for operations always cheerfully accepted.  Cost for the meal is $18.00.  Chance to re-connect with friends and mentors—priceless.

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The Autism Society of Ohio announced that it is excited to be working with Cafaro Co.’s Eastwood Mall to bring events to children with special needs. This year’s upsized celebration is Caring Bunny: An Inclusive Easter celebration. It will take place on Sunday, March 29, 2015 from 9:30 - 11 AM in Eastwood Mall Concourse. Registration at www.autismohio.org/mv is highly encouraged.

The Autism Society of Ohio announced that it is excited to be working with Cafaro Co.’s Eastwood Mall to bring events to children with special needs. This year’s upsized celebration is Caring Bunny: An Inclusive Easter celebration. It will take place on Sunday, March 29, 2015 from 9:30 – 11 AM in Eastwood Mall Concourse. Registration at www.autismohio.org/mv is highly encouraged.

Started three years ago by Autism Society of Ohio, this annual event is dedicated to making sure that families with children with special needs have the opportunity to enjoy seasonal traditions like the Bunny Photo Experience. This year the project is being expanded into a celebration with the addition of the following FREE Activities: Arts & Crafts; Face painting; Egg Hunt & Roll; Exhibits of artistically-decorated eggs; petting zoo featuring F5RS Bunnies in Baskets – Therapy Rabbits, Lori’s Lovely Butterflies Exhibit tent walks and more; as well as plant and garden activities and train rides.

“We are blessed to have a terrific family retail operation here in the Valley that has such a long history and strong ties to the community,” said Aundréa Cika, director of the Mahoning Valley office of the ASO. “They care enough to coordinate with their photo operators and staff to lessen potential triggers, open during otherwise closed hours and make other adjustments to provide a great experience for all children to enjoy.”

Many steps are taken to reduce sensory triggers, creating a more comforting environment for the children’s magical visit with the Bunny. This environment is likely to include (specific elements or aesthetics may vary):

  • Turning off in-mall music, stopping escalators located near the Bunny set, dimming the lights, and shutting down fountains for the duration of the event;
  • Eliminating queue lines through the use of a numbering system whereby guests approach the set when their number is called; and
  • Special activities and stories geared toward the needs of the child during the ‘wait’ period to help the child understand what activities will occur during the visit.

The Garrettsville Police Department is pleased to announce that our new K-9 team has been selected. Ptl. Keith Whan and his new partner Jack started training on March 16, 2015. They will graduate on April 24, 2015 as a certified K-9 team through the State of Ohio. They will be certified in utility and narcotics detection.

Garrettsville - The Garrettsville Police Department is pleased to announce that our new K-9 team has been selected. Ptl. Keith Whan and his new partner Jack started training on March 16, 2015. They will graduate on April 24, 2015 as a certified K-9 team through the State of Ohio. They will be certified in utility and narcotics detection.

Ptl. Whan has been with the Department since 2008. Jack is an eleven month old Czechoslovakian born German Shepard purchased from the Von Der Haus Gill Kennel where the team will train. Von Der Haus Gill Kennel provided Garrettsville Police Department’s prior two K-9s, Quando and Taz, who were handled by Lt. Timothy Christopher and whose family they retired with. Lt. Christopher will remain active in the K-9 program as the K-9 program coordinator and will continue to give guidance to our new team. Ptl. Whan has been training with Lt. Christopher and other K-9 units from Portage and surrounding counties for the last year and he and his family are familiar with the needs, requirements and commitments it takes to be a K-9 officer.

Ptl. Whan, Jack and the Garrettsville Police Department are looking forward to a productive career and maintaining the services provided by Lt. Christopher, Quando and Taz to the Village of Garrettsville. The Garrettsville Police Department will be accepting donations to keep the current and future K-9 programs in existence. Donations can be made out to the “Garrettsville Police Department K-9 Fund” and will be gratefully received at the Police Department.

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The Geauga Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) is pleased to offer scholarship funding for the 2015 Ohio Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Camp, held June 7-12, 2015 at FFA Camp Muskingum in Carroll County.  Sponsored by the Ohio Forestry Association, this weeklong camp for high school students explores many branches of forest ecology including silviculture, tree identification, wildlife and forestry management, and forest products.

Applicants must be a current Geauga County resident and enrolled in high school at the time of camp.  Students who have completed eighth grade through seniors graduating this year are welcome to apply.  Applicants must complete the Geauga SWCD Scholarship Application Form.  The applications are due by 4:00 p.m. on April 1, 2015.  For more information and the scholarship application, visit the Geauga SWCD website at geaugaswcd.com or call (440) 834-1122.

Garrettsville resident and historical interpreter/naturalist, Foster Brown, will be appearing at the Portage County Gardeners Center 5154 S. prospect St. Ravenna, Ohio (Rootstown Twp.) April 14 at 1p.m. in the guise of Dr. Wildweed, an old-time herbalist.
Source: Youtube

Garrettsville resident and historical interpreter/naturalist, Foster Brown, will be appearing at the Portage County Gardeners Center 5154 S. prospect St. Ravenna, Ohio (Rootstown Twp.) April 14 at 1p.m. in the guise of Dr. Wildweed, an old-time herbalist. Through fiddle playing, storytelling and audience participation, Dr. Wildweed emphasizes that, “Every plant has a purpose, and every plant has a story.” Using familiar wild plants, he “treats” common illnesses with herbs and humor, and reveals the uniqueness of the plant world. Mr. Brown has been with the Cleveland Metroparks since 1996. He has produced several award-winning children’s music albums revealing the joys of nature, and songs and stories of the early days in Ohio. Mr. Brown’s recordings are available through the Cleveland Metroparks.

Join us for the fun which is free and open to the public. For non- members, those wanting a noon luncheon should make reservations by April 4th for a cost of $7.00 by calling Marilyn Tyger at 330-348-6089.

Don’t get all lathered up about the fact that the Vernal Equinox arrives on Thursday, trailing Spring behind it. No, no. Just extend your celebration of St. Patrick’s Day and a wearin’ o’ the green to Friday, March 20, in the historic GAR Hall in Peninsula, Ohio, at the program, Voices in the Valley (That’s the Cuyahoga Valley, son). On tap will be the local group known as Top of the Hill Band, comprised of Tina and Paul Dreisbach, both professional musicians and teachers at Hiram College, playing, respectively, wooden flute and concertina, and Irish pipes/whistle/oboe, with John Reynolds on fiddle, mandolin and tenor banjo; Kevin Johnson on guitar and—for this performance—Robin Montgomery on piano. The group plays jigs, reels and hornpipes and offers an occasional song with great spirit and a deep respect for the long tradition of Irish music.

Don’t get all lathered up about the fact that the Vernal Equinox arrives on Thursday, trailing Spring behind it.  No, no.  Just extend your celebration of St. Patrick’s Day and a wearin’ o’ the green to Friday, March 20, in the historic GAR Hall in Peninsula, Ohio, at the program, Voices in the Valley (That’s the Cuyahoga Valley, son).  On tap will be the local group known as Top of the Hill Band, comprised of Tina and Paul Dreisbach, both professional musicians and teachers at Hiram College, playing, respectively, wooden flute and concertina, and Irish pipes/whistle/oboe, with John Reynolds on fiddle, mandolin and tenor banjo; Kevin Johnson on guitar and—for this performance—Robin Montgomery on piano.  The group plays jigs, reels and hornpipes and offers an occasional song with great spirit and a deep respect for the long tradition of Irish music.

Doors open at 6:30.  Music begins at 7:00 p.m.

Requested donation at the door is $7.

What started as a small blaze on the roof behind Miller’s Lawn & Garden quickly spread to become the greatest disaster to befall Garrettsville. Exhaustive efforts from local firefighters (with support from 100 firefighters from 34 neighboring departments) were no match for the hungry blaze which devoured the 1850s-era wooden structures occupying the retail block. Ironically, the Buckeye Block Building had just been freshly renovated and fully occupied close to a dozen businesses.

Garrettsville – Everything changed on March 22, 2014. Like the day the music died, that date altered local history irreversibly. The Great Garrettsville Fire ripped through the Buckeye Block on Main Street, taking with it 14 businesses, a once-familiar skyline, and 160 years of history.

What started as a small blaze on the roof behind Miller’s Lawn & Garden quickly spread to become the greatest disaster to befall Garrettsville. Exhaustive efforts from local firefighters (with support from 100 firefighters from 34 neighboring departments) were no match for the hungry blaze which devoured the 1850s-era wooden structures occupying the retail block. Ironically, the Buckeye Block Building had just been freshly renovated and fully occupied close to a dozen businesses.

Between lunchtime and dinnertime that fateful Saturday, what began as a simple hot seal-and-patch roof repair job became the assumed (although never officially determined) spark for the blaze which leveled the Buckeye Block — all except for the small brick and firewalled law office building which withstood the devastation. Once dwarfed by the buildings surrounding it, the brick edifice stands out now as a scarred survivor on the empty lot where it now remains.

The casualties that day were the Nelson-Garrettsville Community Cupboard (NGCC) founded by Mike and Michele Elias, Stephanie Dietelbach’s One Real Peach, Kim DelTorto’s Chic & Shabby, Miller’s Lawn & Garden (Jen Click), Tom and Brenda Mesaros’ T& B Tools, Randy and Kim Weingart’s Shaker Tree,  Jim Reppy’s Barber of G’ville, Dan Myers’ New Hearing Sales & Services, Dr. Frank Stoddard’s Garrettsville Foot and Ankle Clinic, the law offices of Dann Timmons, Amy Turos and Kim Kohli, Dale Shiffer’s Clock Repair, and Mike Maschek’s Maschek Construction.

Everybody’s doing the best they can, but it’s not the same.

Some business owners scrambled to resume operations in new locations around town. Others have gone out of business completely. Still others are collaborating with established merchants to maintain some level of continuity. Most are on hold to a great degree, searching for ways to return to Main Street. But they face daunting financial and personal risk, and no guarantee of adequate return on anticipated investment. The odds are against them.

More than just storefronts were swept away by the fire. Alluding to a lost sense of community, Garrettsville Mayor Rick Patrick expressed, “Everybody’s doing the best they can, but it’s not the same. These were more than business people. They were friends and family. Now they’re separated and scattered.”

However, the lone surviving Mishler Building signals a return of life to the Buckeye Block. It has changed hands and now is owned by Carlson Funeral Home. The family-owned local service, now in its fourth generation, plans to occupy a portion of the building to offer pre- and post-funerary services. Family Service Administrator Trish Danku anticipates working from the building sometime this summer, after water and electric lines are re-established, and remodeling is completed. Attorney Kim Kohli is considering an offer to return her practice to the former Mishler Building as well. She has been operating from the second level of the Ellerhorst Insurance ever since the fire.

Perhaps it’s fitting that a professional specializing in helping people cope with death and grief is the first to return to the burned-out Buckeye Block, because to many living in the aftermath of March 22, 2014, this past year has been a painful period of shock, loss and learning to cope with an unwelcome new reality.

Singed by Fire

“It’s been an interesting year,” says Kim DelTorto, former owner of Chic & Shabby Resale Shop, formerly occupying 4,000 square feet at the corner of Main and High streets, stretching across four storefronts. “Losing both the business and the building was like a death. I had to figure out what to do with my life after sorting through all the paperwork.”

Losing both the business and the building was like a death.

There is no easy solution. Echoing most other former Buckeye Block business owners, DelTorto wants nothing more than to rebuild and re-establish her beloved business on Main Street. But replacing that old building according to modern code translates to three-to-four times her original investment. Overnight, the rules of the game changed and resuming business on the Buckeye Block will require much deeper pockets than anywhere else in the village’s historic district.

Meanwhile, DelTorto is selling real estate with Howard Hannah in Aurora. And she’s finding a way to bring an element of Chic & Shabby back to Garrettsville  in collaboration with another existing business on Main street. Details are still in the works, but look for a collection of Chic & Shabby home decor, lamps, knick-knacks and furniture available for retail once again by April.

According to Buckeye Block Building owner and renovator Mike Maschek, it will take $15-$20 million to rebuild the entire downtown block; $4 million just to replace his ravaged building. He, like DelTorto, is itching to rebuild, but lacks the funding to proceed. No conventional loans are available to cover the required amount; so grants and gifts are the only potential resource keeping the dream alive.

We need a miracle.

“Free money is the only game in town,” Maschek says. He says he has received a potential offer from an anonymous investor/benefactor who has expressed interest in buying the property and allowing Maschek to rebuild on that site. He expects a firm answer within a month.

“Rebuilding will take more than money,” Maschek says. “We need a miracle.”

Funding the Future

Meanwhile, the slow and steady work of small-town fundraising is moving forward. The Garrettsville Area Chamber of Commerce launched the #GarrettsvilleStrong Fund immediately after the fire. Within the past year, it has collected $87,930 toward the rebuilding effort. ”Donations are still coming in from across the country,” says Chamber Secretary Michelle Zivoder.

A book containing the history and photos featuring the burned-out block by James A. Garfield Historical Society member Pam Montgomery is slated to be available for sale as part of the fundraising effort by early summer.  Rich Teresi’s photo/video DVD of the March 22 fire is available for $10 at the Weekly Villager office or online at garrettsvillearea.com. The Villager also has 900 Coalition and #GarrettsvilleStrong T-shirts available for sale. In addition, several merchants are working to establish a “Keep The Change” fund where customers can donate their change from purchases to the #GarrettsvilleStrong fund.

Anyone with a new fundraising project idea or donation to support the rebuilding effort is requested by the Village of Garrettsville and the Garrettsville Area Chamber of Commerce to contact Zivoder at 330.527.5761 or via email at news@weeklyvillager.com.

The #GarrettsvilleStrong fund is dedicated to reconstruction efforts within Garrettsville’s business district on Main Street between Center and High Streets. It is administered by a board of directors, and payouts will be made from the fund based on the fund’s established guidelines. Proceeds from fundraisers are deposited into the #GarrettsvilleStrong account at Middlefield Bank.

To make a direct donation to the fund, visit or call the Garrettsville Branch of Middlefield Bank at 8058 State Street (330.527-2121) and request that your donation be made to #GarrettsvilleStrong.

To make your donation through the mail, please mail checks made payable to #GarrettsvilleStrong to: #GarrettsvilleStrong, c/o Garrettsville Area Chamber of Commerce, P.O. Box 1, Garrettsville, Ohio 44231.

Now that the spring thaw is finally upon us, signs of life will return to the Buckeye Block. The Garden Club will soon set up planters of colorful flowers around town, and two Cruise Nights will brighten up Main Street as summer approaches. Summerfest will once again overtake the last week in June, with more vendors than ever and the main stage on the Buckeye Block, says Garrettsville Mayor Rick Patrick.

Bids will go out this summer for implementing an $80,000 streetscaping grant from Portage County. The funds will be used for new sidewalks, landscaping, lighting, and infrastructure along the historic district.

“A lot has happened in a year,” says Patrick. “The property owners worked hard to clear the rubble, level the area and plant grass so it looks better. This is going to take time. All the merchants have suffered. We need more traffic downtown to support the businesses, bars and restaurants on Main Street. Things are hopeful, but unsure.”

Hiram - “This is the next phase of our 36 years in the business,” shares Goodnight’s Kitchen & Bath, Inc. owner Jerry Goodnight, Junior. And it’s a great day in Hiram Village, as the family-run business relocates from their long-time home in Garrettsville. The Goodnights were unable to find space to suit their needs in Garrettsville. Thanks to a heads-up from their insurance agent, Dave Auble, the family relocated their long-time business next door to the Post Office on Hayden Street, in the recently renovated Old Fire Hall.

When calling Goodnight’s Kitchen & Bath, Diane Goodnight is the first person you’ll meet. Her husband, Jerry Jr.  describes her as a “people person,” a role of which he acknowledges, “She’s a natural.” She meets customers to get a sense of what they’re looking for. Many customers have planned and dreamed about their new kitchen for a number of years, and while they know the features they want, they aren’t always sure how to put it together. After a few visits spent discussing their ideas, Diane works with her husband to plan it out in detail.

The Goodnights offer a full range of services, including renovations for kitchens and bathrooms, tile work, and custom built-ins. While they don’t offer plumbing or electrical services, they employ the same qualified professionals they’ve worked with for years. Jerry Jr. explained, “It helps to like what you’re doing.” He continued, “Every job is like a new adventure, since each one is a brand-new experience.” Goodnights offer Homecrest Cabinetry, a more affordable line that feature, “a lot of cabinet for the money,” according to Jerry and Diane’s son, Jerry III. For a high-end dream kitchen, they offer Omega ® Dynasty Custom Cabinetry. Goodnight’s Kitchen & Bath are also certified DuPont Corian® Solid Surface Fabricators, and have been for the past 25 years.

They make every effort to get prices down, to make projects more affordable for clients. “We buy direct, and pass that savings on to our customers,” Jerry Jr. explained. Not only are they very conscious of people’s budgets, they also help clients select the best materials and options for the money.

And unlike big box home improvement stores, Goodnight’s specialize in providing their clients with hands-on service. For example, when a client called nine years after their kitchen remodel completion, when a cabinet hinge broke. Goodnight’s Kitchen & Bath covered it. “When you hire us, you’ve got us forever,” Jerry Jr. remarked. Diane added, “Once, I met a client at 5 am, before work, so she could make her final decision on an order to be placed that day.” The two shared that many customers have become friends, and much of the company’s business is through repeat customers and referrals.

Their son, Jerry III, started working for the family business while still in high school. Now, his son Jordan, age eight, is following in dad’s footsteps. While helping Diane in the showroom one day, he took it upon himself to show the client, in detail, the cabinets they were considering for their kitchen. “The customers were so impressed — I think he made that sale,” beamed proud grandmother, Diane.

Jerry Jr. works with customer input to create drawings, perspectives and layouts by hand.  Clients are closely involved to insure that they receive the end product they desire. Jerry III handles installation, stating, “I’ve been on the job in a client’s home at 10 pm, to meet a pressing deadline.” Whether working in tandem with his dad, or working on his own, he’s well known for his professionalism and work ethic. “I’ve had customers ask to rent my son,” Diane marveled. “I don’t know of a customer who doesn’t just love him.”

Beginning with Diane, finalizing plans with Jerry Jr., and throughout project completion with Jerry III, you’ll be treated like family when working with the Goodnights. “We make sure our customers are happy before we leave their homes,” concludes Diane. The bottom line is: no unpleasant surprises. For more information, or to schedule an appointment to discuss your kitchen or bath project, call Diane at (330) 569-3497.

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Portage County – The 17th Annual Portage Environmental Conservation Awards Dinner will take place Saturday April 11th and will feature a reception with music, hors d’oeuvres featuring local foods, a buffet dinner and more.  The 2015 Portage County Environmental Conservation Award Winners to be honored at the event include:

Environmental Education: Hiram College Tree House Project

Environmental Activism:  Downtown Mantua Revitalization Corporation

Green Business: Kelly Ferry

Green Building/Development: Emerald Environmental, Inc.

Lifetime Achievement: Ann Ward

Honor Roll for Land Conservation: Virginia Shaw

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The ladies and gentlemen of the Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary Club were pleased to host Ms Cheryl Warren, incoming District Governor of District 6630 ( Northeast Ohio) at their recent meeting on March   2.  As it was their regular business meeting, their guest was able to get the lowdown on the many local projects and activities that Rotary pursues in the community, such as :

*The Shoebox Project—Tom Collins and Ted Lysiak report that several school groups are interested in participating in this service project as recently presented by Jack Young.  Specifics about sizes, numbers of boxes, timeline for delivery will be necessary for full implementation but it looks like a “Go”.

*Ted Lysiak gave  an upbeat accounting of Garfield sports results : Girls’ Bowling Team head to state, Girls’ Basketball takes the sectional championship, Logan Kissel is Sectional Champ at 126 lbs and takes four teammates with him to compete at the next level, the district OME (Ohio Music Educators) competition comes to Garfield in two weeks.

*Tom Collins gave an update on  exchange student affairs, current and future

*The Santa Project had presented Hallie Higgins of the People Tree with a check for $510; pictures to go out.

*Amy Crawford presented the financial report, including current balances, received funds—grants and donations– for local projects, specifics needed for the Eagle Scout project sponsorship, a thank you will be going out to Mr. Tom Eakin for his donation for the school calendar, Bike-n-Hike monies, and prospects, an audit will be scheduled for June.

* Rebuilding and #GarrettsvilleStrong elicited comment  as well.

The club’s guest then spoke briefly on the technical assistance available to local clubs through Rotary International and District 6630, specifically two programs called ClubRunner and EventRunner which offer streamlining of reporting procedures, online information, website help, FaceBook and other features designed to appeal to new members and facilitate better club operation.

In the photo you see Scott and Trish Snyder receiving a check from club secretary, Diane Harto. They are surrounded by members of the club who are veterans. They are from left to right: Tom Buck, Richard Ball, Hal Hall, Vickie Yendriga, Bill Alexander, Ken Durick, Joe Lansky, and Sam Vechter. In the center are Trish & Scott Snyder and Diane Harto handing over the check.
In the photo you see Scott and Trish Snyder receiving a check from club secretary, Diane Harto. They are surrounded by members of the club who are veterans. They are from left to right: Tom Buck, Richard Ball, Hal Hall, Vickie Yendriga, Bill Alexander, Ken Durick, Joe Lansky, and Sam Vechter. In the center are Trish & Scott Snyder and Diane Harto handing over the check.

Kent - On February 17, 2015 the Tree City Carvers, of Kent presented a check for $250.00 to Scott and Trish Snyder of Hero’s Rock.

After giving a talk at the carving club meeting, the members of the Tree City Carvers were so moved by the dedication of the Snyders to their cause that they voted to make a monetary donation to the Hero’s Rock project.

Hero’s Rock is a non-profit charity, created by Scott and Trish Snyder as a way to give back to the families of the fallen heros of our community. This includes military, police, fire and rescue workers who have lost their lives while protecting the safety and freedom of other Americans, many from our own community.

Hero’s Rock designs and builds custom tribute rockers to reflect the personality and history of the fallen hero. The hope is to bring a level of compassion and understanding to even the youngest child who has suffered the loss of a parent. The rockers serve as a reminder of that family member. A lasting tribute and heirloom for future generations.

For children who are too old to enjoy a rocker, they build a beautiful tribute chest, like a “hope chest” in appearance, so those young ones can have a place to preserve treasured belongings to remember their lost parent by.

In the photo you see Scott and Trish Snyder receiving a check from club secretary, Diane Harto. They are surrounded by members of the club who are veterans.

They are from left to right: Tom Buck, Richard Ball, Hal Hall, Vickie Yendriga, Bill Alexander, Ken Durick, Joe Lansky, and Sam Vechter. In the center are Trish & Scott Snyder and Diane Harto handing over the check.

To learn more about Hero’s Rock go to : www.herosrock.us or email: contactus@herosrock.us or phone: 650-ROCKERS.

Mantua - According to Clerk-Treasurer Jenny August, Village Council has cancelled a public hearing that was originally scheduled for March 17th to discuss amending the zoning map of the Village, as specified in Ordinance 2015-01. Upon further consideration, Council voted to table the proposed ordinance, which will be reviewed and discussed at greater length in both Service and Finance Committee meetings before another public hearing is rescheduled.

Moving forward, the Parks Committee provided special event forms and requested team manager for contact information from both Hot Stove and Ponytail leagues’ in order to determine effective schedules for both leagues practices and games on the Village’s fields this spring. In addition, Council approved the special event request for Art on the Hill to be held on Saturday, July 11th.

In other news, Police Chief Harry Buchert announced that his Department has an open position for a part-time dispatcher. For more information, visit the Village’s web site, mantuavillage.com. in addition, this month Mayor Linda Clark swore in a new part-time Auxiliary Police Officer, Steven Gregg.

In her report, Mayor Clark announced that the Village received certification from the Department of Interior for the Certified Local Government Program under the National Historic Preservation Act. Mayor Clark remarked, “I spoke with Nathan Bevil, from the Ohio Historical Society; I let him know that Planning is reviewing the legislation for possible recommendations to Council in the next few months.” Should Council agree, a training class will be held by the Ohio Historical Society for the Historic Landmark Commission members and members of Council. More details will be forthcoming in the future.

Next, Ms. August reported that the financial reports for 2014 have been closed out, and the audit is currently in process. She also shared an invitation with Council for coffee and conversation with Crestwood Superintendent David Toth on March 12th any time from 7 – 9 am at the Pupil Services Building (4571 West Prospect Street).

Lastly, the Village of Mantua will consider joining a consortium of local municipalities to consider private companies, in place of Portage County services, to deal with solid waste. The communities considering privatization include Hiram Township, Hiram Village, Mantua Township, Shalersville Township, Streetsboro, Aurora and Ravenna. Communities would be allowed to opt-in, and once a contract is developed, there will be a bidding process, which has yet to be determined. According to Mayor Clark, “We are talking about combining trash pickup and recycling together, in order to get the best price for our residents.”

The next regularly schedule meeting of the Mantua Village Council will be held on Tuesday, March 17th at 7 pm. Residents are encouraged to attend.

Newton Twp. – The Newton Township Cemetery Association held its first meeting of 2015 on January 15 at the Newton Township Administration Building. Members voted to continue with completing the restoration of the wrought iron fence at the East Side Cemetery on North Canal Street as the project for 2015. When weather permits, the third group of ten repaired sections will be re-installed. Another ten sections are scheduled for removal by Todd Clark who, along with his father Richard Clark, is working on the repair and restoration  of the fence. When these are re-installed, repair of the fence will be near the two-thirds completion mark.

Additional contributions toward the cost of this project were received from the following:  American Legion Post #236 Auxiliary, Larry and Jacqueline Hayes, two anonymous donors and Donald G. MacNaughton. Appreciation is extended to everyone for their generous monetary gifts for the fence restoration. Contributions are still being accepted and may be sent to: Newton Township Cemetery Association, P. O. Box 233 Newton Falls, Ohio 44444.

On February 19, 2015, the Association met and approved having a fund raising dinner. It will be held on April 11, 2015 at the First Christian Church on North Center Street in Newton Falls. The time will be 4:00- 7:00 p.m. The menu will be baked boneless chicken breast, loaded baked potato, California blend vegetables, coleslaw, rolls, dessert and beverages. Ticket prices are: $9 for adults; $6 for ages 4-11; free for children under age 3. Advanced tickets are available from Association members or call 330.872.1354. Co-chairing the dinner will be Louanne Dubos, Mary Lou O’Lear and Doreen Lutz. Proceeds from the dinner will help with the East Side Cemetery fence project.

Cemetery rules and regulations are being reviewed for proposed updates. The association will submit the proposals to the Board of Trustees for further review. When the final form of the rules and regulations has been approved by the board, the association will print updated brochures for distribution.

A 2016 calendar featuring early photos of Newton Falls and Newton Township is being produced by the Association and will be available in June. The calendar price is $10.00 and pre-publication orders can be placed with Association members or by calling (330) 872-0236. All of the 2015 calendars featuring the 1985 tornado pictures have been sold.

Membership dues remain the same as previous years ($10.00 per person, $5.00 for one additional family member). Dues may be paid at the meeting or sent to the Association at P.O. Box 233 Newton Falls, Ohio 44444.

The next meeting for the Association will be March 19, 2015, 6:00 p.m., at the Newton Township

Hiram – At the last meeting of the Hiram Village Council, Police Chief Ed Samec reported that his Department received three grants in February. The first grant, from Ohio Criminal Justice Services, will outfit Hiram PD patrol cruisers with two in-car digital dash camera systems. The second grant, from the US Department of Justice, will be used to replace outdated bulletproof vests, at a value of $2,795. The third and final grant, from the Department of Homeland Security, will provide a mobile data terminal for a police cruiser. Now all three of the Department’s vehicles are similarly equipped. During Legislation, Council passed a resolution authorizing the Village to enter into an agreement with Bryant & Stratton College, allowing the Hiram Police Department to sponsor a Police Academy with the College. According to Chief Samec, 23 cadets are waiting to begin training at the newly formed Academy, which will offer a two-year program at a facility in Fairlawn. The Academy will be funded by cadet tuition, at no cost to the Village.

Next, Chief Bill Byers provided the Fire Department’s Year-End report. He reported that in 2014, the Department responded to 395 incidents: 37 in the Village, 175 in the Township, and 96 at the College. In addition, they also responded to 87 calls for Mutual Aid. Chief Byers reported that the average response time was five minutes and 13 seconds. He reported that in 2014, Firefighters and EMTs participated in 2,590 hours of training. Lastly, Chief Byers reported that the Department has received an America Grows Farmers grant, given on behalf of the Groselle Family Farm. The $2,500 grant will be used to purchase helmets, boots and gloves.

In other news, Mayor Bertrand reported that the Village would hire an Assistant Village Administrator to replace Bob Wood, who retires at the end of 2015. In addition, the Village will also be hiring an Assistant Fiscal Officer to replace Rosemary Yukich, who will retire in April. In other news, Township Trustee Kathy Schulda gave the Hiram Township report, sharing that a consortium of local governments have decided not to participate in the County’s Solid Waste plan. Schulda shared her concerns about Portage County’s abilities to provide such services, stating, “It’s ineffective. So many private companies are in this field, giving us the opportunity to get a better price for our citizens, and to save wear and tear on our roads.” Contracts are currently under discussion, and include the communities of Hiram Village and Township, Freedom, Mantua Village and Township, Ravenna City and Township, Shalersville and Streetsboro. Ms. Schulda was appointed as the Village’s liaison for this matter.

Lastly, Chris Szell reported on behalf of the Parks Board about several grants it had recently received, and several more applications that were in process. He noted that Parks Board member Sam Bixler was reappointed in November 2014, and that Susan Merrill would be stepping down as Board Chair. Mr. Szell would assume the role. At the conclusion of the report, Council President Tom Wadkins asked that the Parks Board work with the Finance Committee to discuss progress on the Hike & Bike Trail.  The Beautification Commission will meet on Friday, March 6th at 8:30 am, and the Parks Board will meet at 9 am.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Hiram Village Council will be held on Tuesday, March 10th at 7 pm. Residents are encouraged to attend.

What Is Going On With PARCC Testing?

Garrettsville – Unless your address is “Under a Rock” Boulevard, you have most likely heard some degree of controversy surrounding testing in schools. The new tests have become a hot topic on social media and the buzz around the tests is becoming a distraction to education for students, staff, administration and parents.  While we have met with many parents and been communicating our concerns to legislators I felt it would be helpful to provide some history and perspective on the subject.

What are assessments?

Put quite simply an assessment is a test of what someone knows. There are a broad range of assessments and while you need not be an expert on all types of tests there are some things that will make testing easier to understand.

The range of testing begins with tests called “Formative” tests.  These are simple. Think of them as minute to minute tests teachers conduct while teaching.  They may look for the notorious “Wrinkled Forehead” from a student who is not understanding.  They may call on random students to share the answer to a question or ask them to solve one problem before they leave for the day.  Teachers use this information to plan their instruction. While it is informal, it is a very purposeful and a powerful tool.  Think of these results as the turn by turn instructions given by a GPS….the more you receive the more likely you are to arrive at your destination.

The other end of the range of assessments are called “Summative” tests.  These are longer, more complex tests such as the Ohio Graduation Test, the ACT/SAT, a bar exam to become a lawyer or a certification test to become a mechanic for GM.  Data used by these tests are what I like to call “Post-Mortem” as they are conducted at the very end, and the results are usually provided to teachers when it is too late to really do much with.  However, while the data is not as useful to the teacher, it does allow schools to examine the impact of particular programs, states to evaluate schools and communities to compare their schools. To continue the GPS analogy, the Summative tests are the voice that tell you where you have arrived.

Between Formative and Summative tests are many different things such as homework, surveys, quizzes, tests, mid-term exams or final exams.  They are all a part of teaching and learning.  A balanced testing system will have both formative and summative tests.  While we trust teachers 100% to provide the turn by turn directions on a daily basis (formative tests) it is also healthy to take a step back and know where we are (summative tests).

Are we required to test?

Yes.  The main federal legislation governing education, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) requires states to test students annually. The requirement started in 1994.  This requirement was strengthened in 2001 with the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act when districts were required to begin testing students in grades 3-10.

What Grades and subjects are tested?

Ohio Achievement Assessments (OAAs) were administered in grades 3-8 in the following subjects:

Third grade: Reading and math

Fourth grade: Reading and math

Fifth grade: Reading, math and science

Sixth grade: Reading and math

Seventh grade: Reading and math

Eighth grade: Reading, math and science

The Ohio Graduation Test was administered to Tenth graders and tested the following subjects:

Math

Reading

Writing

Science

Social Studies

What are the new tests?

There is a new set of tests that are replacing the Ohio Achievement tests in reading and math called the PARCC Tests.  PARCC stands for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. These tests are summative tests and are taken online and spread over a number of days (5 separate tests in reading and four in math).  Each test is shorter than the OAAs they are replacing, but overall the students spend more time testing.

For the subjects of science and social studies students will be taking online tests called AIR test. American Institutes for Research developed these tests specifically for Ohio.

Both AIR and PARCC tests are being given to Ohio students right now and are replacing tests schools previously gave in these grades.  The Ohio Graduation Test is being given for the last time to Tenth graders this year while Ninth graders are taking PARCC and AIR tests at the end of some of their classes.  These exams will replace the OGT.

What are the concerns?

There are many concerns with these new tests.  Here are a few of the concerns we are hearing.

Data

Many parents have shared concern for data about their children being shared or used to place them on tracks.  There is also a concern for private personal health data being collected. There is also concern about who has access to the data. To alleviate those concerns, please read House Bill 487, passed into law in 2014.  It clearly explains who will have access and how data from these tests will be used.

Tests are too hard 

There is a concern that the tests are much harder than they OAAs and OGT they are replacing.  This is absolutely true. The tests were created to measure a new set of standards that are more difficult. There is a great deal more critical thinking and problem solving required on these new tests.

There is too much testing

There is great concern among parents, teachers and administrators that there is too much time being devoted to these new assessments.

What is JAG doing about testing?

James A. Garfield Schools support Ohio’s new standards and are excited about technology based tests.  These tests mirror the tests our students will have to pass if they want to attend college or start a career in a trade. We anticipate quicker results from these tests, which may help our teachers know more about their students before they leave for the summer.

This being said, we have serious concerns over the amount of testing that is taking place.  We feel strongly that our testing is out of balance with too many summative tests.  We have been advocating to Ohio’s Superintendent of Public Instruction and our legislators to reduce the amount of testing and allow districts more local control over how we gain a summative look at our performance.

We have been communicating with parents about their concerns and provided a forum for them to speak with our representative, Sarah LaTourette, about testing and data.

Sarah  Latourette is also coming to speak with a group of our students about their thoughts on testing on March 13.

Our administrators and teachers have been very active in writing our legislators about reducing the amount of state testing, and I am meeting personally with our local representatives to promote more control over our testing requirements.

While we are working through finding a better solution we are encouraging all students to test.  As the law is currently written (Ohio Revised Code 3317.03 and 3301-13-04), a district cannot include in their enrollment any student who does not test.  If a student is not included in enrollment we do not receive our state foundation funding for that student.

What should I do as a parent/community member?

Very few political changes have come from a Facebook post or bowling alley conversation. The change we need now to gain more local control of how we test our students needs to come from informed conversations with our state legislators. I applaud the nearly 60 parents and teachers who braved the cold to come out on a Friday evening to speak with our state representative Sarah LaTourette.  Just a week after our conversation House Bill 7 was amended to address some of the concerns brought up in our meeting!  This is how lasting change is made.

Testing is a part of teaching and learning. We need to return to a more balanced testing system, and we feel strongly that this should be done with more teacher input.  James A. Garfield Schools will continue to advocate for what is best for our students in this regard. They have performed at an excellent level for years, and we owe it to them to get our testing system to a better place.

I would encourage anyone who may have more questions about testing to contact me directly at 330.527.4336 (office), 216.534.7413 (cell) or tlysiak@jagschools.org. To contact your legislator directly you can find their email and phone numbers by visiting www.legislature.ohio.gov.

G-MEN Wrestlers Battle at Sectionals

Garrettsville – The Garfield G-Men High School Wrestling Team competed at sectionals held at Beachwood High School this past weekend.  This proved to be a rewarding day for several G-Men wrestlers, finishing 5th out of 11 teams, with only 7 wrestlers competing.

Leading off the G-men at 106# is Guy Peart.  Guy was prelim favorite to battle for the 4th to 6th place, but instead he dominated the competition ending up in the finals only to bow out during the match with a shoulder injury.

Next to take the mat was Ryan Finney at 120#.  Ryan was prelim favorite to finish in the third spot as he did, getting narrowly beaten by 14th ranked state wrestler.

Logan Kissel, wrestling at 126#, shocked the bracket finishing on top of the podium beating the 14th state ranked wrestler in the finals 5-0.  Logan proudly holds the 13th state ranked position in Division III.

Noah Heim wrestled the 132# spot, giving up more than 15 pounds to the competition.  Noah pinned his first opponent, however lost to the eventual tournament winner.  Noah wrestled with true guts knowing the uphill battle he faced all day.

Matt Kuzniakowski wrestled at 138# and dominated his first opponent, then ran into the tournament #1 seed and eventual tournament winner.  Matt finished third.

Ben Nowak wrestled 145# weight and too had a tough day starting with the #1 seed, but finished very strong in the 5th place.

Austin Mangeri rounds out the team at 160#.  Austin also started the day facing the #1 seed and fighting back through the consolation bracket.  Austin finished in the 5th place, as an alternate for districts.

The district tournament will be held at Garfield Heights High School March 6 and 7th.  The top 4 finishers in each weight move on to the state tournament.  Qualifying for districts was Guy Peart, Ryan Finney, Logan Kissel and Matt Kuzniakowski.  Ben and Austin qualified as alternates.  Good luck G-Men!

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The Portage County District Library Board of Trustees announced its new board officers at a recent board meeting. The new board officers (pictured L to R) are Eileen Kutinsky, President; Deborrah Defer, Vice President; and Betty Clapp, Secretary. The Board meets at 5:30 pm on the third Thursday of each month. Meetings are open to the public. Meetings are held at branch library locations on a rotating basis. Public notices are sent to the newspaper each month to announce the date, time and location of all board and committee meetings. Visit the Portage County District Library online at www.portagelibrary.org for information about library programs and services.

Garrettsville – For the first time since 1997 the Garfield G-Men girl’s basketball team is making their second consecutive trip to the district semi-finals.

Following Garfield’s convincing 48-23 victory last Wednesday against Champion; the Lady G-Men soared by the Hawks from Hawken 62-49 to earn their back-to-back sectional title.

The wire-to-wire victories put Garfield at 16-7 on the season and puts 9th year head coach Aaron Gilbert at 81 wins over that span.

Over the first four minutes Wednesday, Garfield jumped out to a 5-0 lead against Champion. The Golden Flashes first basket came at the 4-minute mark, Garfield would end the first quarter on a 3-pointer by senior Becky Kirk to give the Lady G-Men a 13-6 lead after one quarter.

Kirk would hit another 3-pointer in the second frame pushing the lead to a 22-13 advantage at the half.

Coach Gilbert’s halftime speech must have involved defense because Garfield came out in the third quarter and shut down Champion, to the tune of one point, a single free throw, late in the quarter. After the swarming defense took a break before the final frame Garfield held a 42-14 advantage with eight minutes to play.

Sophomore Grayson Rose led all scorers with 14 while Juniors Madisson Geddes and Alicia Witte chipped in with 10 and nine.

Saturday the Lady G-Men faced last season’s district runner-up, Hawken.

The Hawks came into a “No Fly Zone” early in the game as Garfield jumped out to a 12-9 lead after the first quarter thanks to Rose’s six points. The second frame Garfield took control, with Geddes pouring in eight of the team’s 18 second-quarter points, while holding the Hawks to four points, giving the Lady G-Men a commanding 30-13 lead.

The Hawks regrouped in the second half, outscoring Garfield 18-11 in the third frame. The final stanza saw Hawken cut the lead to single digits several times and got as close as eight points with 1:55 remaining in the contest but Geddes scored five of Garfield’s final six points to put the game away. Garfield posted three players in double figures, led by Geddes with 17, Rose 14, sophomore Lauren Jones added 13. A host of role-players added support namely, Senior Caytlin Armstrong who scored all seven of her points in the critical fourth quarter.

Coach Gilbert and his squad will face a familiar foe in Pymatuning Valley at the Ravenna district; the Lakers ended Garfield’s season last year with a 20-point victory over the young G-Gals. That experience may be all the girls need to put them over the regional drought.

“I think the girls matured a lot since the last game of the year, that was an atmosphere we weren’t ready for and I think this year we have prepared ourselves for this moment,” said Gilbert following the game, as many Hawken supporters congratulated him and wished him well in the tournament.

No basketball team from Garfield has made a regional appearance since 1989 when first team all state selection Kim Wilson and the Lytle sisters, led by coach Dudley Lytle, took the Lady G-Men all the way to the regional finals.Garrettsville – For the first time since 1997 the Garfield G-Men girl’s basketball team is making their second consecutive trip to the district semi-finals. Following Garfield’s convincing 48-23 victory last Wednesday against Champion; the Lady G-Men soared by the Hawks from Hawken 62-49 to earn their back-to-back sectional title. The wire-to-wire victories put Garfield at 16-7 on the season and puts 9th year head coach Aaron Gilbert at 81 wins over that span. Over the first four minutes Wednesday, Garfield jumped out to a 5-0 lead against Champion. The Golden Flashes first basket came at the 4-minute mark, Garfield would end the first quarter on a 3-pointer by senior Becky Kirk to give the Lady G-Men a 13-6 lead after one quarter. Kirk would hit another 3-pointer in the second frame pushing the lead to a 22-13 advantage at the half. Coach Gilbert’s halftime speech must have involved defense because Garfield came out in the third quarter and shut down Champion, to the tune of one point, a single free throw, late in the quarter. After the swarming defense took a break before the final frame Garfield held a 42-14 advantage with eight minutes to play. Sophomore Grayson Rose led all scorers with 14 while Juniors Madisson Geddes and Alicia Witte chipped in with 10 and nine. Saturday the Lady G-Men faced last season’s district runner-up, Hawken. The Hawks came into a “No Fly Zone” early in the game as Garfield jumped out to a 12-9 lead after the first quarter thanks to Rose’s six points. The second frame Garfield took control, with Geddes pouring in eight of the team’s 18 second-quarter points, while holding the Hawks to four points, giving the Lady G-Men a commanding 30-13 lead. The Hawks regrouped in the second half, outscoring Garfield 18-11 in the third frame. The final stanza saw Hawken cut the lead to single digits several times and got as close as eight points with 1:55 remaining in the contest but Geddes scored five of Garfield’s final six points to put the game away. Garfield posted three players in double figures, led by Geddes with 17, Rose 14, sophomore Lauren Jones added 13. A host of role-players added support namely, Senior Caytlin Armstrong who scored all seven of her points in the critical fourth quarter. Coach Gilbert and his squad will face a familiar foe in Pymatuning Valley at the Ravenna district; the Lakers ended Garfield’s season last year with a 20-point victory over the young G-Gals. That experience may be all the girls need to put them over the regional drought. “I think the girls matured a lot since the last game of the year, that was an atmosphere we weren’t ready for and I think this year we have prepared ourselves for this moment,” said Gilbert following the game, as many Hawken supporters congratulated him and wished him well in the tournament. No basketball team from Garfield has made a regional appearance since 1989 when first team all state selection Kim Wilson and the Lytle sisters, led by coach Dudley Lytle, took the Lady G-Men all the way to the regional finals.

Hiram College students participate in AICUO Independent College Day in Columbus
PICTURED in State Senate Chambers: Ed Frato-Sweeney (Coordinator of Citizenship Education), Brian Lind (Assistant Dean of Students), Senior Su Latt, State Senator John Eklund, Junior Laura Baskin, Junior Jacob Vaughan.

Hiram – Three Hiram College students traveled to Columbus on Wednesday (February 25) to meet with key legislators and staffers in the Statehouse.  Hiram Senior Su Latt and Juniors Laura Baskin and Jacob Vaughan spoke about the importance of the Ohio College Opportunity Grant, a need-based grant provided by the state government to help students attend college.  They also spoke about their experiences at Hiram and the importance of small private colleges.  All three Hiram students met with State Senator John Eklund (R-Munson Twp.) and State Representative Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent), as well as influential staffers in other offices.  One of the highlights of the trip was having lunch with Dick Wolf, Hiram class of 1974, who is now the Senior Legislative Aide to Representative Ron Amstutz, Speaker Pro Tempore of the Ohio House.

The trip was part of the annual AICUO Independent College Day.  AICUO is the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Ohio, a group that represents the interests of its 51 members to Ohio’s lawmakers, regulators, and citizens.  The Hiram students were accompanied by staffers Ed Frato-Sweeney (Coordinator of Citizenship Education) and Brian Lind (Assistant Dean of Students).