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There’s tribute and then there’s…TRIBUTE.

Here’s one where some young ladies—not to mention their enthusiastic coach and supporters—played a sport that they love and made a commitment to U.S. Marines and Army vets coming home from service having suffered the loss of limbs and playing softball, inspiring fans with their motto, “Life Without a Limb Is Limitless.”  The girls were playing for the W.W.A.S.T.—Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team.  They raised money for the W.W.A.S.T. as well as meeting the group face-to-face…pretty inspiring…on both sides.

They played in tournaments wearing uniforms that made clear what their cause was and they played some terrific tournaments, winning the Y-town Mayhem Tournament and experiencing amazing plays and tremendous crowd interest over the course of the competition.  The community of Northeast Ohio was involved and 26 players reported for duty—some local(Madison “Maddog” VanKirk, Hannah ”Bigdog” Smith, Gracie Pignaloso, Torrie Gall, Angie Masiello, Colleen ”Red” Coughlin and Alyssa “Domo” Hughes), some not so much.  It was some epic softball, in all sorts of ways : on the field and in hearts and minds.

Thanks go out to GYS, Ohio Outlaws Fastpitch, Lightning Gold, Emeralds, all who participated, all who donated, all who rooted the team on.  Appreciation to coach Tom VanKirk, head coach of the “Lady Warriors” and president of Garrettsville Youth Softball and Ohio Outlaws Fastpitch coach, who put together this memorable experience.

Thanks to our service persons in uniform for the sacrifices made so that these kids can grow up free and safe and able to be just kids.

Sherri Johnson was sworn in at this month's Village Council meeting.
Sherri Johnson was sworn in at this month’s Village Council meeting.

Garrettsville – Sherri Johnson was sworn in at the May 13, 2015 village council meeting and was immediately immersed in the issues of the night’s meeting.

First up was a lengthy discussion about the status of scheduling for the use of the village’s fields for Hot Stove baseball teams and the new Garrettsville Sandlot teams.  Representatives and parents of the Garrettsville Hot Stove league questioned council as to why they had to adjust their set game and practice schedules to allow field time for the new league this late in the year.  Councilman Steve Hadzinsky explained how he had met with both league representatives to discuss an equitable and fair way to divvy up the field time between the two leagues.  Hadzinsky and village solicitor Michelle Stuck agreed that as a community group the new teams have every legal right to field time the same as Hot Stove and currently there is no set deadline as to when scheduling requests have to be filed.  Questions were then posed about Hot Stove property and whether or not they had to share things that had been purchased with Hot Stove monies.  Stuck clarified that the village owns anything permanently attached to village property, even if Hot Stove monies purchased it.  Movable equipment remains the property of Hot Stove and should be removed or locked up after their use to protect it.  Stuck went on to say that the new Sandlot teams had not submitted the correct insurance information or waivers needed before they can use the fields.  Council agreed to give the Sandlot League one week to get the necessary forms submitted or they would forfeit their field time until next season.  Council also agreed to establish a deadline beginning with next season for all insurance and waiver forms to be filed with the village in order to reserve field time for the season.   Representative from the Sandlot teams were not in attendance.  Hadzinsky stated he would notify them of the decisions made at the night’s meeting.

Next up was a lengthy and passionate discussion about the village’s request to the police department to cut $100,000 from their 2015 budget.  Department police officers, including Police Chief Tony Milicia, and several residents had questions about the cuts and how the village got into this financial position.

Councilman Steve Hadzinsky had been asking council for a while to acknowledge the deficit spending trends that had been going on for several years.  Council President Tom Hardesty explained that it wasn’t until he sat down with the village clerk and went through the budget line by line, then looked to the 2015 projections for income that he realized there was a significant deficit.

almost half [of the budget], is appropriated to the police department

The village has budgeted $1.89 million for 2015 and has projected only $1.69 million in revenue.  A significant portion of the budget, almost half, is appropriated to the police department.  Council therefore felt half of the $200,000 shortfall should come from the department.

Police Chief Milicia and Lt. Tim Christopher had presented plans for cuts at the safety committee meeting.  There were several options presented which included cutting dispatch, the Drug Task Force, annual longevity pay, janitorial services and paying higher health care deductions.

Making changes to bring village health care coverage more in line with the norm would be a significant savings for the village.

Currently village employees pay 10% of their health care premium costs (the village pays the rest).  In the public sector, the average split on employer/employee premiums is 20-25% employee, 75-80%employer.  The village also offers spousal and family coverage at the same split. Many non-public employers insist spouses get insurance from their own places of employment or make coverage available but spouses must pay a larger portion if not the entire premium. Making changes to bring village health care coverage more in line with the norm would be a significant savings for the village.

However, neither Milicia nor Christopher’s plans included not filing the vacancy opened when Officer David Firtik resigned to take a position with the Ravenna Police Department.  Council President Tom Hardesty suggested that not filing the position would have a low impact for the department and would save the necessary funds.  The officers and residents in attendance had a different view.  Several of the officers in attendance explained how important the current staffing was to the department and how not filling the vacancy would be detrimental.

Chief Milicia’s suggestion for cutting dispatch stems from eminent changes in the next couple of years because of federal and state mandates requiring upgrades in equipment and software that will more than double the cost of running the dispatch center.  He said the state plans to centralize and consolidate all public safety-answering points (PSAPs) in the county.  Though Garrettsville would have to pay for their dispatching service (Milicia estimates that to be $100,000 or less annually) the department would almost double in savings the $100,000 they’ve been asked to cut.  Milicia doesn’t know when the mandates will take place, everything is bogged down in the legislature, but the changes are coming.

The officers present guaranteed that they would be able to run their own “drug task force”

Much concern was also raised about choosing between suspending the contract with the Portage County Drug Task Force or not hiring a new full-time police officer.  The officers present guaranteed that they would be able to run their own “drug task force” with a new full-time officer and the K-9 unit and felt a better choice was suspending the current Drug Task Force contract.

After much discussion council agreed to hire a new full-time officer in exchange for a consolidation of some of the concessions that the department had submitted which includes: Suspension of the Portage County Drug Task Force contract, one year suspension of longevity pay, decrease in off-site training, a change in patrolling activities, charging for extra security services for events and the schools, cuts in janitorial services, increased health care premiums, and selling equipment and cars no longer needed or in use.

More questions were raised asking how the village intends to make other cuts and what do these budget issues mean for Garrettsville’s future.  Council President Hardesty explained how the budget and the departments work.  How monies from the General Fund and monies from the BPA or Streets Department do not and cannot intermingle.  But he also explained that the village has been carrying the burden for some expenses that should be shared by other departments and moving forward they will be.

 Perme questioned council about the status of economic development in the village, however his question went unanswered.

Resident and local businessman Christopher Perme wanted to know what council plans to do for the future.  He asked if there is a plan to increase revenue.  Perme pointed out that building homes and bringing more families will not generate the kind of revenue needed to support the village; business and industry however would generate that kind of revenue.  Perme questioned council about the status of economic development in the village, however his question went unanswered.

After the council meeting, Councilwoman Harrington stated she felt economic development was something that the village really needed to pursue.  She said she has the utmost respect for Council President Hardesty and appreciates all the work he has put into making the budget understandable and bringing to light viable options for controlling expenses.  She credits him with getting the police department’s overtime spending under control last year.  Harrington is confident council made the right decisions in moving forward.  “The police are a valuable resource for our residents and it’s important to keep our community safe”.

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 June 10, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. at Village Hall.

Hiram – Based on statistics from the U.S. Department of Education, autism is growing at a rate of 10-17 percent per year. At this rate, the Autism Society estimates that the prevalence of autism could reach 4 million Americans in the next decade. Locally, the Hiram Farm Living & Learning Community is on a mission to provide meaningful work for adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders. This organic farm is located on the southwest corner of State Route 82 and State Route 700 in Hiram, providing fresh, organic produce and handcrafted items to the local community. But more importantly, it provides training, a purpose, and a job opportunity for adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Starting in 2009, the Hiram Farm began with six autistic adults by teaching them to tend livestock, raise produce, and master basic carpentry and crafting skills. Today, the program employs 24 farmers, as well as support staff of 15, including Habitation Manager Missy Bookbinder. Bookbinder has worked with individuals with special needs for most of her life. She was introduced to Hiram Farm through a previous position where she worked with one of Hiram’s farmers in a residential capacity. She witnessed how his life had been positively impacted when he joined the program. She explained, “I saw first-hand the wonderful progress he made upon starting the program at the Farm. I knew I wanted to be a part of the place that helped improve his life so dramatically.” Her positive attitude helps her guide the farmers — 21 males and three females — through their year-round, day-to day jobs at the Farm. “It’s amazing, the amount of growth we’ve seen in our farmers. I’m lucky to be able to sit in meetings with their families, and hear them share how, thanks to The Farm, their children are doing things they never dreamed would be possible.”

Throughout the year, Hiram farmers cultivate vegetables and herbs hydroponically and in outdoor gardens, selling produce at their roadside farm stand. In addition, they craft items that are offered year-round at the Farm’s gallery shop from 8 am through 4 pm, Monday through Friday. Items for sale include rag rugs and potholders, wooden furniture and birdhouses, walking sticks, soaps, body scrubs and scented candles. Homemade food items are also offered, including jam, bread mixes, eggs, and pasture-raised ground beef and pork. Proceeds from the Farm’s sales directly support program participants, providing them purposeful employment. But the rewards are so much more than just monetary.

One parent shared, “Our family is so grateful to have Hiram Farm a part of our lives. Hiram Farm offers our son and other adults with autism the opportunity to interact in a work environment and enjoy and independence that they may not be able to obtain otherwise.” Another parent shared, “Hiram Farm has been a Godsend for my son Cameron. Cam has made such great progress since his start date. The most wonderful aspect of it all is that he is doing work that is meaningful to him.”

To learn more, visit hiramfarm.org for volunteer opportunities and a donation wish list. Like them on Facebook to find out what’s available at their farm stand, like hydroponic lettuce at $2 per head, or a dozen, free-range brown eggs for just $2.50.

Garrettsville – Automotive Rehab LLC at 8147 Windham St. gives “full service” its intended meaning. Although it moved into its current location just a few months ago, it has been providing quality car care since 2008 from its former Infirmary Road location in Mantua.

Jon and Loren Martin relocated their family-owned business to the former Geeville Auto Parts building back in February, and have been renovating and getting the shop in order ever since. A grand opening/open house is scheduled for 5-8pm on Saturday, May 30, during Garrettsville’s first car cruise of the season.

As just the second owners of the 1912-era building (previously owned by the Bishop family for generations), the Martins are excited to showcase the historic elements of the masonry structure. It was originally a Chrysler dealership — the third in the nation; the first in Ohio. The Martins are working on returning the building to its original look, from its garage doors to the leaded glass above the main-door. The front counter is a creatively-repurposed 1951 Chrysler, lit by hanging lights fashioned from pierced vintage motor oil cans. Even the crystal chandeliers in the front office are inspired from automotive history, Loren says. Apparently, Henry Ford hung such chandeliers from his showroom in Savannah, Georgia, because their light showed off the cars’ finish so nicely.

Born and raised in Mantua, Jon had already built a solid customer base at his business there. When he suddenly was forced to move from that location, he and Loren were pleased to find the perfect alternative in Garrettsville.

“This is a perfect fit for us,” says Loren. “Garrettsville has given us such a warm welcome. “Being in a place that appreciates its history is also so awesome.”

Automotive Rehab is ready to maintain its former customer base while welcoming new local customers, especially now that Mark’s Automotive in Garrettsville has closed. “It’s probably easier to tell you what we don’t do rather than list all the services we offer,” laughs Jon. “We don’t do body work. And we don’t rebuild transmissions in-house. We contract that out.”

Otherwise, Automotive Rehab delivers professional automotive repair and auto maintenance services with ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) certified technicians, employing today’s latest automotive technology. They are equipped to handle all major and minor repairs on both foreign and domestic vehicles, ranging from a simple oil change to extensive engine repair.

Services include replacements of tires, air filters, axles, brakes, belts, hoses, lights, and batteries; repairs of air conditioning, brake systems, clutches, exhaust systems, electrical work, and power steering; computer diagnostics, due injection systems, oil changes, radiator service, preventative maintenance, suspension work, aftermarket services, fleet services, shuttle service, and towing service.

Beyond that, they hold certifications in welding and upholstery in the automotive realm, qualifying them to also do custom fabrication. During the winter months, they offer snow removal services, available for both residential and commercial properties.

Automotive Rehab has an A-Plus rating with the Better Business Bureau, is AAA-approved, and holds the Blue Seal award. It offers the NAPA AutoCare “Peace of Mind” Warranty, providing customers with 24-months/24,000-miles of worry-free protection on qualifying parts and labor. This warranty is honored at over 13,000 NAPA AutoCare locations across the country.

Automotive Rehab is a certified AAA and NAPA AutoCare Center, providing the benefits of an established national entity while maintaining the personal touch of a family-owned business. “We understand that your vehicle is a major investment, and that is why we care for each customer’s vehicle as if it were our own,” they say.

Although they’re not quite up an running yet, Loren says, “We’re on our feet, wobbling like a 2-year-old. We’ll get there!” Opening day is coming soon.

Business hours are Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm. Weekend hours by appointment will be available at a later date. Roadside assistance is available 24/7. Contact Automotive Rehab by phone at (330) 274-0480, by email at automotiverehab@gmail.com, or via their website, www.automotiverehab.com, where promotions and specials are offered.

Jacob Rohal, son of Stephen and Julie Rohal of Stroup Rd Edinburg Township, has earned the highest advancement award the Boy Scouts of America offers to Scouts, the Eagle Scout Award. He is a member of Great Trail Council, Boy Scout Troop #573.

Jacob was recognized in a Court of Honor ceremony recently held at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Rootstown. The ceremony was presided over by Scoutmaster Elwin Robison.

Each candidate must earn 21 merit badges and show leadership by planning, developing and successfully completing a community service project to earn his Eagle.

Jacob chose to refurbish and paint the inside of the Hubbard Building at the Portage County Randolph Fair. The Hubbard Building houses 4-H projects, vegetables, canning, agriculture entries and church displays during the fair. The project involved repairing holes in the dividers that make up the booths and painting all the dividers. The project will not only benefit all those who have fair entries in the building but also the thousands that attend the fair. He thanks those who donated supplies and finances for this project and the 4-Hers, troop members, friends and adults who helped complete this project.

In addition to scouting, Jacob has been active in 4-H as a member of the Edinburg Seambusters 4-H club for 8 years serving as President for 2 years. He has earned county and state honors for his sewing projects plus has placed in the State Wool contest and at the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo. Jacob has represented the county at 4-H Leadership Camp and Forestry Camp. He received the County 4-H Gold Medal Award for Leadership and has participated in the State 4-H Teen Conference for 6 years.

Jacob attends Ohio Virtual Academy and will graduate this year. He plans to attend college at Brigham Young University Idaho in the fall where he will study computers and technology.

Jacob is one of approximately 4 percent of all Boy Scouts who attain the Eagle rank, and joins other outstanding American citizens who have become Eagle Scouts, among them former President Gerald R. Ford, Jr., astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, cinematographer Steven Spielberg, and Mike Rowe of “Dirty Jobs” fame.

Mantua  – Crestwood Local Schools Superintendent Dave Toth received exciting news from the U.S. Department of Education when it agreed to fund a three-year program costing nearly $1 million. The program aims to boost student well-being and achievement.

The district applied for the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Grant in March 2014 and received notice this week that it was awarded approximately $925,000. The district will receive a little more than $300,000 annually for the next three years, beginning with the 2015-2016 school year.

“We applied for this grant because we recognized a trend in student discipline referrals among low socioeconomic students and among those students who were experiencing hardship in the family, including unemployment, divorce, and parents being deployed overseas,” said Toth. “Students’ personal and social needs must be successfully addressed during the key elementary years if they are to succeed in the future.”

The additional funds will allow the district to implement evidence-based youth development curriculum, and contract for additional guidance counselors, a social worker and a group therapist at the Primary and Intermediate Schools.  Currently, one guidance counselor services both the Primary and Intermediate buildings. The district will partner with Portage County-based Children’s Advantage and the Cuyahoga County Educational Service Center to provide the additional staff. The staffing changes will bring the district in-line with the American School Health Association’s recommendation for student-to-counselor ratio.

The district already contracts with Children’s Advantage to provide mental health services. The additional funds from the grant will allow the current contract to focus on middle school and high school needs rather than splitting services among the four buildings.

“This is a significant sum of money for our district and will allow us to directly meet the needs of our students,” Toth said. The district operates on an approximate $20 million annual budget.

Toth explained that in addition to the service providers, the district will implement key curriculum including a K-5 program to promote character development, academic achievement and social-emotional skills and helps reduce disruptive and problem behavior; and programs that further promote web-based learning and physical activity within the schools. Implementation of these programs will occur during the 2015-2016 school year and staff will receive professional development in order to successfully incorporate the new curriculum.

Last year, the district formed an Advisory Council as part of the Crestwood Health and Wellness Program. The council is comprised of the superintendent, principals, curriculum and pupil services director as well as students, parents and representatives from the community. The council will monitor the progress of the program.

The district hopes to continue to fund this program after the grant expires in 2018 with both district funds and by seeking additional funding sources.

Doug Fuller addressing the crowd
Doug Fuller addressing the crowd

Mantua – The Mantua Restoration Society (MaRSI) held its annual meeting Saturday April 25th at the Mantua Center School.  It was recently recognized by the Portage County Historical Society for its enduring efforts to save and restore the historic Center School built in 1914 and to have it placed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Several MaRSI members have spearheaded the Save the School campaign efforts that have resulted in the Mantua Township Trustees Vic Grimm, John Festa, and Jason Carlton solidly getting behind the movement and agreeing to apply for grants and funding to accomplish developing the Center School into a community center.

The Mantua Restoration Society is a volunteer group of township citizens who value and seek to preserve the historic center of Mantua Township as heritage, inspiration and a focus of township life.  They seek to preserve historic buildings and sites and make them vibrant, integral parts of township government and community involvement.  Initially, it was chartered as a non-profit group in 1977 when the township people rallied to put a basement under the Town Hall to prevent it from deteriorating and eventually collapsing.  The present iteration of the group began in 2010 as the Friends of the School.  They held an open house and renewed the MaRSI Charter in 2011 and got 501-C3 status (Tax deductible donations).  There are various activities planned throughout the year to raise funds and public awareness, including Art on the Hill on July 11th; A Flea Market/Garage Sale on July 18th and 19th; Derthick’s Corn Maze September thru October; and a USO type dance featuring the Garretttones Big Band on November 7th.  Ongoing activities include developing a coloring book of local historic buildings, a Coverlet Fundraiser, a local watercolor painting group, and charity quilt makers.  A Challenge Grant has been issued by a local donor and has been set up whereby donations of up to $50 are matched dollar for dollar to save the school. A potluck lunch is offered on Wednesdays from 9:30 AM -2 PM.   Residents are encouraged to partake at the school/community center.  From time to time various speakers and columnists are at the dinners and available to regale the group.

The new slate of officers for 2015 include Carole Pollard, President; Mark Hall, Vice President; Lynn Harvey, Treasurer. They are still in need of a secretary. As in the past, the main objective will continue to be preserving the school building and developing it into a community center.  According to Pollard, we have the oldest school building in the county.  That building, concrete from foundation to bell tower, was built on stable land.  Nothing has shifted in a hundred years. It has been maintained for its whole life. Nothing has ever fallen into disrepair. Many, many of the local residents have attended that school and look on it very fondly. It is a piece of history close to our hearts.  The 18,000 square foot building can house the township business and records office, meeting spaces for the trustees and zoning, assembly area for all sorts of larger gathering including emergency shelter and education/day care for children.

At the meeting, attended by more than 40 community members, Doug Fuller was the featured speaker. He is an architect with more than 40 years of experience and certified by the AIA (American Institute of Architects). He was instrumental in saving the Kent Hotel. Much like the Kent Hotel, the Center School building was built with cutting edge technology in 1914.  It was constructed in the aftermath of the Collinwood school fire and incorporated the latest improvements of the era. It has 2 staircases to quickly get you out of the building in addition to the front door. It is a very tough building, constructed mostly of concrete.  Fuller also noted that MaRSI is the only such organization in Portage County to be working full time saving buildings. As such, it has  been recognized as the current authority in doing this.

Terry Nielson recounted the current efforts in progress including having applied for two grants. The first is the Hiram Community Trust Grant which provides for a Free Clothing Center to be located in the basement of the school. Our Mantua Trustees have graciously agreed to forgo the rent for that space

A Community Development Block Grant has been applied for to purchase and install an elevator. Other grants in process of being applied for include a Lowe’s Grant (Lowe’s Home Improvement Store—they have a community involvement program) to fix the front steps and add railings. Now that the Mantua Trustees are affiliated with MaRSI, this becomes a strong possibility. A grant to pave the parking lot with permeable asphalt is in the works as well as solar lighting for the parking lot.  A grant to apply for an emergency generator will be applied for once the elevator grant results are received.

Lynn Harvey spoke about her project of collecting anecdotal history from people who went to the Center school and graduated from it in the period 1914 through 1952 when it housed grades 1-12. This will likely be published as a book in the future.

Two new members were welcomed to the Association: Robert Gensler, Jr. and Melissa Grondeski, at the April 16 2015 meeting. Other new members joining since January 2015 are Jean C. Watkins and Alex Kish.

The baked chicken breast dinner held at the First Christian Church on April 11, 2015 was a huge success, with proceeds of $1421.00 going towards the wrought iron fence renovations at the East Side Cemetery located on North Canal Street in Newton Falls.

Donations have been received from Pete and Brenda Augusta, Linda Gundros, Linda Gordon and John and Barbara Drotar.  A total of $9,000 in donations, including proceeds from the dinner sponsored by the Association, has been received from individuals, businesses and organizations since the project was started in the summer of 2014. Forty eight foot sections have been removed for renovations, with twenty currently re-installed. Twenty more sections are to be re-installed as weather permits; leaving approximately twenty-four eight foot sections to be refinished. The funds for the project to date are $11,346.53, including encumbered monies for works in progress. We are two-thirds of the way to being completed! If you want to make a donation, please send to: Newton Township Cemetery Association, PO Box 233, Newton Falls, Ohio 44444.

The 2016 calendar featuring photos of Newton Falls should be available in June. The price of $10.00 remains the same as previous years. Please contact members of the organization for a copy of the calendar which will also be available at local businesses and at the Schoolmates Reunion to be held June 20, 2015.

June 13, 2015 has been designated as “Clean-up Day” for the chapel located at the East Side Cemetery. Anyone wishing to help please be there at 9:00 a.m. with your broom, dust cloths and mops!

The next meeting of the Association will be held Thursday, May 21, 2015, 6:00 p.m. at the Newton Township Administration Building.

Hiram – Every year, more than four million people in 20 countries take part in the Relay For Life movement — the world’s largest fight against cancer. Relay For Life, whether a community or student event, offers a wonderful opportunity for cancer survivors and caregivers to be recognized and supported. In addition, the Relay For Life movement raises more than $400 million globally, which the American Cancer Society uses to fund cancer research. In addition, a portion of the funds is allocated to provide free information and services to cancer patients and their caregivers.

Recently, a Relay for Life event was held at Hiram College that raised over $11,000. But it raised so much more than just dollars — it celebrated the hope of local cancer survivors like Dottie Summerlin.  “I was asked to be the Honorary Survivor a few months ago by Brittany Jackson at Hiram College,” explained Summerlin, who retired from Hiram College last July. “It was such an honor.” She spoke about her experience battling the disease at the opening event. She also took time during her address to remember Hiram Biology Professor Matt Hils, who succumbed to the disease last year.

Afterwards, she had the honor of leading the survivor lap to the tune of “Happy” by Pharrell. “It was so cool to see everyone lined up along the track, applauding while I walked along with my family.” Her husband Brian, daughter Jodie, grandson Philip and former co-worker and fellow survivor Dorothy Meyers joined her in the first lap at the track that morning.

The event also provides an opportunity to raise awareness for routine, often life-saving check ups. “I was diagnosed with breast cancer 14 years ago,” Summerlin shared. “I had just had a mammogram in the spring that came back “all clear”, but my family doctor discovered a lump during a routine physical later in the fall.” She underwent surgery, where two tumors were discovered. Each contained a different type of cancer, but both were successfully removed. Summerlin underwent six months of chemotherapy and radiation treatments before she was deemed cancer-free.  Then, two years ago, she had another surgery to remove suspicious tissue that was discovered during a routine mammogram. Summerlin, the vibrant wife, mother and grandmother, is now cancer-free once more.

She was honored to read a poem during the Luminary Lap, during which candles are lit inside personalized paper bags around the track in tribute to those affected by cancer. Summerlin shared, “It’s so cool, because the lights are dimmed and we walk in silence with soft music playing.  It’s a time of remembrance and reflection for those who lost their fight, hope for those going through treatments, but it also celebrates those who have survived.” When the lights came back up, the group walked the Closing Lap to the tune of “Happy,” and they truly were, since the event raised over $11,000.

At Relay For Life events, communities across the globe come together to honor survivors, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against cancer.  Relay For Life teams take turns walking or running around a track or path at a local high school, park, or fairground. Events are up to 24 hours long, and because cancer never sleeps, each team is asked to have at least one participant on the track at all times. Additional Relay for Life events are scheduled in surrounding communities; Chardon, Burton, and Ravenna events will be held on 5/15 and 5/16; Chagrin Valley, Hudson, Aurora, and Twinsburg events are scheduled for 5/30, 6/5, and 6/6. To find a Relay for Life event near you, visit relay.acsevents.org or call 1-800-227-2345.

College-level senior projects typically focus on the future career objective of the student who is about to graduate and enter the adult workforce. But for Kent State University senior and Garrettsville native Aaron Cain (JAG Class of 2011), his senior project took him way outside his box and taught him unexpected life lessons.

“It was a lesson on how you can convert something into something extremely different from its original use if you’re resourceful. I think that’s an important skill in life, to be able to use what you have to create what you want by just using what’s available to you.”

An accounting major with a minor in computer information systems, Cain is also part of the honors college at Kent State, and his senior project was for his Intro to Film honors class. He had to write a research paper, make clothing, act out scenes, or do something else related to one of the movies he had watched in class. Looking for something unique that he could create which could be easily identified with a particular movie, Cain thought of the clawfoot bathtub couch in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, featuring Audrey Hepburn.

“This tub is an iconic piece of furniture, and anytime you see a clawfoot couch, you’re going to think of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” because nowhere else would you ever seen one of these,” Cain said.

But he had no background or experience to prepare him for re-creating such a prop from the movie set. “This project is in no way related to my major or minor. I immediately thought, I’m an accounting major and don’t know how to do any of that!”

Cain will be interning at KPMG this summer, which provides audit, tax and advisory services to various organizations seeking financial statement audits and industry insight and perspective on salient business issues. Then he’ll graduate with a bachelor’s degree next December.

After buying a rusty 1925-era cast iron tub on eBay from a man in Canfield for $140, Cain had to call upon family members for assistance. “It was really a collaboration of my grandma Cain, Dad, and I. It would not have been possible with one of us missing. My dad was the guiding light in this project, and we followed a DIY article I found online, but he had me do each step to ensure that it I was doing the work, that it was my project, and that I learned how to do it myself. My dad taught me about the restoration/construction part of it and I had to pay close attention to all the details to make sure it was turning out the way I wanted and similar to the couch in the movie. And my grandma handmade the pillow cases and cushion case with the materials I picked out. I learned about the process of restoring an antique, how to refinish a bathtub, how to sandblast, and how to cut the side of a cast iron tub off.”

“The pillow cases and cushion case were all handmade by my grandma with the materials I picked out (painstakingly, I might add). I never thought shopping for fabric would be so difficult, trying to match colors and textures to the fabric in the movie. I probably spent six or seven hours just shopping for fabric. I also had to make the cushion for this couch from scratch, slowly forming it so that it fit to the bottom of the tub.”

Cain’s professor, Ron Russo, told him this was the best honors project he had ever received. “The idea that I’m an accounting major and not involved in arts or fashion, it was unusual for someone with a background like that to create something like this. Many of the students incorporate their major into the project in some way and do what they know, whereas I did something completely different than what I know or am used to, which made it more of a challenge.”

Cain’s clawfoot couch is on display in the KSU honors college on the lower level until May 8. Cain says these replicas sell online for as low as $800-$900 and up to $2,700. He is considering selling it, “but I may give it to my sister so that I can keep it in the family and maybe pass it down through generations,” he said. “It was a fun project that everyone in my family got excited about, and it makes a great conversation piece so I hate to sell it, but I haven’t decided yet.”

For Cain, “The project was a great example of how someone can recycle materials, an old tub in this case, into something new. Sometimes things just need a little polishing and can be restored to be something useful. If there is one life lesson I have learned, it would be to stay open to opportunities, because you never know where you might be or what you might be doing. I never thought I would be converting a bathtub into a couch my senior year at Kent, but it’s been a great experience.”

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Agent Shannan Jursa’s State Farm Agency is not only a sponsor for the Summerfest 5K Run but is also selling t-shirts showcasing the organization’s logo for $5 (shirts are available in youth and adult sizes); all proceeds will go directly to Friends of Melana to assist in their research efforts.

Jursa had 200 shirts printed in hopes that if all are sold that her agency will be able to present the organization $1,000 in addition to what is raised through this years’ 5K run and 1 mile walk.   The shirts are available at her office located at 8454 Windham St. in Garrettsville.

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Geauga Growth Partnership (GGP) members consider health care to be an issue of concern, and in a 2014 survey indicated a desire for wellness programs that will work with their existing plans. In answer to that, the GGP Health Care Task Force is initiating an answer to that need.

Whether your business has a health care plan or not, GGP, through the services of University Hospitals Geauga Medical Center, is offering the opportunity for free health screenings at four different dates and locations this year.

The first of four health screening opportunities, provided through the UH Mobile Health Unit, will be held Wednesday, May 13, (6 AM-4PM) at Newbury Business Park, 12373 Kinsman Road, Newbury.

UH Geauga Medical Center provides annual sponsorship of Geauga Growth Partnership (GGP), and as part of that partnership is reaching out the GGP members and other businesses. UH makes its self-contained mobile units available to provide screenings, immunizations and health information. Visitors to the unit will be given screenings in blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose and body mass index – free of charge.

All businesses within the Newbury and Burton areas are encouraged to take advantage of these services, and the public is also welcome.

Additional UH Mobile Health screening dates are being scheduled through GGP at various locations in July, August and September.  More details will be provided closer to those dates.

UH Geauga Medical Center Mobile Health Unit travels to area businesses to provide money-saving occupational health services.

Geauga Growth Partnership, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) business-led organization dedicated to the retention, growth and attraction of jobs, investment and economic growth in Geauga County.  For more information visit www.geaugagrowthpartnership.com or call 440-564-1060.

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Hiram – The Hiram Community Color Run has been rescheduled for May 9, 2015, from 3-5 p.m.

The run, sponsored by AmeriCorps, was originally scheduled for April 23, but was postponed due to inclement weather. All participants who registered online will have their registration and fees automatically applied to the new date. Questions about registration should be directed to aiveljic@neomed.edu.

The run, which will begin on campus at the Gerstacker Arch and encompasses the three-mile square,will benefit Health Professions Affinity Community (HPAC) projects at local high schools.

Hiram alumna Anita Iveljic ’14, an AmeriCorps member based out of Northeast Ohio Medical University in Rootstown, helped spearhead this event. Iveljic supports HPAC programs in Portage and Geauga County high schools by working with the students to develop health-based service projects that improve or grow health initiatives in the local area. The community run directly relates to two projects Iveljic is currently facilitating through HPAC:

§  At Crestwood High School, students are working to put healthier food options on low-income residents’ plates by creating an aquaponic greenhouse that would supply fresh produce and fish to students and local food shelters. Proceedsfrom the Color Run will benefit the development of this project.

§  At Bio-Med Science Academy in Rootstown, students are working to curb the obesity rate. They hope to get Portage County residents involved in fitness initiatives through the Color Run.

Students from these high schools, along with those from James A. Garfield High School, Berkshire High School, Ravenna High School and Aurora High School, will all participate and serve as volunteers.

The event is open to everyone. Participants are encouraged to sign up beforehand at www.hiram.edu/colorrun, but registration will also be available on May 9. The cost is $10 for individuals, $7 for seniors ages 65 and over, or a flat fee of $25 for families of three or more. The first 100 participants to sign up will receive a free shirt, but all participants areencouraged to wear white – as they will be splashed with color at several points throughout the race.

On Saturday, May 16, come celebrate the Cuyahoga River during the 25th annual River Day event.

River Day was created out of a desire to get people out to spend some time along the Cuyahoga and its system of wetlands. This is the first year that the local community will participate in organized River Day activities, offering families the opportunity to experience this local treasure close to home.

At 11 am, visitors will have the opportunity to experience a guided hike through the Mantua Bog State Nature Preserve. This Preserve was designated as a National Natural Landmark, and is normally closed to the public. Visitors will have the rare opportunity to see this treasure, accompanied by an experienced guide. At 1 pm, another guided hike will be led through the nearby Tummonds State Nature Preserve and Glacial Esker Trail on Mats Road. Adam Wohlever from the ODNR Division of Natural Areas will guide these hikes. Meet at Buchert Park on E. High Street for the Mantua Bog hike by 10:45 am. Gather near Tummonds / Glacial Esker Trail on Mats Road at 12:45 for the final hike.

At noon, Lynn Vogel from Portage County Soil and Water will conduct a wetland metaphor activity for school-age kids at Mantua’s Buchert Park Pavillion. Shortly after, Crestwood teacher and naturalist Rosemary Krupar will provide an amphibian oasis activity. Throughout the day, student photography from Crestwood High School will be showcased at the park, as well. The photo exhibition was made possible through a grant from the Hiram Community Trust.

At 2:30pm, individuals or families are invited to enjoy a guided paddle in the undeveloped beauty of the upper Cuyahoga River. The Cuyahoga River was designated as an American Heritage River in 1999. This designation was given in order to highlight the distinctive natural, economic, agricultural, scenic, historic, and cultural characteristics, and the recreational resources that make the river unique.

“The river is a jewel of Portage County,” marveled Kendra Becker, owner of Camp Hi Canoe Livery in Hiram. She continued. “It’s a great place to be surrounded by the quiet of nature. This spring, we’ve seen warblers and other migratory birds; recently, my husband spotted a bald eagle.” The 25 miles of river used by Camp Hi Canoe Livery are also designated as a State Scenic River. From Burton, heading south to State Route 303, it is a woodland stream roughly 50 feet wide, with an average depth of two to three feet. A naturalist will be on hand to serve as a guide during the special River Day excursion.

The canoe trip will depart at 2:30 pm from the Camp Hi Canoe Livery on Abbott Road in Hiram. Camp Hi is offering a special River Day rental rate of $25.00 per 17-foot canoe, which can comfortably accommodate two adults and up to three small kids. Solo kayaks will be available at $15 per person. Pre-trip instruction, lifejackets, paddles and transportation back to cars are included.  Preregistration is required by May 13th, call (330) 569-7621 or visit camphicanoe.com to reserve your spot.

Whether you decide to canoe, bike, hike, view wildlife or simply enjoy the view, be part of River Day 2015.

 

Be sure to check out our facility renovations, property additions, and the progress that is taking place at the sanctuary. Happy Trails’ new animal education classes and other unique seminars and clinics are being offered this year at the new Education Center. Help spread kindness and compassion for all animals.

Ravenna – Looking for something unique to do with family and friends to kick off your summer? Visit Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary, a very special organization located in Northeast Ohio where healing takes place for farm animals and horses rescued from abuse and neglect situations. Guests can connect with rescued animals up close and personal, and have the opportunity to experience the sanctuary. This is a hands on tour so be ready to give a pig a belly rub, pet a retired cockfighting rooster, hug a mini horse and play with the goats. Meet and pet the rescued horses including the retired Amish horses, and get to know them through their stories of rescue and recovery. Learn about the Amish Horse Retirement Program, the Farm Animal Visitation Program and other community outreach programs. Find about how you can make a difference and get involved in animal rescue.

Be sure to check out our facility renovations, property additions, and the progress that is taking place at the sanctuary. Happy Trails’ new animal education classes and other unique seminars and clinics are being offered this year at the new Education Center.  Help spread kindness and compassion for all animals.

The cost for the tour is  $ 20 per adult, $10 per youth ages 6-17, and kids ages 5 and under are free.  Happy Trails offers a money back guarantee — this will be the best $20 you’ve ever spent. If you don’t learn something new, pet an animal you’ve never touched before, aren’t amazed by the stories and history of the animals, tell us. We’ll give you your money back. Tours last about an hour and a half. And please know we appreciate your support. We want you to feel that your money is going to a really worthwhile cause as all proceeds go toward the medical expenses and daily care of the rescued animals.

Tours are offered May through October on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 11:00am; 12:45pm; 2:30pm and 4:15pm.  Pre-registration required. Groups may include up to six people. To register call 330-296-5914 or via the website at www.happytrailsfarm.org

Happy Trails Mission:     Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary Inc. is a non-profit 501 (C) (3) organization that rescues, rehabilitates, and provides an adoption program for abused, abandoned, and neglected farm animals such as horses, farm pigs, potbelly pigs, chickens, ducks, turkeys, goats and cows. Happy Trails serves the entire state of Ohio and any other state requesting our help and works in cooperation with county humane societies, animal protective leagues and state law enforcement officers. Animals in our program must have been removed from situations of abuse, neglect or abandonment by law officials and cruelty charges must be filed against the person (s) responsible for the crime

Mantua – On Tuesday, May 5, the Crestwood School District will be asking local residents for a 4.8 mills, four-year, tax renewal. A ‘yes’ vote on this levy will not result in a tax increase for voters — it’s a renewal of the levy originally passed in 2012. If this renewal levy passes in May, it will take effect in the fall of 2017. The original levy, passed in 2012, will expire in 2016.

The Crestwood School District educates over 2,000 children in the community, and accomplishes this task in spite of continued cuts in state and federal funding. By renewing this levy in May, voters will continue to support the kids of the district by paying the same amount in taxes they have been paying since the original levy took effect. Crestwood mom Christy remarked, “Supporting the levy renewal means the continued support of the kids of Crestwood.” The mother of three added, “There is no better reason.”

So, even though inflation has meant increased costs on big-ticket items like housing and transportation, the price of education through this levy renewal will remain exactly the same for the next four years. Chad, father of three Crestwood students, concluded, “The school levy isn’t just about the schools and the kids, it’s just as much about supporting the whole community we are trying to create here. Support for the schools is an investment in the well-being and success of all who live here.”

crestwood-schools-renewal-levy

If passed, the levy will collect an average of $1.4 million dollars per year for a total of four years. The amount due is based on taxpayers’ property value. The chart above serves as a guide

Crestwood parent Kimberly shared, “As a homeowner who moved to this area nine years ago, I have continually been impressed with the Crestwood School System and the dedication, not just to my daughter, but to every student. Crestwood has a group of committed teachers and administrators that are focused on our students and their future.” She urged voters to support the renewal on May 5th, stating, “Let’s stand up and send the message that Crestwood Schools are deserving of our continued support and confidence.”

Make sure your voice is heard by casting your vote at the polls on Tuesday, May 5th.

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Remember, next Tuesday, May 5, is an Election Day.

There is only one countywide issue, a renewal of a Children’s Services levy, but Crestwood, Aurora and Mogadore all have school issues to vote on, and Brimfield, Hiram, Ravenna, Streetsboro and Windham have local issues on the ballot.

Polls are open from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m.  Thirteen hours! You can make time to get to your polling place and exercise your right to vote.  If you don’t vote, nobody has to listen to your complaints about how things are being run.  Why should they?

And if you really want to have something to do with the way  “we, the people” get to put our two cents-worth in, contact the Portage County Board of Elections, they’re always looking for responsible individuals to serve at the polls.  Make it your salute to freedom and responsibility to step up and serve.

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The Portage Park District currently has one opening on its governing Board of Commissioners.  Park District Board members are appointed by Portage County Probate Court Judge Bob Berger who is seeking applications from interested Portage County residents.  Board members are non-partisan and are appointed for a 3-year renewable term, to serve without pay. The Board meets regularly once a month, with additional meetings scheduled as needed.

The Park District is a countywide government agency whose mission is to conserve Portage County’s natural heritage and provide opportunities for its appreciation and enjoyment. The Park District manages 1,400 acres with 4 open parks and 14 miles of hike and bike trails across Portage County. This spring the Park District will begin the process of developing a Comprehensive Master Parks Plan with conceptual site plans for all of its properties, including 1,000 acres of parkland that has not yet been opened to the public. The District’s 2015 General Fund Budget is approximately $1.6 million/year, with revenues primarily generated from a 10-year property tax levy that was approved by voters in May, 2014.

Interested applicants should contact Christine Craycroft, Executive Director at 330-297-7728 or ccraycroft@portageparkdistrict.org to obtain an application package. For more information about the Park District visit www.portageparkdistrict.org and find it on Facebook.

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.