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Geauga County – CASA for KIDS of Geauga County (Court Appointed Special Advocates) is recruiting volunteers to advocate for the “best Interest” of abused and neglected children involved in the juvenile court.  No particular background is required; you must be at least 24 years of age. Couples may work together. Diversity of age, gender, ethnicity etc. is welcomed.  37 hours of pre-service training provided.  Professional staff provides guidance, support and continuing education when appointed by the Juvenile Court to serve as the Guardian ad Litem.  More volunteers are needed to ensure every child has a voice in court. The next training sessions will begin April, 2015. If you are interested, call Chris Folz, 440-279-1696 to get more information and begin the application process.

Chesterland – The Friends are now accepting donations for their annual fall book sale which will take place March 4 – 7, 2015.  Bring gently used or new books, collectibles, comics, audio/video materials, puzzles and games, sheet music, coffee table books, and prints to the Geauga West Library during regular library hours.  No textbooks or encyclopedias, please.  A receipt for your donation is available.  The Geauga West Library is located at 13455 Chillicothe Road in Chesterland, next to West Geauga High School.  The phone number is 440-729-4250.

Garrettsville – In the fairytale storytelling world, the number three is a popular and symbolic numeral. There are Goldilocks and her three bears, the three little pigs and their villainous wolf, three billy goats who encounter a troll, a genie who always grants three wishes (no more, no less), and the three good fairies who try to protect the princess Sleeping Beauty. It is appropriate then that at a setting whose main purpose is to house those stories, for the staff and patrons of the Portage County District Library, three played a very important role in the plot of Saturday’s event.

To celebrate Valentine’s Day and spotlight the love tales shelved among the library’s stacks, the Garrettsville branch hosted its second annual free wedding event held on what is widely considered the most romantic of weekends. Unlike other usual area experiences which typically feature a day of showcasing local vendors specializing in flowers, invitations, photography and formal wear, the festivities at the library were actual nuptials, legally binding participating couples through simple civil ceremonies. To that end and writing this chapter into their respective romance stories were three brides with their three grooms.

Curtis Brock and Kari McComb from Randolph
Curtis Brock and Kari McComb from Randolph

Taking the first steps down the aisle for the afternoon were Curtis Brock and Kari McComb from Randolph. McComb, lovely in a knee-length dress with a festive red ombre effect, made her way between the stacks of books and smiling party guests escorted by her father to meet Brock patiently waiting for her by the large window overlooking the park. Garrettsville’s branch manager, Greg Trask, a registered officiant, presided over the weddings. In his brief remarks, Trask emphasized that being in a committed relationship means that “now the thought shifts from the ‘me’ to the ‘we’.”

After the vows were said, rings exchanged and the bride and groom officially pronounced “husband and wife” (sealed with a kiss, of course), family and friends were invited to the library’s meeting room which had been temporarily transformed into an enchanted space with refreshments and wintery décor. Though last year’s color scheme was a romantic pink, white and silver, this year’s theme reflected the frozen wonderland outside that is characteristic of a Northeast Ohio winter. And as the good fairies gave baby Aurora presents for her early betrothal, just in time for the weddings, Mother Nature bestowed upon the library’s outdoor landscape decorations fit for the fairytale festivities. Who needs rice to throw when the couples are being doused with flakes of snow?

The weather outside may have been chilly, but inside the library the atmosphere was full of warmth and merriment as the wedding guests enjoyed cupcakes, cookies and cascading chocolate with an assortment of treats for dipping. An ordinary beverage fountain morphed into a magical bubbling waterfall complete with aqua colored punch (thanks to the right flavor of Kool-aid, according to the whisperings of a little birdie) that helped set the scene and handmade accents all around the space gave an extra special touch. The refreshments were generously donated by the Friends of the Garrettsville Library while pretty flower arrangements were provided by City Gardeners of Ravenna. Each bride was given a unique handcrafted bouquet designed by library staff and each couple took home a set of themed toasting flutes as a keepsake of the occasion. And in the main part of the library, a box for notes presented patrons with an opportunity to leave well-wishes for the newlyweds and enjoy a treat to feel a part of the event.

Gregory Balbierz and  Lori Bednar from Ravenna
Gregory Balbierz and Lori Bednar from Ravenna

Following the union of the new Mr. and Mrs. Brock, Trask then conducted a ceremony for Gregory Balbierz and Lori Bednar of Ravenna. Clad in coordinating blue, the second couple looked very much in love as Bednar’s brothers walked her down the aisle to her awaiting groom to exchange vows that have been nearly two decades in the making. The final marriage of this year’s chapter brought together bride Joy Meek and her groom Brent Turnbaugh of Windham. Meek’s “best guy friend” walked her down the aisle and a bridal attendant in a stylish dark blue gown provided caring support as the bride, in elegant black to complement her striking red hair, sweetly teared up just a bit during her heart-felt vows.

Though the ceremonies were all delayed slightly due to waiting for members of the wedding parties to arrive through the treacherous conditions, those family and friends who braved the climate (some from as far away as West Virginia!) were glad they were able to be a part of this distinctive experience. And the reasons for participating in the library’s event were as varied as the couples themselves. Her heart set on being married on Valentine’s Day, Kari (now) Brock’s wedding was already organized, but the plans frustratingly fell through, prompting her and Curtis to take the library up on its out-of-the-ordinary offer. For Gregory and Lori, who have been together for seventeen years, they were intrigued by the unusual venue and the opportunity to be married on Valentine’s Day. “It was time,” they agreed. Joy and Brent have previous marriages behind them and mentioned that this was something a bit simpler but different. “You do the big wedding with all the guests and plan every little detail,” she said. “I just wanted something unusual and unexpected this time.”

 Brent Turnbaugh and Joy Meek from Windham (with Greg Trask at the “altar”)
Brent Turnbaugh and Joy Meek from Windham (with Greg Trask at the “altar”)

As February 14th falls on a Sunday next year, there is no word yet on how the library will handle the third annual weddings day, but patrons can experience some of the lingering excitement in the very near future at an upcoming similarly-decorated popular princess party. A little something old, something new, and one thing’s for sure, there was definitely no shortage of “something blue” as warm hearts successfully kept cold feet away. In true fairytale fashion, although many of the park’s woodland creatures were surely hibernating, one or two could be seen scampering outside that ceremonial window, joining in a congratulatory celebration of another successful chapter in the magical love stories bound by those fairy godmothers at the library.

Mantua – On a recent Friday evening, CPS students and their families had the chance to visit to Dimwood Forest, stepping into the pages of this year’s One Book, One School story, ‘Poppy’ by Newbury medal-winning author, Avi. Students and their teachers spent a total of 53,036 minutes over an eight-day period to read the book. Through the process, the story came to life in the classrooms, in the hallways lined with story-themed artwork, and more importantly, in the students’ minds.

In class, students sat awe-struck as the story unfolded. They learned about a brave little deer mouse named Poppy, who made a heroic journey, and eventually stood up to the great horned owl who terrorized her family.

CHS-Drama-Club-in-Poppy-one-book-one-school
Crestwood High School Drama Club in ‘Poppy: The Play’

 

In addition, each teacher incorporated the topics from the book into other disciplines. One of the teachers behind this event, second-grade teacher Monica Grebb, shared, “Some teachers talked about the food chain, while some used the subject matter as writing prompts. School-wide, the topic of bullying was discussed, since Ocax the owl bullied Poppy and her family.”

According to Grebb, “We researched popular One Book, One School books and liked the anti-bullying message;” she explained. “We also liked that the story included an owl, since many teachers have incorporated owls into their classrooms this year. For us, the book seemed like a perfect fit.”

At the special Friday evening event to wrap up the program, students and their families participated in four special activities: An owl presentation, a fun owl craft, ‘Poppy – the Play’ presented by CHS Drama Club students David Bowles, Amber Beer, Chelsea Evans, Hannah Hilty and Allyssa Swan, and directed by Desirae Day, as well as a ballroom dancing demonstration.

Event co-organizer, CPS music teacher Jennifer Gilles, called in a favor from a friend, and the Fred Astaire Dance Studio.  As a result, dancers came out to demonstrate a variety of ballroom dances, since dance was an element of the story, as well.  In fact, here’s a spoiler alert worth sharing: at the end of the book, Poppy shared this universal message: “It doesn’t matter how you dance, my children. As long as you are free to dance in the open air by the light of the moon, all will be well.”

In addition, a representative from the Akron Zoo was on hand to share interesting owl facts and their recorded calls with students, but the high point was when she brought out a live bird, giving students an up-close-and-personal view of a barn owl. Lastly, students traveled to the art room where art teacher Mikayla McCall showed them how to create their own owl masks to take home. After participating in all four events, each student received an owl pellet dissection lab kit, complete with a barn owl pellet, gloves, and a booklet to help families investigate the food-chain topic in further detail at home.

This was the fourth time Crestwood Primary has held a One Book, One School program; previous books included ‘The Mouse and the Motorcycle’ by Beverly Cleary and ‘Charlotte’s Web’ by E. B White. This year’s program was funded by the CPS PTO and through the CPS Principal’s Fund.

And while Grebb and Gilles have already started discussing potential ideas for next year’s program, you’ll just have to wait until next year to find out about the next CPS school-wide reading adventure!

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The Huntsburg Grange Annual Chili Cook-Off and Chinese Auction is Saturday, March 14 from 11:30 to 2:30 at the Huntsburg Gym, behind the Fire Station at the corner of US322 and SR528. Register your best chili in the cook-off by contacting Colleen at 440-636-5517. Cash prizes will be awarded for the winning entry. Come and have lunch and sample all the chili, pay for your sampler pack at the door and then vote for your favorite chili, have free community cake with “Famous Grange Frosting” and great auction items.

The Handmade Grange Quilt, that was donated from Chagrin Valley Quilters, winner will be drawn this day. Tickets will be on sale until the drawing time. Tickets for the quilt are $5 each or 6 tickets for $20. You can buy your Quilt Raffle tickets by mail. Mail a check written to The Huntsburg Grange for your Quilt Raffle tickets to 16236 Mayfield Road, Huntsburg, Oh 44046, your Quilt Raffle ticket stubs will be mailed to you and your tickets will be entered in the drawing. The Quilt winner will be notified, if not present at the drawing.

The Huntsburg Grange always welcomes new members. The next Huntsburg Grange Meeting is Monday March 9, at 6:30 pm at Huntsburg Town Hall. Huntsburg Grange meets on the second Monday of each month at 6:30 pm in the Huntsburg Town Hall.

The Church Women United meeting is Friday, March 6 at the First Congregational Church of Claridon, 13942 Mayfield Road, in Claridon. It is at the corner of US-322 and Claridon-Troy Road. Registration starts at 9:30 am with brunch and the worship program to follow. The program is World Day of Prayer, Jesus said, “Do you understand what I have done for you?”  Please invite a friend to join us in this meeting and remember to bring canned foods for the food cupboard.

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Registration is now open for the Portage County Family-to-Family Education Program, a free, 12-week class for families and others who have a loved one with a mental illness.

The class will run every Tuesday starting March 10, 6:30 to 9 p.m., at the Church of Aurora located at 146 Chillicothe Rd. in Aurora.

A national program through NAMI, the class is taught by NAMI-trained family members and includes presentations, discussion and interactive exercises. The free class is co-sponsored by the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Portage County and the National Alliance on Mental Illness Portage County and provides education and support to help families and others who have a loved one with mental illness to better understand the disorders, behavior, treatments and impact. Research shows that the program significantly improves the coping and problem-solving abilities of the people closest to an individual living with a mental health condition.

To sign up, call the MHRB at 330-673-1756, ext. 201, or email laurab@mental-health-recovery.org.

The Mental Health & Recovery Board is a county agency that funds, plans and monitors public mental health and substance abuse treatment services for Portage County residents. For more information, visit www.mental-health-recovery.org

NAMI Portage County is a local chapter of the national NAMI organization that brings together people with mental illness, their families and advocates to work on improving the lives of people with mental illness. For more information, go to www.namiportagecounty.org

Burton – The Burton-Middlefield Rotary will be flipping pancakes again this March for the 64th year starting Sunday, March 1st, and continuing every Sunday in March. The Rotary Club will be serving their delicious pancake breakfasts that include real Geauga County maple syrup at Berkshire High School in Burton, Ohio from 8:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Berkshire High School is located at 14510 N. Cheshire Street, Burton, Ohio a.k.a. Pancake Town USA.

In 2012 and 2013, the Burton-Middlefield Rotary Pancake Breakfast was voted  the best Pancake Breakfast in Northeast Ohio by the readers of the Sun Newspapers. Customers also have the opportunity to purchase the Rotarian’s “World Renowned Omelets” to go along with their pancakes. The Burton Middlefield Rotary has served over 260,000 pancake breakfasts since its inception in 1951. For more information please email BMRpancakes@roadrunner.com or on-line at www.burtonmiddlefieldrotary.com.

The proceeds from these breakfasts go back to our community and internationally with many projects that include Rotary’s initiative Polio Plus to eradicate polio throughout the world. This year’s prices are: adults, $8.00 for the pancake breakfasts, children 4 to 10 are $5.00. You can add a World-Renowned Omelet to your pancake breakfast for an additional $3.00.

Ravenna – The Edinburg Seambusters 4-H sewing club will be hosting a community service project on Monday February 16th, President’s Day (NO SCHOOL) from 1 to 4 pm at Reed Memorial Library in Ravenna.

Club members invite boys and girls ages 8 to 18 to come sew chemo caps for cancer patients. The caps will be donated to Akron General Medical Center cancer unit.

Materials will be provided along with instructions. Participants will get the opportunity to use a sewing machine as they sew the caps and earn community service hours. Use your day off from school to help others.

If you ever wanted to see what sewing 4-H is all about, come and meet us. New members are always welcome! For more information contact us at Seambusters4H@gmail.com or advisor Bobbie Gallagher at 330-842-0918. Learn a skill that lasts a lifetime.

Hiram – The Hiram Police Department is pleased to announce the acquisition and approval of the Ohio Criminal Justice Services Justice Assistance Services Law Enforcement grant. The grant will fund the acquisition of 2 in-car dash mounted video recorder units for 2 of Hiram PD patrol cars. The total project is budgeted at $4,134.60. The approval of this grant will heighten the ability to obtain video evidence and footage of officer/public interactions during traffic stops without carrying the financial burden to the taxpayers. “With successful grant acquisitions we are able to improve, acquire, and update safety equipment, which generates an improved safety service that we provide to the community, it also is completed without burdening taxpayers or the budget with the expense”. Currently Hiram PD does not have in-car video recording devices which are extremely important to law enforcement, we now will have the capability to capture footage that will serve to be extremely vital in our everyday operations.

The Hiram Police Department has also been awarded a $2,795.00 grant from the United States Department of Justice. The grant is known as the “Bulletproof Partnership Program” and is directed toward the purchase of body armor for law enforcement officers. “We are excited that we were successful and awarded the grant, our current budget allocations does not permit or accommodate the purchase of body armor for our police officers”. Chief Ed Samec said. Law enforcement body armor vests range in price from $600.00 to $800.00 each and expire at a 5 year time frame. “I want to assure that all of our police officers have updated and modern body armor to wear as part of their daily uniforms”. Chief Ed Samec added. “In this day and age, law enforcement officers face hazardous and sometimes potentially fatal encounters and not having body armor as part of our uniform wear is no longer a concern not only for the officers but for their families as well, I have vowed to do everything I can do as a police chief to ensure safety for our officers and outfitting them with body armor is a huge step in that.” Chief Samec said.

Ravenna –  In celebration of the Valentine’s holiday and in hopes to increase adoptions, Portage APL is holding an adoption event, called My Furry Valentine. February 13-14, adopters will receive a surprise discount adoption prices. Pick a heart from our wall and inside will be your discount! Also, each animal adopted will go home with a brand new toy, treats, a blanket and a collar (for dogs), while supplies last.  The Bird Nerds rescue will also be on site with a few exotic birds who need homes.

“Valentine’s Day celebrates love. These discarded, abused and homeless animals want love so badly and deserve it.  We’ll have refreshments, snacks and of course, wonderful animals that need loving homes.” says Chalan Lowry, Executive Director.  “They say… When you adopt an animal, you save two lives… the one you adopt and the one that takes its place.  And we can tell you, it’s true.  You can’t buy love, but you can adopt it!”

All dogs and cats adopted are up to date on vaccines, spayed or neutered, checked for appropriate disease and free of fleas and worms.  Many are also microchipped and have an additional medical history. Regular adoption fees are $50 for cats and $150 for dogs.

The Portage APL is a private, nonprofit organization and relies on the generosity and kindness of individuals and businesses to make our community a safer place for thousands of animals who have no voice.  We continue to rescue animals every day and the need is constant. Please give a needy animal a loving place to call home! For more information, please call the Portage Animal Protective League at 330.296.4022 or follow us on Facebook to see daily news and stories.

Let’s face it. Valentine’s Day can be more nerve-racking than heartwarming. What’s an appropriate gift? Should it be cute? Romantic? Nostalgic? How much should you spend? Commercials for vacation destinations, restaurants, jewelry, teddy bears, flowers, chocolates and even pajamas add to the pressure.

Maybe there’s safety in numbers. Breaking this commercial holiday down into percentages may just help you navigate it more confidently. According to a National Retail Federation survey, Valentine’s Day spending this year is projected to increase from previous years. While women tend to shop year-round, Valentine’s Day turns male shoppers into big spenders. Men are expected to spend an average $190.53 compared to women, who are projected to spend $96.58.

On average, the typical American celebrating Valentine’s Day will spend more than $142 in 2015, up from $134. That includes springing for candy, flowers, clothing, Valentines, and more. Total spending is projected to reach $18.9 billion, the highest since the federation began tracking in 2010.

The breakdown:

• 53 percent will buy candy, spending $1.7 billion total

• 38 percent will buy flowers, spending $2.1 billion

• 35 percent will plan a night out, spending $3.6 billion

• 21 percent will buy jewelry, spending $4.8 billion

• $1.5 billion will be spent on gift cards.

If all of this seems a bit much for you and your Valentine, deal/coupon website RetailMeNot found that 65 percent of respondents to its survey would prefer a low-key dinner to a meal at a fancy restaurant. In fact, one-third of RetailMeNot women just want to order takeout and stay home. (Take note: These are bargain-hunter females; they should not be confused with the “average” American female.)

Regardless, there are lots of ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day while supporting local businesses in and around Garrettsville. Actress Monica Potter is opening her flagship store, Monica Potter Home, at 12724 State Route 88, from 10am to 6pm on Saturday. After meeting Monica, you might find the perfect gift for your sweetie among the personal care items, locally crafted home decor or specialty candles to be found there.

Go 2 Girls will also be having an open house at 10 am to 5pm on February 12, 13 and 14 at 8052 State Street, offering refreshments and a free gift raffle. Featuring “funky, fun and unique home furnishings,” Go 2 Girls is all about recycling, repurposing and restoring home decor for optimum beauty and function.

The Villager Emporium at 8088 Main Street is carrying an array of handcrafted gift items from local crafters. A new kids’ corner features hair bows, tutus, books by local children’s authors, and more. Villager Emporium has a line of gift items themed to the Garrettsville area including  shirts, mugs and coaster sets. Included in the mix of items are handmade soy candles, as well as vegan lip balms; goats milk, cocoa butter and honey-based soaps; and a selection of aromatherapy candles — including one for sinus relief.  Be sure to stop in on Saturday, February 14th from 10 am – 3 pm to check out what area crafters have to offer.

Second Style clothing resale boutique at 8098 Main Street has amazing offers for prom as well as father-daughter dance dresses. They are filling the racks with styles for Springtime, so just keep in mind the adage about the early bird…

All this shopping is bound to work up an appetite. Celebrate with someone special for Valentine’s Day with dinner and live music by Melissa Harvey at Candlelight Winery, 7:30-9:30pm, 11325 Center Rd. Dinner seatings will be available starting at 5pm. Cal’s, The Brick and other local restaurants have Valentine’s Day dinner specials planned for Saturday. Take your pick!

But all things aside, Valentine’s Day is about romantic love. Most people would probably agree that nothing is more priceless than your partner taking the extra effort to show the extent of their love and devotion — whether it’s having flowers delivered at your workplace, taking you away for a refreshing weekend, or simply offering to make dinner and clean the house so you don’t have to.

Hopefully, your Valentine knows you well enough to recognize what will make you happy  on Valentine’s Day, whether or not that fits into any projection of average American spending probabilities.

Garrettsville – At the Portage County Math 24 competition in Ravenna on Thursday, January 29, Garfield School District had another outstanding day.

For the second year in a row, Garfield won the 4th grade category (Max May this year) and the 8th grade category (Rachel Rader).

There were also two second place finishers (Lyndsey Johns in 8th grade, Noah Frato-Sweeney in 7th grade) and numerous top 9 finishes.

Math 24 is a fast-paced competition where students are given four digits on a card and told they have to use each one (only once) in some combination to total 24.  Points are awarded for the level of difficulty — the quicker a student solves the combination, the further they advance, and can add, subtract, multiply, or divide with each set of numbers presented.  Students compete in grades 4-8 throughout the county.  Pictured above are the competitors and high school proctors sent from Garfield School District.

Congrats to Derek Hatcher and the competitors.  Great job!

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Phenology for February in Portage Parks

• Full moon (Snow Moon or Hunger Moon) – Feb. 3rd    New Moon – Feb 18th   

• Look in the southeast sky for the stars in the constellation Scorpio’s tail, Shaula and Lesath. American Indians referred to them as “The Harbingers of Spring”. 

• Look for the conjunction of  the moon, Venus,  and Mars in the western night sky on Feb. 20th . Jupiter and its 4 moons on Feb. 6th in the Eastern sky. And watch for Saturn and Mercury in the southeast skies as they make their appearance in the predawn hours in mid Feb. 

• Ground Hog Day Feb 2nd.  Ground Hog SAW his shadow…6 more weeks of winter. 

• Look for “sheds” in the woods as deer begin to loose their antlers.

•  Keep an eye out for early waterfowl migrants on open water in late Feb.

• As temperatures rise, Maple trees begin to awake in late Feb., yielding sweet sap which will be boiled down to make maple syrup.

• Warm, sunny days will bring out Mourning Cloak butterflies to sip on tree sap flowing from wounded trees.

• Watch for Golden-crowned Kinglets feeding with flocks of Chickadees, Nuthatches, and Titmice.

• Skunk Cabbage should be emerging and flowering in wetland areas by late Feb.

• Eagles and Owls are sitting on eggs. Young will hatch early next month. 

• Woods are waking up. Listen for Wood Frogs “quacking” chorus when vernal pools first show open water. And listen for woodpeckers drumming on trees, this is their territorial call.

• Clean and erect nest boxes for Wood Ducks, Kestrels, and Bluebirds. 

Make sure to check out http://portageparkdistrict.org for upcoming programs and hikes!

Upcoming Programs

Birding for the Ordinary Average Guy/Gal

Come join Portage Park District volunteer Naturalist Joe Malmisur and Dr. Sarah Mabey on Monday Feb 9th  for the fourth in the Park District’s birding series. It doesn’t matter if you did not attend prior sessions. There is always a brief review of things that were covered. The fourth  session will focus on Migration, Habitat, and Dan Best, Senior Naturalist from Geauga Park District will discuss birding by season.  Program is from  7:00-9:00 in the Senior Center 705 Oakwood St. Ravenna Ohio.

Upcoming Hikes

The Portage Park District is here to help you LOVE winter. Ever want to try snow-shoeing or cross-country skiing? Join volunteer instructors and rent equipment from Geiger Ski Haus at the parks, (available for these programs*) and give it a shot! Skis $10/2 hours; shoes $6/2 hours. For more information, please contact Volunteer Naturalist Joe Malmisur at Draco1027@gmail.com or call 330-770-3643.

2/7 – Stars and Moon Snowshoe Hike – 7:00pm – 9:00pm  Morgan Preserve (meet at parking lot on Rt 44)

2/8 – x country Skiing – Rt 700 Trail head 2:00pm – 4:00pm

2/15 – x country Skiing – 2:00pm – 4:00 pm Towner’s Woods

2/21 – x country skiing – 10:00am – 12:00pm Franklin Connector Trail

2/22 – Snowshoe hike – 2:00-4:00 Camp Spelman

X-Country Skiing is dependent on snow. Hikes will occur whether there is snow or not. 

Garrettsville – Valentine’s Day celebrates love, passion and beauty. So it’s fitting that Cleveland native and Hollywood actress Monica Potter is opening her new flagship store in Garrettsville on February 14. Monica Potter of NBC’s “Parenthood”, dramatic comedy and movie fame will welcome visitors to her new flagship store, Monica Potter Home, at 12724 State Route 88, Garrettsville, from 10am to 6pm on Valentine’s Day.

Monica Potter Home (located in the former Susan’s Antiques & Treasures) is the outgrowth of MrsPotter.com, an online store featuring custom-designed personal care and home products, linens, home decor, a dozen different candle varieties, ceramics, barn boxes, and rustic-chic-shabby gifts. From skin lotions to facial cleansers, body scrubs, lip balm, whipped soap, room sprays, aprons, tea towels, pillows, potholders, baskets, woodworking, clay ornaments, mirrors, decorative tea sets, brand products and renovated furniture — there’s something fresh, Ohio-themed and locally crafted among the eclectic mix at Monica Potter Home.

According to Monica’s sister and Garrettsville resident Jessica Brokaw, Monica is the owner and creative force of the store. “Every product displaying her MP initials was her idea and is locally made. She shares her concepts with local artisans (like candlemaker Stephanie Dietelbach of the former One Real Peach, ceramicist Tracy Shea of Shea Clay, carpenter Dave Wensel of 19th Century Woodworks, or various area seamstresses), who then customize finished pieces according to Monica’s designs. She’s a perfectionist. She calls me at least 10 times a day. She’s very involved and hands-on, right on top of everything. She’s the brains behind it all.”

In fact, Monica began formulating her own organic cleaning products in her home 15 years ago. It’s a family trait, apparently. The father of Monica and Jessica was a Euclid inventor with 37 patents to his name (including one for nonflammable car wax and a rotating lollipop). Jessica formulated the official MP hand sanitizer, developing her own balance of moisturizers, sanitizers and fragrances.

“This is a dream for us,” says Jessica. “Monica and I have always talked about going into business together some day. We just bought back our childhood home in Cleveland on Overlook Park Drive, and now this! It feels good to be part of the good things happening in and around Cleveland.”

While acting is still a priority for Monica and she just had a new sit-com pilot picked up by NBC, Jessica says that Monica Potter Home “is her passion,” and Monica plans to be at the shop at least every six to eight weeks. Conceptualizing new products and putting local people to work are big motivators for Monica.

“It’s almost fate that we’re opening up a store here and now in Garrettsville,” Jessica says. “We had been working with Stephanie already, and we were planning to expand our candlemaking involvement with her when she lost One Real Peach in the Garrettsville Fire. In fact, nearly all the artisans we work with now were victims of that fire. So the opening of Monica Potter Home is a way to reclaim some of that loss, and to help bring traffic back to Garrettsville. We’re really excited to be here. Strange to think, if it hadn’t been for the fire, things would have played out differently. Apparently, now is the right time, and we’re supposed to be here.”

Monica Potter Home employs a half dozen local shop employees, in addition to Jessica and Stephanie, including Jen Click (formerly of Miller’s Lawn & Garden), senior brand manager Coleen Bradach, Jen Cales, Jericho Sly, and Amy Marsh. As the business grows, more employees may be needed. Job applications will be available on Feb. 14.

During next Saturday’s grand opening, Monica will greet visitors while they browse the new shop. Hot chocolate and Tracy Garrett’s Top Tier Pastries will be served. A shuttle service will be provided between parking at the former turkey farm and the shop location. Please bring food donations of canned/dried goods or paper products in support of the Nelson-Garrettsville Community Cupboard.

At Monica Potter Home, the mission is “to make every house a comfortable, productive, and loving home.” Follow Monica on Facebook at www.facebook.com/monicapotter or at www.mrspotter.com. The store can be reached at (330) 527-2054.

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Sixth Grade

Shawn Barber, Gavin Bervish, Isaiah Consolo, Clay Dean, Payton Ihrig, Morgan Lovett, Christian Manista, Isis Post, Jared Purdy,  Kaylee Regan, Mercedes Riffle, Jessica Riley, Morgan Showalter, 

Breena Smith, Seth Strausbaugh, Adam Thomas, Madison Wiley

Seventh Grade

Blaze Angle, Mason Angle, Jazelle Artman, Danny Chambers, Paige Collins, Abigail Forsythe, Brevin McCrae, Annetta Sanders, Ashley Simmons, David Stout, Dawson Swearingen, Megan Turk, Ericq Williams

Eighth Grade

Nathan Carpenter, Josh Forsythe, Phillip Maiorca, Riley Mullen, Krista Shearer, Rebekah Stout, Brandon Wallace, Isabella Warrick

Ninth Grade

Sabrina Garl, Brittany Grant*, Deidra Hankins*, Miranda Jones, Kelsey Knoll*, Tim Murton*, Summer Nadiak*,

Kyliee Osco, Robert Rigg, Ashlyn Riggs, Sam Speicher, Mariah Walker*

Tenth Grade

Cali Apthorpe*, Rave Johnson, Alexis Knight, Ben Knight*, Bria Nix-Wicker, Elizabeth Richmond*, Kathlyn Richmond*, Erik Roche, Mahlia Smith, Cassie Snyder*, Elizabeth Starcher, Sara Taylor*, Holly Thompson*

Eleventh Grade

Joe Barnes, Chandler Bee, Samantha Dean, Tristan Hankins*, Saraya Harvey, Logan Hershberger, Nicole James, Brittany Knight*, Brooke Lissy*, Joe Prasky, Mariah Scott, Lauren Simmons*, Adam Tanner, Alex Workman, Brianna Workman

Twelvth Grade

Shauntia Cunningham, Alexis Fabry, Daisy Fleming*, Rocky Hager, Dari Heller, Sarah Hodson*, Jessica Isler, Zacharie Lewis, Emily Miller, Jordan Small,  Bethany Stout

Windham – The WVFD met for their regularly scheduled meeting with all board members in attendance, including a second representative elected by the village council. Chairman Dann Timmons called the meeting to order with the first item of business being, to elect a new chairperson for the 2015 year.  The board elected Dann Timmons to be the chairperson.

The next item to be addressed was the so-called elephant in the room, two people elected to fill the same seat on the board. At the September Windham Village Council Meeting, the council unanimously voted to have Jim Moore as the village’s citizen representative to the fire board, replacing George Bengston, who passed away. After three months of service, the village council rescinded their appointment of Jim Moore at the December council meeting. According to Jim Moore, council then voted 3-1 to elect Phil Snyder to the fire board. The vote technically failed as it was not a majority of the elected officials; it was only a majority of those in attendance.  According to Council member Linda Rininger, a second vote was taken at an emergency meeting on January 13th (two days prior to the fire board meeting) with a vote of 4-2, electing Phil Snyder. Jim Moore believes the action was illegal, so he was taking his position on the board. Phil Snyder, who was also elected to the board to fill the same position as Moore was also present on the board. 

Dann Timmons said he researched the issue and talked to several outside legal counsels including the prosecutor’s office and they deemed the action illegal. The three opinions he sought said that only the fire board could dismiss someone from the board. To avoid a legal fight and to wait on a written legal opinion, it was suggested that the board could do one of these three options:

1. Suspend operations until issue is resolved. 

2. Seat both

3. Select one over the other.

The district can’t suspend operations. Seating both would be a violation of the joint district’s operating agreement and selecting one over the other would open the door for more legal action.  The fire board decided that no big decisions would be made until the issue was resolved and neither Moore nor Snyder would be allowed to vote until the issue was resolved. 

Fire board member and Village council member Deb Blewitt stated that the council made the appointment of Phil Snyder to the board and he should be recognized as the board member. Timmons responded that  the attorney general’s office has set a precedent in 2014 saying  that council doesn’t have the authority to remove a person from the board, making that action against the Ohio Revised Code. Timmons said he believes the removal of Moore is illegal as well, according to the independent legal counsels he sought out on the same issue.

Phil Snyder voiced his opinion on the four member board. Snyder said, “I am duly elected by official action of council to serve on this board (fire) and I oppose any decision made by a four-man board, due to not having enough representation from the village.” This went into a lengthy discussion with many people voicing opinions. In the end, the fire board voted to operate as a four member board until a written opinion is received on the issue.

The board approved the minutes, bank reconciliation and expenditures for the month of December. Mark Russell from Ellerhorst Russell Insurance presented the insurance renewal policy for the district. After answering a few questions, the board approved the policy. The four member board went into executive session to discuss personnel issues.

 They returned and stated that the board had received four resignations from firemen and/or EMT’s earlier in the day and they each asked for an exit interview. The board set January 21, 2015 as an executive session for the exit interviews. 

Fire Chief Mike Iwanyckyj requested an executive session for personnel reasons so the board entered into a second executive session of the evening. The board returned 20 minutes later. 

 In open issues, Timmons met with Mayor Rob Donham and Deb Blewitt on the alleged breach of contract by discontinuance of dispatching; the village had  offered $3,500 / year to cover costs of dispatching. The discontinuing of dispatching has cost the WVFD Joint District approximately $25,000 / year. Several on the board think they need to counter offer the village’s proposal. 

 Originally, the district appointed Jim Moore and Dann Timmons to negotiate a settlement on the dispatching issue. According to Deb Blewitt, the mayor would not meet if Moore was on the negotiation team, so Moore stepped aside. The chairman asked if another board member would be willing to sit in on negotiations, Mike Dye said he was available and would be willing to do so. The board voted to add Mike Dye to the negotiating team.

 A fireman asked to address the board. He questioned why they had a lead person on calls whose credentials had expired. He also questioned why the board did not know it was happening and why it had been going on for a long time. Timmons said these issues would be addressed in the executive session set for January 21, 2015.

In new business, Jim Moore read a letter to the board; he announced his resignation. Moore stated that he would put aside his pride and do what is in the best interest of the community and the fireboard. The board reluctantly accepted Moore’s resignation. Timmons to Moore, “I am sorry this has happened and I have enjoyed working with you. I also appreciate you doing this for the WVFD.” A motion was made to rescind the acceptance of Jim Moore on the fire board and to accept the village’s latest appointment of Phil Snyder as the citizen representative to the board. This  was seconded and a vote was taken with a 2-2 tie.  The meeting was adjourned.

A call was placed to Mayor Rob Donham for a statement on the dismissal of Jim Moore and the appointment of Phil Snyder to the fire board and here is the statement Donham sent this reporter, “I am pleased that the village council has appointed Phil Snyder to the fire district board to replace Jim Moore. Although, I don’t directly have any influence on the appointment either time, I was skeptical when Mr. Moore was appointed that he would be able to serve without pursuing his own political chaos as I’ve experienced in the past. In the very short couple of months, Mr. Moore began to cause chaos and fighting that has not been experienced in the six years the district has been in existence to the point where the council believed they had to make a change. Phil Snyder has served the village the district and Windham as a whole admirably in the past and I am confident will continue to do so in the future.”

Newton Falls – Registration for children entering the Newton Falls School System for the 2015-2016 school year was held in February and the beginning of March.  If you have not yet registered your child for next year’s kindergarten, it is important that you do so immediately as there is a mandated screening time which will take place at the end of April.

You do NOT need an appointment, but please only come during these times:  8:30-11:30 or 12:30-2:30.  It is not necessary to bring your child at this time.  To qualify for kindergarten, child must be 5 by August 1, 2015.  

You should bring the following items with you when registering: Your child’s legal birth certificate, immunization records (see list below), proof of residency (driver’s license, utility bill, etc), child’s Social Security Number and custody papers (if applicable).

 The Ohio Department of Health requires that all children entering kindergarten in the state of Ohio shall be immunized as follows: 5 doses Dtap vaccine (unless the fourth dose was administered after the 4th birthday), 4 doses Polio vaccine (last dose must be given after the 4th birthday), 2 doses MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) , 3 doses Hepatitis B vaccine and 2 doses Varicella Vaccine.

Please check your child’s shot record now which will give you ample time to complete these requirements prior to registration. Your child can not start school the first day without a completed immunization record. 

If you have any questions, you may contact the school secretary, Mrs. Dee Howard, at 330-872-5225 (ext. 2301).  

Garrettsville – The January 14th Garrettsville village council meeting began with council re-electing councilman Tom Hardesty as Village Council President.   Mayor Patrick then addressed council with a State of the Village report (see below).  Mayor Patrick also asked for and was granted council’s approval for his 2015 mayoral appointments.

It was noted during the review of the income tax reports that delinquent tax collection was up over last year’s numbers.  

Next, councilman Hadzinsky presented to council a report covering the last four years carryover balance in the village’s finances.  Hadzinsky presented facts showing since 2009 a steady decline in carryover balances – with an exception in 2012 when the village received a significant windfall from an estate.  Without that windfall, 2012 would have been a deficit year as well.  Hadzinsky asked council to agree that they have indeed been in a spending deficit and asked for the establishment of a minimum carryover balance (MCB) amount.  

Currently annual village income covers obligatory spending (salaries, utilities, insurances, etc.) and leaves approximately $144,000 annually for discretionary spending (roads, salt, vehicles, sidewalks, repairs, etc.).  Hadzinsky wants council to be more aware of their spending and plan accordingly.  After some discussion, council agreed that there is a need to establish a minimum carryover balance.  Council president Hardesty suggested that the MCB should be formally established when council finalizes the 2015 budget.  All of  present council members were in agreement.

Councilwoman Anderson brought up for discussion the need to put into place an employee review program.  She suggested that evaluations start with the department heads this year and include a process for them to share their vision for their departments as well as establishing budgetary needs.  Anderson feels that in order for the village’s employees to be accountable, they need to understand council’s expectations and goals.  After some discussion council decided to move forward with establishing an employee evaluation program having the mayor and council president administer it.     

Council adjourned to executive session to discuss personnel.  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 February 11, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. at Village Hall.  

 

State of the Village of Garrettsville 2015

  – Mayor Rick Patrick 

As we start 2015 I would like to reflect on the events of 2014.  In January, I was elected and sworn in to serve as Mayor for the unexpired term, through 2015. Becky Harrington, Chuck Klamer, Steve Hadzinsky and Tom Hardesty were sworn in for their new terms on council through 2017. Tom Hardesty was elected by council to serve as Council President. 

It was a long hard winter that we thought would never end. A big thank you goes to our street department for braving the elements of Mother Nature to keep our roads and sidewalks plowed and salted. 

Anyone that knows me knows that I have always stated that I am always up for a challenge but what happened next was something that I did not bargain for. 

On March 22nd, approximately 1:30pm, I received a phone call from my wife Linnette — very upset — stating that Main Street was on fire. I responded, “What are you talking about?” and she repeated that Main Street was on fire and that I needed to get back to Garrettsville. I was on the west side of Cleveland and I immediately started back. In the meantime, she texted me pictures and called me giving me updates. That drive back was probably the longest hour of my life, but it gave me time to think about how I would handle this situation. As I approached the east side of Hiram, I began to see the heavy black smoke and wondered how bad it actually would be. When I arrived on Main Street, the reality of how bad it really was hit me, and I knew that I had to remain strong as I fought back the tears. This was probably the worst tragedy in history for our Village. We had lost virtually a whole block that was home to thirteen businesses. We had lost years of history and a large part of our historic Main Street. Fortunately, with the exception of minor injuries to two firemen, there were no serious injuries or casualties. The responders to the fire included a total of 34 fire departments from Portage and surrounding counties along with aid from the Portage County Sheriff’s Office and surrounding area police departments. The most amazing thing, though, was the way that our Village came together to help in any way that they could ranging from residents to nonresidents, retired fireman, students, mayors from other communities, Governor Kasich and his office, local, county, state offices and many others. I have people every day ask me when are we going to rebuild from the fire. I explain to them these are all private properties and that it is not up to the Village to rebuild. I will say that we will do everything in our power to help with the development. We have already acquired a CBDG Grant for approximately $75,000 from Portage County to replace sidewalks, streetlights, landscaping and underground utilities.  I praise the property owners for their quick removal and cleanup of the area that was devastated by the fire. The Garrettsville Strong Fund was established by the Chamber of Commerce and criteria were set to provide funding to property owners in development of new buildings. Another fund was established to aid business owners. Many fundraisers were held and are still being held to aid the business owners and property owners. 

Shortly after the fire, the village was also disrupted by ODOT’s grinding and repaving project on State Route 82 from Mantua through Hiram and Garrettsville and ending at State Route 534. I was asked many times if we were still going to have our events, including Summerfest, and I said, “Of course we are going to have our events; Garrettsville is not closed.” 

Speaking of Summerfest, this was the 10th year for the Summerfest Festival and it grows every year. I was honored to serve as the Grand Marshal in 2014, and to have all my children and 6 of my 7 grandchildren attend. They are planning on coming back, as over the years, the Festival has become like a large family reunion that brings families and friends back together every year.  Thank you to Aaron King and his committee for all the volunteer hours that they put into organizing the festival, keeping up its traditions while coming up with new ideas, and creating an event that brings thousands of people to our Village and revenue to our many businesses.      

We are fortunate to have such a strong Chamber of Commerce, which consists of over 130 members. We are thankful for their involvement in the Community as they have for many years provided the village with an extensive calendar of events such as Community Garage Sale, St. Patrick’s Day Celebration, five Car Cruise Nights, Peach Social, Business Showcase, Masquerade Ball, Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and many others. The Chamber over the years has purchased the street banners, concrete park benches, hanging flower baskets, Christmas decorations and much more. The Chamber provides three scholarships for our J.A.Garfield Students and its members are very involved in the Garrettsville Summerfest Festival. 

2014 was also the year for the bi-annual Christmas Walk, sponsored by the J.A. Garfield Historical Society.  This year’s Christmas Walk was a great success, and we thank the members for all their hard work establishing this start to the holiday season.      

Another obstacle that we had to deal with in 2014 was the Liberty Street Bridge replacement. It was a little struggle getting around during the bridge’s closure, but once finished it was a great improvement to our village, and leaves us with only now having to replace the other Liberty Street Bridge close to Center Street. I have been in contact with the Portage County Engineer about the replacement and have been informed that it will be approximately five years before that bridge is replaced. 

It was a busy year for roadwork in the village as curbing, new drainage and some sidewalks were replaced along Windham Street before the paving project by ODOT. Curbing, drainage and some sidewalks on South Street were also replaced, along with the entrance and sidewalks at the South Street Park. Chip and seal was completed on Silica Street and Brosius Road in a joint effort with Nelson Township, and the village performed grinding and patching on a number of other streets. 

New businesses that came into the Village include the new building in Garfield Plaza housing Pizza Hut along with two additional spaces for other new businesses, NAPA Auto parts and ACE Hardware in Garfield Plaza, and the reopening of the beautifully refurbished Garrettsville Cinema.  We also welcomed the Fresh Start Restaurant on Main Street, University Hospital with Dr. Neely into the Kepich Building on South Street, and the YMCA into the old Intermediate School. The Fraternal Order of Eagles completed their outdoor area and courtyard, making the corner look very nice. Rite Aid completed an extensive interior and exterior remodel, and a dilapidated vacant home on Water Street was removed and grass planted through the Moving Ohio Forward grant program, administered by the Portage County Land Reutilization Corporation. 

Probably one of the most significant improvements in the village in 2014 was the new school addition for the J.A. Garfield School District. It was stated that it would never be finished by the beginning of school in August, but through a joint effort with the village and many community involvement meetings, it was completed in time for the new school year. This brings the elementary, intermediate, middle and high schools all together in one area, creating the new J.A. Garfield Campus. 

After many years of sitting empty, and debates as to whether to save it or tear it down, the Paul’s Grist Mill was acquired by developer Mike Maschek and the back half was finally torn down and cleared away. Mike began total rehabilitation of the historic front portion, gutting down to the stud walls and conducting a complete restoration. With minor things yet to be completed, it should be ready to be occupied by early spring of 2015.  In addition, six new homes were constructed in the village. 

The village services continue as they have in the past, consisting of Fall Leaf pickup and vacuuming, tree limb pick up the 1st Monday of the month, tree removal program on tree lawns, sidewalk snow plowing, Christmas tree pick up, Spring and Fall clean up and recycle bin collection at the maintenance building.

As we progress through 2015 we will continue to offer these services, and as the budget allows, we will continue to replace sidewalks and repair roads with grinding, patching and chip & seal, as well as other improvements throughout the village as they are needed. 

I would like to say thank you to our Police department, Fire Department, Community EMS, our Street Department, Water Department and the Village offices. These are the people that are the core of the operations of the village and they deserve many thanks for keeping us safe and in good running order. 

As I close, I would like to reiterate, as has been said many times since the fire, that Garrettsville is strong. This past year’s events have proven that with all of our combined efforts we are strong and we will remain strong, and we will continue to do what it takes to make our Historic Garrettsville a great place to have a business, to get a great education, to  build or buy a home, to visit and most of all, to be a Village resident.  

As always, if you have any ideas, questions or comments, feel free to call me at 330-687-9637 or email mayor@garrettsville.org

Mantua – Last week, the Downtown Mantua Revitalization Corporation (DMRC) held the third meeting of the Headwaters Trail Collaboration at Miller’s of Mantua restaurant on East Prospect Street in Mantua. 

This is the third meeting of the group, which includes a collaboration of local mayors, city and township officials, and community organizations from Aurora, Garrettsville, Hiram Village, Hiram Township, Mantua Village and Mantua Township. Their mission is to connect these contiguous communities via improvements to the Portage Parks District Headwaters Trail, which runs through each locality.

Portage Park District Executive Director Chris Craycroft was in attendance to discuss a feasibility project slated to begin in early spring, a joint effort between the city of Aurora and the park district. According to Jim Kraus, Director of Aurora’s Parks and Recreation Department, the city has set aside funds, and has also obtained a grant from the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study (AMATS) to complete a feasibility study on the Headwaters Trail. The city is working with Ms. Craycroft on this project. According to Ms. Craycroft, maintenance and improvements to the existing trail surface are included in the Park District’s 2015 budget. In addition, the Park District is working on obtaining necessary easements to further develop the trail.

The Headwaters Trail Collaboration also seeks to collectively solicit additional grants, such as Clean Ohio and ODOT grants in order to make improvements to and extend the Headwaters Trail from the city of Aurora to the village of Garrettsville, with input from the Portage County Regional Planning Commission. 

In Mantua, for example, the DMRC has collected an impressive 125 letters of support from residents who use the Headwaters Trail. The local Rotary Club and Eagle Scouts will provide resources and trail work, as well, showcasing the intrinsic value placed on this Park District resource within the community it serves. 

At a meeting on February 23rd at 10 am, a subcommittee of the group will meet at the Park District Office in Ravenna to discuss the creation of a countywide “branding” element for the Headwaters Trail. 

In addition, the full group will meet at noon on May 20th at Miller’s of Mantua to review the results of the feasibility study, create an updated action plan and to discuss promotion of the Trail during the summer months. For more information, contact the DMRC at (330) 274-4040 or DMRCemail@gmail.com.

Headwaters Trail Map courtesy of the Portage Park District

GarrettsvilleDr. Drew will see you now. Andrew Holpuch, DDS, that is. 

Dr. Drew Holpuch has taken over the general dentistry practice previously held by his uncle, Dr. James G. Holpuch, DDS at Garrettsville Dental Group, 8143 Windham Street. The senior Holpuch retired and moved out West after over 30 years in family dentistry at this office and a second office in Newton Falls.

‘Dr. Drew,’ as his office staff affectionately calls him, says that following in his uncle’s footsteps was more accidental than planned, but the timing was right for him to bring the dental practice forward in a new generation. “At first, it was an opportunity to work here with my uncle, starting last July. But then, what with his health issues, by September Uncle Jim decided to hang up his drill and simply retire.” 

The younger Holpuch received dual degrees (DDS and PhD) in 2014 from The Ohio State University College of Dentistry in Pharmaceutics and Oral Biology, with a focus on oral biology and oral cancer research. 

He grew up in Valley View. Following high school graduation from Cleveland Benedictine High School, he pursued undergraduate studies in cellular and molecular biology from Syracuse University.

While he continues to pursue academic opportunities to conduct further research/instruction involving oral cancer prevention, he values working with patients in local practice, helping them to maintain oral health. Dr. Drew wants people to realize that oral health is key to systemic (whole body) health. 

For instance, periodontal (gum) disease is related directly to cardiovascular (heart) disease, diabetes and pre-term births. So maintaining healthy gums through regular dental check-ups and cleanings is recognized as an important component of overall preventive health habits.

In his family practice, Dr. Holpuch typically provides fillings, crowns, bridges, dentures, root canals, gum therapy, extractions and implant restorations. He says he approaches dentistry from an academic point of view rather than a business mindset, so he’s conservative with diagnosis and treatment. Saying, “I don’t chase stain,” he sets himself apart from other dentists who tend to over-diagnose and aggressively treat patients unnecessarily.

Dr. Holpuch’s Garrettsville office is open from 2pm-7pm Mondays, 9am-5pm Tuesdays, and 9am-5pm Thursdays; then 8am-12 noon in Newton Falls. To make an appointment, call (330) 527-4313.

Garrettsville – A new state rule that eliminates calamity days and sets minimum classroom hours means little to the James A. Garfield Schools. The new hour-based schedule requires 1,001 hours each year for grades 7-12 and 910 hours for K-6. The provision was signed into law last year in Gov. John Kasich’s two-year budget plan and equates to around 100 hours less than our students currently attend. Most Ohio schools average 1,126 hours, based on 6 1/2 hour days at 180 days per year. To meet the minimum hours, schools would need to be in session only about 5 1/2 hours each day. Currently our elementary students have  over 1,030 hours of instruction and our high school students have over 1,130 hours of instruction. 

Meeting minimum hours is not OK. Whether it’s days or hours, we need time to educate our students and meet the mandates placed upon our students. It begs the question, “If education is valued, why would our state legislators want to minimize our school year?”  This is a question we are still trying to understand.  

In all aspects of our organization we exceed minimum expectations.  Our test scores reflect teachers and students going above and beyond.  The condition of our grounds and buildings reflects doing much more than just the minimum. With new testing for students, higher standards and the Third Grade Reading Guarantee, this is no time to lower our expectations to a minimum.

Garfield’s teacher contract does not expire until this summer so the hour-based legislation does not apply to this school year.  This contract defines a number of days that far exceeds the minimum number of hours set forth by the state. So, regardless of what bar the state sets, our teachers will continue to set the bar for Garfield higher. While the state-issued calamity days have ceased, we have included makeup days in our calendar (at the end of the school year) if we miss more than five days due to weather.

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Wanted Frog Watchers!

The Portage Park District needs your help as we join forces with Hiram College in Project FrogWatch. Project FrogWatch USA is a citizen science program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums that provides individuals, groups, and families with an opportunity to learn about wetlands in their communities and report data on the calls of local frogs and toads. Volunteers collect data during evenings from February through August and have been submitting data for over 15 years. 

The dates for this years  FrogWatch training will be January 29th and February 5th (Thursdays) from 7:00-9:00 pm.  If volunteers would like to become certified, they will also need to take the certification exam on February 12th at 7:00 pm.  We will hold our sessions at the James H. Barrow Field Station (Hiram College).  There is a fee of  $5.00 fee for the training, course materials, etc.  

For more information contact Joe Malmisur at Draco1027@gmail.com or 330-770-3643

Birding for the Ordinary Average Guy/Gal

Come join Portage Park District volunteer naturalist Joe Malmisur and Dr. Sarah Mabey on Monday Feb. 9th for the fourth in the Park District’s birding series. It doesn’t matter if you did not attend prior sessions. There is always a brief review of things that were covered. The fourth session will focus on bird migration, habitat, and Dan Best, naturalist from the Geauga Park District is scheduled to provide insight on birding by season. Nights activities are from 7:00-9:00 at 705 Oakwood St. Ravenna Ohio in the Senior Center. 

Upcoming Hikes

The Portage Park District is here to help you LOVE winter. Ever want to try snow-shoeing or cross-country skiing? Join volunteer instructors and rent equipment from Geiger Ski Haus at the parks, (available for these programs*) and give it a shot! Skis $10/2 hours; shoes $6/2 hours. For more information, please contact Volunteer Naturalist Joe Malmisur at Draco1027@gmail.com or call 330-770-3643.

Feb. 7 – Stars and Moon Snowshoe Hike – 7:00pm – 9:00pm     Morgan Preserve (meet at parking lot on Rt 44)

Feb. 8 – x country skiing – Rt 700 Trail head    2:00pm – 4:00pm  

Feb. 15 – x country skiing  – 2:00pm – 4:00 pm  Towner’s Woods

Feb. 21 – x country skiing – 10:00am – 12:00pm  Franklin Connector Trail

Feb. 22 – Snowshoe hike – 2:00-4:00 Camp Spelman

X-Country skiing is dependent on snow. Hikes will occur whether there is snow or not.

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Hiram – Hiram College has much to celebrate this new year. Officials are very appreciative of friends and alumni who contributed more than $1.5 million to establish the ‘Edward J. Smerek Chair in Mathematics, the Sciences and Technology’ and $500,000 to establish the ‘Stanley and Lois S. Proctor Director of Field Station Academic Programs Endowment Fund’ for the James H. Barrow Field Station, a research and educational facility that enhances the College’s science and environmental studies program.

A large portion of that support originated from two single sources: a generous, $867,000 estate gift from Cleveland businessman Stan Proctor and a gift of $500,000 from an anonymous donor.

“We are exceedingly grateful to Stan Proctor. Mr. Proctor was a beloved member of the Board of Trustees who believed in the teaching mission of Hiram College. Through his work on the board, he knew first-hand the transformative power of a Hiram education,” said Hiram College President, Lori Varlotta. “Thanks to these most recent gifts, that power will continue to transform the lives of students – and those who teach them – for many years to come.”

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Send a Valentine to a Hero Overseas

The message is a simple one, “Thank you so much for what you do, we always need you.” This is just one of the many sweet messages from the heart of a child to a soldier overseas in a project called OPERATION VALENTINE. 

Carlson Funeral Homes & Cremation Services is one of nearly 1000 Veterans & Family Memorial Care providers nationwide who sponsor the annual VFMC Operation Valentine initiative. The project is simple and meaningful, according to Dr. Michael E. Carlson. “Students and individuals throughout the community write messages to the troops on Valentine Cards, Cut-Out Hearts, or whatever they like and we make sure that they are delivered to our brave men and women serving overseas.”

Cards cannot include glitter, food or candy, but there are still many ways to personalize a handmade card. Write a message on them and say “Thank You,” tell them about yourself and wish them a Happy Valentine Day! Our troops are away from their loved ones and friends so they really want to know that people back home appreciate them. “Care packages are one thing, but this is a real morale boost”, said Dr. Mike.

Valentine cards may be dropped off from now thru Febuary 1st between 10am and 4pm at

Mallory-DeHaven-Carlson Funeral Home & Cremation Services

8382 Center St.

Garrettsville, OH 44231

Mantua – The Award Winning Mantua’s Art on the Hill & Wine Tasting is seeking artisans. The festival will be held on Saturday, July 11, 2015 from 10am-6pm. Each year, “Art on the Hill & Wine Tasting” attracts over 70 artisans from the northeast Ohio area as well as from the nearby states of Pennsylvania, New York and Michigan. This is an excellent opportunity to sell and display your handmade works of art! The festival also features 4 local wineries offering wine tasting, live musical and dance entertainment, demonstrations, and an awesome art and local merchandise auction. NEW this year will be…. Awards for the “Best Booth Presentation”, “Best Demonstration”, and “People’s Choice Most Creative Artwork” will be presented. Artists chosen will receive a cash prize and ribbon. Booths generally fill up quickly, and are accepted on a first come basis. Please email or call event organizer Christine Pitsinger at communityjournal@yahoo.com or 330-414-6486 for an application or additional information.

“Art on the Hill & Wine Tasting” was named “Portage County’s Best Arts & Cultural Event of 2014″.

Garrettsville – Once again the Garrettsville Eagles Club Aerie No 27 made a donation of $7,212 to the Portage County District Libraries. 

The Club members felt that there is a great need of funds to continue the many services the library provides.

Presenting the check to the Library Director Cecilia Swanson and Branch Manager Greg Trask were the Eagles’ President Tim Kelly and Cindy Alexander, President of the Women’s Auxiliary. 

The Library will be using the monies to buy new books to be housed  mainly at the Garrettsville and Windham Libraries. The rest of the libraries that make up the Portage County District are Aurora, Randolph, and Pierce-Streetsboro. The library data base includes Kent and Reed Memorial Libraries to facilitate free exchange of material.

The Eagles members are proud to support their community and hope to continue in future years. 

Garrettsville – Don Havener is a man on a mission. The seventy five-year-old Garrettsville native plans to hike the Appalachian Trail — roughly 2,180 miles long — from March through August of this year. And while he will begin this epic hike on March 23rd, his 76th birthday, he’s making the trek to honor his younger brother, Bob, who suffers from Parkinson’s Disease.

“Through it all, I want to be a blessing to those who suffer from the havoc of Parkinson’s by walking the over 2,180 miles of the Appalachian Trail,” Havener shared. “It’s my goal to try and raise $100 per mile for the Ohio Parkinson Foundation, an organization that has been such a blessing to my brother during his five year struggle with the disease,” he concluded. 

For nearly 20 years, the organization has provided Parkinson’s patients and their families with information on symptoms, medication management, coping strategies and supportive services. The idea of the hike, however, started nearly 40 years ago, when Havener, a biology teacher, would spend a week or two each summer hiking portions of the trail with his wife and two sons. But even at 100 miles a trip, Havener and his family only managed to hike through five of the fourteen states that make up the trail. Now, after retiring from full-time work, the devoted husband, father, and grandfather is ready to take on the journey, which he estimates will take roughly six months.

The Appalachian Trail is one of the longest continuously marked footpaths in the world, measuring roughly 2,180 miles in length. Known as the AT, the trail goes through the fourteen states covered by the Appalachian mountain range, stretching from the southern terminus at Springer Mountain, Georgia, to the trail’s northern terminus at Katahdin, Maine. An estimated 2-3 million people visit the trail every year, and 1,800–2,000 people attempt to “thru-hike” the trail annually. 

Havener was reminded of the AT last March when he and his wife Kathy attended a talk given by a local young man who had recently completed the trail. After the presentation, Havener told his wife, “I have to do this.” She agreed to help him, and will be driving the couple’s mobile home along the route he follows, camping at National Park campgrounds, meeting up with her husband every five days to provide food and supplies. The couple will celebrate their 55th anniversary on June 18th — a monumental achievement during an equally monumental trek. Havener shared, “We’ve done a lot of weird things together.”

They share a love of activities like hiking, spelunking, and long-distance biking to places like the Outer Banks. “I couldn’t think of doing this without her,” Havener beamed. Since deciding to make the journey last March, the two have been training together, hiking 60 – 90 minutes (3-6 miles) every morning at the Hiram Field Station. In addition, they’ve sought out more mountainous regions in New York and PA to get acclimated to the terrain they’ll soon see. 

Virginia contains the most miles of the AT (about 550 miles), while West Virginia is home to the least (about 4). The Trail also traverses through GA (for 81 miles), NC (300), TN (280), MD (40), PA (235), NJ (60), NY (98), CT (38), MA (86), VT (141), NH (146), and ME (276). According to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Maryland and West Virginia are the easiest states to hike, while New Hampshire and Maine are the hardest, due to rocky terrain and elevation gains. In fact, the total elevation gain of hiking the entire A.T. is equivalent to climbing Mt. Everest 16 times.

According to Havener, “There are lots of trail conditions I haven’t experienced yet.” New Hampshire and Vermont are quite mountainous, with steel ladder rungs mounted to the steep, rocky trail. In Maine, the Kennebec River offers canoe ferrying, if the river is too swift to attempt a crossing on foot. “I’m looking forward to all the challenges and adventures I’ll experience,” marveled Havener.

Currently, Havener works part-time at Ace Hardware in Garrettsville. Recently, a friend who heard of his upcoming journey came in, pulled a crisp $100 bill from his wallet, and paid for the first mile of the epic trip. Havener is also accepting donations at his website, www.gen524.com, which will also house his trip blog and video uploads from the trail. He hopes to raise $100 per mile – or $2,180 for the Ohio Parkinson’s Foundation.

His web address is named for Genesis 5:24 from the Bible, which is one of the rare verses to feature Havener’s personal scripture hero, Enoch. Enoch was the father of Methuselah, and the great-grandfather of Noah. Much like today, the people of Enoch’s time were focused on worldly materialism. Enoch was given a son by God at the age of 65, then spend the next 300 years of his life meditating and walking with God, in praise of God’s grace to him. Havener shared, “If we live our lives led by scripture, as Enoch did, we lose the desire for the material trappings and pitfalls.” Instead of dying at the end of his days, according to Genesis 5:24, “And Enoch walked with God, and he was no longer, for God had taken him.” During this long journey, and the vast expanse of alone time it will allow, he hopes to find another dimension to his spiritual life.

Unfortunately, during to the trip, Havener will miss his youngest grandson’s high school graduation. He knows that his grandson understands the importance of his mission. “He’s okay with what I’m doing. My grandsons appreciate how strange I am,” he joked. His wife, Kathy, will take a break from the trip to attend the festivities. 

During his six months of the thru-hike, Havener plans to cover 15 miles per day. He’ll be primarily hiking alone, but will be joined briefly by his son Mark, a firefighter from Oregon, will join him for a week or two during the summer months. “I definitely feel like I’m going to be a different person at the end of my journey,” he added. 

Havener will be blogging and posting videos from the trail. For more information on his journey, or to make a donation to benefit the Northeast Ohio Parkinson’s Foundation, visit www.gen524.com. 

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Burton – The Geauga Fresh Farmers’ Market, in its fourteenth year, will hold its 2015 annual organizational meeting from 10am to noon Saturday, February 7, 2015 at the Patterson Center, Claridon Troy Road, at the north end of the Geauga County Fairgrounds in Burton.  Farmers, producers and artisans who are interested in the market for the coming season are welcome to attend. For more information call 440- 991-7432 or email geaugamarket@yahoo.com.

Volunteers who help at the market are also needed and welcome to attend. The volunteers are important to the overall success of the market, helping with parking and special events.

The Market is held from 9:00am to Noon Saturdays at the South Russell Village Hall parking lot, at Bell and Chillicothe (Route 306) roads in the village beginning May 9, 2015 and running until early October.

Vendors at the market sell fresh seasonal produce, flowers, baked goods, eggs, cheese, and meat, honey and maple syrup, herbs, oil and spices, soaps and lotions, crafts and other locally produced products.

Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary met and discussed a New Year’s buffet of possibilities at their recent meeting at Cal’s II.  Tasty items included :

Introduction of guest, Helen Louise Bouts.

Family Week meetings with James A. Garfield Elementary School principals have been forestalled by snow events but prospects are good for a rejuvenation and re-invigoration of the program, involving more kids and parents.

The Rotary International convention will be held this year in Brazil, June 6-9.  Any travelers?  The convention in 2017 will be in Atlanta.  Perhaps more plausible?  Think about it.

Rotary is affiliated with various interest groups under the organizational umbrella—travel, hiking, biking, etc—members can   find these on the Rotary website.

Local Rotary groups are consulting together about co-ordinating efforts to promote the Headwaters Trail.  This will fit in to on-going community activities such as the Art on the Hill  in Mantua, possibly initiate Art on the Boardwalk (Vendors will be invited) or a bike-and-hike event in the fall in concert with the Portage Park District.  There may be grants involved.  It’s a win-win situation.

Kyle Collins has submitted an application for the Rotary Student Exchange Program, hoping to be posted to Japan.

There was some discussion of sponsoring a drop-off event for Habitat for Humanity following the annual Community Yard Sale.  This would allow donors to bring gently-used or surplus goods to a central location in Garrettsville, eliminating a trip to the ReStore in Kent and making contribution easier.

Members are urged to track hours spent on various local community projects, partly for evaluation purposes , partly for goal-fulfillment aims.

And, of course, dues are due.

Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary meets every Monday at noon in Cal’s II in the Sky Plaza.  All are welcome to come and check it out.

Portage County – The Portage Park District needs your help as we join forces with Hiram College in Project FrogWatch. Project FrogWatch USA is a citizen science program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums that provides individuals, groups, and families with an opportunity to learn about wetlands in their communities and report data on the calls of local frogs and toads. Volunteers collect data during evenings from February through August and have been submitting data for over 15 years. 

The dates for this years  FrogWatch training will be January 29th and February 5th (Thursdays) from 7:00-9:00 pm.  If volunteers would like to become certified, they will also need to take the certification exam on February 12th at 7:00 pm.  We will hold our sessions at the James H. Barrow Field Station (Hiram College).  There is a fee of  $5.00 fee for the training, course materials, etc.  

For more information contact Joe Malmisur at Draco1027@gmail.com or 330-770-3643

Garrettsville – Live theatre is always such a wonderful challenge. As with any artist, you start with a blank canvas and create a masterpiece. At times, the canvas (stage) becomes more like a puzzle, with pieces scattered all over the work area, but in the end, the pieces all come together to form one individualized piece of art. This production of “Cheaper By the Dozen” is just that, a work of art, which was once an empty, dark canvas. The actors become our paint and mesh together to form a colorful display of talent.

Our canvas is complete; and when the curtains open and the lights come up, our work of art will be on display for you to view, enjoy, and critique. 

“Cheaper by the Dozen”, is a true story of a family of 12. “Cheaper by the Dozen”  is based on a story written by Frank Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth. It tells the story of Frank Bunker Gilbreth and Lillian Moller Gilbreth, and their twelve children. The book focuses on the many years the family resided in Montclair, New Jersey. The title comes from one of Frank Sr.’s favorite jokes: it often happened that when he and his family were out driving and stopped at a red light, a pedestrian would ask, “Hey, Mister! How come you got so many kids?” Gilbreth would pretend to ponder the question carefully, and then, just as the light turned green, would say, “Well, they come cheaper by the dozen, you know,” and drive off.

We think you will enjoy our presentation which will be held in the Iva Walker Auditorium located in the James A Garfield High School. 

Show dates are January 16, 17, 23 and 24th at 7pm and our Sunday matinee will be January 18, 2015 at 2pm. 

Tickets are available at the door —  Adults $10.00, seniors over 65 and children under 12 $7.00, and groups of 15 or more $5.00 each.

Come, sit back and for a few hours come onto our canvas and enjoy Live Theatre.

Garrettsville - 2014 was an interesting year for the Village of Garrettsville and our member businesses. On March 22nd our historic Main Street business district experienced a devastating fire that reduced over 150 years of history to rubble in what felt like mere moments. In the wake of the disaster, our community and supporters from across the globe united to help raise funds to aide in rebuilding Main Street through the Garrettsville Area Chamber of Commerce’s #GarrettsvilleStrong fund; and get business owners back on their feet through the People Tree & Garrettsville United Methodist Church’s joint efforts. 

I am extremely pleased to announce that as of December 22nd, the GarrettsvilleStrong fund has accumulated over $84,000 to help defray reconstruction efforts once building begins at the site of the March 22nd fire. Fundraising will continue into 2015 with sales of Rich Teresi’s fire documentary DVD, and Pamela Montgomery’s Garrettsville Strong book which will feature memories about the buildings lost in the fire. 

On behalf of the Garrettsville Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and our membership, thank you to everyone who has made a donation, held a fundraiser, or helped spread the word about our community’s efforts. By coming together for a common purpose, you have helped make our community GarrettsvilleStrong.

If you would like to hold a fundraiser to raise money for the #GarrettsvilleStrong fund we ask that you contact Chamber of Commerce Secretary Michelle Zivoder. This required step helps protect our area business owners and residents. Michelle can be reached at  330.472.7304 or via email at news@weeklyvillager.com.

Garrettsville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Christmas On Main Winners Announced

Garrettsville Area Chamber announced the winners of the Christmas on Main, the area’s annual local shopping event. The drawing took place at the Chamber Christmas Social held at the Sugar Bush Golf Club on December 17, 2014.

The first place winner is Gail Williams; she has won $500 in “Chamber Bucks”‚ to be used at participating area businesses. The poinsettia lottery tree went to Lisa Schwan and a holiday themed gift assortment from Enchanted Books & Antiques was awarded to Doretta Frohring. Congratulations to all of this year’s winners!

This year the shopping event, Christmas on Main, generated over $213,000 in local spending based on the completed cards turned in  during the holiday season. This event began November 7th  and ran thru December 14th.

The Chamber wishes to thank all those who helped make 2014 a fantastic year and we look forward to working together to make 2015 even better.

Garrettsville – At the December 10th Garrettsville Village Council meeting, Mayor Patrick called Garrettsville police officer Timothy Christopher forward as he read Resolution 2014-38, which recognizes the seven years of service of police dog Taz and authorized retirement of the canine.  It further authorized officer Christopher’s assumption of ownership in exchange for $1.  Taz was retired earlier this year for health reasons.  He now resides with his handler, Officer Christopher and his family.  Christopher thanked the mayor and council for their dedication and continued support of the canine program and, though he will not be the canine handler any more, he will still be involved in a supervisory capacity.  Officer Keith Whan will be Garrettsville Police’s new canine handler.

Next the Mayor called police officer David Firtik forward as he read Resolution 2014-39, which recognizes Firtik for receiving the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) award for excellence in the enforcement of the laws against drunk driving and apprehension of impaired drivers.

In other business Councilwoman Becky Harrington requested council’s approval for drawings to be done for the sidewalks and streetscape improvements for the blighted Buckeye Block area.  The drawings will get the long funding process started for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) that the Portage County Commissioners awarded the village last May.  

 Funds from the grant will be distributed in 2015 and are earmarked for streetscape improvements on Main Street in the area affected by the fire.  According to Harrington, even though there are no current plans for reconstruction, the sidewalks in that area are damaged and this is a first step in making the area safe and a bit more aesthetically pleasing for the residents.

The CDBG grant requires no matching funds from the village.  The village applied for the grant as part of an effort to rebuild Main Street after the devastating fire on March 22 that destroyed one quarter of downtown Main Street buildings.  The application that was approved stated the project budget at $78,250,  $76,675 would come from CDBG money for new 14-foot wide sidewalks and new lighting and the village would commit $1,575 for trees.

Council President Tom Hardesty updated council on the Liberty Street project that would correct drainage issues and slow deterioration from truck traffic on Liberty Street between Windham and Water Streets.  His hope is for the village to qualify for issue 1 monies to fund the project, currently estimated between  $125,000 and $150,000.

Council went into executive session for reasons of personnel compensation and discussion of property acquisition.

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 January 14, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. at Village Hall.  

Garrettsville - Sounds of the season resonated through the Iva Walker Auditorium this past Sunday as the High School Concert Band, High School Choir and Middle School Combined Concert Band played for a standing room only crowd.  Under the direction of Theo Cebulla the high school choir sang a number of festive tunes a cappella and wowed the crowd with a perfect-sounding version of Mariah Carey’s, “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” The high school band followed with three holiday medleys.  The first was a series of songs from the popular movie “Frozen”.  Mr. Cebulla also arranged a medley of songs from the movie “Christmas Vacation”.  The high school students ended the show with some classics like “Fireside”, by Sammy Nestico.  

The Middle School Concert seventh and eighth grade bands usually each perform four numbers.  This year Mr. Cebulla challenged the students by asking them to combine their efforts and play eight songs together.  The students played “Sleigh Ride”, “Candy Cane Clarinets”, “Believe” (from Polar Express), “Mele Kalikimaka”, “God Rest Ye Merry Mallets”, “The 12 Days of Instrumental Christmas”, “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” and “Scherzo for Santa”.  

After each concert the Garfield Swing Machine and the Jammin’ G-Men Jazz Bands played in the commons while a reception was held for students, families and guests. The Jazz Bands entertained the crowd with swinging seasonal favorites.

Garfield’s musically-talented students had an opportunity to get some practice in for the show as they sang and played for the Nelson Senior Group last Thursday.  It was a great opportunity for the students to invite some guests from the community into the schools to enjoy the many talents our students have to share.  

On behalf of the entire Garfield School Community I would like to thank all of our students, their director Mr. Cebulla, assistant director Mr. Logan, the Garfield Band Boosters, the parents, community and local businesses for all of the support that makes our band and choir so amazing!    

Mantua - Given reductions in state spending on education, the State of Ohio has implemented state-guaranteed transitional aid to districts with declining enrollment. This “guarantee” means that the State of Ohio offers a promise to pay each district the amount of state funds the district had received in the previous year. “On the flip side,” remarked Jill Rowe, Crestwood District Treasurer/CFO, “it also means that the state feels that the district should not be getting 36% of the revenue it received in the previous year, but that the state will pay or “guarantee” the district these funds in good faith.” 

According to Ms. Rowe, currently 190 school districts out of 615 statewide are on the guarantee. The top two districts receiving the largest amount of the state’s $169 million this year are the City of Cleveland, which received $34 million and East Cleveland, which received $9 million. The Crestwood School District ranks third in the state, receiving $3.6 million, or roughly 36% of the district’s funding. Other area districts are also benefiting from the guarantee, with West Geauga (in Geauga County) ranking  14th, Hudson (in Summit County) ranking  21st, and Southeast (in Portage County) coming in at 23rd.

“You definitely have to look at it both ways — we may be third in guarantee funding but if you look at the percentage of guarantee funding versus our total state funding, there are other districts a lot worse than we are.  For example our total state funding is around $10 million, of this amount, $3.6 million is guaranteed.  If you look at other districts that are on the guarantee, their state funding might only 8 million and they may be on a 3 million guarantee which is a 37.5% guarantee.”

There have been indications by the Governor’s office that the guarantee will eventually go away for Districts, but there is no indication when this will happen or by how much. Governor Kasich’s new budget, which will include school funding, is due out in February of 2015. “By June of 2015,” explained Ms. Rowe, the district will have a good indication of what the state funding, and more importantly what the guarantee funding, will look like.” 

In May of 2015, the Crestwood District’s 4.7 Mill Emergency Levy, which was originally passed in 2012, will be up for renewal. This four-year levy will not increase taxes. Further, in November 2016, the District’s 3.5 Mill Permanent Improvement Levy will be up for renewal. This five-year levy will not increase taxes, either.

To keep apprised of the latest developments in the Crestwood District, plan to attend the next School Board meeting on Tuesday, January 6th at 6:30 pm in the High School Library. If you’re unable to attend, you can view meeting video at crestwoodschools.org. 

On Fri., Dec. 12, Hattie Larlham received the keys to a wheelchair-accessible 2015 Ford Transit Van. Thanks to the generous donations from MobilityWorks, the MobilityWorks Foundation, Put-in-Bay Entertainers and Kepich Ford, Hattie Larlham will use the vehicle to transport its residents with developmental disabilities to doctor’s appointments and community recreational programs.

“People with developmental disabilities need to have access to the community,” said Hattie Larlham CEO Dennis Allen. “They like to go to a variety of places and this vehicle makes that happen.”

“This vehicle is an opportunity for them [Hattie Larlham residents] to experience things, get out and be active,” said MobilityWorks President and CEO Bill Koeblitz. “I just can’t say enough about Hattie Larlham and the wonderful work they do. MobilityWorks is so proud to be a part of this project.”

The project started in March 2014 when Put-in-Bay Entertainers and The MobilityWorks Foundation hosted a fundraiser for Hattie Larlham. The event raised more than $15,000, which purchased the van’s special flooring, seating, wheelchair securement systems and a wheelchair lift. Pete Kepich and Kepich Ford, a family-owned dealership in Garrettsville, Ohio, subsidized the van’s cost with a generous donation.

“It’s amazing the people that you can pull together to help other people,” said Owner Pete Kepich. “To give back is very important, especially in today’s world, and these folks need our help.”

Working with Kepich Ford and AMF Bruns of America, MobilityWorks in Akron launched the plan to up-fit the van for Hattie Larlham. MobilityWorks is the largest wheelchair-accessible van dealer in the US that provides mobility solutions.

MobilityWorks installed a SmartFloor system into the bed of the van. This allows users to reconfigure the seating arrangement. MobilityWorks also built a FutureSafe backrest that connects into the van’s floor to secure wheelchairs.

“Our mission is to help people with physical challenges,” said MobilityWorks CFO Gerhard Schmidt. “We realized this van is a very effective way we can impact many lives. Hattie Larlham is one of the first recipients of this brand new vehicle.”

Dignitaries in attendance included Hattie Larlham CEO Dennis Allen, MobilityWorks President and CEO and MobilityWorks Foundation Chairman Bill Koeblitz, Owner of Kepich Ford Pete Kepich, Assistant to the Mayor of Akron for Community Relations Bill Soule, and Mike Sweeney and Mike “Mad Dog” Adams from Put-in-Bay Entertainers.

Thanks to the generosity of all of these organizations, Hattie Larlham can further its mission of delivering comfort, joy and achievement to people with developmental disabilities.

Hiram - Three Hiram College students recently had the chance to share research from their summer internships at an international neuroscience conference in Washington, D.C.

Emily Mortimer ’16, biology and biomedical humanities double major, Cristian Loyola ’16, biochemistry major, and Ashley Myer ’17, biology and biomedical humanities double major, presented their summer internship with Cara Constance, associate professor of biology, at the Society for Neuroscience 2014 international conference. Held Nov. 15-19, 2014, the conference saw more than 31,000 attendees.

The three students presented at the Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience symposium. Their poster, “Determining the developmental stage of onset behavioral circadian rhythms in Hyla versicolor (Gray treefrog) and Xenopus laevis,” focused on their work at the James H. Barrow Field Station from May through August 2014, monitoring the activity of Gray treefrog tadpoles.

It was Mortimer’s first time presenting at a large scale conference, and she said she had a great experience.

“We presented with undergraduates from many different schools and had the opportunity to go and explore the posters and presentations from the Ph.D. and M.D. level,” she said. “It was interesting to see where we could potentially be in the future. Being able to attend a conference like this one is one of the many perks of attending Hiram College.”

Garrettsville – James A. Garfield School District announces the launch of G-Men Mobile today, a free mobile district application that brings vital district and school information directly to smartphones and mobile devices. GMen Mobile keeps the James A. Garfield community connected wherever they are. The app offers mobile access to district news, calendars, schedules, staff directory and more. It even provides one-touch access to district/school attendance lines, as well as third-party applications such as social media feeds.

Parents and students can download the application for free through Apple iTunes and Google Play app stores. Developed by Blackboard Inc., the app is also expected to be popular with alumni, incoming students, and other members of the James A. Garfield community. 

 GMen Mobile is available free on Android™, and Apple® iOS, devices. 

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Ravenna – Each year the Parade Committee selects the Grand Marshal from a pool of candidates that has been submitted by the citizens of Ravenna.  The candidate must be a community-minded Ravenna resident who has had a positive impact in the community. The committee asks that when nominating, the reason and some background information be included.

The Grand Marshal will preside over the grand parade and all other festivities of the Balloon A-Fair Festival.  The Balloon A-Fair Festival will be held September 17, 18, 19 & 20 2015.

Written nominations for Grand Marshal should be submitted no later than February 6, 2015.  Mail to: Ravenna Balloon A-Fair, Attention Parade Committee, and P.O. BOX 454, RAVENNA, OHIO 44266.  For more information, call 330-296-FAIR. 

Windham - The WVFD Joint Fire District met for their regularly-scheduled meeting with all board members in attendance. The board approved the November minutes, expenditures, bank reconciliation and the temporary appropriations totaling $713,000. 

The at-large representative term expires at the end of this year and Mike Dye has been filling this position since the death of a previous member. Dye accepted the appointment and will serve on the board for another two years.

The board adjourned to an executive session to discuss personnel issues. They later reconvened and the chief reported that engine 2817 needs service and they are obtaining estimates for the issue. The chief also reported that there has been an electrical problem at the fire station and he has called Scotchman Electric to address the issue. Jack Breese and the chief finished the paperwork for the FEMA grant and it has been submitted. After some research, Jack Breese and Mike Iwanyckyj decided the best chance to get the grant was to use it for thermal imaging cameras and Scot Air Paks. A $10,000 zero match Wild End Grant was applied for, along with two other matching grants. All the grants have stipulation on what they can be used for. Chief Mike Iwanyckyj presented candidate John Minich to the board to be considered for as an EMT and firefighter. After some discussion, the board added Minich to the roster.  On an Iwanyckyj recommendation, the board decided to promote Nick Bushek to Lieutenant of Fire Inspection. Bushek has been doing all the inspections for the district for some time now. 

The board tentatively approved a contract for the use of the training grant, with modifications for 15 students. The schooling starts Monday and runs until June. The grant was for $36,000, for training use only.

The WVFD entered into a second executive session to discuss a possible litigation. After they returned, they discussed exploring all options on their finances including, but not limited to, putting a new additional fire levy on the May ballot. Chairman Dann Timmons said they would have the auditor figure out the millage they would need to generate $25,000 annually. The district will need to purchase a new engine soon and there doesn’t seem to be any grant monies for fire engines. 

Another discussion was held about the alleged dispatching dispute with the village. Timmons said they are waiting on a response from the village about the issue.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned. The next fire board meeting is scheduled for January 15, 2015 at 7 pm. The meeting will be delayed a week due to the New Year’s holiday and to accommodate the rescheduled Windham trustee meeting.

Photo courtesy of sethbarnes.com

Hiram Twp. – At the last meeting of the Hiram Township Trustees, Assistant Chief Mark Kosak thanked village and township residents for their votes in support of the Fire Department’s latest ballot issue. Kosak announced that as of January 1st, the department will begin 24 hour staffing, with two firefighter/EMTs on staff around the clock. Due to the increase in staffing, response times should see a reduction. In addition, Kosak shared that the Hiram Fire Department will once again be transporting Santa through the township and village on the evening of  December 21st. To schedule a visit, contact the Fire Department at (330) 569-9826 by December 19th with your address and a package for delivery. Kosak noted that a certain centenarian is pleased to get his delivery of Christmas cheer each year, and encourages others in the community to participate as well.

Next, township trustees approved the continuation of a contract with the Hiram Police Department through first quarter of 2015. The contract provides township residents with ten hours of policing by the village’s police department each week. Trustees noted that after their 2015 budgets have been determined, they hope to increase the number of patrol hours in the township for the remainder of the year.

Next, Tim Kasper and Dan Brokos provided a brief recap of the hike they hosted at the Township’s new property on State Route 82. According to Kasper, hikers were, “impressed and surprised,” by the trails and natural spaces they discovered that afternoon. A discussion ensued about not allowing hunting on the township-owned land, as well as suggestions about parking, a picnic pavilion and a lean-to shelter near the pond. A full report on the feedback gathered during the event will be provided shortly after the holidays. 

Similarly, Trustees approved the cost to move 15 trees, at $50 per tree, to be planted along the property line.

Road Supervisor Tom Matota reported that the plans for the new salt shed have been completed and an appointment has been made to get building permits from the county. Once plans are approved, bids will be requested.

In other news, trustees agreed that Paul Shaughnessy of Excel K-9 Services should not be called before the BZA. They determined that Mr. Shaughnessy is not doing anything not permitted according to township requirements, and that if neighboring property owners have any issues with Shaughnessy, they are entitled to hire their own legal representatives to pursue the matter.

Lastly, Gary Bott was appointed as an alternate to the Zoning Board. Trustees are still seeking an alternate for the BZA. Kellie Durr, the new Secretary for the Board of Zoning Appeals, was in attendance. This was the Garrettsville resident’s first meeting since accepting the position.

The next meeting of the Hiram township trustees will be held on Tuesday, January 6th at 7 pm. Residents are encouraged to attend.

Garrettsville - Cavalier Technologies serves to take the mystery and frustration of technology away from people simply trying to get things done efficiently and securely at home and at work. Slow connections, crashes, viruses, network disconnects and ‘bad’ printers can all be things of the past.

Cavalier says his home-grown business moved to 8808 Main Street (inside The Villager building) in Garrettsville six months ago. This “local tech desk” 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. He maintains a service desk on the main floor, where common tech supplies are sold; and his repair shop is located on the second floor.

Cavalier combines his love for computers and technology with his passion for knowledge to ensure customer satisfaction.“We have the drive, devotion, and passion for technology.  Our motto is Sit back, relax, we got this. It may seem laid back, but in actuality we want our customers to have a sense of security and ease knowing that they are in good hands.”

Referring to himself as a business solutions expert providing service to streamline and increase productivity, Cavalier’s services include virus removal, data backup, networking, preventative maintenance and optimization, hardware replacement and upgrades, screen repairs, Facebook pages, custom builds, consultations and Managed Services solutions for Macs, PCs and handheld devices. Cavalier Technologies has desktops, notebooks, servers, storage servers and small form factor PCs for sale online. He is an authorized dealer for Dell, HP, Xerox and Digium products. Endorsements include being CompTIA A+ certified, Net+ certified,  GFI max approved distributor, NetGear ProSafe, and Nobilis  authorized reseller.

One vital business solution is virus removal. “We understand how much this can hurt your business in productivity as well as security levels. We will remove and restore your systems to the optimal health and provide you with tools to prevent and keep your company safe and secure.”

IT Management can help with workplace optimization and reliability, using modern technology that puts businesses at the forefront. Managed Services MSP is a low-cost solution to keep systems up to date with antivirus, patches, hardware, software, and daily health and security checks to keep your business afloat. “We are able to do remote monitoring and management of all your workstations and servers. Keeping your business up and running is our department.”

Data backup solutions range anywhere from in-house backup solutions to cloud and or hybrid solutions for small business packages or enterprise solutions. Consultation services come in handy when you’re unsure what your business needs are when it comes to technology. Is that tablet really going to help you? How can you grow safely? Are your systems secure?

Whether for home or business, Cavalier Technologies is positioned as the local one-stop  tech shop. The simple pricing structure for residential and business labor rates vary only according to whether it’s on-site (housecalls) or in-shop. Contact Chris Cavalier for more information at chris@garrettsvillecomputersrepair.com or 330-569-4196, or browse his website at garrettsvillecomputersrepair.com.

Mantua – At the last meeting of the Crestwood School Board, a brief discussion occurred at the start regarding the proposed 2015-2016 school year calendar. The proposal put forth recommends that the first day of instruction for students begin on August 19th, with the last day of instruction held on May 20th. Superintendent David Toth remarked that a change of this nature would be beneficial to students in that the first semester would end prior to Winter Break, giving students the opportunity to return to a new semester after their time away. In addition, he added that the new schedule would allow students more preparation time for spring tests, which are generally held during April and May. 

Toth noted that the new state minimum number of hours or instruction at the middle and high school levels is 1,001 hours. According to Toth, the current CHS schedule has1,094 hours, while CMS has 1,135 hours. At the elementary level, the state minimum number is 910 of hours of instruction. Currently, CPS and CIS have 1,062 hours. Any calamity days, if needed, would be deducted from the total hours of instruction. Toth also noted that this school year, students will spend an average of 10.5 hours of testing. He stated, however, that the State is currently discussing the possibility of scaling that number in half in coming years. The decision on how to proceed on this matter will be discussed at future meetings.

Moving forward, much of the remaining portion of the meeting focused on how the district plans to make improvements in the areas of college and career readiness. High School Principal David McMahon and Middle School Principal Julie Schmidt shared their plans to implement Naviance – an online tool that will be implemented at both schools to allow guidance councilors, teachers, students and staff to collaborate on students plans after graduation from the Crestwood District. While the focus at the Middle School level will be on defining interests and abilities, the program will also incorporate good habits and practices for academic success in high school and beyond. To use the program, students and their parents will use the Family Connection portal, which will be available via smartphone or home computer. Teachers and staff will have access, as well, to monitor progress and help guide students through the process. At the High School level, students will be able to explore careers, and research what level of education is required to reach those careers. Further, the program will list the available courses, highlighting those that students need to take in order to follow the desired career or college path. In addition, students will have the ability to research training programs and colleges, planning visits, and submitting college applications electronically. Lastly, the portal will serve as a way to communicate scholarship opportunities, as well. The program will be implemented during the 2015-2016 school year.

Next, Primary Principal Cindy Ducca, Intermediate Principal Michelle Gerbrick, and School Psychologist Tyler Best shared information with the board on AIMSweb, the achievement improvement monitoring system that is used at the elementary level to measure students foundational skills in math, reading and writing. The system, which is administered via computer and via pencil and paper, ranges from brief, one-minute quizzes to 3-8 minute evaluations given individually or in small groups. The information gleaned from these evaluations helps staff identify those students performing above, on, or below target in key foundational skills. After those benchmarks are completed, interventions can be implemented for students identified as below target. One of the benefits of implementing the AIMSweb system is the ability to streamline student assessments, since the program will meet the reporting requirements for three current assessments.

Lastly, Mrs. Kristina Bronder, Intervention Specialist from CPS, and Ms. Teri Beck, the School District’s Emis Coordinator, were both named employees of the month for December. Congratulations, ladies, for all your hard work! 

The 2015 organizational meeting of the School Board meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 6th at 6:30 pm, and will be immediately followed by the regularly scheduled January board meeting. As always, the community is encouraged to attend.

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

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

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

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Hiram – One hundred years ago—1914, the opening year of WWI—in the war zone near Ypres, Belgium, there came a phenomenon known later as the “Christmas Eve Truce”.   Troops all along the line of combat, on both the German and the Allied(British & French) sides, soldiers of both armies, lay down their weapons, lit candles, sang familiar carols, even exchanged small gifts, acknowledging the birth of the Prince of Peace in the midst of a terrible war.  “No Man’s Land”, despite the disapproval of the higher levels of command , became, for fleeting moments, a place of brotherhood as voices were raised—English & German—recalling that Silent Night.

On Friday, December 12, the Hiram Men’s Chorus, directed by Jose Gotera, the Hiram Women’s Chorus, directed by Damaris Peters Pike, and the Hiram Community Chorus will present a musical program of seasonal and Christmas favorites—“Silent Night” in both English and German—at 7:30 p.m. in the Hiram Christian Church (corner of St. Rte 82 , St. Rte. 305 and St. Rte 700), free and open to the public.

“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”, ”Lo,How a Rose E’er Blooming”, ”Salvation Is Created”, and “The First Noel/Pachelbel’s Canon” will be the numbers featuring the men’s voices.  “Oh, Lord, What a Morning”, “Stars Are for Those Who Lift Their Eyes”,  “There Is Faint Music” and “Winter Wonderland” will be showcased by the women’s chorus.  Together, their grand sound will be raised for “Ezekiel Saw de Wheel”, “Goin’Home”, “Mary Had A Baby”, “Sussex Carol”, “La Nanita Nana”, and “Make Our Garden Grow”.  “A Merry Christmas” will be the grande finale, sending all out into the night with the warmth and good cheer making spirits bright.

Music for a Stille Nacht…Heilige Nacht.

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

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

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

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

Dancer photo: Courtesy of the Dancing Wheels Company.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Business it was to begin the month of December for the Rotary Club of Garrettsville-Hiram.  This included :

Christmas Party at the Collins home on December 15; soup, sandwiches, appetizers, desserts, white elephant gifts to exchange, 6:30 p.m. to  start, merriment for all.

Planning meetings for Family Week on Wednesdays for breakfast at Fresh Start.  

The plan for benches to be placed along the Headwaters Trail, involving Eagle Scout projects and grant money being made available through Rotary District 6630 and donations focused on reviving and rebuilding in the village is still taking shape but it’s in good shape.

A $100 donation was gratefully received from Ohio for History (Tom Aiken)

Revisiting and updating the club by-laws should be accomplished by January.

Another Santa is needed for the Special Delivery Santa Project slated for December 23.  Any family wishing to participate should bring wrapped gifts to either the Business Works or McCumbers-Brady Realty   for distribution on the 23rd.  There is no charge but donations to the People Tree will be cheerfully accepted.

The mystery deepens…who was president of the club in ’80-‘81, ’86-’87, ’92-‘93?

The dictionaries are ready, will an elf deliver them?

The Four-Way Speech Contest comes up in spring; start preparing now.

Zad, the exchange student–in-residence brought a banner from his home club in Hungary.  He will soon be moving to new digs with the Schwan family (whose daughter, Rachel, is in Thailand right now) for more adventures.

Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary meets on Mondays at Cal’s II in Sky Plaza at noon.  Prospective members always welcome.  Get involved in the community.

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Mantua – Let’s start the holiday season with festive exercise, jolly visits with Santa, and joyous holiday-themed activities! Jingle Bell Jog offers a 5k race that is timed for the competitive, but can be walked for those who prefer to take in the spirit of this holiday event at a more relaxed pace. Participants are encouraged to dress in festive attire or costumes.

Also included in this event is The Merry Mile, a one-mile race for ages 12 and under. Santa and his elves will be there to cheer the kids on. Families can visit holiday craft and activity tables for some holiday fun, and warm up with some hot cocoa and goodies at the bake sale.

All proceeds from this event benefit the Crestwood Band Boosters, a non-profit group that supports the band programs in the Crestwood Schools. “We are grateful for the support we have received from the community over recent years. We wanted to offer an event that would draw the community together and provide a fun, creative outlet everyone could participate in,” says Tina Evans of the Crestwood Band Boosters. “Our hope is that this becomes an annual event that is part of many family traditions for years to come.”

This event takes place at Crestwood High School on Saturday, December 6, 2014. The 5k race starts at 9am and The Merry Mile at 10am. Pre-registrations are being accepted at www.hmapromotions.net (click on Calendar, then scroll down to Jingle Bell Jog). Registration opens at 8:15am on race day, and activities continue until 11am.