• Just in case you missed it, The Tenth Annual John M. Watson Memorial Concert will be presented on Friday,   March 6, 2015 in the Hayden Auditorium at Hiram College.  The Orchid Ensemble will take the stage at  7:30 p.m. offering a much-praised program of innovative music combining Asian and Western reference points, using ancient musical instruments and commissioning modern composers such as Dawn Sonntag, Associate Professor of Music at Hiram College.  The Orchid Ensemble will premiere a composition by Prof. Sonntag which includes the Hiram College Chamber Singers.  A Juno Award nomination is indicative of the  group’s standing in  the area of World Music.  The world comes to us!  Don’t miss this.

• “The Y” is now functioning in Garrettsville at the Park Ave. building, with programs—Silver Sneakers and Silver Fit, for instance—for active older adults.  Check with your insurance carriers to see if they will cover part of the cost (Senior–$22, Senior Couple–$34).  The Wellness Center is in operation from 9:00 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.  Check with Phil Britton for more information, at 330-469-2044 or pbritton@clevelandymca.org

• Don’t forget that we get to set clocks ahead one hour this weekend.  It’ll be dark in the evenings again for awhile but this may be that itty-bitty light at the end of the winter tunnel.  Let’s hope that March, having roared in like a lion, will prance out like a lamb, a warm lamb.

•  In case you missed the notice earlier, the James A. Garfield Historical Society will be open on Tuesday, March 17 for Saint Patrick’s Day…AND the monthly meeting, which is usually on the third Monday of the month, will be held that evening (March 17).  Stop in at the Mott Building  for a “sip and sup” of something green, take a look at some of the holdings of the society, give a thought to becoming part of the organization.  Top o’ the marnin’ to ye.

So….  Here’s the skinny—could be  literally—on what’s happening as “The Y” comes to Garrettsville.

The facility is located at 8233 Park Ave. (the old Garfield Intermediate School, the old Garfield Middle School/Junior High, the old Garfield High School–once upon a time before the consolidation and the construction of the current Garfield High School in 1956); phone number is 330-527-2044.

The Active Older Adult Wellness Center opens March 2 with hours from 9a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.  Silver Sneakers (check with your insurance carrier) classes begin on Tuesday, March 3 at 9:45 a.m.  Silver Sneakers and Silver&Fit are fitness programs associated with supplemental Medicare; insurance companies may provide memberships at no cost.  Eligibility will be verified at the branch.

Senior(55+) memberships are $22 per month.  A senior couple membership is a bargain at $34 per month.

Your local branch contact is Phil Britton  at 330-469-2044 or pbritton@clevelandymca.org

C’mon, get up and get moving.  Get the lead out.  Put on your SilverSneakers.  Come to “The Y”

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In the 9:00 Trio on February 7 Ryleigh Gough had the high game of 152 and high series of 407.  Ryleigh has raised her average to 105 and it keeps going up.  Kelly Stamnock had a very nice 148 game, 56 pins over her 92 average.  Brooke Collins had one of her best days ever with games of 107, 124, and 143.  Brooke’s average is 86 so she was 116 pins over average for the day.  Other good games:  Sierra Greathouse, 112 (38 over), Addrianna Conway, 146 (38 over), and Sara Barker, 111 (31 over).

For the 11:00 Trio, Billy Potteiger had the high game and series; Billy rolled a very nice 214 game and a 517 series.  David Martin’s 190 game was 41 pins over his 149 average.  Nice games were also bowled by Ian Huebner, 116 (38 over), Christopher Mays, 109 (38 over), Kaitlin Belknap, 84 (28 over), Connor Hunt, 89 (25 over), Dominic White, 102 (24 over), and Gavin Dunfee, 87 (23 over).

On February 14, Lucas Titschinger was the star of the 11:00 Trio.  Lucas rolled a 204 his second game and then a 214 his third game for a career-high 547 series.  Lucas was 124 pins over his 141 average for the day.  Christopher Mays was 38 pins over average with his 111 game.  Other good scores:  Billy Potteiger, 172, Chris Titschinger, 125 (31 over), Clark Jackson, 158 (26 over), and Dominic White, 103 (25 over).

Paige Johannsmeier also had a career day in the 9:00 Trio.  Paige rolled games of 117, 131, and 129, for a 377 series.  Paige’s average is 84 and she was 125 pins over average for the day.  Other good games:  Emily Linamen, 136 (35 over), Gage Vetrano, 106 (34 over), Ryleigh Gough, 133 (26 over), and Kelly Stemnock, 118 (25 over).

Colin Cupples had the high game for the PeeWees with 100.

Bowlers interested in the Ohio State USBC Youth Regional Tournament in April should contact Sky Lanes.  The tournament will be held at Crest Lanes in Warren.  This is a 4-person team tournament – grab some friends and sign up!

High school bowlers – don’t forget about the Teen Scholastic Doubles League starting March 7.

CIS Change Bandits Emmy Grebb, Aspen Baynes and Lilly Kuchenbecker.

CIS Change Bandits Emmy Grebb, Aspen Baynes and Lilly Kuchenbecker.

Mantua – American author Margaret Mead said, “Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” Crestwood Intermediate students Emmy Grebb, Aspen Baynes and Lilly Kuchenbecker were inspired to make a positive change in their community. They decided to become Change Bandits — collecting pocket change from fellow students and staff during their lunch periods, in hopes of helping change the fate of other kids treated at Akron Children’s Hospital.

It all began with Emmy’s desire to help a family friend named Codey, a former patient at Akron Children’s Hospital, who successfully beat cancer last year. When Emmy heard the Change Bandit ad on the radio on her way to school one morning, she told her mom she wanted to help the place that helps kids like Codey heal. When she mentioned it to her friends, they were happy to help out. The cause was especially important to Aspen and her family as well, since her cousin had successfully battled childhood cancer, too.

The trio had hoped to collect $50 in small change from fellow students and staff. By the end of the week, however, they were delighted to have gathered over $250 — more than five times what they had anticipated. Those generous donations will be combined with others to buy child-size medical equipment and to fund patient care, community outreach and research at Akron Children’s Hospital.

Serving as a Change Bandit gives everyone, from third graders to corporate employees, the opportunity to raise money for the hospital to impact the children it serves. “The Change Bandit campaign is unique because it gives people a way to participate for their own reasons,” said Nicci Avalon, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals program manager at Akron Children’s Hospital. “Those volunteering to be Change Bandits are helping the hospital keep its promise to never turn a sick child away.”

Each year, the Change Bandit program precedes a special radiothon that provides patients and their families the opportunity to share their stories on-air, while collecting pledges for Akron Children’s Hospital from radio listeners. Last year, Change Bandits raised $160,000, and since the program began in 2000, Change Bandits have raised more than $2.3 million for Akron Children’s Hospital. For more information on the Change Bandit program, visit akronchildrens.org or call the Akron Children’s Hospital Foundation at 330-543-4335.

Nelson Twp. – Residents gathered at the Nelson Community House on Wednesday, February 18th for the second trustee meeting of the month. Present were Fiscal Officer John David Finney; Trustees Joe Leonard, Mike Elias, and Tom Matota; Anne Mae VanDerHoeven and Chuck Vanek were also present.

Jarrod Senk of Boy Scout Troop 65 gave a short presentation on his proposed Eagle Scout service project — the replacement of nature trail signage and posts. The signage would measure 4” x 6” and feature embossed green ink on durable yellow plastic. The project would include an estimated 20 signs at a total price of $214.65. The trustees approved Jarrod’s project unanimously.

Fiscal Officer Dave Finney presented the trustees with bills and wages totaling  $13,959.65. Matota made a motion to pay the bills and wages as presented, and Elias seconded this motion; it carried with approval by all three trustees. The old tractor sent to Chalker’s Auction brought in $12,100 at auction, allowing the trustees to proceed with the purchase of a new John Deer 575 Utility Tractor for $17,685. Elias also shared the protocol for establishing no parking zones on certain roads within the township. The trustees will be looking for public commentary/feedback at the March 18th trustee meeting.

Nelson Township’s annual Spring Cleanup at Nelson Circle has been scheduled for May 2nd & 3rd. More details for this event will be available in the coming weeks

Hiram – The 2015 Watson Memorial Concert will feature   the Orchid Ensemble, a Vancouver-based Chinese music trio which blends ancient musical instruments and traditions from China and beyond.  They create a beautiful new sound, both creative and distinct.  Acclaimed by Georgia Straight as “One of the brightest blossoms on the world music scene,” the Orchid Ensemblehas been tirelessly developing an innovative musical genre based on the cultural exchange between Western and Asian musicians.  Their 2004 release, “Road to Kashgar”, received a Best of World Music Juno Award nomination.  The Orchid Ensemble collaborates on a regular basis with musicians from a wide variety of world cultures. They actively commission new works from Canadian and U.S. composers, focusing on their unique instrumentation.  In that spirit, this concert program will feature a premier by Dawn Sonntag, Associate Professor of Music at Hiram  College and member of the Cleveland Composers’ Guild, for the ensemble with the Hiram Chamber Singers.

Come explore the World of Music…in Music.

The concert will take place Friday, March 6 at 7:30 p.m. in Hayden Auditorium, which is directly across the street from the Kennedy Center, located at 11730 St. Rte 700, Hiram, OH 44234.

Newton Falls – For the superstitious, Friday the 13ths are considered both rare and unlucky. This spring, however, they are certainly neither rare, as one occurs in February and in March, nor unlucky, at least for the Newton Falls Firefighters’ Auxiliary, which is  hosting another Murder Mystery Dinner to benefit the first-responders of Station 43. In conjunction with organizers, Dark Shadow Ghost Tours, the event will take place on the second of this set of bewitching bookends, March 13th. Doors to the banquet room of Roby Lee’s open at 6 pm in Newton Falls and visitors who are brave enough to venture into the returning world of Paddy O’Malley – and his friends, family and the widow he left behind – will be treated to a delectable dinner and a show full of secrets just dying to be brought into the light.

The story picks up a year after Paddy’s death to find his grieving wife in an estate battle with his attorney and business associates, namely “Lucky” Fennighan who co-owns the pub where guests will dine for the evening. It would have been thought that Paddy’s share in the watering hole would have reasonably been left to Lucky, but anyone who’s ever had to settle a loved one’s assets in probate knows it can be quite a bit more complicated than that. According to Paddy’s will, his drinking-house dividends are, in fact, bequeathed to his long-time attorney who, it seems, has always had more than just his client’s best interests on the agenda. As if that’s not enough to stir the pot, add a slighted secretary who has been unemployed since the revelation that she did more for Paddy than just answer his phone and keep his calendar was spread around town by the scorned spouse. Rounding out this cast of characters is Lucky’s own devoted wife and son, stuck in the middle as they watch their present and future being put in jeopardy by everyone else’s decisions of the past.

Individual tickets are $45 and can be purchased online at www.DarkShadowGhostTours.com. Whole tables seating eight guests can be reserved as well for $312, which makes each ticket $39 when purchased all together. Avoid the credit card processing fee by purchasing your ticket with cash or check – call secretary/treasurer Patty at (330) 872-7641 or see any member of the Newton Falls Firefighters’ Auxiliary for details. In addition to dinner and the show, admission includes an open bar with beer, wine and pop, a souvenir photo and favor, and a chance to win door prizes or even the grand prize of a 32” LCD television for one of the most fortunate guests who solve the mystery and figure out “whodunit.” For fans of the board game Clue, this live dramatization of conspiracy and intrigue will drop partygoers into a whirlwind of murderous mayhem and keep them guessing from the first course to the toast.

If you can’t attend but would like to be a part of the experience, the hosts are inviting individuals and businesses to sponsor table placards, ad spots in the playbill or even the signposts at the entryway reserved for mentioning “super sponsors.” Contact the Auxiliary for information on how you can contribute!

As seats are expected to sell out quickly, those interested are advised to secure theirs as soon as possible. If you happen to miss out on this sure to be popular follow-up to Paddy’s parting party, the NFFA is considering making this a twice-yearly event and there’s a possibility that another sequel will be staged this fall… just in time for the final Friday the 13th of 2015 that occurs shortly after Halloween.

So come raise your glass, raise some spirits and raise funds for the Newton Falls fire department!

Mr. Frank Horak presented a plaque commemorating those how helped make the Veterans Memorial a reality.

Mantua – Alex Forristal, Crestwood High School freshman from Scout Troop 575, led the Pledge of Allegiance to open a recent trustee meeting in Mantua Township. Next, Frank Horak reported on behalf of the Veterans Memorial Committee, that the time capsule of memorabilia relating to its installation has been buried. In addition, Mr. Horak also presented trustees with a framed plaque, which features the individuals, and companies who helped make the Veterans Memorial a reality. The plaque will be on display in the Township Hall. Trustee Jason Carlton thanked Mr. Horak and the Committee for their hard work on behalf of the Township.

As a part of his report, Cemetery Sexton Jim Aldrich shared that a woman living out of state, who had discovered the deed to several burial plots in the Westlawn Cemetery, had contacted him. The plots were originally purchased by her grandfather, and had been left in trust when her father passed on. They had been purchased in 1926 at a value of $2 per site, and are now valued at $175 each. She offered to donate the plots to the Township, with the condition that the Township purchase a small, permanent marker be added to memorialize the three infants who were buried in the adjoining plots. Trustees made a motion to table the topic to allow time to research the situation and the potential ramifications it may cause.

On behalf of the Service Department, Brian Tayerle reported that the team has been working to remove the record amounts of snow from township roads. He reported that 70 tons of salt is left in the shed. On a similar subject, Service employee Dan Wysznski asked the public to, “bear with us when we’re plowing. We’re trying to get out of the way as soon as possible.” He also urged motorists to, “Please be courteous.”

In other news, trustees discussed the need to publicize the fact  that township buildings are available for rental to the public. If you’re looking for a place to host a graduation or birthday party, baby or bridal shower, or any other gathering, the Civic Center and the Center School Gymnasium are available for rental with no residency requirements. For information on availability, call 330-274-2850.

Later, trustees discussed potential uses for a $500 grant from the Ohio Township Association Risk Management Authority (OTARMA). The money would be used for safety-related purchases such as updated lighting or safety gear for the Service Department, and must be used during the 2015 calendar year.

In old business, trustees discussed the four  committees currently at work focused on the renovation and utilization of the Center School building. Trustee Carlton asked that the times and dates of committee meetings be posted to the township’s website to maintain transparency. He noted that Todd Peetz, Director of Regional Planning, is the facilitator of the project, but that group chair people are tasked with setting meetings and communicating their progress to trustees. Trustee John Festa requested a minimum two-week notice for committee meetings.

Lastly, trustees discussed potential dates of May 9th or 10th for the annual Spring Clean Up event. Details will be forthcoming once a date has been confirmed. The next meeting of the Mantua Township Trustees will be on Thursday, March 5th at 7:30 pm in the Township Hall. Residents are encouraged to attend.

The Garrettsville Area Chamber held their first meeting of 2015 in February at Facet Salon and Day Spa.  After a review of the board minutes and finances the following information was shared.

GarrettsvilleStrong Status Report

As of February 6th, the Chamber’s #GarrettsvilleStrong fund has raised just over $87,114 for rebuilding efforts!  The GarrettsvilleStrong fund was established to raise funds which will be utilized to facilitate the rebuilding of the block in downtown Garrettsville affected by the fire March 22, 2014.

Approximately 250 of Rich Teresi’s fire DVDs have been sold, with about 150 more available in time for the anniversary of the fire on March 22nd. All proceeds from the sale of DVDs goes to the #GarrettsvilleStrong fund.

Pam Montgomery’s GarrettsvilleStrong book is currently in the final stages of editing. Pam plans to sell advertising to defray the cost of producing the books, which are being printed by the Villager. Books should be available for pre-order by spring, and available for purchase in early summer.

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 330.527.5761 or via email at news@weeklyvillager.com.

Membership Renewals

2015 Membership Renewal letters have gone out, and should be arriving in mailboxes this week. New this year is the ability to add donations to the Scholarship Fund, and Garfield Historical Society. Your membership in the Garrettsville Area Chamber of Commerce runs July 1st through June 30th, and includes a complimentary listing in the online member directory at GarrettsvilleArea.com.

Business Showcase

Mark your calendars now for the Biennial Business Showcase scheduled for October 15. This popular event is the primary fundraiser for the Chamber’s Scholarship Fund and draws hundreds of area residents in to see what the Garrettsville Area has to offer. More details will be coming this spring.

Community Yard Sale

Registration for the yard sale BEGINS APRIL 1, 2015. Registration forms will be  available in the Weekly Villager (8088 Main Street), and online at www.garrettsvillearea.com on April 1st. Forms and payment MUST be dropped off at Weekly Villager (8088 Main Street) in Garrettsville BY 2PM MAY 9TH. The fee for the event is $15 and Garrettsville village permits are waived if you register for this chamber event. The $15 fee provides you with: free advertising for your sale, a yardsale sign, and inclusion on the sale maps. You may also highlight a few specific items in your sale that will be listed on the back of the map along with your address.

Again, registration begins April 1st, and ends May 9th. LATE REGISTRATIONS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.

This annual event is not limited to village residents, Windham, Hiram, Nelson, Freedom residents are encouraged to participate as well.

The last few years the event has had over 200 participants selling their wares, which draws thousands of visitors to town to shop for bargains and eat at local restaurants. This not only boosts the local economy on these two days, it also showcases the area and many return on another day.

Car Cruise Nights

If you or your business would like to be a sponsor of  Chamber’s  annual car cruises, please contact Rick Patrick at 330.687.9637.

May 30 – Main Street

June 27 – Garfield Plaza

July 18 – Main Street

August 8 – Fire Department

September 19 – Sky Plaza

The next chamber meeting will be held on March 4th at 7:30 a.m. at the Garrettsville DQ Grill & Chill.  Members and guests are always welcome!

Ravenna – Ravenna’s own, Dontez James, will be having a book signing at Reed Memorial Library Sunday, March 15 from 2:00- 4:00pm.

As early as the eighth grade, Dontez got started on his first book, We All Do Dumb Things, while joining the Upward Bound Program, an annual summer program designed to help smooth the transition from high school to college. Influenced by his mother’s sickness while he was young, he began to write poetry. “Growing up, my mom was sick a lot and was always in dialysis. I did not like not being able to do anything. So I began to think first that maybe me running track or playing football would be our ticket out.” Dontez began writing poetry as an expressive outlet and soon saw his love for writing as something he could use to help his mom. Over the summer, Dontez and best friend, Malcolm Wilmington, began to write short stories. “We’d get together every day at lunch and just bounce ideas off each other. Eventually, the short stories turned into longer stories and Malcolm grew a stronger interest in poetry and making music, while I began to focus on running track and writing books.” In time, Dontez began to tell people he was working on writing a book. “It all started off as a joke at first, and Malcolm was in on it too. I remember we would call each other and talk about Jack and Brittany [the characters in the first book] as if they were real people. Then I started telling everyone about it, even some of my professors. Eventually, the word got around to the right person.” That person was Dr. Geraldine Nelson. About three months later, after the first summer of the Upward Bound Program, Dr. Nelson contacted him, asking how he would feel if his book was published. “When she originally asked me, my heart stopped . . . when I realized it was real, my first thought was ‘I am going to get my mom a kidney!!”. We All Do Dumb Things was published while he was still in high school and he had his first book signing three days after graduation.

Currently, the Ravenna High School alum works as a home and health care aid where he services people with mental and physical disabilities. Outside of traditional work, he has begun a professional acting career. He is featured in the play “Or Does It Explode” put on by Ma’Sue Productions in Akron; he has played small roles in films including “The Bronze” (starring Mellissa Rauch), “With This Ring” (starring Jill Scott, Regina Hall and Eve), “Abducted” (starring Joe Morton), and “Concussion” (starring Will Smith). He is also an entrepreneur, owning his own business through which he contributes to the ending of child hunger here in America.

Dontez attributes much of his success to the Upward Bound program and is grateful to have been part of it. “Without Upward Bound, the publishing of my first book wouldn’t have been possible. The biggest things I took from the program are professionalism, the importance of networking and following your passion. As many people would have liked for me to stay in college, I took a chance for myself to pursue an acting career, and to focus on my very own book series. Upward Bound has been a big part of my life and I wouldn’t be where I am today without it.”

Be sure to come and show support at his first Ravenna book signing March 15 from 2:00-4:00pm. We All Do Dumb Things will be available, along with the sequel We All Do Dumb Things: Untold Nightmares. Proceeds from We All Do Dumb Things will go toward a $250 scholarship to two different students totaling $500. The Dontez X. James Scholarship Award will be presented to one Upward Bound student and one Ravenna High School senior in May.

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Geauga County – All Geauga County Public Library locations are collecting food for Geauga families in need throughout the month of March 2015. People who would like to donate nonperishable food items may do so at the collection bins at the following locations: Bainbridge Library, Chardon Library, Geauga West Library in Chesterland, Middlefield Library, Newbury Library Station and Thompson Library Station. See www.GeaugaLibrary.net for addresses and contact information.

The need is extremely great this year, as donations from the Cleveland Food Bank into Geauga County food pantries have been cut by 90 percent. All food items, toiletries and cleaning supplies collected at GCPL locations will stay in Geauga County. “We are pleased to partner with the Geauga Hunger Task Force,” says Director Deborah F. O’Connor. “We are committed to helping Geauga County, and our wide geographic availability makes us an ideal resource to collect food and get it to our own citizens who need it the most.”

The Geauga Hunger Task Force has been in existence since 1977 and is a volunteer-driven organization whose mission is to ensure that no resident of Geauga County goes hungry. The Task Force operates seven food pantries that provide help to families in need. In 2013, these pantries served more than 10,000 residents, an increase of ten percent from 2012, mostly among residents age 60 and older.

Anyone in need of food assistance is encouraged to call 2-1-1 First Call for Help. Families are provided with 10 days of nutritious food. There is no restriction as to age, employment status or family size. The GHTF is supported by food and monetary donations by generous residents, churches, schools, businesses and community organizations.

Suggested items for donation include:

?  Canned meats (tuna, chicken, etc.)

? Canned and boxed meals (soup, chili, stews,            macaroni and cheese)

? Canned fruits and vegetables

? Peanut butter

? Cereal

? Powdered baby formula

? Pasta and rice

? Diapers

? Toothpaste and toothbrushes

? Soap and shampoo

? Bathroom tissue

Reports came in at the February 23, 2015 meeting of the Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary Club.  To wit :

*Carol Donley told about some of the artistic interpretations of the subject of last week’s presentation on The Children of the Dump, including in drama, in dance and in film.  She offered the possibility of making some of these available for local students.

*Caitlin Lawless and Amy Crawford gave some hints as to the new look and focus for what was formerly known as Family Week.  Health and Wellness will be highlighted by activities throughout the Spring and Summer for students and their families.

*President Delores McCumbers handed out information on incarceration rates which everyone hoped would never become of personal interest.

*Trish Danku is Trail Boss for the club’s principal fund-raising event, the fall Reverse Raffle.  Them doggies may be hittin’ a new road in November.  There was discussion of changing the venue, of possible changes in catering and suppliers.  Ravenna Elks?  Mantua K of C?  Available dates?  It’s a new broom.  Which all tied in with the need to uncover new revenue streams.  Stay tuned.

*The 4-Way Speech Contest is rapidly approaching.

*Kyle Collins, next year’s out-going exchange student, heading to Japan, and Zad, the current exchange student for the Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary Club, recently attended Rotary Camp where next year’s exchange students got the low-down from this year’s participants.  It was an exposition on the fine points of the whole process.  The group was able to talk to overseas students via Skype and discuss the variable conditions which they might encounter.  Knowing the language was one key issue in many situations.  Not everyone speaks English and if one visits a new country, it behooves one to have at least a tentative grasp of what is spoken there.  Capisce?

*Business meeting next week, March 2, 2015, Cal’s II, Sky Plaza, 12:00 noon.  New members or those with an interest are always welcome.

Garrettsville – The James A. Garfield Historical Society met on February 16 in the Mott Building in downtown Garrettsville, preceding the meeting with a presentation by MICRODATA Micrographic Services of Newton Falls in the interest of preserving and updating the data and resources owned by the group currently found—just barely–on microfiche.  Even technological wonders have expiration dates and to maintain information availability, new techniques must be employed.  A practice run to determine the feasibility of applying this service to the archived information was scheduled.

There was an announcement from the  Kent State Museum about exhibits there, notification of a regional meeting of the Ohio Local History Alliance in Warren in April, a decision to  be a part of a brochure being prepared by The Weekly Villager showcasing local businesses, features and attractions.  Foster Brown, Debbie Smith, Kit Semplak and Julie Thompson were named delegates to the Northeast Ohio Museum Council.  The budget committee report was presented and approved.  A collection of postcards and pictures compiled by Bill Jackson circulated for perusal.  Foster Brown volunteered to assist in the work of scanning pictures relating to the celebration of Garrettsville’s incorporation in 1864.

A sign-up sheet for committee assignments for regular work of the organization was circulated.  Julie Thompson will be the principal operator/instructor for a class called Past Perfect dealing with cataloging and indexing archived materials.  This should be helpful in the process of digitizing the resources and materials held by the Society.

There was discussion about the possibility of supporting and encouraging the creation of a mural…or murals…on the sides of the Mishler/Carlson Building—sole survivor of the Buckeye Block Fire.  This might involve art classes/students from James A. Garfield High School and would probably require approval from the village.  Various suggestions about the images to be a part of the mural were discussed; more are expected.

The JAGHS meets regularly on the third Monday of the month at  7:30 in the Mott Building.  Meetings are open to the public.  New members are welcome.  The next meeting will be on March 17, coinciding with  the annual St. Patrick’s Day festivities in Garrettsville.  Faith an’ Begorra, ye could wear the green!

Garrettsville - A hot and emotional topic lately in the village of Garrettsville has been the village’s finances and whether or not the village is in financial trouble.  The mayor has stated that several residents have approached him asking if the village is “broke”.

The village, as of this writing, is not in debt nor is it “broke”.  However, the concern that’s been raised is not about today’s finances, but deficit spending and what that may mean for the future.

To begin, let’s define a few terms:  Debt – An amount of money borrowed by one party to another under the condition that it is to be paid back at a later date, usually with interest.  Deficit – the amount by which expenses exceed income or costs outstrip revenues. Deficit essentially refers to the difference between cash inflows and outflows.  Revenue – In the case of government, revenue is the money received from taxation, fees, fines, inter-governmental grants or transfers, securities sales, mineral rights and resource rights, as well as any sales that are made.  Carryover Balance – the amount of money left over at the end of the fiscal year after all expenses have been paid for that year.  Discretionary Spending – money spent on non-essential goods and services.

At the January village council meeting, Councilman Steve Hadzinsky presented his concerns to council over decreasing carryover balances for the past four years.  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 amount.

“Spending needs to be reined in”.  Hadzinsky told council.  Hadzinsky showed in his report that all of the obligatory spending or fixed, budgeted expenses (salaries and benefits- including police, utilities, insurances, etc.) are covered by generated revenue and there is an additional approximate $12,000 monthly to cover discretionary spending (unbudgeted, variable expenses like salt for the roads, sidewalk repair & replacement, new vehicles, etc.).  The problem, as he sees it, is that for the past several years, Garrettsville council has approved expenditures that were not funded by revenue, but by carryover balances from previous years.

These ‘carryover balances’ are what equates to you and me as money from our savings accounts –not part of our regular income and expenses, but saved funds that have accumulated.  Hadzinsky wants council to be more aware of their spending and plan accordingly.

Council President Tom Hardesty agrees, and says that effort was made in 2014 to curb spending.  A large part of that spending was overtime in the police department which Hardesty himself worked with police chief Tony Milicia to curb.  Overtime hours were cut from 1354.5 hours in 2013 to just 340.5 in 2014.  A significant savings when you consider that overtime hours for the police department include increased matching contributions into their retirement funds as well.

Unfortunately revenue for Garrettsville has decreased dramatically over the past several years.  Much of that has to do with Amweld and Warren Tool closing their doors in 2007 – 2008.  Village residents did approve an increase in the village income tax rate at the end of 2007, however the hike didn’t replace even half of the revenue lost from the closed businesses.  And, to add insult to injury, the state of Ohio has been steadily decreasing the amount of funding it sends to municipalities.  According to Hardesty, the village was getting $100,000 annually in state funds and now that figure is down to $8000.

Hardesty states he is well aware of the deficit spending issues and has been working at developing a spreadsheet that easily shows council where the money is spent on an annual basis and hopes that this clarity will allow for some adjustments.  According to Hardesty, it’s important for the village to ‘live within its means’ and he thinks it can be accomplished without cutting services or raising income taxes.  Hardesty suggested at the January village council meeting that a minimum carryover balance figure should be formally established when council finalizes the 2015 budget next month.

The county auditor’s office recommends that carryover budget amounts should equal about two months of the village’s operating expenses, which it currently is.  The village receives revenue on a monthly basis and though there are peaks and valleys to the actual cash flow, the village’s fixed annual expenses are less than the annual revenue, which means the village operates in the black.

Hardesty admits that there is room for improvement as far as how the village spends money, but he also feels that as a whole, the village is in pretty good shape financially.  He’s proud of the services the village offers its residents and doesn’t think curbing some spending will affect the quality of service residents are used to.

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Source: Pixabay User pegdraver

• Full moon (Worm Moon or Sap Moon) – March 5th   New Moon – March 20th

• The true hibernators, chipmunks, groundhogs  and bats begin to emerge from hibernation.

•  Most animals emerging from their winter slumber called “torpor”.  Smell the skunks?Opossums are out and about and  bears are coming out of their dens.

• Spring Migration is in full swing. Look for ducks, geese, and swans. Keep a watchful eye out for the first turkey vultures in early/mid March.

• Redwing Blackbirds, Tree Swallows, Blue Birds and Eastern Phoebe’s return.

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

• Buds on the Red Maple twigs begin to turn a deep red color as they begin to swell.

• Skunk Cabbage emerging and flowering in wetland areas. Marsh Marigolds will be next!

• Eagles and Owls are feeding their newly-hatched young by the end of the month.

• Squirrel’s are  being born. Female bears, called “sows”, emerge from their dens with their cubs.

• The great awaking is occurring. Wood Frogs, Spring Peepers, Western Chorus Frogs and a few others begin their chorus of sound.

• Jefferson and Yellow Spotted salamanders move into the vernal pools and begin breeding.

• Look for the first wildflowers of the season: Spring Beauties, Harbingers of Spring, Cutleaf Tooth Wort, Blood Root, Dutchman’s Britches, and Rue Anemone to name a few.

• Snakes and turtles emerge from winter dormancy as the days warm up. Look for them on rocks and logs.

• It’s time for the dreaded Garlic Mustard to show itself!. Bring a bag and pull it!!

• Insects begin buzzing. Watch out for the Black Flies. They bite and it hurts!

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 March 9th  for the fifth 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 fifth  session will focus on Bird songs and vocalizations. Expert Birder, Dave Hochadel, will discuss how to ID birds by ear.  Also discussed will be the early waterfowl migrants and the upcoming Birding hikes in April.  Program is from  7:00pm-9:00pm in the Senior Center 705 Oakwood St. Ravenna Ohio.

Celebrate the Spring Equinox

Come join Portage Park District volunteer Naturalist Joe Malmisur and Sky Ranger Guy Gillespie as we celebrate the first day of spring,  March 20th. During the evening we will discuss the signs of the Zodiac and find them in the nights sky. We will discuss myths about the equinox and the Ides of March. And finally, we will talk about the myths surrounding several spring Constellations and locate them in the night sky. Lets hope for clear skies! A warm fire and  hot chocolate will take the chill off if the night is cold.  Program is from 7:00pm-9:00pm at the Morgan Preserve parking lot on Rt 44 just south of Rt 303.

On the Hunt…

Come join Portage Park District volunteer Naturalist Joe Malmisur and Matt Sorrick from Hiram College as we hunt for the elusive blue and yellow spotted creatures for the black lagoon.

Well actually they are Jefferson and Yellow Spotted Salamanders. The only time these amphibians come out of their underground homes  is for a few days as they move to vernal pools to breed. We will also be looking for wood frogs, spring peepers, western chorus frogs among others. Program is from 7:30pm – 9:30pm at Dix Park on Rt 44.

Upcoming Hikes

March 15 – Signs of Spring  – Towner’s Woods 2:00pm-4:00pm

April 4   – Birding for the Ordinary Guy Bird Walk – Berlin Lake Trail 7:30am

April 4 – Lunar Eclipse/Vernal Pool Skinny Dip (Frogs and Salamanders only) Morgan Preserve Parking lot Rt. 44  8:00pm-10:00pm

April 11 – Birding for the Ordinary Guy Bird Walk  – Seneca Ponds 7:30 am

April 11 – Wildflower Scavenger Hunt  – Shaw Woods – 10:30am – 12:30pm

April 18 – Birding for the Ordinary Guy Bird walk  – Morgan Preserve 7:30am

April 25- Birding for the Ordinary Guy Bird walk  – Shaw Woods 7:30am

May 2 – Birding for the Ordinary Guy Bird walk – Towner’s Woods 7:30

Nelson Twp. – By its third anniversary, Nelson-Garrettsville Community Cupboard has tripled in size and has operated from three different locations. Despite losing everything in the Buckeye Block fire nearly a year ago, NGCC is still expanding and foresees a return to downtown Garrettsville before it celebrates its next birthday.

Michael and Michele Elias co-founded NGCC after becoming aware of the rural hunger crisis in Portage County through a fundraiser in 2010 sponsored by the Akron-Canton Food Bank. When they established NGCC on February 27, 2012, they operated from a storage area behind Isaac Mills Bakery on Nelson Circle, and provided the first established food pantry for the Garrettsville/Freedom Township/Nelson Township region.

Three Year Statistics for the Nelson Garrettsville Community Cupboard
Three Year Statistics for the Nelson Garrettsville Community Cupboard

By November 2013, NGCC had outgrown that location and had moved to downtown Garrettsville’s Buckeye Block for a larger building, better access and greater visibility. At that point, 502 residents from the James A. Garfield School District had received assistance from the NGCC; 68-80 families in an average month; 80-100 families during the holiday season; 800-1,000 food and sundry items out the door every week.

Unfortunately, NGCC was downtown only four months when fire ripped through the Buckeye Block and destroyed all but one of 13 businesses housed there. NGCC was leveled.

“That night after the fire, we thought we were done for,” Michele recalls. “We figured it would take months to get ourselves up and running again. But the very next day, people were calling to offer their help, neighbors started bringing food to my house; and by the third day, we got two location offers! At that point, the television news outlets got ahold of the story, and we became a symbol — a positive outlet for people to be able to help our community in the aftermath of the fire. We got tons and tons of overwhelming support, which allowed us to re-open two weeks after the fire. Our clients never experienced an interruption in service.”

Greg and Judy Selby gave NGCC the use of their former Cub Shop building at 12157 State Route 88 near Ely Road, and Middlefield Bank offered the former Tom-C-Toys building for NGCC to use as a storage and sorting facility. Nearly a year since NGCC lost everything in Garrettsville’s historic blaze, it endures and thrives in its new location. In fact, it now serves an average of 140 households (400 residents) every month, thanks to its dedicated team of about 20 volunteers. Michele estimates that NGCC distributed a total of 70,343 pounds of food in 2014.

Since January, the NGCC has implemented a couple new programs to better serve its clients. A voucher program has been established with IGA, so clients can go to the grocery store and trade their voucher in for one of three fresh-food options (in addition to dry goods supplied at the food pantry): a loaf of bread, a gallon of milk, or a dozen eggs.

Also, a weekend snack-pack program now provides 20 healthy snacks for 165 eligible students to take home each month. The Eliases hope to expand this program to twice a month in the near future.

NGCC is a Choice Pantry, meaning that each client is given a “Shopping List” and they get to choose which items they want to take that month.  The number of items received depends on the household size.  “There are no pre-packed boxes of food so no client is given something that they really don’t like and won’t eat anyway,” Michele explains.

The NGCC is operated independently, but is a member agency of the Akron-Canton Food Bank, so reports statistics to them every month. Clients may visit the Cupboard once every 30 days. Certain requirements need to be met  in order to receive food, as follows:

• Reside in the James A. Garfield School District.

• Bring photo ID and current proof of residency such as recent rent or utility bill.

• Meet the income guidelines for federal and state food program eligibility.

• Sign and date the Federal Food Eligibility (TFAP) Form during each visit, verifying that income guidelines have been met and food has been received.

The food cupboard is open on Mondays, 3-6pm and Wednesdays, 9am-12 noon. It can be reached at 330-527-2011 or by email at  ngcc305@gmail.com. The Eliases plan for NGCC to have its own website in the next few months. Until then,  people can access their  Facebook page (search Nelson Garrettsville Community Cupboard) to stay updated with current events. New volunteers are always welcome to work at the Cupboard and anyone interested can send an e-mail or Facebook message.

“We can’t thank the community enough for all their support over the past three years,” Michele says. As the Eliases continue to increase NGCC’s positive impact on the community, they seek a return to downtown Garrettsville before the end of the year, to regain the visibility, parking and accessibility they had before the fire. Stay tuned.

Windham - The WVFD Joint Fire District Board met for their regularly scheduled meeting at the fire station last Thursday, February 12, 2015. The meeting was called to order at 6pm and they immediately went into an executive session to discuss personnel issues. After two plus hours, the board reconvened  the regular meeting.

The board approved the minutes from three meetings, (one regular meeting and two special meetings), the expenditures, the bank reconciliation and the permanent appropriations of $732,750.

In the chief’s report, Chief Mike Iwanyckyj reported that they had 67 calls to date and on February 17, 2015 they will have their rescue equipment and life paks serviced. The chief will be meeting with the department officers soon to look at specs for a new fire truck.

In new business, Deborah Blewitt questioned the chief about folks on the roster who have not fulfilled their obligations to the district or dropped out of school that the district was funding. The chief confirmed that they were not running as they were supposed to and have dropped out of school.  According to Iwanyckyj, the department has two individuals  in school. In other new business, the board approved the service contract renewal for the life paks at $2950 annually.

In old business, Dann Timmons made a motion to accept the resignations of  David Belknap, C.J. McPherson, Nick Bushek, and John Hoffstetter. Blewitt asked if they could be done individually, so Timmons withdrew the motion. Timmons made individual motions on the resignation acceptance.  The individual resignation acceptance voting went as follows, all voted yes, for Belknap, McPherson, and Hoffstetter.  The Bushek vote was Timmons yes, Ron Kilgore, yes, Mike Dye, yes and Blewitt, no. The motion carried with the board accepting Bushek’s resignation. (Phil Snyder was not in attendance due to a family emergency.)

A discussion was held on the dispatching issue. Timmons suggested they try and get a second legal opinion from Chip Comstock, (One of the architects of the operating agreement between the village and the township) on the alleged breach of contract over dispatching.  A vote was taken, Timmons yes, Dye yes, Kilgore, yes and Blewitt abstained, motion carried.  Comstock at one time said he would testify in court about the issue. Timmons thought it would be a good idea to have a second opinion before moving forward with the issue.

A resident questioned the board on whether the board has any plans to increase the pay for EMT’s and medics, so the district could retain them longer and slow down the revolving door. He would like to see the station manned 24/7.  Timmons answered the question, by stating that the biggest issue is finances and after they get the specs, and pricing for a fire truck, they will address the issue, but right now they need to see where they are financially after the fire truck purchase. They expect to purchase a truck by summer.

There being no further business or questions, the meeting adjourned. The joint fire district meets on the second Thursday of each month at the fire station at 7 pm.

Freedom Twp. – After the Pledge of Allegiance, the regular meeting of the Freedom Township Board of Trustees was called to order by the Chairman Roy Martin at 7:30 pm on Monday, February 5, 2015.  Present were trustees James Hammar, Roy Martin, and John C. Zizka; Fiscal Officer, Karen Martin;  Road Superintendent Charles VanSteenberg.  Also present Chief Sanchez of the EMS; residents Mike, Eldon & Matt West, Charles Duffield, Dan Grafton.  Arriving later after another meeting he attended was Zoning Inspector Rich Gano.

A motion was made by Trustee Hammar and seconded by Trustee Zizka,  to approve the minutes of the regular meeting  held January 15, 2015 as presented.

The meeting was opened at this time for comments.  Chief Sanchez of the Community EMS presented information on the 2014 year statistics of calls, responses and  times to the public and township officials and he answered any questions that were presented.  Also he noted that the renewal levy had passed in November for the 2015 year to start.

The road crew has been busy plowing and salting the roads.  They have ordered another load of Salt. It was reported that the wiper pump on the Kodiak had quit and went to Sarchione in Randolph to get a replacement.

The road supervisor requests that a letter be written to resident Richard Bonner thanking him for his assistance on Goodell Road with the snow removal from the sides of the road.  His help was greatly appreciated.

The fiscal officer noted that the renewal for the OTARMA/B&F liability and property insurance is coming up for renewal.  Review of the renewal information will be discussed at the next meeting of the trustees.

A letter has been received from Ohio Edison approving the change of billing information to the trustees at 8937 S.R. 88 (rental house).  Also a bill was received from Dominion Gas in the township trustees’ name.

Zoning board appointments:  A motion was made by Trustee Zizka and seconded by Trustee Hammar to reappoint Randy Pochedly to the Zoning Board of Appeals for a term of 5 (five) years to expire in 2019; and also appoint for a one year term ending January 1, 2016 on the Board of Appeals, Ben Fashing and John Evans.

A motion was made by Trustee Hammar and seconded by Trustee Zizka to reappoint Stanley Lawrence to the Zoning Commission Board for a term of 5 (five) years to expire in 2019; and also appoint for a one-year term ending January 1, 2016  on the Board of Appeals, Tom Mesaros and Donna Miner.

Trustee Hammar reported that Freedom Township has 70 unused hours at the Regional Planning Committee.  He suggesting discussing having them review the zoning code book.  There was some discussion but no decision was made.  It was also noted that the zoning amendments may not be updated in the zoning book.  This will be reviewed by the fiscal officer.

Trustee Martin noted that the Zoning Appeals Board is interested in having a joint meeting with Zoning Commission Board and the Trustees.  A motion was made by Trustee Zizka and seconded by Trustee Hammar to set a joint workshop meeting with the zoning boards and the trustees and a guest from Regional Planning; also to discuss later the proposal to have the Regional Planning Committee review our zoning book.

Trustee Zizka mentioned some of the highlights from the Winter Conference seminars.  Trustee Martin gave some information on the seminars he attended also.  More information will be presented at later meetings.

Trustee Zizka noted a questionable charge on the Dominion Account for the rental house and he will be contacting Dominion concerning the issue.

Zoning Inspector Rich Gano gave a zoning report.  He noted that a demolition permit was given on a cell tower building.  He made reference to violation letters that Prosecutor Meduri had sent concerning trailer storage and agriculture exemptions.  There was a question about a court hearing on Milano property but information has not been received on the outcome.

A letter from Mr. Mike West questioned the definition and exemption laws of agriculture storage.  The letter was responded to by Prosecutor Meduri.  There is still confusion as to the legal rights of agriculture exemptions.  Further information will be obtained and discussed at a later date.  Residents Matt and Michael West questioned the status of the concern and would like better clarification of the law.

Resident Eldon West noted that the handicap ramp at the Townhall was not cleaned before the meeting tonight.

During the meeting, warrants # 7721 – #7753 in the amount of $20,684.61   were presented to the Trustees for approval and ordered paid by signature.

A motion was made by Trustee Hammar and seconded by Trustee Zizka to adjourn the regular meeting at 9:04 p.m.

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Mary Jean Flossie, M.Ed., LPN, LNHA, will discuss some of the primary issues surrounding dementia that baffle and frustrate caregivers both at home and in the field.

Hiram – Hiram College’s Center for Literature and Medicine, in partnership with the Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation, will present the lecture “The Woman in the Mirror: Reflections on Dementia” at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 23, 2015, in the Kennedy Center Ballroom.

Mary Jean Flossie, M.Ed., LPN, LNHA, of Cognitive Concepts Consulting Services, is the Center’s Margaret Clark Morgan Scholar for 2014-2015 and will deliver the lecture. Each year, the Center for Literature and Medicine’s Margaret Clark Morgan scholar discusses a topic relating to mental health.

Flossie will discuss some of the primary issues surrounding dementia that baffle and frustrate caregivers both at home and in the field. She will shine a light on the frequency of misdiagnosis and point out how little is known about the conditions that affect millions of people across the country and around the world. Misunderstanding and jumping to conclusions are natural reactions to the dementia dilemma, but Flossie will encourage guests to rise above the confusion and take a look at the 10 most common behaviors associated with cognitive loss. For those facing challenging behaviors associated with dementing disorders, these insights will dispel some common myths and help caregivers to create a morepositive interpersonal dynamic with the cognitively impaired.

Garrettsville -  Mark your calendar.  Silver Sneakers activities are a-comin’.  The wellness center for seniors at the Park Ave. building in Garrettsville will be opening on March 2—that’s a Monday—and March 3 will see the beginning of a Silver Sneakers fitness class for “active older adults” at the same location.  The time frame will be from 9:45a.m.-12:00, noon, on Tuesdays, to start, then, additionally, 9:45a.m.-12:00, noon, on Thursdays, beginning March 19.

There are elliptical trainers, treadmills and other exercise/fitness equipment on-site already and additional certified personnel are being sought to expand the offerings available.  Sunday evenings are open for adult basketball.  Summer sports sign-ups are on the horizon. (That seems pretty far away right now but it’s coming…honest.)  Moms and dads waiting for kids at their activity can, for a small charge, spend some quality time getting buff and beautiful, trim and toned, rested and relaxed,   all that stuff.

Check out the possibilities.  Some insurance carriers will cover the fees (individual, $22.00 plus tax, couple, $34.00).  Many  people find that the Silver Sneakers programs and interactions are worth far more than that in maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle.

To get more information, plan to stop in at the Open House/Information Session at the Park Ave. building on Monday, February 23 from 9:00a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Garrettsville - Garrettsville village council wants the message to get out to all residents that they are required to file a village income tax form every year just like they would file a state or federal tax return.  There are exclusions for certain incomes like receiving a pension or social security, however those receiving the exclusionary incomes must notify the village’s tax office of their circumstance.

Living in the village requires payment of a 1.75% income tax that helps fund village services.  For those that work outside the village, and are required to pay taxes in the locality of their employment, the village offers a tax credit equal to 50% of the lower of the two tax rates.

Village solicitor Michelle Stuck has been diligent in recent years in finding and prosecuting non-filer and delinquent village taxpayers.  In the previous year there were 510 non-filers.  That number is now down to 176.  Fifteen warrants for arrest have also been issued for previous non-filers.

In response to the ongoing issue and in an effort to promote compliance, legislation has been drafted and presented to council that would establish a penalty for not filing an annual village income tax return.  If passed, a penalty of $100 will be assessed for any qualified resident who fails to file a tax return by the established deadline.  Any taxpayer who requests an extension for filing, but fails to file by that deadline, will also be assessed the $100 penalty.

Council President Tom Hardesty asked for proposed Ordinance 2015-10 to be placed on first reading to give residents plenty of opportunity to get the message before an actual penalty is in place.  Hardesty also wants to be clear that the penalties invoked by the proposed legislation are directed at habitual non-filers, not the newly employed teen that may be just learning about their tax responsibility.

Next on the agenda at the February 11th village council meeting, Chief Chris Sanchez of the Community EMS District presented council with a 2014 Year in Review report, which included information on calls, response times, and mutual aid.  The Community EMS District answered a total of 779 alarms, most within the district boundaries.  They also reduced their response time to an average of 5 minutes, 55 seconds, compared to 6 minutes, 2 seconds in 2013.  Council applauded Chief Sanchez and his department for their continued good work.

In other business, on first reading, was proposed Ordinance 2015-07 that would make appropriations for the 2015 fiscal year and proposed Ordinance 2015-11 which would change requirements for parking for multi-family dwellings within the village.  There will be a public hearing on 2015-11 before the April village council meeting.

Council also passed the following: Resolution 2015-08 (taking away one paid vacation day in 2015 for village employees erroneously paid for a snow day in January 2014) Resolution 2015-09 accepting the low bid for the North Street Water Main Replacement Project Phase I, Resolution 2015-13 and 2015-14 pertaining to quality control inspections and authorizing Arcadis US, Inc to provide engineering services for the water main replacement project.  Council also passed Ordinance 2015-12 approving updates to the Codified Ordinances of Garrettsville.

Council discussed the finalization of the establishment of a K-9 Fund.  The fund is for donations to help defray costs of the new K-9 officer for the village.  Donations can be made to the police department or the village clerk’s office.

During round table discussion, Councilwoman Anderson asked council for views on the information she presented at last month’s meeting and whether they would implement an employee review program.  Council president Hardesty and other council members agreed that it was a good idea and they would move ahead with the program.

Councilman Klamer presented council with his plans for sidewalk repairs for 2015, which include the completion of repairs on Center Street to Main Street, Freedom Street between SR 82 and SR 88, and South Street from Freedom Street to White Street.  He said there may also be other spot repairs needed.  Councilman Klamer would appreciate residents notifying him of any repairs needed not mentioned on the intended repair list.

Council adjourned to executive session to discuss employee compensation.  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 March 11, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. at Village Hall.

Mantua – While many kids used their time off school on Martin Luther King Day sleeping in or hanging around the house being bored, several CIS students used that day to have an adventure back to the canal era of the mid 1800’s. During this special Nature Trek, led by Crestwood Intermediate teacher Rosemary Krupar, students had the opportunity to explore the interactive exhibits at the new Canal Exploration Center in the nearby Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which was opened that day especially for them.

Through the self-guided tour, the group learned that before the canal was built, much of Ohio was still considered wilderness, where passenger travel and moving of products was very difficult. After the canal was built, between 1825 and 1832, business and commerce flourished throughout Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York along these watery interstate “highways”, which expanded in the years before railroads and roads were constructed.

At the Center, students became canal boat pilots via an interactive display that let them pilot a virtual boat through a lock, just like it was done back in the day. They saw weird-but-true artifacts from Ohio’s canal days, including a two-seat latrine salvaged from onboard a boat, and read the diary entry of a teenage canal worker. They heard a recording of John Malvin, a free African-American who became a canal boat captain, and watched a brief video of cultural and political climate in the early 19th century. After the tour, the group ventured outdoors to investigate the lock outside the Visitor Center.  They then hiked a portion of the Canal Towpath Trail, the same path that mules walked to tow canal boats loaded with goods and passengers.

After lunch, the group trekked to nearby Brandywine Falls, one of CVNP’s most visited attractions. The 65-foot falls, carved by the Brandywine Creek, was partially frozen that day, giving the group a rare treat, according to CVNP Rangers. Nature Trekkers hiked along the frosty boardwalk for a birds-eye view above the falls.

Brandywine Falls is open year round, although the boardwalk to below the falls is closed during the winter. The Canal Visitor Center, which once served as a tavern and general store, is open on weekends from 10 am – 4 pm throughout the winter months. It is located at 7104 Canal Road in Valley View. For details and seasonal hours, visit www.nps.gov/cuva.

For more information on how your child can participate in the next Nature Trek experience, contact Rosemary Krupar at rkrupar@crestwoodschools.org.

2015 Maplewood Culinary Students’ Chili Cook Off Judges, from left to right: Dan Pompili, Donna, Karg, Susan Crowell, Chris Gerez

Ravenna – I recently had the pleasure of being asked to be a judge at the February 12th Maplewood Culinary Students’ Chili Cook Off.  My fellow judges: Susan Crowell from Farm and Dairy, Dan Pompili from The Record Courier, and Maplewood School Board President Donna Karg, and I were treated to an amazing culinary experience.

The cook-off was held at the Maple Leaf Restaurant on the campus of Maplewood Career Center.  The restaurant is student-run and offers lunch every Thursday and Friday (when school is in session) to the public.

Eight teams of junior and senior students participated offering varied recipes of chili.  There was Home Style, Southwest Turkey Chorizo, Vegetarian Vegetable, Vegetarian Bean, Firehouse, Seafood, Chocolate, and White Chicken chilies.  The flavors were diverse and rich.

My personal favorite was the Southwest Turkey Chorizo chili.  Cumin, oregano, thyme, allspice and cinnamon were added to more traditional chili ingredients to give it a very unique, tantalizing taste.

In order for our panel to pick overall winners, we each individually scored our favorites using a point system then combined our results.  Our first through third place winners were a result of those tallies, even though a few of us had different individual first place choices.

Our judging panel’s overall first place choice went to the Seafood Chili.   Shrimp, scallops and fish coupled with the bite of fresh chilies made this entry stand out.  Second place went to the White Chicken Chili, and third place to the Fire House Chili.

The culinary program at Maplewood Career Center teaches and prepares students for jobs in the food service industry.  Instructors James Morrison and Daniel Remark teach everything: food prep, cooking, serving, bussing, and even handling the check and payment at the cash register.  The students do a great job running the restaurant and provide top notch service.

For more information on the Maple Leaf Restaurant, or to make a lunch reservation call 330-296-2892 ext. 551507, option 1.


Winning Recipe – Seafood Chili

2.5 lbs. Shrimp

2.5 lbs. Scallops

2.5 lbs. Fish, large dice

1 C. olive oil

1 T. Cumin

1 T. Curry

2 T. Chili Powder

1 T. Oregano

3 Jalapenos, chopped fine

5 Cloves Garlic, chopped fine

Add seafood to herbs and oil and lightly cook in large pot

2 large onions, crescent sliced

Head of celery, julienne bias cut

2 red peppers, sliced

2 green peppers, sliced

Add vegetables and continue cooking until translucent

½ gal. Seafood stock

1 gal. White beans, cooked or 2 #10 can  – pureed and added as thickener

Add to stock and beans to vegetable/seafood mixture.  DO NOT BOIL

Adjust seasoning to taste.

Reporter’s Favorite

Southwest Turkey Chorizo Chili

5 lbs. Ground turkey

½ C. olive oil

2 large onions, crescent sliced

2 C. celery, bias cut

2 red peppers, sliced

2 green peppers, sliced

2 T. paprika

2 T. chili powder

½ tsp. red pepper

2 T. garlic powder

2 T. onion powder

1 T. oregano

1 T. cumin powder

1 T. thyme powder

1 T. all spice

1 tsp. cinnamon

Sautee turkey, set aside in a large pot.  Sautee individually then add to turkey: onions, celery, and red & green peppers.  Add seasonings, heat until aromatic.

½ gal. Turkey stock

1 #10 can tomatoes, diced

1 #10 can pinto beans  DO NOT DRAIN

Add above to seasoned turkey/vegetable mix, heat thoroughly, adjust seasoning to taste.

Mantua - At their last meeting, the School Board voted to approve the revised District calendar for the 2015-2016 year. In the revised calendar, the first day of class for students will be August 18th, 2015, with the last day of first semester ending on December 22nd. Classes for second semester will resume on January 5th (after winter break), and school will end for the year on May 20th, 2016.

Prior to bringing the calendar to a vote, School Board members Todd Monroe and Debbie Soltisz shared that while the decision to start the school year at the same time as the Portage County Fair was not ideal, ultimately, they each conceded that the change would be best for the District as a whole, given the rigorous testing schedule mandated by the State. Major concerns over this issue were voiced again by many community members in support the Portage County Fair and families involved with 4H, at last month’s meeting. In an effort to reach a compromise, the District reached an agreement with the Teachers’ Union to adjust the proposed schedule in order that two of the teachers’ Professional Development days would be scheduled on August 27th and 28th, giving all students, including fair participants, two days of Fair Week off from school. This change would mean that 4H students would need make up three days of school — Monday, August 24th for set-up and August 25th and 26th, the first two days spent at the fair.

In the end, School Board Vice President Dave Becker made what he called, “an emotional decision,” to cast a negative vote on the school calendar. While he acknowledged his feeling that rationally, the revised calendar was the right long-range decision, he shared, “In my heart, I know there’s a lot more to the education of kids that what goes on inside the school walls.” “ His vote was the sole vote of dissension, and the measure was passed that evening. Immediately following the vote, the majority of meeting attendees left en masse.

In other news, Superintendent David Toth presented his Strategic Planning Update. The District gathered information through a series of in person meetings and via telephone surveys from District constituents, and finalized the updated plan over the summer months to determine the District’s strategic goals for the coming five years. The first element of the plan included improving District communications. Mr. Toth shared the various methods of communication that have been implemented in the first part of the school year, which included Crestwood Comments, an updated District website, communication via social media, in-person coffee talks and community Chamber of Commerce meetings and via the District’s Blackboard Connect system. Mr. Toth shared that over the last six months, Crestwood has shared over 29,000 calls, emails and texts through Blackboard Connect — messages ranging from testing and curriculum-based information to weather-related announcements and school-wide announcements.

Moving forward, Toth highlighted some District-wide facility upgrades that have been completed thus far, and announced plans to renovate and update the Middle and High Schools in the near future. In addition, Toth highlighted ways in which the District is moving forward in the areas of career and college readiness for Crestwood graduates, and advances that are being made in the areas of technology and curriculum instruction, as well. To keep apprised of the latest developments, residents are encouraged to visit the District’s web site, crestwoodschools.org.

Lastly, Head Mechanic Anthony Weatherholt and Middle School guidance Counselor Lynne Morrison were recognized as Crestwood’s Employees of the Month. The next regularly scheduled School Board meeting will be held on Monday, March 2nd at 7 pm in the High School Library.

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Mantua –  Jimmy D’s Lil Store of Mantua has been named the Ohio Lottery’s Retailer-of-the Week for the week of Feb. 16, 2015.

Honesty, enthusiasm for their customers and offering a full selection of Lottery games are among the reasons for Jimmy D’s Lil Store’s success.

Store owners Jim and Debbie Belt host their own in-store promotions to draw attention to new games. They post news of big winners in the front window of their store. They’re known for promoting EZPLAY® Games, the Ohio Lottery’s growing category of instant/online games.  They display an example of each EZPLAY® Game, placing them behind the counter for customers to see.

Each week, the Ohio Lottery recognizes one outstanding retail partner who offers courteous service and sales enthusiasm.  Retailer-of-the-Week is chosen based on recommendations from the store’s sales representative and regional sales office staff.

Jimmy D’s Lil Store will be recognized on Cash Explosion®, the Ohio Lottery’s TV game show, on Feb. 21. Residents of Portage County can tune into Cash Explosion® on WEWS TV5 in Cleveland. The Cash Explosion show is carried on 10 stations across the state every Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

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Chardon – The Geauga Lyric Theater Guild continues its membership drive through February with a Winter Sing Along Night on February 21, 7 pm- 9 pm. The event is free to members and open to all ages. Not a member? Join at the door! Group “sing- alongs” of popular show tunes with lyrics projected on the theater’s movie screen and age group “sing- offs” for prizes will be part of the fun. Refreshments will be provided.

“We all need something fun to do to fight those winter blues! What could be more fun than a show tune sing along?” said membership chair Julie Douglass. “If you don’t sing, watching and enjoying others will be just as much fun. We greatly appreciate how supportive the community has been of our educational programming and our theater productions. Membership is another way to show their support and to get involved.”

Members are entitled to benefits including voting privileges at the annual election of board members, special events and show discounts, reduced fees for summer workshops and classes, and access to a member’s only section on the Geauga Theater website featuring the quarterly newsletter. The newest perk is for cast members who belong to the Guild- two complimentary tickets to the production they are involved in.

Membership fees are $ 10.00 for seniors (age 60 and up) or students; $ 15.00 for adults; and         $ 25.00 for a family membership. Supporters may download a registration form from the GLTG website or obtain one at the Geauga Theater Box Office (101 Water St., Chardon, OH) open W-TH-F 4-7 pm; Saturday 1-5 pm or at the GLTG business office at 106 Water St., Chardon, open T-W-TH, 10 am to 5 pm.

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Phoebe Sadowski became the bride of Matthew Szabaga in an August 29 wedding ceremony held at Sunset Hills Winery in Purcellville, Va.,  with Shaun Fitzgerald officiating.

Don and Phoebe Sadowski of Pittsburgh, Pa. are the parents of the bride. The groom is the son of Thomas and Marlene Szabaga of Mantua.

The bride was attired in a Paloma Blanca strapless sweetheart A-line gown in Chantilly lace and carried a bouquet of white roses, white chrysanthemums, pink astilbe and green hydrangeas.

The newlyweds were honored at a reception held immediately following the ceremony at Sunset Hills Winery.

The new Mrs. Szabaga is a 2007 graduate of Peters Township High School in McMurray, Pa. She graduated from Beaver County Community College in Beaver Falls, Pa. in 2009 and is employed as an air traffic controller at Dulles Airport in Virginia.

Her husband is a 2001 graduate of James A Garfield High School and a 2005 graduate Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Dayton Beach, FL. He is employed as a business process analyst for Lockheed Martin in Ashburn, Va.

Following a wedding trip to Napa Valley, California, the Szabagas are making their home in Sterling, Va,

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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.

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.”