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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Requested donation at the door is $7.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Singed by Fire

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

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

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

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

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

We need a miracle.

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

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

Funding the Future

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Environmental Education: Hiram College Tree House Project

Environmental Activism:  Downtown Mantua Revitalization Corporation

Green Business: Kelly Ferry

Green Building/Development: Emerald Environmental, Inc.

Lifetime Achievement: Ann Ward

Honor Roll for Land Conservation: Virginia Shaw

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Rebuilding and #GarrettsvilleStrong elicited comment  as well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Is Going On With PARCC Testing?

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

What are assessments?

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

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

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

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

Are we required to test?

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

What Grades and subjects are tested?

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

Third grade: Reading and math

Fourth grade: Reading and math

Fifth grade: Reading, math and science

Sixth grade: Reading and math

Seventh grade: Reading and math

Eighth grade: Reading, math and science

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

Math

Reading

Writing

Science

Social Studies

What are the new tests?

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

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

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

What are the concerns?

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

Data

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

Tests are too hard 

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

There is too much testing

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

What is JAG doing about testing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What should I do as a parent/community member?

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

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

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

G-MEN Wrestlers Battle at Sectionals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• 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.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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