Garrettsville – This Saturday, while you are out running errands, consider stopping by the Garrettsville Save-A-Lot where the Garrettsville Police Department will be having a Fill-A-Cruiser event  from 10 am to 3 pm.

The officers will be collecting non-perishable food items for the Nelson Garrettsville Community Cupboard which has seen a two-fold increase in the number of people they are assisting this year. 

In addition, the officers will be accepting cash donations which will be used  for the Hiram-Garrettsville Shop-With-A-Cop program. 

Newton Falls – The Newton Falls Municipal Court has earned final certification as a Treatment Court from the Ohio Supreme Court’s Commission on Specialized Dockets.

In order to receive the certification, the local court had to submit an application, undergo a site visit, and provide specific program materials in response to certification standards that went in to effect in January 2014.

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor congratulated the Newton Falls Municipal Court and Judge PhilipVigorito for receiving final certification.

“Specialized dockets have proven effective at addressing persistent criminal behaviors,” said Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor. “Specialized dockets result in significantly lower recidivism rates which means offenders become productive members of society, for which we all benefit.”

Specialized dockets are courts that are dedicated to specific types of offenses or offenders and use a combination of different techniques for holding offenders accountable while also addressing the underlying causes of their behavior. There are more than 150 specialized dockets in Ohio courts that deal with issues such as: 

• Drugs and Alcohol

• Mental Health 

• Domestic Violence 

• Sex Offenses

The new standards provide a minimum level of uniform practices for specialized dockets throughout Ohio, and allow local courts to innovate and tailor to meet their community’s needs and resources. 

Recommended practices outlined in the certification process include establishing eligibility requirements, evaluating effectiveness of the specialized docket, and assembling a treatment team for implementing daily operations of the specialized docket. The team can include licensed treatment providers, law enforcement, court personnel, and is headed by the specialized docket judge.

The Commission on Specialized Dockets has 22 members who advise the Supreme Court and its staff regarding the promotion of statewide rules and uniform standards concerning specialized dockets in Ohio courts; the development and delivery of specialized docket services to Ohio courts; and the creation of training programs for judges and court personnel. The commission makes all decisions regarding final certification.

Mantua – In her report, Mayor Linda Clark announced the unofficial report that issue 42 passed by 12 votes. She remains cautiously optimistic until the absentee and provisional votes are counted, but stated, “I want to thank the voters for their support of issue 42 and a very big thank you to the DMRC. I feel without their help in promoting issue 42, it would not have passed.” 

In addition, she shared word that ODOT plans to open the bridge on State Route 44 at the south end of the village on Tuesday Nov 25. The village will hold a brief opening ceremony for the bridge and sidewalk project at 2 pm. 

In his report, Police Chief Harry Buchert informed Council that the Police Department was in the process of purchasing a K9, to be used in Crestwood Schools by Student Resource Officer Joe Urso. The K9 is trained in narcotics, and was offered to the Department by Excel K9 Services in Hiram. The Department has raised $3,400 in donations toward the cost of the dog and training needed. There are three fundraisers currently in progress at the schools. Buchert assured Council that the pending purchase would have no impact on the General Fund.

Village Administrator Kate Rogers updated Council on the Service Department projects currently underway. She noted that the repairs to the wastewater treatment plant were in process as was general winter readiness. She reported that due to the low salt supply, the Service Department would be directing the limited salt supply on safety areas (hills, intersections and curves), just as neighboring communities plan to do. In addition, she thanked the DMRC for their donation of holiday banners valued at $400. Moving on, Rogers asked Council’s permission to approve a purchase order to replace the park lodge roof. After some discussion, Council approved this expenditure at a value not to exceed $6,300. Council also approved a purchase order for a trailer to haul Service Department equipment.

Village Engineer Rich Iafelice reported that the village has received an OPWC grant for improvements and upgrades to the Water Treatment and Wastewater Treatment plants. The funds will be available in July 2015, but Iafelice would like to complete the construction documents in late winter or early spring to start the project as soon as the funds are received.

Next up, Edie Benner, President of the DMRC, discussed plans to utilize a grant her group had procured to add decorative light poles and landscaping at the south end of the village. According to Benner, the DMRC had identified Union Metals in Canton as a potential supplier of the necessary light poles. She provided images for Council’s selection — Council unanimously chose the “Euclid” style as the historic light post to be used in the village.

In other news, Council approved a motion approving the village’s participation in the Historic Landmark Commission. The group will work together with like-minded groups, including the DMRC and Mantua Restoration Society to help foster an appreciation of the area’s historic structures. 

Lastly, it was announced that Advanced Rehab will hold its annual Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day at 8 am. Then, to help spread a little holiday cheer, on December 5th at 6 pm, The Mantua-Shalersville Chamber of Commerce will host Santa’s visit the village’s mini park. The following day, Saturday, the 6th, the Jingle Bell Jog, hosted by the Crestwood High School Band Boosters will be held at 9 am at the High School. 

The next regularly-scheduled meeting of the Mantua Village Council will be held on Tuesday, December 16th at 7 pm. Residents are encouraged to attend.

Mantua – For the second year in a row, Patty Timbrook, Visual Art Teacher at Crestwood Intermediate School, lead her students on a field trip to experience the art studios at Kent State University and Hiram College, exposing them to both college and potential careers in the arts.  This year, 14 students attended, with four parents and one grandparent acting as chaperones.  The trip was held on a weekday — NEOEA Day  — when school was not in session. Timbrook explained the value of such an excursion, sharing, “Field trips like this inspire young people to envision their future as a college student, pursuing an interest in the arts or any other field of interest.”

At Kent State, the group explored the art building, visiting the textile studio to check out the looms, and the ceramic studio, where students learned about the various kinds of kilns. In addition, the group watched as a student-artist created a pot thrown on the potters’ wheel, silk-screening in printmaking studio, and they watched an exciting demonstration of a bowl being blown in the glass studio. As an added bonus, one student for the group won the glass bowl to take home. After the touring the art studios, the group enjoyed lunch at the Student Center. While at KSU, the group also learned that next year, all art disciplines will be housed in a new art building that is currently under construction. That news was bittersweet for Timbrook, since she spent many years in the existing building as both an undergraduate and graduate student, where she met her husband.  In addition, her oldest daughter will soon graduate from KSU with a degree in Visual Communication and Design. 

That afternoon at Hiram College, the group visited the art building to see the painting areas, ceramic areas, drawing, printmaking, photography, and art history spaces. Timbrook continued, “This trip also broadens the definition of art that a young person may have.  They see many interesting approaches to personal expression.”  In addition, students had the opportunity to visit Hiram’s on-campus art gallery as it was being prepped to hang a show.  Timbrook gushed, “The student ambassadors at both campuses that worked with us were exceptional, professional, and had a wonderful rapport with our CIS students.”

Planning for next year, Timbrook shared, “I would love to have time to tour the graphic design studios, new poetry house and surrounding outdoor performance area, and eventually, the new Architecture building, since those areas of study would be of great interest to students.” Timbrook marveled, “And the parents seem to enjoy themselves as much as the students, sharing how educational these tours and demonstrations were for them. From the bus ride to the studios, we all had an enlightening day that inspired many student towards a college career and possibly a career in the arts.” 

The field trip was funded through a grant from the Hiram Community Trust. For more information, contact Patty Timbrook at

Mantua – In light of the recent school shooting in Seattle, Washington, Crestwood District Superintendent David Toth shared the information about safety procedures at the start of this month’s School Board meeting. Toth shared, “I got into this field to educate kids, not necessarily to talk about guns in schools, but unfortunately, it’s a reality of the time. That being said, we do multiple drills here at the Crestwood District, to try to be prepared for as many situations that we can to protect our students and staff.” 

Toth went on to explain how the District uses a drill technique called ‘A.L.I.C.E.,’ (which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate). They also provide training videos with professional staff to provide them with guidance and support to help them anticipate what to expect and how to react in the event of an active shooter incident at school. At a recent professional development day for teachers and staff, the schools underwent an active shooter drill where law enforcement officers shot blanks in the school buildings in order to make teachers and staff aware of the sound such a disturbance creates. They trained staff in how to respond, and what to expect, should first responders enter the schools. Further, the district utilizes hard and soft lockdown drills with students and staff on random school days, to give students and staff time the opportunity to utilize best practices, should the need ever arise. 

In addition, district officials meet twice yearly with local police, rescue and sheriff’s office personnel in order to keep apprised of the latest safety information and procedures. Speaking on behalf of himself and his staff, Toth remarked, “The way we see it, they’re all our kids. We’re trying to do the best we can to make the outcome, if it should happen, the best we can for our students and our staff.” In summation, Toth directed individuals to contact his office, or his building principals, should they have any questions or concerns about school safety. 

Moving on, Middle School mathematics teachers Eddie Judd and David Wesley shared information on a new College Preparatory Mathematics program (CPM), being rolled out for Crestwood’s eighth graders. The goal of the program is to make college-preparatory mathematics accessible to all students by providing the latest professional development and curriculum materials in line with the Common Core standards. CPM courses are used in 35 states, and over the past 20 years, more than 5,000,000 students have taken CPM courses. Mr. Judd and Mr. Wesley shared that the program will start with students in the eighth grade, but the program will eventually incorporate students at both the Middle and High Schools in courses from Algebra up to Calculus.

Lastly, the Board recognized four employees for being named ‘Employee of the Month’ within the District. Intermediate School Teacher Kristin Patton and Food Service employee Jane Petro were recognized in the month of September, and Middle School Teacher Eddie Judd and Custodian Butch Mills were recognized in the month of October. 

The next meeting of the Crestwood School Board will be held at the High School Library on Monday, December 1st at 7 pm. The Crestwood community is encouraged to attend. 

Garrettsville – After a three year hiatus, he’s back. Mr. King returns to the stage at James A Garfield School writing, directing and producing his play  “The Right to Bare Arms.” The play mixes modern day and ancient times together as a small island learns to overcome fear, to survive the curse that it has been said to be under. 

The modern day island is bound by ancient laws, such as no fishing with a shot gun, no bare arms in public, no milking their neighbors’ cow, one must only talk in the ancient language and butter is the only thing allowed on biscuits and muffins.  The islanders believe they are under a curse from Witch Golda, which causes the island to sink into the sea when anyone breaks a law. The town is so bound by the laws that no one is able to work, therefore they become dependent on the king for survival.   

Then, the cupbearer’s daughter, Maya, who doesn’t believe in curses, is determined to challenge the laws of the land and possibly be the source of the island’s demise. Maya encourages some of the young women to follow her point of view which lands them all in jail for challenging what she calls outdated laws.

The play has a king, a witch, knights, and even a jester to add humor and fun into the mix. The knights undermine the king and have a plot of their own, if only one could just figure out the good knight from the bad. The evil witch, who just wants to marry the king, has a naïve town believing in her curse as she plots against the town to get the king to love her. The king’s daughter falls for a commoner, women determined to rebel against authority all come together with one cause in the end and it is to overcome fear to save their island.

Mr. King does a great job intertwining the ancient times with the modern day and adding plenty of humor to the mix. The roles were cast well and the play was quite entertaining. Leaving an audience chanting bravo, bravo! 

Welcome back, Mr. King, we hope this is the “first” of many more to come

Garrettsville – Saturday, March 22, 2014, for the Garrettsville community, has become like 9/11 for our nation.  I was preparing to leave for a long drive to Salt Lake City, Utah when that day for me turned upside down.  It was a cold spring day with overcast skies and light breezy conditions.  I was at my home, just a couple of houses from the Dairy Queen in Garrettsville.

My fire pager alarmed a little after 1:15 PM. I ran outside with my camera bag. As I drove down State Street, I could see this was not a routine call.  Within a couple of minutes, I was describing on my fire radio a size-up of the fire scene conditions to our responding fire units. I was well aware that a historic event was unfolding. 

Being the fire department’s photographer, I had exceptional access to the fire ground. For the next 10 hours, I shot over 5 hours of video and over 300 still images. All has been condensed into an almost 2-hour documentary.  Beginning with some of the 911-recorded calls, the drama, anguish, and professionalism are revealed.  I was given permission to include video and images by many other observers.  A police dash-cam video of the fire’s early stages gives a valuable insight into our first responders’ early actions.  In addition, I have incorporated videos and stills of the building collapse from three different directions. As the catastrophe unfolds in the video, I have included explanations clarifying the actions of the professionals involved. 

The video is dedicated to our retired fire chief, Bob Russell.  It was during his tenure and with his initiative; the Garrettsville Freedom Nelson Joint Fire District was formed.  With the tax funds generated from the associated levy, our fire department was able to purchase modern fire trucks, all of which saw service at this fire. 

The complete video can be purchased from the Garrettsville Chamber of Commerce, Ben Coll, President.
Here is a link to the direct purchase page:

Orders can be mailed anywhere in the US via USPS for $7 (flat rate padded media envelope).   The DVD price is $10. All profits from the video go to the Garrettsville Strong Fund. 

A short trailer of the video can also be viewed via youtube at: URL:

Submitted by Rich Teresi

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“Hey, do you want to go on a bus trip with us to Cambridge to see the Dickens Victorian Village? It’s a guided tour.  You will meet lots of new people!”  So said Michelle, my editor. “And besides, you will probably get a story out of it for the 65 and Single Again column.”  What the hey, I thought.  I’ve not done anything like this since………I can’t remember when.  Probably in college I took a Greyhound bus back to Athens from Cleveland. That was the last time I was on a modern over-the-road type bus, and that was close to 50 years ago.

Charles Dickens, who was he, you ask.  Oh, so you’ve been spending too much time out in the barn milking cows eh? Or maybe playing too much with the X-Box computer games.   Does Bob Cratchett or Tiny Tim ring a bell…….oh yeah,  THAT Dickens who wrote “A Christmas Carol” back in 18 and 50 something.  Dickens created some of the world’s most well-known fictional characters and is generally regarded as the greatest Victorian Writer.  We had to read his works back in high school. Probably you did too.  Now you remember.  Sure I’ll go. Besides, there are bound to be some interesting people to meet on the bus.

The trip schedule was as follows:

Depart Garrettsville 8 AM

1st stop – McDonald’s in Cambridge to pick up the guide 

for the day—also coffee break

2nd stop – Dickens museum approx. 10 AM

3rd stop – shop on Main Street 

4th – eat lunch at restaurant 12:30 PM

5th – visit bulk food store and shop

6th – visit Episcopal Church

7th – shop a bit/nap in bus

8th – light show on the courthouse

Drive home, estimated return, 9 PM

So we set off on the bus at 8 AM from Sky Lanes in Garrettsville and headed for Cambridge which is about 2 hours away, including a rest stop.  There were about 34 of us on the tour.  I only knew about 3 people—the staff from the newspaper.  The rest were new to me.  As happens in unfamiliar situations you study the dynamics of the group on the bus, the people around you, and the persistent person behind you who feels the need to fill you in on every nuance and detail of the various people on the bus.  You note, perhaps, some interesting individuals and make a mental note to try and strike up a conversation with these certain folks. The back of the bus was the more vocal area; People seemed to be having a good time, laughing and such.  Also in the back of the bus is a bathroom.  It consists of a wooden bench with a hole in it and you could see the road going by through the hole……………..NO, NO, NO! I’m confusing it with a train ride from the 1920s.  Actually it was a very nice setup much like an airliner bathroom. I didn’t realize busses these days had such amenities and that certainly goes a long way toward alleviating certain fears about being trapped in a confined space……well, for some of us anyway.

We picked up our guide at the McDonald’s just at the edge of town. She was dressed in 1850s period clothing and served as the director for the affairs of the day. She explained how the whole Dickensonian concept came about for Cambridge and what they have done to enlarge it.  Cambridge is a quaint 1850s town with distinctly English architecture. It is about the size of Ravenna. Most of the buildings are well- preserved, including a marvelous 1850s courthouse.  I have noted many other similar courthouses in central and southern Ohio, all built in that era. Very fortunately they have survived modernization or being torn down like so many up north.  They are real jewels. 

Our tour guide explained that at the turn of the new century (2000) a group of townspeople and businessmen, recognizing the English heritage of Cambridge, got together, planned and implemented a Dickens Christmas theme that encompassed the whole downtown.  This, they surmised, would bring in business.  They decked out the downtown in Edwardian style with over 180 Dickensonian life-size manikins in various scenes lining the sidewalks and in shop windows.  These scenes depict real life situations of the time, such as a photographer taking a picture, groups caroling, people standing on a corner, and sitting on a bench. These are all lifelike manikins with fairly realistic faces.   But there are also various real people dressed in the period clothing walking about.  More than once I had the BeJesus scared out of me by a manikin that began talking to me and moved like a human. I wondered if Father Christmas was responsible for any heart attacks or strokes. 

As you can see by the schedule, there was plenty of time built in for shopping—this I’m sure to encourage the anticipated consequence of people visiting this Dickensian Town.  The pinnacle of the whole adventure was a simply wonderful, almost indescribable light show on the Courthouse, all choreographed to classical Christmas music.  The whole effect is perhaps best described as like watching a rapid fire Fourth of July Fireworks display. It was worth the trip to see this.

So, in between the various Dickens activities we shopped and ate.  There are a number of pubs along the shopping routes up and down the city block.  I don’t know why I mention that but I think that at least a few took advantage of it. Certainly the effects seemed more notable on the way back to Garrettsville, and not necessarily in a bad way. More on that in a bit.

We visited an Episcopal Church that was styled like, and likely built in, the 1850s.  We sat in the pews and listened to a short, staunch, pokerfaced elderly woman with a distinct English accent stand in the pulpit and dryly relate the history of the church. I wondered if she too was an actor trying to look Dickensonian or if it indeed was just her everyday manner of dress. I think the latter.  She then asked if anyone in the group might come up and play the massive pipe organ.  No one could or would. The thought crossed my mind to volunteer to go up and play chopsticks but I thought better of it.  Then she urged the group to sing a few Christmas Carols.  This was all well and good, mind you, but some of the group seemed to not feel particularly Christmassy, or more likely, not confident in their a Capella singing abilities.  Others were feeling…….something else, possibly courtesy of the pubs! We attempted “Silent Night”.  I say attempted because it would not be fair to say that we accomplished “Silent Night” in anything resembling harmony! Possibly it was not even recognizable. Then she said, “Let’s try Joy to the World.”  Whereupon I broke out laughing – thinking immediately of the Three Dog Night rendition– “Joy to the World, –all the boys and girls, joy to the fishes…” and how completely out of time and place that would be. Apparently that thought instantly escaped my mind and came out my mouth because I looked up and everyone was looking back at me.  A little more verbosity than I had anticipated I guess.  Though the moment didn’t translate well I doubt if the old English lady had any idea who Three Dog Night was.  All in all, the church people were nice; they fed us cookies and scones.  Per chance do you know what scones are?  Well, I know a little about English scones.  My wife’s grandparents were very English, having been born in England back in the late 1800s.  They had lots of English traditions, and they cooked typical English food.  Some of it was very good, some was…….not.   Grandma Nellie regularly used to make scones and bring them over often.  How to describe them?  The words that come to mind are white hockey pucks with jelly on them.  The ones that they served at the church though looked a lot better than those in my memory. They were soft and folded and you could make little jelly sandwiches with them. With Nellie’s you scored goals. I choked them down though to be nice and keep the peace. But I digress.

After the fabulous light show we began the two hour trip back home. Now if I remember back to high school days and trips back home from, say, a football game, things were, shall we say, more relaxed.  People talked a little more, sang a little more, and were generally more uninhibited. For example, it always took me that long to work up the courage to talk to a particular girl. Isn’t it funny that 50-60 years separates the experiences but the same thing happens with us 50 plus people? Even though we couldn’t seem to muster up the wherewithal to sing some Christmas Carols in the church, the group in the back of the bus at some point started belting out some Christmas songs. Gradually, song choices degenerated a bit as they launched into “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.” Everybody seemed to know the words perfectly though.  Then they belted out “Joy to the World –All the boys and girls, joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea…”  Of course the finale was that greatest of all German Christmas Carols, “I wish I was an Oscar Meyer Weiner , –That is what I really want to be, Cause if I was an Oscar Meyer Weiner, Everyone would take a bite of me”.  

 It was a grand trip.  I will do it again but I’m sitting in the back next time and going shopping with that group.

“Many of the events of the annual cycle recur year after year in a regular order. A year-to-year record of this order is a record of the rates at which solar energy flows to and through living things. They are the arteries of the land. By tracing their response to the sun, phenology may eventually shed some light on that ultimate enigma, the land’s inner workings.” – Aldo Leopold, A


Phenology for December in Portage Parks

• Full moon (Cold Moon or Big Bear Moon) – Dec 6th   

• New Moon – Dec. 22nd 

• Christmas bird Count Dec 14th – Jan 5th.

• Winter Solstice – 1st day of winter Dec 21st and the shortest day of the year. 

• Snow – look for tracks in the snow: rabbits, squirrels, deer, fox, mink, and weasels.

• Look for snow fleas, commonly called spring tails, on the snow near dead vegetation.

• Hunting season (gun/bow) – wear bright colors when walking in the woods. 

• Look for Snow buntings, Lapland Longspurs, and Horned Larks in open fields of northern Portage County. 

• Looking for snowy owls, don’t look in trees. Look for snowy owls sitting on “hummocks” (mounds of dirt or debris) in open fields. 

• Woods are quiet. Look for butterflies (Mourning Cloaks and Angel Wings) overwintering under the peeling bark of trees. Look but don’t touch, please. 

• Look for the dried remains of wildflowers such as; Indian Pipes, Teasel, Milkweed, Goldenrod, Asters, Queen Ann’s Lace and various grasses. (and, yes, Oriental Bittersweet) 

Birding for the Ordinary Average Guy/Gal

Come join Portage Park District volunteer Naturalist Joe Malmisur and Dr. Sarah Mabey on Monday Dec 8th for the second in the Park District’s birding series. It doesn’t matter if you did not attend the first session, we will be reviewing what we covered on Nov 10th.  The second session will focus on bird anatomy and the Christmas Bird Count that will take place on Dec 14th. Special guest instructor, Jamey L. Emmert, Wildlife Communication Specialist for the Ohio Division of Wildlife will be talking about bird anatomy and will review the idea of size and shape in identifying birds. We will have several actual bird mounts, from the small Hummingbird to the very large Sand Hill Crane, to get a good perspective on size and shape. It should be a HOOOOT!

Upcoming Hikes and Programs 


12/8 – Birding for the Ordinary Average Guy/Gal – 7:00 pm Portage Park Building

12/14 – Christmas Bird Count


1/4 – Full Moon Hike – 7:00 pm Towner’s Woods

1/10 – Snow Shoe Hike – 10:00 am Chagrin Headwaters Park

1/11 – X Country Ski – 1:00 pm Headwaters Trail Head – Garrettsville to Mantua and Back

1/12 – Birding for the Ordinary Average Guy/gal 7:00 pm Portage Park Building

1/17 – Cross Country Ski – 10:00 am Towner’s Woods

1/25 – Snow Shoe Hike – 2:00 pm Towner’s Woods

1/31 – Snow Shoe Hike – Shaw Woods

Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year from the Portage Park District. 

Make sure to check out for additional upcoming programs and hikes!

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Even as the snow flies and temperatures plummet, Geauga Lyric Theater Guild is looking toward the warm days of summer and the popular summer theater workshops for area youth. GLTG has been sponsoring educational programs each summer since 1998.

Applications for lead instructors/directors for 2015 Summer Workshops are currently being accepted through December 20, with positions to be filled by late January.  GLTG offers programs for youth of all ages; juniors ages 4-7; Elementary Drama, ages 6-12; Elementary Musical, ages 6-12; Tween Drama ages 11-14, and Teen Musical Workshop, ages 13-18.

Workshops will begin in June on a staggered basis and run through mid-August, four days a week, three hours a day, ending in three public performances.

GLTG is seeking instructors with experience working with youth to develop age appropriate theatrical skills with an emphasis on education and personal growth as students work cooperatively to produce a quality show for family, friends and the community.

Applications and details about the position expectations can be found on the Geauga Theater website  ( or by calling the GLTG Business office during business hours, Tuesday-Thursday 10 am- 5 pm at 440-285-7701 or emailing

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Ho Ho Hold on a minute!  Try as you might, there is no going back.  

The Thanksgiving turkey, heck, even the Halloween ghouls and goblins, will forevermore be in competition with Santa and his entourage of elves.  Like a full-blown blizzard that comes suddenly and unexpectedly, burying autumn (and us!) in the frigid reality of “here’s how it’s going to be,” the commercialism of Christmas ruthlessly arrives!  Step into any store but don’t be caught off guard.  Remember fall fell fast and was overcome by the holiday hustle and bustle, the Jingles and Kringles.  Gone are the good ol’ days of enjoying each season while in the season, like apple cider in September, pumpkin ale in October, and cranberry salad in November.  Now the polar express is in the express lane (alongside next year’s bikinis!).  Like a pill that’s hard to swallow, throw on a log, grab some eggnog, and open wide… the fruitcake has arrived! 

 SWCD Elves Can Help!         

Indeed the Christmas cheer is here, but rather than resisting consider another alternative to your Black Friday blues.  Here is where Geauga Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) comes in.  Believe it or not, we can help you not only with information and guidance on natural resource management, but also with your holiday shopping!  Geauga SWCD offers unique and meaningful gifts that keep on giving long past the holiday season.  Items we offer make positive impacts to our natural world and enhance our natural resources.  In addition, these gifts help save money and energy, while putting your hard-earned dollars back into our local community.  Below are just a few gift ideas to kiss Christmas commercialism goodbye and turn your Black Friday GREEN!

Gather Your “Liquid” Assets

Let this be the year to roll out the barrel.  A rain barrel, that is!  Rain barrels make creative, affordable, and sensible gifts, with lots of reasons to feel good about giving.  These recycled plastic containers attach to a downspout to collect and store rainwater from rooftops.  Instead of being diverted to a storm drain or ditch, the water captured can be used to water flowers, trees, and plants.  Rain barrels conserve water, reduce storm water runoff, alleviate flooding, and recharge groundwater.  Since access to fresh water is an urgent concern, both nationally and worldwide, rain barrels offer a backyard benefit with global significance.  Though most Ohioans have not yet felt the pressure of this resource scarcity, our country’s surface and groundwater accounts are now seriously overdrawn.  Nationwide, a typical household uses approximately 260 gallons of water every day, with lawn/garden watering making up nearly 40% of total summer use.  Installing a rain barrel allows us to significantly reduce our fresh water demand.  The District sells rain barrels year round for $80 and offers painted rain barrels during their Annual Yard Art Campaign.  Research the logistics of installing a barrel and consider taking the plunge!

A Lump of Coal?  No, Black Gold!

What does Santa do with all of that reindeer manure?  Compost it, of course!  No matter the size of your lot or farm, composting makes good sense (and cents!).  Composting is a simple, economical way to recycle kitchen scraps and yard waste into “black gold” – highly valued fertilizer and soil amendment.  Adding finished compost to our soil improves its structure and health, as well as increases its pore space and water-holding capacity.  In addition, composting keeps useful organic materials in our yards and gardens and out of our already burdened landfills.  Geauga SWCD is pleased to offer the versatile Back Porch ComposTumbler at a greatly reduced price of $180.  Don’t be afraid to “stir it up” by giving a friend or loved one the unique gift of a compost bin.  They’ll love the fact that you’ve spoiled them “rotten”!

O Christmas Tree

If you are still feeling overwhelmed and want to take the guesswork out of gift-giving, a tree sale gift certificate is a great choice for a truly priceless present.  Since our inception, Geauga SWCD has provided this service to residents, offering an incredible variety of trees, shrubs, and native plants each spring.  Whatever the need, we are sure to have the trees and plants to accomplish any landscaping goal at a bargain price.  And longer than any Christmas list is the list of benefits of planting trees!  There’s no better way to turn your Black Friday GREEN.

Unlike senseless spending on more and more meaningless stuff, creative gifts from Geauga SWCD are very worthwhile investments!  Contact us at 440-834-1122 or visit for more information.   This year may you look beyond the Noel nonsense, rise above the yuletide lunacy, politely decline the fruitcake, and embrace the true relevance of the holiday season by making a contribution to conservation.  We’ll “leaf” it up to you!

Garrettsville – The Garrettsville Village Piecemakers quilt guild raffled a colorful queen sized quilt on November 16. The winning ticket was drawn by Bonnie Kissell of Garrettsville. The winner of the beautiful quilt is Carol Srajer of Mantua.

The quilt, named “Village Square”, was machine pieced and quilted by the quilt guild members. It was displayed in “A Thyme To Blossom”, the home owned by Earl and Bonnie Kissell, which was featured in the 2014 Garrettsville Christmas Walk.

The Garrettsville Christmas Walk is sponsored by the J.A. Garfield Historical Society. This organization graciously allowed the Village Piecemakers the privilege of displaying and selling tickets for their quilt in one of the homes on the Christmas Walk.

Shown with the quilt are raffle quilt committee members, Judy Toth and Liz Ritchey and the raffle quilt winner (center), Carol Srajer.  Anyone that would like more information on The Village Piecemakers Quilt Club can contact Shelley Gordon at 330-527-8129.

Garrettsville – Santa Claus is coming to town! He and Mrs. Claus are inviting children to come with their parents to get Pictures with Santa during an open house for Jursa Insurance, LLC at 8454 Windham Street (the former location of The Villager and Chamber of Commerce).

Insurance agent Shannan Shobel-Jursa is collaborating with Ronda Brady Photography to co-sponsor this community event on Monday, December 15 from 6-8 pm. That evening, area families and surrounding community members can come and receive a free digital image of their family, their children, their pets, etc. with Santa and Mrs. Claus (Michael and Robyn Stitt from Erie, PA). Any child who brings a wish list and shares it with Santa will also receive a small gift. Light snacks and beverages will be available for all.

“I wanted to provide a family-friendly event that gives back to the communities that we will be servicing,” Shobel-Jursa said of her upcoming open house. “Being a mother of three children, I immediately knew that I wanted to do something for the kids, as well. It’s costly to get a picture with Santa Claus at the store or mall. Hosting an event like this gives people the opportunity to bring children or pets in for a digital image at no cost to them.” 

Ronda Brady will be the professional photographer for the event and will text or email the digital pictures to those sitting for portraits. With digital image files, the photographs can be printed anywhere a person chooses, according to their preferred sizes and number of copies.

Shobel-Jursa’s new office will open January 1, 2015, providing auto insurance, home/renters insurance, and a variety of additional services to cover individual and family needs. The open house presents an opportunity for community members to become familiar with Shobel-Jursa, her two team members, and the office location. “Though a little outside of town, it offers great parking for our clients and is easily accessible,” she says.

Due to legal restraints with not being open yet, Shobel-Jursa is not able to advertise the commercial insurance provider’s name until after the new year. Shobel-Jursa is currently looking to fill additional staffing needs and welcomes those interested to stop by with their resume, inquiring at (330) 527-2001, or applying online via Her website is

Originally from Youngstown, Jursa-Shobel moved to Austintown 10 years ago. “My husband and I have four-year-old twins and I have been pestering him to move further away from the city,” she says. “When the opportunity came to open an agency in the Garrettsville/Mantua area, I was elated. We plan to build our home in the area within in the next couple years.”

Shobel-Jursa has been actively involved in Junior Achievement and The American Bank Association’s “Teach Children To Save Day” for six years. Additionally, ”I have registered to become a Member of the Garrettsville Chamber of Commerce and am excited to become an involved member of the community. I am thankful for the Village of Garrettsville in welcoming me thus far and look forward to many years of commitment and service to the communities in the surrounding area.”

Garrettsville – The November 17 meeting of the James A. Garfield Historical Society at the Mott Building was held amid falling temperatures and discussion of the recently completed Christmas Walk…with cookies to mark the occasion.  The attendance at the Walk was down slightly but the total income was up slightly;  the results were about on a par with recent history of the event, weather and the economy being taken into account.   Some 1,498 persons—give or take a kid or two—attended. A qualified success  qualifies as success  The Garrettsville that remained after the Buckeye Block Fire was in fine fettle and put its best foot forward for the visitors.  Many thanks to all who had a part in organizing and carrying out all of the activities AND to the homeowners who participated by opening their residences to the throngs of sightseers.

Nearly as important, the  Christmas party was scheduled for Monday, December 8 in Cal’s II at 6:30. Those wishing to attend should contact President Kit Semplak or another JAGHS member ASAP.

Nominations and elections of new officers and board members will take place in January, with installation in February.  New members are always welcome. Regular meetings are held on the third Monday evening of the month at 7:30 in the Mott Building on Main St., Garrettsville.

John Zizka enlightened the group on the state of Ohio townships and the latest in  environmental  (septic system) regulations and developments.  Always educational, these meetings.

Garrettsville – The Rotary Club of Garrettsville-Hiram discussed and applauded a number of topics at their recent meeting on November 24, 2014.  Items presented :

Tom Collins reported briefly on the progress of the Headwaters Trail update and promotion.  At least two Eagle Scout projects may be part of the picture. Views of possible trailside benches were circulating; Rotary grant money may be used for materials.  Still waiting for the village to sign off before launching any specifics.

Lisa Muldowney reported that the dictionaries for third graders at Garfield Elementary are ready to go.  Distribution date will be announced after consultation with the superintendent and principal.

President Delores McCumbers brought up the subject of donation to the Rotary International Foundation as well as the possibility of having a speaker from the Foundation to outline what the funds are used for.  The annual Christmas party will be held at the Collins home on South Park Blvd. on December 15.  The results of the invitations to participate in a “Cash Mob” were disappointing.  It’s been a bleak November for many of the remaining businesses on Main St…a difficult year.  There were thanks for a donation from Richard Brockett.

Caitlin Lawless entertained suggestions for the operation and improvement of Family Week, the next big club project.  Final confirmation of the dates awaits consultation with the school calendar.  A committee will be meeting Wednesday mornings at Fresh Start to begin revamping the entire operation, from Family of the Year to new activities yet to be determined.

Amy Crawford gave a final—pretty final, anyway—accounting of the results of the recent successful Reverse Raffle.  The total profit was up, meaning Rotary contributions to the community will be maintained and possibly expanded.  Appreciation was voiced for Chris Cavalier’s sound set-up.  Suggestions for more P.R. before the event and more thank you’s during the evening were aired.  Proposals for new games, a new timeline for activities, the diversification of responsibilities to  avoid individual overload and addition of more high tech methods of display were brought up.  Other issues are on the table for discussion.  On to 2015!

Hiram – At the start of the last regular Council meeting, Hiram Mayor Lou Bertrand swore in Firefighter Austin Bracken to the Hiram Fire Department. Firefighter Bracken, a Garrettsville native is currently in EMT school. Upon completion of the EMT program, he will serve the Department in that capacity as well.

In his Police Report, Chief Ed Samec shared that his Department received the AAA Platinum Award for their extensive programs within the local community. This is the second consecutive year the Department has received this prestigious honor. In addition, Samec reported that Corporal Gilbert received the Hiram Police Department MADD Officer of the Year for being instrumental in removing impaired motorists from community roadways. Moving on, the chief reported to council that his department had received a body camera and support equipment valued at roughly $1,500, at no charge from the Ohio Department of Public Safety. The unit will be worn on an officer’s uniform to record audio and video during shifts throughout the community. Similarly, Chief Samec requested permission to use Police Capital Funds to purchase two Taser® units for training and field use by his department. Samec stated matter-of-factly, “In my experience in other agencies, aggression ceased in 99% of situations where a taser is used.” Council passed the motion unanimously.

In his report, Assistant Fire Chief Mark Kosak shared that plans to implement increased staffing at the Hiram Fire Department would be discussed at the upcoming Safety and Finance meetings. He reported that the average response time for calls in October was 5 minutes and 49 seconds, which reflects an increase in calls to township residents.

In his report, Mayor Lou Bertrand shared that Dr. Robert Greenwood had been sworn in as a part of the Zoning Board. In other news, he shared details of his meeting with Hiram College President Lori Varlotta regarding the Beautification committee. The previously defunct committee is a joint effort between the village, the township and the college, with the College maintaining and disbursing the funds. At the upcoming meeting, Mayor Bertrand has requested copies of the original endowment document as well as fund balance and expenditure information. All members of the committee have been seated, and the Mayor is optimistic about moving forward.

In legislation, Council approved a Resolution acknowledging the transfer of the 29,000-foot Hike & Bike Trail from Hiram College to Hiram Village as project sponsor. The project, which is paid for through an ODOT grant, is the first part of a multi-phase plan to connect Hiram College and Village to the Portage County Headwaters Trail.

In the Public Comment portion of the meeting, Township Trustee Kathy Schulda requested that Council entertain a request to formally detach from the Village the property where the Hiram Township garage is located. The less than .25 acre parcel property is located at the edge of the Village, south of the cemetery on Ryder Road. As a part of the agreement, the township has agreed to cover reasonable expenses associated with the proposed agreement, and will continue to maintain the .25 miles of Ryder Road from State Route 82 to the Township garage, which is under the jurisdiction of the Village.  Schulda also noted that, should the Township ever sell the property, the parcel will revert back to the Village of Hiram. After much discussion on the matter, Council member Paul Spencer suggested merging the Village and Township entities, stating, “ It would be the best thing — look at Aurora.” In summation, Council President Tom Wadkins informed Schulda that council will consider the township’s request and provide a response at the next council meeting.

The next meeting of the Hiram Village Council will be held on Tuesday, December 9th at 7pm. Residents are encouraged to attend.

Newton Falls – The Ladies Auxiliary of VFW Post 3332, Newton Falls, is gathering names of active duty or deployed military personnel in order to send them holiday care packages. All names and addresses must be submitted by Nov. 30th so the boxes can reach them in time for the holidays. Please call the Post Canteen at 330-872-7318 and leave a message with the name and address for Kelly Brasko or send the information via email at

 Help fill Holiday Boxes for our Troops – Donations of cash or the following items can be dropped off at the VFW Post 3332, 433 Arlington Rd. Newton Falls Ohio 44444, snacks such as, beef jerky, nuts, hard candy, chewing gum, pop tarts, instant oatmeal, coffee, tea, etc., AA and AAA batteries, baby wipes, personal care items, such as toothpaste, deodorant, lotions, sun screen, and lip balm, bug repellent, games, cards and videos, flip flops, magazines, books, paper, pens, stamps, sunglasses. Please no homemade baked goods, pork or pork products, anything that can melt or aerosol cans or glass containers.

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Hiram – Hiram College announces the first annual Emerging Writers Nonfiction Contest for high school students. 

The contest is open to current 10th and 11th grade students, and all entries must be received by midnight on Jan. 15, 2015. 

Participants are asked to submit work that addresses the contest theme of “In the World.” Essays should be reflective, investigative, immersive or meditative, and the theme may be addressed broadly and creatively. Submitted work should combine a foundation in facts with nuanced use of language and detail. Such nonfiction allows the writer to explore their own experiences or subjects such as science, history, politics and art in a less formal voice and perspective. Entries may not exceed 1,500 words. 

Cash prizes of $100-$300 will be awarded for first, second and third place. Honorable mentions will be awarded at the contest’s discretion and include no cash prize. Winners will be invited to read at An Evening ofHiram Writers on April 7, 2015 at Hiram College. All winning entries and honorable mentions will be published in the Evening of Hiram Writers book. 

The contest is sponsored by the Lindsay-Crane Center for Writing and Literature at Hiram College. For more information, please visit

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Garrettsville – You’re invited to the Garrettsville Library, a branch of the Portage County District Library, for children’s holiday programs. On Wednesday, December 3 from 5:00 pm until 6:00 pm, join us for a “Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas”. Enjoy frosting cookies, crafts, ornaments, and have a chance at decorating the Christmas tree. Be sure to remember to dress up in your “fancy” best. On Saturday, December 13 from 1:00 pm until 2:00 pm, join us as we’ll make Christmas cards and gift tags with stamps. On Wednesday, December 17 from 5:00 pm until 6:00 pm, visit and enjoy a trip from Santa. All programs are free and are for preschool and school-aged children. Registration is required to attend all events. Call 330-527-4378 to register or for more information.

Also, the Garrettsville Library will host December storytimes for children. Join us on December 1, 8, and 15 beginning at 11:00 am and on December 2, 9, and 16 beginning at 11:30 am. Enjoy festive stories and crafts during the holiday season. Storytimes are free and are geared towards preschool and school-aged children. Call 330-527-4378 to register or for more information.

The Garrettsville Library, located at 10482 South Street (in the Village Park), is open Mondays and Tuesdays, 11:00 am until 7:00 pm; Wednesdays and Fridays, 10:00 am until 6:00 pm; Saturdays, 9:00 am until 5:00 pm; and closed on Thursdays and Sundays. For more information about other programs and services, visit Portage County District Library online at

Hiram –  Two schools, separated by over 250 miles, came together in another heartfelt moment on Friday night in Hiram.

The Mount Saint Joseph women’s basketball team, located in Cincinnati, paid a visit to Hiram to cheer on the Terriers against Albion (Mich.).

Mount Saint Joseph had played at Baldwin Wallace earlier in the evening and wanted to support Hiram in its game against Albion (Mich.). In addition, the Lions wanted to pass along a gift of appreciation to the Terriers.

The teams last met on November 2, at the Cintas Center on the campus of Xavier University.

The game, originally scheduled for November 15 at Hiram, was moved up and to Cincinnati to accommodate Mount Saint Joseph freshman Lauren Hill and her wish to play “One Last Game”. Hill has an inoperable tumor.

Hill finished the game with four points as Mount Saint Joseph defeated Hiram. Everyone involved in the contest was deemed a winner.

On Friday, Mount Saint Joseph presented the Terriers with a framed “Play for 22″ shirt, signed by the entire team.

Earlier in the evening, Hill appeared in her second game of the season for the Lions and finished with two points.

Hiram College was honored to participate in such a special game earlier in the month. Our thoughts and prayers are with Lauren, her family and the Mount Saint Joseph community.

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Middlefield – Amish Home Craft and Bakery will be hosting our 8th Annual Holiday Open House November 28 and 29th from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm at 16860 Kinsman Road (Route 87) in Middlefield. 

Enjoy free cookies and coffee while getting your holiday shopping off to a great start.  

Local crafters will be setting up goods inside the Amish home adjacent to the store location.  These visiting crafters will be offering a variety of homemade baskets, jams, jellies, holiday treats, homemade candies and much more.  

New this year, enjoy yummy Kettle Corn hot from the kettle!  Stop in and get in the Holiday spirit! 

Open year round,  Amish Home Craft and Bakery features Amish & Mennonite-made quilts and wall hangings, placemats, Amish dolls, wooden toys, Nativity sets, handcrafted wooden butcher blocks, cutting boards, walking sticks, wooden puzzles, quilt racks, small benches, hickory rockers, hand woven baskets all shapes and sizes from pie carriers to pet beds made by the handicapped. 

Also available is our bakery, opened daily with bread, cinnamon rolls, cookies, fruit pies, (we make all our own fillings) along with a wide variety of fry pies. 

The bakery is open six days a week (closed on Sundays) with a larger selection on Friday and Saturday. On Saturdays we feature our homemade donuts and apple fritters! Orders will be taken for baked goods for the holidays or any occasion.  (Order early for larger parties and banquets) 

For more information contact Emma Miller at 440-632-1888 (let ring)

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Shopping is a big part of the holiday season, when families and friends gather to reconnect and exchange gifts. While the popularity of shopping online has grown, such practices are not always eco-friendly or timely, as gifts bought online must be packaged and shipped, wasting valuable resources and time that last-minute shoppers may not have.

The benefits of shopping locally go beyond convenience and the chance to reduce your carbon footprint. The following are a few ways that shopping locally this holiday season can directly benefit your community and the people who call it home.

Local economy

When men and women shop locally, they are putting money back into their local communities. Local small businesses may be owned by your neighbors, and it can be comforting to know that your holiday shopping dollars are going to support a neighbor instead of a large corporation. Local businesses also employ your neighbors, so shopping local can strengthen the local economy by creating jobs that may not exist if you and members of your community fail to support local small businesses.

Community identity

Local small businesses go a long way toward creating a neighborhood identity, and that identity can create a stronger sense of community among you and your neighbors. In addition, a unique community identity can make your town more attractive to outsiders, and that appeal can improve the value of local real estate while also attracting more people to local businesses in your neighborhood.

Uniqueness of gifts

The gifts you buy when shopping locally also can benefit your community. Gifts purchased from small local businesses tend to be more unique than items bought from national chains, as smaller retailers tend to sell more homemade items than their national competitors. Recipients of such items may find such gifts more thoughtful than mass produced items bought from national chains, and the uniqueness of homemade gifts may encourage the gifts’ recipients to visit your community and do some shopping, further benefitting your local economy.

Customer service

The accessibility of customer service is another oft-overlooked benefit of shopping locally. When buying from national chains, especially during the holiday season when such businesses may be overwhelmed with orders, making contact with customer service departments can be a trying exercise in patience. Long wait times on the phone or online can make the process of contacting customer service extremely frustrating. But such frustration is rare when buying from local businesses, as consumers can simply take their products into the store, where employees can immediately address their concerns. 

In Mantua, Black Friday means more than just scooping up the latest deal, or the official start of the Christmas holiday season. It’s also the much-anticipated day that the bridge at the South end of the Village on State Route 44 officially re-opens.

Victor Botosan, Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study (AMATS), was present at the recent ribbon cutting ceremony. His organization provided roughly $135,000 grant for the bridge and sidewalk project through its Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). The Downtown Mantua Revitalization Corporation (DMRC) raised matching funds of approximately $29,000, and the remainder was funded through generous donations from F & S Automotive, Sierra Trucking, Perfect Choice Auto Collision, Stamm Contracting, and Tom VanAuken, owner of the Bank Building.

According to Craig Dunbar from ODOT, the project start of late July was delayed due to utility issues. Prior to starting construction work on the bridge, utility poles needed to be relocated to accommodate the bridge’s new pylon support structures. Construction officially began at the start of September, and will be completed once the grass has been seeded on Black Friday, Dunbar stated.

Jodie Fiala from DMRC couldn’t be happier. “This is going to open Mantua back up,” she remarked. Businesses like Miller’s Restaurant, K & K Meats, and Mantua’s Secret Attic saw a reduction in visitors when the bridge blocked the main artery through town. They look expectantly to the return of commuter traffic as the holiday season begins and the road opens. Angie Zoller, Manager of Barky Mart gas station and convenience store, agrees. “We’ve continued to see lots of our regular customers throughout the road closure, but have missed the flow of morning and afternoon commuters. Now that the bridge is open, it will be nice to get back to our regular routine.”

Village Administrator Kate Rogers concurs. “With the road open, the Fire Department can go back to regular operations.” During the closure, the Mantua-Shalersville Fire Department, located south of the closure, opened a satellite station to the north of the closure, in order to reduce fire and rescue response time to Village and Township residents to the north. Dean Stebbins, Owner of F&S Automotive, saw a reduction in tow truck and service response times to the south, as well. His company made room at their facility north of the road closure to accommodate the satellite Fire Station’s fire and rescue vehicles and staff. In return, the MSFD provided space for F&S towing vehicles at the station to the south. “We help the community, and the community helps us,” he explained.

“With the road open, this should make a big impact on businesses in the downtown area. School bus routes will return to normal, and our side streets should see much less traffic, as well,” Rogers concluded. And in the Village of Mantua, that’s the best Black Friday deal to be had.

Newton Falls – Newton Falls Police Department was honored together  with  more than 50 other Northeast Ohio law enforcement agencies on Veterans Day for their traffic safety efforts and programs implemented to encourage safe driving.

The Community Traffic Safety awards were presented at a luncheon held at Embassy Suites in Independence.

Ten platinum recipients and 46 additional departments excelled in making their communities safer. This is the first time in many years that Newton Falls had excelled to receive the Silver Award. Other departments received Gold, Silver, Bronze or Commendation Awards.

Chief Gene H. Fixler, said this a part of a national event has been held for more than 30 years, to locally recognize  police work across 13 counties in Northeast Ohio, that extends past  routine duties to keep streets safe.

Chief Fixler believes that the average citizen does not realize how much their police department works toward actually making their city and streets safe.  This includes programs ranging from bike helmet safety, to school visits educating high school students about the dangers of texting while driving and drinking and driving, Fixler said.

Other police departments receiving the awards include: Bedford, Bentleyville, Brady Lake, Bratenahl, Brook Park, Burton, Canfield, Chardon, Cleveland Heights, Eastlake, Euclid, Garfield Heights, Gates Mills, Geneva, Glenwillow, Highland Heights, Hiram, Kirtland, Kirtland Hills, Lowellville, Lyndhurst, Maple Heights, Mentor, Middlefield, Moreland Hills, New Middletown, Niles, North Royalton, Norwalk, Orange Village, Parma Heights, Pepper Pike, Russell Township, Shaker Heights, Solon, South Euclid, South Russell, Strongsville, University Heights, Waite Hill, Walton Hills, Wickliffe, Willard, Willoughby and Willowick; Ashland, Geauga and Huron County Sheriffs’ Offices; and Lake County Metroparks Ranger Departments.

According to a recent AAA news release, during 2013, there were 990 traffic deaths on Ohio roads and highways,

The officers of The Newton Falls Police department continue to strive to reduce traffic incidents by conducting educational programs through our schools while encouraging the development of safe driving habits, Chief Fixler said.

Garrettsville – Amy Crawford, of Business Works on Main Street in Garrettsville, was the featured member at the November 17th meeting of the Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary Club at Cal’s II.  She outlined her journey from Ravenna native and KSU graduate in marketing and international business through experience in sales—which gave her a first-hand understanding of promotional products and their importance in marketing—to becoming the owner of The Business Works and branching out into accounting and tax services, as well  as promotional products.  Twenty years!  And more to come!

Over the course of the twenty years (been at present location longer than any other enterprise on Main Street) many aspects of the industry have changed.  The computer and the internet have brought about many shifts in the capabilities of individual businesses in this area.  Digital printing and screen printing have had an impact on price, speed and quality; these, in turn, affect access to local creativity and allow more in-house production of promotional items, from activity shirts to zipper pulls.  The Business Works strives to work with reliable suppliers, develop customer relationships and foster school and community pride and involvement.  She was preaching to the choir; several members pronounced themselves very satisfied with their dealings with The Business Works.

Then, it was on to business.

Start planning now if you would like to have Santa and Mrs. Claus deliver a package/gift to your home on December 23.  There is no charge for this but a donation will be accepted for the People Tree (which could use some help in meeting community needs).  Cell phones and GPS have made Santa’s job a little easier but early reservation are still a must.

In common parlance the review of the successful Reverse Raffle on November 13, might be called a “post mortem” but the term certainly doesn’t fit the description of the lively party which took place.  A preliminary estimate of funds raised awaits final settlement.  Issues to be dealt with at the next happening were discussed—need for a designated catering honcho, need for more coat hangers, need for  earlier and broader publicity and invitations—and suggestions aired.  Watch this space.

Finally, the club will be making a contribution to support the  Garfield Intermediate School 6th grade  trip to Washington, D.C.  This is what having the Reverse Raffle was all about.  Rotary is lighting up projects across the community.

Garrettsville – The Thomas Harrison/ Barker Family challenged the people of Garrettsville to out do their Halloween decorations. All the proceeds were to go to the Garrettsville Strong Fund to help rebuild Garrettsville.

The judging took place the night before Halloween. There were four families in all that joined the fun. Three of our fellow citizens agreed to judge the homes. They were Jan Boehm  from the zoning department,  Debbie Kostrub  from Art n Flowers and Dairy Queen owner Roger Angel.  They all rode together and told us they enjoyed the evening.

The First Place went to Thomas Harrison / Barker Family. Second  was won by Rebecca  Sopher’s family. We want to thank those who took the time and effort to join this contest. First Price was 50.00 which was donated from Local BPO Values.

The donation to the Garrettsville Strong fund to particapte was  $10.00. The Harrison/Barker Family are also donating their winnings to the Garrettsville Strong Fund. A special thank  you goes out to our judges and all the families who decorated. You’re all winners to us.

Windham – The WVFD Joint Fire Board met for their regularly-scheduled meeting recently at the fire station. Chairman Dann Timmons called the meeting to order. The board approved the October minutes as presented, the October expenditures and the bank reconciliation.

Fire Chief Mike Iwanyckyj said the FEMA grant opened November 1, 2014 and will remain open until December 5, 2014. Mike reintroduces Jack Breese, who has been the grant writer for WVFD.  Breese presented a contract to the board, for grant writing for the FEMA Grant. Breese also made a few suggestions on what the board should apply for with the grant. After some discussion, the WVFD Board agrees to have Breese write the grant and took his suggestions on what to apply the grant toward. The district has to identify specifically what it will be used on. Breese suggested using it for Scot Air Paks, fire hoses and thermal cameras.

The chief requested an executive session to discuss hiring and firing issues with personnel. After the executive session, the board decided to move David Belknap from active EMS to regular fire fighter, due to Belknap’s school schedule. The board discussed an application for basic EMT. In order to accept the applicant, the board had to waive their handbook rule of being on the department for six months. The board waived the rule and accepted the applicant as a basic EMT.

In new business, board member Deb Blewitt questioned the law on open burning and inquired what was being burned at Miller’s residence that required the fire departments assistance. The chief stated that in the Ohio Revised Code, there is no open burn policy in Ohio, however, if it is brush on their property the home owner still needs to apply for a permit. The chief will address the issue with the home owner.

In old business, the board returned to executive session to discuss the alleged breach of contract on the dispatching issue. After the executive session, the board appointed Jim Moore and Dann Timmons to represent the WFVD’s interest in negotiating the dispatching dispute with the village. One board member voiced some concerns over the appointment, but the motion carried.

The WVFD Joint Fire District Board meets on the second Thursday of each month at 7 pm at the fire station. The meetings are opened to the public.

Garrettsville – A Public Hearing was held November 12, 2014 prior to the regularly scheduled council meeting for Proposed Ordinance 2014-31 that would eliminate a discrepancy in current legislation regulating the height of flagpoles in the village.  The discrepancy was found several months ago when a local business applied for a variance to install a new flagpole.  The proposed ordinance has nothing to do with that application, if passed it only rectifies conflicting legislation.  There was no offered discussion and no opposition.  The public hearing closed and the regular council meeting began during which the third reading of proposed Ordinance 2014-31 was recorded, voted on, and approved.

After a review of revenue, expenditure, cash balance and income tax reports, Councilman Hadzinsky commented that revenue for the past month had surpassed the previous year’s record, which helped decrease a deficit created by this years’ additional expenses.

A lengthy discussion ensued led by Council President Tom Hardesty, Councilman Klamer and Councilman Hadzinsky, about the state of Garrettsville’s finances and how the term deficit has been misunderstood by some residents to think the village is in debt – which it is not.  In fact the village will have approximately a $100,000 increase in carryover funds for 2015 compared to last year’s numbers.  The carryover is designed to fund the village during the next year’s first quarter before that year’s income tax revenues are collected.

What concerns Hadzinsky, who keeps track of the village’s income and expenses on a rolling twelve-month graph, is that the village has spent approximately $52,000 more than it has taken in the past year and if that trend were to continue, in time, it could deplete any carry-over balance.

Council President Hardesty assured council that the village’s revenue more than covers the obligatory spending every month (salaries, benefits, utilities, insurances, etc. totaling about $125,000/month).  Village clerk Nancy Baldwin added that 2014 income tax collections were ahead of last year’s.  She also reminded council that the added 2014 expenditures were for capital improvements and repairs, not spent frivolously.

Councilman Klamer was in agreement, reminding council members “Our job is to provide service to the residents.  Our job is not to see how much we can bankroll.”  He said as the village council they are responsible to the taxpayers and spending the extra money this year is “officials doing their job”.  Some of the extra expenses this year included work on sidewalk expansion and repair, dealing with drainage issues and curbing on Windham and South Streets.

Baldwin told council that in the 20 years she has worked for the village she has seen the expenses rise above income numerous times, but there have been many years of low spending too and it all balances out in the long run.

In fact, according to the last independent audit filed with the Ohio Auditor of State’s Office, the village is in compliance with all state budgetary laws.  The Ohio Village Officers Handbook provided by the Auditor’s office directs villages in their operations to assure compliance with all Ohio laws.  It also defines what constitutes fiscal watches or emergencies and Garrettsville’s finances are far from those definitions.

During roundtable discussion, councilman Klamer reiterated his thoughts about council’s  duty in providing good service to the residents of the village.  Klamer challenged his fellow council members by asking: “Do you want to be good or do you want to be great?”  He offered evidence of areas to improve services and encouraged all of council to engage in improving existing leadership and management within the village.

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 December 10, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. at Village Hall.

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Burton – Geauga Credit Union’s Board of Directors consists of nine credit union members.  Any member of GCU can apply to serve on the board.  The board consists of members who are actively involved in the community with a range of skills and serve without compensation.

Only July 1, 2014, long-time board member Rita Kenney retired.  Rita started on the Board in 1970 and at the time of her retirement she held the position of secretary.  Rita is a retired Home Economics teacher from Kenston School District.  She is also a member of the Burton Congregational Church where she was actively involved in the food pantry mission; which has been serving the community for over fifteen years.

“Per Rita’s wishes, we are not having a retirement party for her” says CEO Lisa Briggs.  “To honor her many years of service, Geauga Credit Union will donate $1,500 to Burton Congregational Food Pantry.  Rita believes in the same philosophy as credit unions: ‘People helping People’ and GCU wants to continue helping those in our community”.

Additionally, GCU is conducting an in house food drive throughout the months of November and December.  All the items collected will be donated to the Burton Congregational Church Food Pantry.  GCU will accept all nonperishable food items and toiletries and will have a ‘goal thermometer’ set up in the lobby to tally donations.  “As the donated items reach different goals, we will be donating money to the other six food pantries in Geauga County.  Our goal is to collect enough items to donate $100 to each food pantry that is part of the Geauga Hunger Task Force” said Lisa.

Geauga Credit Union is very grateful to Rita for all the dedicated years of service as an active Board Member and hopes to carry on Rita’s passion for helping those in our community.  We need your support!  Please drop off all donations at Geauga Credit Union, 14499 North Cheshire Street in Burton starting November 3 through December.  Be sure to visit our website “” and our Facebook page to view the ‘goal thermometer’ and the generous donations from our members and friends in the community!

Every year GCU has a ‘Giving Tree’ for Geauga County Job and Family Services’ foster children.  Look for the “Giving Tree” in our lobby after Thanksgiving.

At Geauga Credit Union, our members make a difference!

Garrettsville – Want to make something special as a gift this holiday season? The Garrettsville Library, a branch of the Portage County District Library, may be able to help. With the generous support of the Hiram Community Trust and the Fraternal Order of Eagles, Aerie #2706, the Garrettsville Library has purchased tools and equipment for a Makerspace. At the Makerspace, community members can come to the library and have access to the tools they need to create or explore a variety of disciplines. Currently available are tools for quilt making (a cutter with 22 different dies and project instructions for each die), jewelry making, and bookbinding. If you show up with the materials, we’ll supply the tools.

Soon to be added will be tools for photo editing, scrapbooking, electronics, and video game development.

Through the end of the year, the Makerspace will be open for community members to drop in: November 22 from 9:30 am – 12:00 pm, December 1 from 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm, December 6 from 9:30 am – 12:00 pm, December 8 from 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm, December 15 from 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm, and December 20 from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. For more information about library programs and services, visit the Portage County District Library online at ?

Garrettsville Area Chamber of Commerce People Tree program is making plans for this Christmas season. We need your support so we can provide help for our friends and neighbors that are in need. As a community we provided a Christmas food basket and personal care products for 104 families and the adopt a family volunteers provided gifts for 167 children last year.

The Adopt a Family program has been brought back again this year, if you would like to adopt a family call Hallie 330-527-4097 or Liz 330-527-2408. If you cannot shop for a child, we have shoppers that will take your donation and buy gifts.  Distribution will be December 17th at the Faith Evangelical Free Church on Windham-Parkman Road.

We will need volunteers at the church on December 15th at 6:30 with unloading trucks of food and misc., December 16th at 9:30 to pack Christmas food baskets and December 17th from 9-3 to carry packages for our clients.

People tree is still collecting for Back to School, as well as Gas and Prescriptions for the elderly when needed and other emergency help. We also have hospital beds, walkers, wheelchairs and scooters available.

In addition we need volunteers to ring bells for the People Tree, call Kim 330-527-4873.

Newton Falls – The Kiwanis Club of Newton Falls would like to thank all the bright-eyed, spooky-eyed, and eager participants, helpers, contributors, and sponsors in our 89h annual cake walk and costume contest.  Finally, a Cake Walk with good weather!

For help with set-up and the events, thank you to city manager Jack Haney, Mayor Lyle Waddell, Newton Falls safety forces, Newton Falls Street Department, Newton Falls Electric Department, and at the P.A. system,  Bob Burke.  We thank George and Mary Koutsounadis for the use of Covered Bridge Inn’s banquet hall to collect the cakes.

Other volunteers offering much needed help were Joe and Mary Lou O’Lear, Nancy Hatcher, MaryAnn Williamson, Donna Smith, LueAnn Palmer, Marilyn and Lyle Waddell, Mike G., Chris Forepaugh, Pat Nutter, Cindi Lestingi, Kori Kellner, LouAnn Dubos, and Tom Griffith.

We’d like to thank Heather Criazzo and the Newton Falls Tiger Marching Band for performing at the event.  Everyone enjoyed their music, the dance line and their costumes.

Over  one hundred prizes, cash, and some gift certificates, valued at $1,230, were awarded for costumes.  We thank these wonderful people for providing prizes:  VFW Post 3332, Mayflower/Wollam Insurance, NF Subway, Faces Lounge, CPA Ron Platt, NF Dairy Queen, NF Pizza Hut, Attorney Thomas Palmer, Judge Philip Vigorito, Ohio Tax Lady, The Shop, CPA Ella Johnson, American Legion Auxiliary 236, Cole Valley Chevrolet, Associates for Insurance Solutions, NF IGA, Stow-it Storage, Borowski Memorial Home, AmVets Post 112 Auxiliary, Sam’s Pizza, AmVets Post 112, James Funeral Home, The Griffith Agency, Art Effects, Falls Convenient Mart, AutoSmith, Neidhart Insurance, Phillips Heating, NF Chiropractic, Covered Bridge Inn, Bob & Kathy Wujcik, Cody Zeleny, Majcher Insurance, Oven Fresh Pizza, Beta Sigma Phi, Dental Associates, Positive Images, NF Auto Parts, The Flower Shoppe, NF Printing, Buckeye Welder Sales, Polly G, Mike G, Timmy S., Shop ‘n’ Save, Zip Lube, Rollin’ Smokes, The Hair Loft, Rood’s Wallpaper & Paint, Falls Fitness Center, Home Oil, Nussle Florist, Gibson Jewelers, NF Fire Auxiliary.

Kiwanis members received and documented 346 cakes this year.  Checks will be mailed to these organizations who provided cakes:  Boy Scout Troop 67, Boy Scout Troop 112, Newton Falls HS Band Boosters, Girl Scout Troop 124, Girl Scout Troop 239, Girl Scout Troup 80796, Girl Scout Troop 80429, Kiwanis Club of Newton Falls, NF Middle School Student Council, Mimi’s Dance Studio, MVP Club at NF Middle School, NFHS Art Department Newton Falls Cheerleaders, Newton Falls Fire Auxiliary, Relay for Life—Connect Four, VFW Post 3332 Ladies Auxiliary, Newton Falls Baptist Church, and NF United Methodist Church Youth Group. Thank you.  Kiwanis also thanks those who donated cakes in Kiwanis Club’s name, so that the club could earn a little towards their youth and community projects.  A few folks said, “Keep the change for Kiwanis Club,” and we appreciate that.  Special thanks to Donna Ball for her monetary donation to the club.

Kiwanis Club is a service organization with local, statewide, national, and international projects.   Kiwanis will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2015.  If you are interested in becoming a member of Newton Falls Kiwanis, we invite you to attend a meeting Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. at the Covered Bridge Inn Restaurant.  However, the club meets the last Tuesday of every month at Laurie Ann Nursing Home and at Allan Dell Assisted Living on Milton Boulevard to play bingo with the residents at 6:30 p.m

Hiram Police Chief Ed Samec attended the last meeting of the Township Trustees to discuss extending the Police contract.  Township Trustees each shared that they had received positive feedback from residents on the Village Police patrols taking place within the Township limits. After some discussion, it was decided to continue the contract through the first quarter of 2015 at the current number of hours. In February 2015, after the Township’s budget has been reassessed, Trustees will determine if funds will be available to fund an increase in police presence through the remainder of the year. Those discussions will take place after both the year-end audit and 2015 budgets have been completed. In addition, Trustee Schulda suggested that if adequate funds are available, Trustees should also consider paying off the remaining portion owed by the Township for the Hiram Fire Department’s new truck.

Next, Dan Brokos reported on behalf of the Community Evaluations & Accomplishments Committee (CEAC) that plans were confirmed for the Open House hikes at the Township’s property on State Route 82 on November 15th & 16th. Mr. Brokos inquired as to whether the Trustees would agree to allow the CEAC to host a Facebook page in order to more quickly and efficiently share information with residents. After some discussion, the Trustees decided not to proceed with this suggestion.

In similar news, it was noted that the Beautification Committee, of which the Township is a part, has been seated, with an organizational meeting to be held on November 25th at 5 pm at the Village’s Rosser Building. Representatives from the Township, Village, and College have been asked to attend. It was noted that Joe Phillips, Chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals, had tendered his resignation. Ron Thompson will be asked to finish the remainder of Mr. Phillips term, which is effective through July of 2015. Trustees are in the process of selecting a new candidate to join the Zoning Board of Appeals. In her report, Fiscal Officer Diane Rodhe reported that a title search on the Kosher property was received, showing no liens on the property.

Later, Road Supervisor Tom Matota was asked to follow up with ODOT regarding the removal of a potentially dangerous limb over the roadway on Route 700 in the south end of the Township. In addition, Mr. Matota reported that 500 feet of road was ready for installation at the Township’s new property on State Route 82, which would bring the property drive 600 feet back into the nearly 30 acre plot. Mr. Matota shared that a building permit was needed from the County. Mr. Matota suggested potential changes to the original plans, such as moving from wooden trusses to metal, in order to achieve significant cost savings. In order to receive a permit, the Township must supply four sets of prints signed by a registered architect. Trustees agreed to meet to review the project further with their architect, Mr. Jim Zella from Hiram.

Lastly, Trustee Schulda announced that Dave Auble, from Ohio Health Benefits in Hiram, will be in attendance at the first two meetings in January in order to present new health plan information and answer any questions from Township employees.

The next meeting of the Hiram Township Trustees will be held on Tuesday, December 2nd at 7 pm in the Township Hall. Residents are encouraged to attend.

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Ravenna –  Portage APL and their furry friends invite you to attend PAWS TO TASTE 2014 Wine and Beer Tasting to benefit Portage Animal Protective League.  This year’s event will be held on Saturday, December 6th at the Overlook in Kent (formerly the Fairways at Twin Lakes) and tickets are $50.00 per person (assigned seating).  Event sponsorships are also available. The evening will include a sampling of select wines, Great Lakes beers, heavy hors d’ oeuvres, a silent auction, wine pull and raffles.

What a great way to enjoy a night out and also help animals in need. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every time you went out for drinks or food, it made a positive impact on your community?  Well, rest assured, Paws to Taste will meet that requirement! Have fun = help homeless animals.  For more information or to make reservations please call the Portage APL at 330-296-4022 by November 28th. You can also register online at  Join us in welcoming the holiday season by a warm fire!

Portage APL is also looking for donated auction items like gift baskets, sports items, art, jewelry, spa items, gift certificates and more.

The Portage APL is a private, nonprofit organization and relies on the generosity and kindness of individuals and businesses to make our community a safer place for thousands of animals, who have no voice.  We continue to rescue animals every day and the need is constant.

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Burton – The Burton Chamber of Commerce will be hosting Country Hearth Christmas November 28, 29, 30, and December 6 and 7.  Picturesque Burton Village will be decked out in its finest holiday wear and welcoming everyone to visit for a unique and old-fashioned holiday experience.

The Log Cabin in the Park will be the hub of activity over the five-day event.   Come snuggle up to the roaring fire in the fireplace and enjoy a holiday tradition when you bring the youngsters in with their gifts requests for Santa.  Santa will be assembling his list each day from noon to 4.  While in the Log Cabin, be sure to check out the maple products that make excellent and tasty gifts.

Friday November 28, there will be a lighted holiday parade at 6 P.M.  Everyone is invited to participate, as a marcher in the parade or by watching throughout town.  The parade will assemble in the Berkshire High School parking lot at 5:45 P.M. All marchers, floats and participants must have some sort of lighting.

At the completion of the parade, the holiday lights will be turned on in Burton Village Park.  Hot chocolate and cookies will be available in the gazebo during the parade.  Carolers will be singing in the gazebo and around town.

The shops on Main Street will be hosting various special events and  activities along with one-of-a-kind holiday gift ideas.  All shops are locally owned and different.  Hand-blown glass items, Amish made rugs, flowers, vintage furniture and unique, one-of-a-kind gifts are just a few of the many things waiting to be discovered in Burton Village year round.

Picturesque and historic Burton Village is a wonderful place to visit in any season.  The holiday time brings out the very New England feel of the town and area.  Just a peaceful walk through the Village Green relaxes and refreshes.  For those who wish to extend their visit, the Red Maple Inn and Goodwin House B&B are ready to welcome you.  And there are three different restaurants for your dining needs.

For more information on Country Hearth Christmas contact Amy at the Log Cabin 440-834-4204, Sue at 440-834-0076, or the website  All events subject to change.

Winter weather is officially upon us.  With this weather comes the ‘polarizing’ topic of Snow Days. Our first weather related two-hour delay on Tuesday was a great example of how making a call to alter the school day in any way is on that brings cheers and jeers.

When I was a child I participated in all of the rituals that supposedly helped the snow day cause.  I wore my pajamas backwards.  I flushed ice cubes down the toilette.  I even opened the door to the refrigerator and danced the snow-day dance.  While I will not disclose the age at which I stopped wearing my pajamas backwards, I will share that my two boys still do the same things in an effort to spend a day outside in the snow each time inclement weather is in the forecast (and though they beg ferociously, their pleas do not weigh into the decision).

Calling off school is not an easy decision.  As a parent, I realize the inconvenience it causes many families with last-minute child care.  As a teacher, I know how a day off disrupts instruction. As the superintendent I realize the lost instructional time it causes.

The calling of a snow day

Is there a magic number of inches of snow needed to call school?  Is there a specific street that has to be impassable?  The answer to each of to each of these aforementioned questions is no.  The driving factor when calling school off is the safety of students.

When poor weather is forecasted the the district transportation supervisor and I begin driving the streets of Freedom, Nelson and Garrettsville between 4:00 and 5:30 AM. We look for how passable and slippery the streets are for a school bus and if the road crews have been able to keep up with the storm. I also call the village police chief.  He is out on the roads early and is usually alerted of any accidents or areas that may present a challenge for our buses.

Once the district streets have been assessed we meet back at the board office to examine the weather forecast.  We look to see if the weather will be improving, maintaining or worsening as the day goes on. If the roads are impassable but the forecast is promising and trucks are working on the roads we try to call a two-hour delay.  This will allow time for the roads to be cleared by the village and township crews.  If the roads are impassable and the forecast is poor we will likely call a snow day. Again, student safety is the driving factor when considering the cancellation of school. We will make every effort to make this decision by 6:00 AM and begin our notification procedures immediately.

Where to check for delays/closings

If you are a parent, you should make sure you have your email, text or voice notifications set up in Edline.  This is the first system we will use to notify you of any cancellation or delay.  If you need assistance setting this up, you should contact your building principal.

We will also notify the major television (3, 5, 8, 19 and 43) and radio stations (FM: 99.5, 105.7, 98.1, 106.5, 100.7, 102.9  AM: 1100, 640).

Finally, you can always check the district website ( Facebook page ( or Twitter feed (

In closing, I will never discourage students from pajamas antics, ice cube tricks or special dances. While these strategies may help children sleep better knowing they have done their part, please know that the district is taking every precaution to ensure student safety on days when weather may impact their ride to school.

As always, if you have any questions please feel free to contact me directly at the office (330.527.4336) or on my cell (216.534.7413).

Go G-Men!

Mantua Twp. – In his cemetery report, Jim Aldrich reported receiving $450 in burial fees, $160 in foundation fees, and $1,855 in grave sales. He also reported that several trees had been removed, their stumps ground down, and monuments repositioned back in place, as had been planned. Continuing, he informed trustees that in the new section, the access drive has migrated and needs work, relating that the bottom drive turns too sharply to the east. He requested help in researching where graves are located in that section, in order that the work does not disturb those interred there. Trustee Victor Grimm will assist Mr. Aldrich in this matter. In addition, the trustees discussed revisions to the proposed cemetery fee schedule previously presented by Mr. Aldrich. With minor changes, the fee schedule was approved, with new prices to take effect starting December 1st, 2014. The new fee schedule can be found on the township’s website:

In addition, according to Trustee John Festa, in the rules for West Lawn Cemetery, “some improvements are needed to make it more concise.” Trustee Jason Carlton agreed, noting several such examples, such as those regarding the transfer of previously purchased graves. All three trustees agreed to review suggested revisions for discussion at an upcoming trustee meeting.

Frank Horak reported on behalf of the Veterans Memorial, that the flags representing each branch of the military have been received and installed. On behalf of the committee, he thanked those businesses and individuals who donated time and resources to complete the project.

In old business, Jason Carlton reported that the township exterior painting project has been completed, and thanked everyone involved for his or her time and monetary donations. Formal thank you letters will be forthcoming. It was noted that the Mantua Restoration Society donated 35 gallons of paint for the project. In similar news, contractor and resident Cal Brant, who completed the work on the Township Hall exterior, has wrapped the bell tower at the Center School in weatherproof material to “keep out the winter”.

Next, Trustee Carlton shared that he had contacted Teresa Skully, a teacher at the High School, for help designing a logo for the Township. Ms. Skully will be assigning the project to her graphic design class, which will start in January of 2015.

Lastly, regarding the Center School committees and volunteers, Trustee Festa commented that he was, “not thrilled that non-professionals were added to the Assessment Committee.” Trustee Festa plans to discuss it with Todd Peetz from Regional Planning, but is, “looking forward to the next phase.”

The next meeting of the Mantua Township Trustees will be held on Thursday, November 20th at 7:30 pm in the Township Hall. The public is encouraged to attend.

Garrettsville – That’s what the top winners at the annual Rotary Reverse Raffle and Silent Auction decided to do.  The five lucky ticket-holders got together and decided to split the very substantial purse of $2000, giving every one of them an additional reason to be thankful during the upcoming holiday season.

It was a sell-out crowd for the festivity and the good times were rollin’ from early-on in the evening, beginning with Mike Carlson’s poignant and all-encompassing blessing through the inspection, appreciation  of and bidding on the many items available in the auction, the excellent meal catered by AVI from Hiram College, the new lottery tree feature and the “game of chance” action that took over as Lady Luck wandered through the room, stopping at tables to “blow on some other guy’s dice” occasionally.  There were out-of-towners, local “movers and shakers” (no hints on what got moved or what got shaken), Amish friends, Rotarians and well-wishers from all over; it was a good night and the good will be returned to the community in the many projects and activities sponsored by the Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary Club in connection with Rotary International.  “Light Up Rotary” is a motto for all seasons.

Special thanks was extended to the generous Candle Level Sponsors—Bay Window, Carol and Al Donley, Michael Maschek, Middlefield Banking Company, Mallory-DeHaven-Carlson Funeral Homes and Crematory Services—who were the foundation support that enabled the  organization of this year’s gala fun time and fundraiser.

Contributors to the silent auction included Missy Steele Pottery, Energizer Batteries, Candlelight Winery, The Business Works, G-Men Boosters, Monroe’s Orchard and Farm Market, Art-N-Flowers, Charles Motors, Barton’s Boards, Darlene Jackson, Hermann’s Pickles, Monica Potter Home, Ace Hardware,Chris Cavalier PC Repair, Ellerhorst-Russell Insurance, Hiram Inn, MacKenzie Creamery, Facet Salon and Day Spa, Fresh Start, Maggie’s , Save-A-Lot, Domino’s, Ted and Maria Lysiak,    Pizza Hut, Subway, Sky Lanes, Mark Johnson, Party Lite, Garrettsville Animal Hospital, Diane Irwin-Lia Sophia Jewelry, TruValue, McCumbers-Brady Realty, Advance Auto, The Villager, Top Tier Pastry, Waterfall Antiques IGA.

Thanks to all, attendees, sponsors, donors, organizers.  Mark your calendars for next year—Bigger and Better!

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The Portage County Crisis Intervention Team graduated its ninth class in October. Class members attended a week-long training sponsored by the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County and the Portage County Sheriff’s Office. The purpose of the class is to provide safety forces with tools including de-escalation techniques to work with people in crisis, some with mental illness. Class members were Ashley Baden of Coleman Access; Deanna Tackett of Coleman Access; Dispatcher Josee Acklin of the Streetsboro Police Department; Officer Nicole Lipcsey of the Kent Police Department; Fire Medic Brock Bailey of the Streetsboro Fire Department; Lt. Jim  Bucks of Streetsboro Fire; Officer Jeff Blubaugh of Robinson Memorial Hospital; Sgt. James Mitchell of the Sheriff’s Office; Officer Jared Bowen of the Kent Police Department; Officer Joseph Hadaway of Kent PD; and Ptl. Steve Chapman of the Hiram Police Department. Instructors and coordinators included Sgt. Andy Suvada of the Streetsboro PD, Officer Jeff Futo of Kent State University Police Services, Major Dennis Missimi of the Sheriff’s Office and Joel Mowrey, Ph.D., executive director of the MHRB.

The Geauga County Retired Teachers Association will hold their annual Holiday Luncheon on Tuesday December 2, 2014. The event will be held at St. Denis Party Center at 10660 Chardon Rd, Chardon, Ohio 44024. Attendees should gather at 11:15 with the business meeting beginning at 11:30 and then followed by lunch at noon. The menu consists of fresh roasted pork loin, redskin mashed potatoes, garden blend vegetables, tossed salad, rolls and butter, assorted pastries, soft drinks, tea or coffee.

Musical entertainment will be provided by ‘The Geauga Renaissance Singers’ from the Geauga Senior Center. Reservations for the luncheon are required, and should be mailed to Judy Miller at 17130 Kinsman Road, Middlefield OH 44062. Please write your $19.00 check to GCRTA, which includes a one dollar donation to the Grant-in-Aid fund. The deadline date for reservations is November 21st. (Due to the Thanksgiving Holiday, reservations are required earlier than usual for an accurate count.).

Please bring a newly retired teacher, or school personnel retiree, or someone who may need a ride. We are also asking each member to bring paper products or canned goods for the ‘Geauga County Hunger Task Force’.

If you need a ride from The Geauga Transit, please call 285-2222 or  564-7131, Ext. 516 a week ahead of time to make your reservation.

December 7, 2014…A Benefit for Garrettsville Strong…4:00 p.m.…Iva Walker Auditorium…James A. Garfield High School, 10231 St. Rte 88, Garrettsville, OH.

With the key support of sponsors Dave Auble of Ohio Health Benefits, LLC, Gionino’s Pizzeria, Hiram, Total Lifetime Care Medical Affiliates, Dan LeScoezec, ChFC, Hickory Asset Management and Kepich Ford, Garrettsville, Damaris Peters Pike will be presenting a benefit performance of one of the best-loved characters in  her series, “Women of Note”

“Irving Berlin—A Daughter Remembers” is told through the person of Mary Ellin Barrett, Berlin’s oldest daughter, who recounts the amazing story of  his one hundred one years of amazing, music-filled life, including Broadway shows, movies and more than 1000 songs published—both words and music.  Several of the most beloved—among them, “White Christmas”–will, of course, be included in a salute to the season and the program will conclude with the audience joining Damaris in singing Berlin’s “God Bless America”.  It’s an affirmation of  the nation and that Garrettsville IS strong.

Following this musical treat, Christmas Cookies and Donuts from Bill and Staci Poole of Maggies’s Donuts/Hiram and punch from AVI, Hiram College Food Service, have been donated for the audience’s pleasure.  This should nicely top off a most enjoyable afternoon.  Make plans now to attend.

Tickets are $10 each and may be obtained from any sponsor, at the door, or by calling 330-569 3211.  Tickets and programs designed and printed by Hiram College.

Mantua – Veterans Day was originally known as Armistice Day, which commemorated the signing of the armistice, which ended World War I on November 11, 1918. Although it became a federal holiday in 1938, President Eisenhower changed the name to Veterans Day in 1954 in order to include all US veterans. And on Veterans Day, 2014, children and adults honored local veterans at Crestwood Primary and Intermediate Schools, first at a solemn ceremony and flag raising outdoors, immediately followed by a ceremony in the cafeteria of the Primary School.

The school hallways were decked in red, white, and blue, covered with students’ patriotic artwork thanking veterans for their service to the nation. After the second grade choir sang, families watched a slide show honoring the service of countless veterans from the area, supplied by students and their families. Veterans from all branches of service were honored during the event. One such veteran, 94-year-old Bill Wysong from Aurora, was the special guest of his great-grandson, second-grader Grant Wysong. The elder Wysong is a US Army veteran who served on the Pacific front during the Second World War. He enjoyed observing the day in such a special way with three generations of his family.

In addition, in honor of Veterans Day, flags representing each branch of service were flying high at the Mantua Veterans Memorial. This was the first Veteran’s Day observance at the Memorial, which was dedicated last Memorial Day.

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The Portage County Suicide Prevention Coalition will mark the International Survivors of Suicide Day on Saturday, Nov. 22,  at the Kent United Methodist Church, 1435 E. Main St., Kent. Registration starts at 12:45 pm with the free program following from 1 to 3 pm.

The event is for people who have lived through the suicide of a family member, friend, colleague, classmate or patient. On this day across six continents, survivors gather together at events in their local communities for support, information and empowerment. This year’s program is being hosted in conjunction with the Summit County Suicide Prevention Coalition.

Hundreds of sites around the world will simultaneously watch a broadcast produced by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. On the broadcast, a diverse panel of survivors and mental health professionals will address the questions that so many survivors face: “Why did this happen? How can I cope? Where can I get help?”

This is the fifth remembrance day in Portage County. Admission and parking are free. For information or to pre-register, contact: Laura Dotts at 330-673-1756, ext. 201, or email  Walk-ins are welcome but pre-registering will help with planning. For more information about the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention program, go to For information about the Portage County event, go to

Garrettsville – You have permission to sneak a peek. Just like peeling back a seam of wrapping paper from a gift under the tree, we’ll all get the chance to see The Coffee Mill before it opens for business as the new year dawns.

A live Christmas nativity scene — complete with a donkey, goat, sheep and calf — will be on display at the site of the Buckeye Block on Main Street, 7-9pm Friday, December 19, in a  program with live music. Afterwards, people are invited to The Coffee Mill at 8138 Water Street for free coffee, cider and donuts.

Garrettsville’s historic feed mill at the intersection of Main, Center and Water streets has been undergoing renovation since developer Mike Maschek gained ownership from Marty Paul in May. Over the past six months, its exterior has transformed from a dilapidated eyesore to a beautiful centerpiece for the village.

Its eventual function, however, was not evident until now. Originally, Maschek had discussed leasing retail space out to former Buckeye Block business owners who had lost their storefronts in the March fire. He also considered selling the mill to other potential buyers who approached Maschek with offers. Ultimately, Maschek said, “I want to hold onto the building right now. I’ve grown attached to it, and I want to maintain a presence downtown, to help bring a new atmosphere to the village.”

Maschek says the interior renovation of the 3,000-square-foot, three-level structure is just two weeks from completion. By January 1, it will open for business as The Coffee Mill: a coffee shop on the main floor, a wireless lounge in the basement, and a meeting place/community room on the third level. Since Maschek cleared away sagging outbuildings behind the mill, patio dining overlooking Silver Creek will be available in seasonable weather and green space extends beyond that for pleasant views.

Built in 1852, the mill has served the village as a carriage shop, general store, and feed supplier before going out of business more than a decade ago and remaining vacant until May 2014, when its current renovation began.

Mantua – As many people know, Lieutenant Ken Justus and his K9 partner Vader have been working successfully to keep the Mantua community safe on behalf of the Mantua Police Department. Due to the overwhelming success of that partnership, the department would like to add a second K9 unit to the force. As many local communities fight the war on drugs in local neighborhoods, streets and sidewalks, the Mantua Village Police Department is heading back to school. This new K9 will be assigned to Officer Urso, for use inside Crestwood Schools on a daily basis.

Mantua’s School Resource Officer (SRO) Joe Urso is no stranger to Crestwood Schools. He has become well known throughout the district, not only as a calming force for kids during lock-down drills, and a comforting presence to staff and teachers, but also as friendly face, never too busy to high-five students. But there’s only so much that SRO Urso can accomplish by himself. With a new, specially trained partner, SRO Urso will have another tool to protect Crestwood students.

The dog is being acquired through a specialized trainer, Mr. Paul Shaughnessy of Excel K9 Services, located in Hiram Township. Through a special arrangement, Excel K9 Services will provide a trained German Shepherd to the Mantua Police Department. “The cost of the dog is being donated to the Department,” shared Lt. Justus. “Vader and the new dog come from the same kennel in Hiram,” he remarked. “Vader is a patrol and narcotics dog. The new dog will be trained in narcotics only.” Officer Urso added, “I don’t know of any other school district that has had this opportunity presented to them. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity for Crestwood Local Schools.”

But a project like this comes with a price tag — around $10,000 — and the project is being funded completely by donations. “The money we raise will be used to cover the cost of the training, certification, and equipment needed to place the dog in service with Officer Urso,” stated Lt. Justus. “We hope to be able to raise enough funds to begin this project before the end of the month.”

Excel K9 will conduct training for the dog and his partner, Officer Urso. Once certified, the dog will be trained to identify the odors of marijuana, heroin, cocaine, crack, methamphetamines, and ecstasy. Through this special program, Officer Urso and his narcotics-trained K9 could be in the schools within a very short time. According to Officer Urso, “We are about 1/4 of the way there with the funding. Together, we can make this opportunity a reality!”

Donations can be sent to: Mantua Village, Police K9 Donation Fund, P.O. Box 775, Mantua, Ohio 44255, or simply dropped off at the Police Department or the Clerks Office at Mantua Village Hall.

Newton Falls – In the creative world, at any given time, there are countless aspiring actors, writers, musicians or dancers hoping to one day see their name in lights so to speak (or on a byline, CD cover or playbill) but not all of them are able to watch their respective dreams come to fruition. For one local hopeful, filmmaking is the route of choice for personal expression and bringing his own special brand of storytelling to the world.

Independent filmmaker Tom Denvir is currently immersed in turning his goal into a reality through the production of his debut movie which is being captured on camera throughout this month. The film, Accidental Heroes, is described as a buddy comedy with some character hints of the writer’s own personality. A 1997 graduate of Windham High School, Denvir admits quite a bit of the inspiration for the antics and dialog of the on-screen cohorts comes from his interactions with his own friends. “There’s a part where one of the guys says his graduating class only had 56 students,” he explains. “That’s straight out of my life.”

After completing high school, Denvir attended the Ohio Center for Broadcasting where he learned about radio broadcasting and how to use a camera. Otherwise a mostly self-taught aspiring filmmaker, Denvir originally intended to be a standup comic as a way to satisfy his love of being a storyteller but ultimately decided behind the camera was a better vehicle for showcasing his talents. Aside from his own experiences, Denvir mentions he is heavily influenced by the work of Kevin Smith as well as Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen, citing in particularly the movie Clerks. “If they can do it, why not me?” he said. Approaching his 36th birthday in the coming weeks, Denvir intends to not waste any time following through with his dream. “I want people to see I’m a former Bomber making something of himself.”

To a point, Accidental Heroes does mimic the style of these comedians but, according to Denvir, though his script pushes the limits a bit, it is definitely “not as vulgar” as what his idols have produced. In addition to writing and directing, Denvir is funding the entire project himself, utilizing area connections to help him stay on budget with set locations as well as incorporating local talent to make on-screen appearances. In a way to “give back” for his experiences during broadcasting school, he plans to invite current students to participate in some scenes so that they will gain experience and the film itself can benefit from the skills they are learning as professionals-in-training.

Shooting is expected to take place on weekends at various locations around Newton Falls including a private residence near the Community Center and the Budget Lodge near the turnpike exit on Route 5. If all goes well, filming should be wrapped within seven working days so Denvir is doing everything he can to make the best use of each call time. With an expert film crew and nearby actors running lines of the main roles, even the normal house where the project completed its first scene seemed instantly morphed into a mini movie set. As the key players crowded into the kitchen for an important encounter between the boy-meets-girl portrayal, the living room doubled as a viewing area where, just like a big name Hollywood director, Denvir was able to watch a live feed of the filming to ensure each frame translated to the screen exactly the way he envisioned.

Starring Tim Wolfe (a standup comic from Warren) as the main character of Tom, and Cleveland native Engy Ayad as his love interest, Julie, Accidental Heroes also features Akron native Steve Haas playing the role of Steve. Adding one more responsibility to his résumé, Denvir himself is stepping in as Tim’s sidekick, Dave. With strong language and a certain kind of humor, it’s definitely not a family movie (chances are due to content it will be rated R when it hits the big screen) but fans of Smith and company will appreciate the awkward situations Denvir’s characters find themselves trying to escape.

When production is finally wrapped, Denvir knows it’s only the beginning to actually getting his work into the world. Though it’s not quite the right fit for the famed Sundance, the hope is to release it at the Nantucket Film Festival in June. A crowd-funding campaign has been set up through Indiegogo to alleviate associated costs. To read the synopsis or if you’d like to help a local creative turn his dream into reality, check it out by searching for “Accidental Heroes” at or find “T&D Films” on facebook and you may see your own name in lights in the end credits.

At the start of the October meeting, Mayor Lou Bertrand congratulated several members of the Fire Department on their recent promotions. Those promoted include: Captain Sanchez, Lieutenant Groselle, and Lieutenant Wilde.

Moving forward, Fire Chief Bill Byers presented the Fire/EMS Levy brochure to council. He also reported that his department had just completed an ISO inspection, which required 60 – 70 hours of prep work. According to Chief Byers, departments usually go through ISO inspections every five to ten years. Results from this year’s inspection are expected in the early part of 2015. In addition, he reported that the new emergency siren has been installed, so that there are three emergency sirens in Hiram Township and one in the Village. He also shared that in preparation for the coming storms, his department has undergone transformer and electrical safety training with Ohio Edison to learn how to safely deal with situations that include downed wires and electric pole accidents. Lastly, all in attendanceenjoyed the Halloween party at the station.

In his report, Police Chief Ed Samec shared that his department received Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) training. This specialized training shows officers how to more accurately identify drivers who are impaired by narcotics. The training was held in Hiram, and hosted officers from Garrettsville, Mantua, Aurora, and the Portage County Sherriff’s office. According to Chief Samec, “I felt it was extremely important to bring this training to Hiram. I’m pleased that neighboring departments could participate, as well.”

In addition, Chief Samec reported that in the course of his department’s September patrol hours in the township, officers made six traffic stops and issued three citations. In the four months of this arrangement, the number of traffic stops has reduced, while the number or citations has remained steady. Lastly, Chief Samec shared that the recent car show raised $1,000 for the upcoming Shop with a Cop program, where the area’s underprivileged kids have the opportunity to purchase Christmas gifts for themselves and their families.

Next, Village Administrator Bob Wood announced that work has begun in the cemetery, repairing headstones, some of which date back to the 1800’s, in Sections A and B. The work is estimated to take one month. Lastly, Mr. Wood reported that his department is working to collect some of the Village’s past due water and sewer bills, and shared that he may work with the Village Solicitor to resolve a few. When asked by council to comment about the widespread road salt price increases — from summer cost of $40/ton to fall/winter cost of  $108/ton, Mr. Wood replied, “We’re anticipating it to be a beautiful winter, but we’re ready for a bad one.” He noted that the majority of salt would be used on hills, curves, and intersections.

In his report, Mayor Lou Bertrand asked that Council approve Dr. Willard Greenwood as a member of the Zoning Commission. Council approved his appointment.  Further, Mayor Bertrand discussed the proposed ordinance to combine the Village Park Board and the Beautification Committee, which includes constituents from both Hiram Township and Hiram College. The Mayor shared an email with Council from Park Board member Chris Szell, in which Mr. Szell clarified that the Park Board had not voted to combine the two groups, as may have been previously assumed. After much discussion, the proposed resolution remains tabled at its second reading, the Beautification Committee has been seated, and an organizational meeting of the Beautification Committee was scheduled for October 28th. Committee members from the college, the township and the village were invited to attend. The next Park Board meeting will be held on Friday, November 14th at 8:30 am.

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Windham – The Renaissance Family Center (RFC) in Windham was recently the recipient of a $12,000 grant from the ANH Foundation. The check was delivered to the center on November 3, 2014 by Allen Knight, head of press maintenance at the ANH Company in Windham, and Dave Apthorpe, plant manager of ANH, and Harry Amie, president of the United Steel Workers Union of ANH, Windham. On hand to receive the check were the director of the facility, Joe Hickman and board member, Crystal Hickman.

The ANH Company Foundation is a charity foundation that is a separate entity of the ANH Company which is derived from three refectories, AP Green Refractories, North American Refractories and Harbison-Walker Refractories. The foundation is run by a team of board members from the refractories.  Each year the foundation awards $50,000 to $60,000 in grants to organizations that show need and  also ANH employee involvement with the charity.  Employees from each company have an opportunity to nominate a 501(c) 3 charity that they are involved with. The board members of the foundation review the applications and determine who receives the grants.

This year RFC was the recipient of one of their grants. RFC was nominated by local resident and employee of ANH (Harbison-Walker) Allen Knight. Knight stated that the charity was important to him and his family. Knight said, “I am a strong believer of helping local folks who have fallen on hard times. At some point in time, each of us have or will need assistance either financially, spiritually and/or emotionally.” The facility meets all these needs and more.   He said he and his wife have donated many items to the center, so the center could resell the items and use the profits to keep RFC open.  Knight, in his letter to the foundation, listed all the employees that he knew at the plant who are involved in RFC, by either donating or volunteering at the center, the list was quite extensive.

Joe Hickman said they would use the grant money to improve the infrastructure of the facility. He said many times grants are given and they have stipulations to be used for programs and activities, rarely does one receive a grant that can be used for the infrastructure rather than programs and activities. The money would be a great help in maintaining the facility.

RFC was established five years ago  and is run by volunteers and donations. They are open to everyone, no matter where they live. Some of the services they offer are after -school tutoring, free meals, the second blessing shop where they sell used items to help those in need and it helps fund the center.  They also have men’s basketball, a weight room, indoor walking, seniors programs, free community meals and more. They host Al-anon, Alcoholics  Anonymous and  Narcotics Anonymous meetings, Salvation Army/ Red Shield program, Townhall II and Portage County Health Department Immunization Clinics. The center also houses the Windham branch of the Portage County District Library.

Since the inception of the facility they have become one of Windham’s greatest assets. The center is open Monday 10am- 4pm, Tuesday 10 am – 6:30 pm, Thursday noon – 6:30 pm and Friday 10 am – 4pm. They are closed on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. For more information on the facility one may call 330 326-3003 or visit then on the web at

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Join in on the 9th annual Holiday Tour and Open House from Nov. 15 through 29 (10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for most shops). There are 21 local area shops to visit where you can find all your holiday gifts. To take the tour, pickup a rack card at any of the shops listed below. As you go to each location you will receive a special stamp. When your card is full, turn it in at your last stop to receive a grand prize drawing ticket, fill it out and turn it in there. There is no time limit for this event. You can do it all in one day or take a few days, as long as you have your final ticket in by 5 p.m. on Saturday the 29th. This enters you in a Grand Prize Drawing that will include: Goodwin House B&B/overnight for two, Quintealia’s Tea Parlor/cream tea for two, Lu Lu Tru Spa/$50 certificate, Mary Yoder’s Amish Kitchen/dinner for two, Country Art’s & Jewelry/$50 certificate, Middlefield Cheese House/$25 certificate, White House Chocolates/$20 certificate and truffles, and J.M.J.Stoves/Sugar Valley Maple/1gallon of syrup.

While taking the tour and enjoying your visit at each shop, remember that you can buy tickets for a chance to win a unique raffle prize at each shop; 21 stores and 21 chances to win. Enter as often as you wish through the whole event, from now through Nov. 29. By purchasing the special raffle tickets, you are helping to support Middlefield’s Santa’s Hide-A-way Hollow. Santa welcomes all children with disabilities or critical or terminal illnesses and their families. It is absolutely free for them to enjoy a visit to the North Pole all year round. Remember that Santa is busy granting many special wishes and is not open to the public.

The following shops are included in the Open House and Tour: Middlefield Cheese House, Country Arts & Jewelry, The Craft Cupboard, Tiny Stitches Quilt Shop, Country Collections Antique Mall, J.M.J. Woodstoves, Rustic Rewind, Eclectic Princess, Nauvoo Family Market, Beth & Dawn’s Garage Sale, Country Side Furnishings, Amish Home Craft & Bakery, White House Chocolates, Watson’s 87 Furniture, The Barn Treasures, Mary Yoder’s Amish Kitchen, Auntie’s Antique Mall, Yoder’s Furniture, Kalle Naturals Organic and Hershberger’s Housewares.

To begin your adventure, just pick up a rack card at any of the above listed shops. It ‘s also helpful to use a Geauga County Tourism Guide, which can be found at each location. All shops are listed inside the guide and local area maps are included. You will find that each business has specific days and hours of operation, so you may need to plan ahead. More information is available at the Tourism office, 14907 N. State Road (Route 608) in Middlefield. Call 1-800-775-TOUR, 440-632-1538, or visit

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Diane Harto with an in-progress carving

Mantua – What? Where is this place? You’re kidding?   We have something like this locally?  I thought that carvings like this were made somewhere high in the Alps by a group of little, stooped-over, bearded men sitting by a roaring fire as they whittled away on pieces of wood.  Big marble statues are done in Italy by guys in togas with leafy bands on their heads, right? They have wood mallets and chisels in hand as they hack away at 6 ft. blocks of stone.  And how did the Indians carve those 12 foot totem poles?  With flint knives and rocks?  Seriously, we have something like that right here in our community?  Who knew?

If you are like me, indeed you didn’t know much about this whole woodcarving community that exists across this country, probably across the world.  Oh yes, you are familiar with the carvings, or actually carved-like representations of hand carvings, at Walmart, always with a Made In China sticker on the bottom, They sell for $3 to $10, usually in the home furnishings department.  Kitsch art,  I believe that stuff is called, is usually popped out of a mold in Beijing.  The first one probably cost a good buck but the next 6,000 reproductions, well, if we offer them at 49 cents wholesale, the store can charge………who cares. We just made $3,000 and our costs are ridiculously low.

But the real thing—the actual wood carving– you only see these in museums and art galleries.  They’re delicate, intricate, and pricey.   They take countless hours, hundreds, maybe thousands, to produce.   Is produce really the word?  A better word is create.   Who has the patience to do this kind of work?   Admittedly, it is a niche industry, a sub-layer of our society.  There are, and always have been groupings of artists and artisans present in every culture dating back to the Neanderthal cave men.   How do we know? We find artwork painted on the walls of caves, and carved figurines. Museums are filled with art and carvings representing the human condition throughout the ages.  Moving forward to modern times, you encounter duck decoy carvers and fish carvers at most Sportsman’s shows. If you dig into this phenomenon you will find that there is a large subculture of carvers who move within their own arena. Their subject is not just wildlife but any and everything else connoted in the human condition.

If you travel east down Frost Road between SR 43 and Diagonal Road you will notice a peculiar mix of mostly newer houses and an occasional old farm house.  As you go east towards Mantua, the older houses and farmsteads become more prevalent, the newer housing much less prominent. At just about the break between Streetsboro and Mantua, is a definitely old homestead farm on the north side of the road.  There is a sign out front. It used to say Hardwood lumber for sale.  I noticed it several years ago because I work with rough-cut hardwoods making backboards and furniture and such.  Somewhere along the line that sign changed and it now says Stadtlander’s Woodcarved Art Gallery.  If you drive up the driveway you note a layout typical of an American farmstead of the 1930-60’s era.  A beautiful period farmhouse is close to the road.  Progressing back you encounter period buildings, including what might have once been a milk house, now labeled Carving School. There are two large barns in back.  One obviously houses tractors, pickup trucks and equipment.  The other barn which probably once held cattle or livestock, is now filled with stacks of rough-cut lumber, a large horizontal band saw, an industrial planer, a lumber kiln and piles of sawdust.  In front of that is what might have been another farm building but now is labeled  The Gallery.  Make no mistake, this is country. You are undeniably out in the country very much like it might have existed 70 years ago, save for an occasional out- of- time convenience like a modern outdoor wood-burning furnace.

This whole spread is home to Diane Harto and Jim Stadtlander, both renowned wood carvers. Their work has been featured all over the nation, in museums, galleries, and magazines. This is their gallery, their school, their home, their workshop, their lumber preparation machine, and their supply warehouse. Diane takes me on a tour through the farmstead.  We start at the gallery, the top of the line, so to speak, where the final products are displayed and sold.  Much of it is their own work but also included are works of various students they teach. There is everything from intricate carvings of feathers to rough-hewn carvings of animals made with chainsaws.  The contents of this gallery are taken periodically to various venues like the Yankee Peddler festival where artisans gather and the public flocks to see and buy artwork. Diane tells me that the fall leading up to Christmas is the most lucrative season for selling artwork. So they are very busy this time of year.

Both Diane and her husband Jim Stadtlander  have over 30 years of experience in wood carving.  Jim primarily does commission work while Diane teaches carving.  The school has been open for over ten years.  There are classes four days per week with about seven students per day.  Some classes consist of only women,others are made up of  people in their forties, fifties and sixties.  There is one lady who is 77. Thursdays have a heavy concentration of men, ranging from a coal miner to a doctor. Some of their students have been coming for over 10 years.  Diane also gives seminars.  She does some work with children but because of the complexity of the various machines and knives this is limited to a few children that have the aptitude for carving.

Next stop is the wood-preparation barn—sawmill– where logs are sawn into various sized boards for carving purposes.  Much of the wood is basswood, locally known as poplar and American tulip.  It is the preferred carving wood because of its fine grain and consistency.  The boards are stacked up in the kiln, the walls of which telescope out and cover the unit.  The wood is then dried for several weeks before it is ready to be planed and cut for carving. Jim used to sell dried hardwoods wholesale, hence my memory of the hardwoods for sale sign but these days there is no time for that sideline.

Across the way from the prep barn is the workshop which houses a large variety of woodworking machines including the usual table saws, band saws, drill presses, planers, and such but also includes specialized computer operated machines that incorporate milling machines, band saws, gouges and rasps and can reproduce patterns in as many boards as you care to feed through them.

We then go over to the school.  This is where that which we typically associate with hand carving takes place.  There are about 12 work stations which include a machine similar to what most people associate to a Dremel rotary cutter.  These are industrial cutters though called Foredom tools that are more substantial. Dental tools and drills are also employed.

There is a dust collection system at each station, and various small hand tools such as Exacto knives, gouges and such. Basically, an idea is mapped out in pencil on a block of wood then, using rotary cutters, rough formed to the eventual desired contour. When that contour is achieved then the student goes to work with the hand tools, the gouges, chisels and knives to produce the details. The feather details on a carved bird may take more than 500 hours to complete.  A life-sized bust of a person may take thousands of hours.

For more information on enrolling classes or perusing the gallery you can call:  Diane Harto at 330-274-2671 or email Visit the Gallery at 2881 Frost Road, Mantua Ohio 44255