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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 “geaugacreditunion.com” 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 www.portagelibrary.org. ?

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 http://www.portageapl.org/paws-to-taste-2014/  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 www.burtonchamberofcommerce.com.  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 (garfield.sparcc.org) Facebook page (facebook.com/jagschools) or Twitter feed (twitter.com/jagschools).

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: mantuatownshipohio.gov.

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  laurab@mental-health-recovery.org.  Walk-ins are welcome but pre-registering will help with planning. For more information about the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention program, go to www.survivorday.org. For information about the Portage County event, go to http://www.mental-health-recovery.org/news-events.

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 www.indiegogo.com 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 http://www.windhamrfc.com/.

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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 www.TourGeauga.com.

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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 jjsdh@roadrunner.com. Visit the Gallery at 2881 Frost Road, Mantua Ohio 44255

One down, one to go.

The Christmas Walk, in its 17th incarnation since being revived in 1980, seems to be off to a relatively good start.  The weather has been fairly co-operative—dampish  occasionally, cold often but frequently bright and seasonal.  What do we expect?  It’s November in Ohio! (Just a word of warning  : Typhoon Nuri or something is going to drag another polar vortex-type weather system down from Alaska to the “lower 48”.  Over here in the “effete East” we may miss the worst of it but the AOL weather item said that high temperature in Great Falls, MT would by about 7 degrees on Tuesday and a broad swath through the middle of the country would have high temperatures—high temperatures– for Wednesday below freezing.)

Anyway, plan to bundle up if you’re going to hit the second weekend.  The sights are worth seeing at all of the stops.  I was particularly taken with the Nelson United Methodist Church.  It’s such a simple country church, so nicely displayed.  Barb Shilling and her crew from the quilt club, the Village Piecemakers, with the quilt array over the backs of the pews, set a perfect tone for a bicentennial celebration; some of the patterns might have been recognized by families who sat in those seats so many years ago.  The lunch was outstanding also; I may be forced to head back out there to sample more of the homemade desserts.  The trail bosses for that round-up were Norma and Valorie McCullough and all of the “li’l doggies” were  up for the trip.  Pastor Rick was relegated to working in the chuckwagon too.

Every stop had its attractions : bodacious displays of craftsman(or woman)ship, humungous trees, amazing renovations and restorations, family moments, wit, humor, plants, views, histories, collections of every size and description…the interesting parts of any community.  We’re all missing the businesses that were downtown but determined to be like “The Little Engine That Could” by giving this biennial event our very best effort.  Sort of like the old tales of starlets being discovered in Hollywood sitting on a stool in a drugstore, we’re hoping that some enterprising soul(with pots of money) comes along, sees this place and how we’re doing and says, “Gosh, this little town really has grit and gumption and good looks and great schools!  Why don’t I come here to open my office/ grow my business/expand my production/research or develop a new enterprise?”  Yeah.  Why not?

If you see or hear this person wandering around loose, notify the Chamber of Commerce immediately, if not sooner, so they can throw a net over the individual and we can get started with the planning.

The picture in last week’s Villager was a good start, an idea with some imagination and consideration of the town and its possibilities.  Keep the ideas coming.  Let the discussion engage everyone.  Let the future be in harmony with the past but not chained to it.  Don’t forget that there are still businesses on the intact side of Main Street which could use a boost right now.  Pete Kepich of the Main Street Grille and Brewing Company is showing the way by sponsoring the Christmas tree downtown, set up by the Rotary.  Others have been pitching in as well.  We’re all in this together, folks.  “Garrettsville Strong” is more than just a slogan, it’s our way forward.  Get on board.

Mantua – On Saturday, October 25th, volunteers joined forces to complete a myriad of projects in Mantua as a part of the Make A Difference Day national day of service. Community-minded residents, CHS students, and Eagle Scouts took part, using a little bit of elbow grease to help make their local community that much better.

That day, volunteers spent time sprucing up the railroad switching station/guard house on the Headwaters Trail, as well as sprucing up Village signs and benches. Trail repairs were completed at Mantua’s Glacier Esker Trail, and work was also completed at the nearby Rotary Grove site. In addition, volunteers went door-to-door in the Village sharing coupons to encourage residents to shop locally, and providing information regarding the Village’s Road Levy.

The Downtown Mantua Revitalization Corporation (DMRC) organized Make a Difference Day in Mantua. That day, volunteers in Mantua joined with millions of volunteers across the country to improve the lives of others.

For more than 20 years, USA WEEKEND Magazine, together with the Points of Light charitable organization, has held Make A Difference Day, the largest national day of community service. To find out how you can help make a difference in Mantua, contact the DMRC at 330-274-4040.

Elvis Presley was there, and so were Marilyn Monroe and even Joe DiMaggio! Dropping in from Oz were the Wicked Witch of the East and even one of the flying monkeys! If you looked in the corner, there was Elly May Clampett, and on the dance floor Tippi Hedren was surrounded by “The Birds!”

All of these characters, as well as many, many more gathered at Sugarbush Golf Club last Saturday night for the Masquerade Scholarship Ball, where hand carved pumpkins lit by votive candles  decorated each table and pumpkins, owls and ravens, black cats, a witch and tiny orange lights adorned  the mantle above the fireplace. The James A Garfield Art classes, under the direction of Libby Frato-Sweeney were responsible for the cleverly carved pumpkins.

The first place award for costume (s) went to Aaron King and his entourage for their Hillbilly Wedding. Second place went to Trish and Tom Brett as The Spider and The Fly, while Gail and Mike Mikula as the Wicked Witch of the East and the Flying Monkey took third place honors.

Music was provided by popular band, The Boys are Back, who also got into the action by dressing up for the occasion, and the delicious meal was catered by Special Moments of Streetsboro.

The Masquerade Scholarship Ball is held biennially in the years when the Business Showcase is not being held by the Garrettsville Chamber of Commerce. In 1997 three Chamber members, Barb Bejger, Joann Vance and Marty Paul went to Girard to see how their Chamber of Commerce was organizing and running a business showcase, and they were so impressed they proposed holding one in Garrettsville. The event was so popular it was held annually for several years, but when attendance began to drop off, it was decided to have a Masquerade Ball every other year to raise additional monies for the Scholarship Fund. This was the fourth year for the dance.

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Alex Gage had the top scores in the 9:00 Trio league for the second week in a row.  Alex, whose average is now 115, rolled games of 141, 155, and 135 for a nice 431 series.   Sara Barker was 64 pins over average with her 145 game.  There were a number of 9:00 bowlers with good games this week:  Addrianna Conway, 140 (37 pins over average), Brooke Collins, 118 (36 over), Damian Tourville, 107 (34 over), Hunter Turnbaugh, 102 (34 over), Sierra Greathouse, 92 (33 over), Paige Johannsmeier, 103 (31 over), Pete Maldonado, 105 (29 over), Zach Seebacher, 138 (28 over), and Isaac Trickett, 105 (26 over)

In the 11:00 Trio, high game was rolled by Jacob Britton with 193 and high series was rolled by Lauren Sanchez with 522; Lauren also had a 183 game.  Ian Huebner was most over average with his 125 game, 52 pins over his average of 73.  Clark Jackson’s 175 game was 51 over.  David Martin was 37 pins over average with his 189 game, and Billy Potteiger was 41 over with his 187 game.  Other good scores:  Gavin Dunfee, 84 (25 over), and Kaitlin Belknap, 60 (23 over).

In the Scholastic League, Zach Britton shot 612 for the second week in a row, but this time with a very nice 259 game.  Other notable games:  Jaret Doraksi, 199, Nick Toke, 190, Jessica Potteiger 184-529, and Megan Wilfong, 162 (24 over average).

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Can’t make it to the library during library hours? Portage County District Library would like to take this opportunity to remind library patrons about the Library Express delivery service. Available at nine locations within Portage County, this delivery service delivers library materials to you via locker boxes. The procedure is simple. Request library materials to be delivered to a Library Express location. Once the library materials arrive in the Outreach Services office, you are contacted and they are delivered and available for pick up the next business day after 5:00 pm (deliveries made Monday through Friday). You simply enter the last seven digits of your library number on the keypad and your locker box door pops open. Library materials may be returned to the book returns adjacent to the locker boxes. It’s just that simple. Have questions? Contact the Outreach Services department at 1-800-500-5179 ext. 220 between the hours of 8:00 am and 4:00 pm Monday through Friday.

Library Express locker locations include Aurora, Brimfield, Deerfield, Edinburg, Hiram, Mantua, Randolph, Rootstown, and Shalersville. For specific location details, visit the Portage County District Library website at www.portagelibrary.org and select “About the Library” and then “Hours & Locations”. Find us on Facebook. Follow us on Pinterest.

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The beautiful weather we had the last few weekends made it hard to think of snow and all the issues it brings with it. The snow will fly and area municipalities have been getting prepared for the upcoming winter, but not without sticker shock over salt prices.

Last year, local municipalities in the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) Purchasing Consortium paid $27 per ton of salt and this year the price has soared to above $100 per ton. In fact, if a municipality was part of the ODOT Purchasing Consortium, then they were lucky, they are locked in at $108.01 per ton for this year. Others, who were not part of the consortium could see prices at $140 a ton or even higher.

The soaring prices are blamed on the supply and demand. Last year’s hard winter increased the demand which has given salt companies a limited supply. Even though they have continued to operate the mines at full capacity, including weekends, they are still struggling to keep up with the demand as communities try to ensure they have enough salt for the season.  According to Dane Roth, Ketchum Public Relations for Morton Salt, “Salt prices are determined by a complex system that is dependent on a variety of factors including, but not limited to the availability of salt supply in a given season, the time a community submits their bid, production costs and costs to source the salt from points that may be outside normal channels such as international destinations, and the freight cost to deliver salt.” All these factors determine what a municipality will pay for salt.

Each year, a municipality will estimate how much salt they will need and order accordingly, however they must take 90% of what they estimate and can use no more than 110 % of the estimate. Last year, when area municipalities exceeded their estimate, they had to go outside the state to purchase salt. This year they will probably do the same, especially if we have a winter like last year.

Many local communities have adjusted their budgets and ordered the same amount of salt they always have, while others have chosen to order less salt and mix the salt with grit, sand or cinders. Some municipalities, like Garrettsville Village were able to adjust their budgets to absorb the soaring prices and order the same amount of salt they always order, while smaller municipalities like Windham have no wiggle room for the inflated cost, so they have adjusted their salt usage by mixing in grit or sand. Townships are in the same boat, some were able to adjust their budgets, while most have chosen to reduce their salt usage and mix it with more grit. This could cause roads to be in a state that one hasn’t seen in a long time.

This winter, motorists will have to slow down, and use caution especially on the some township and some village streets, as many will be using less salt. If we have a hard winter, some areas will only be salting the intersections, hills, and dangerous curves. Motorist will also have to deal with dirty cars. The residue from sand, grit and cinders will leave motorists making more trips to the car wash if they want to have a clean car.

This link will take you to Kiley’s dropbox for the option to download her drawings. (http://goo.gl/RNtX0G)

Garrettsville – Proverbs tells us, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Architectural grad student Kiley Maas agrees with that premise. That is why she is eager to share her vision of what the future of Main Street could be. Since the Great Garrettsville Fire last March, the view on Main Street has been charred devastation-turned-emptiness. But Maas sees exciting possibilities.

Maas is a graduate student at Kent State University, concluding coursework toward a dual-master degree in Architecture (MArch) and Business Administration (MBA). She is also a graduate assistant as an intellectual property analyst, vice president of Net Impact, and a CAED Graduate Student Senator.

This past summer, as a result of the fire’s devastation of the Buckeye Block, her graduate architecture studio with Professor Adil Sharg-Eldin made a project of envisioning what downtown Garrettsville could become through its future rebuilding efforts. Her class presented their projects to the village in July.

What started as a class project has evolved into a personal passion for Maas. Naming her particular concept “Main Street Revival: A Sense of Place Through Shared Space,” Maas integrates walkways, bicycle lanes, roundels, gardens, green space, plus mixed-use municipal, retail and residential buildings to transform Main Street into a vibrant community center.

“I want to bring a sense of place back to Main Street and restore the lifeblood of the town,” she says. “I was the only student from the class who was familiar with Garrettsville (I grew up in Newton Falls), and my undergraduate minor was in urban design, so I took this project personally. I was careful to maintain a comprehensive approach, integrating economic, social and sustainable priorities into the plan.”

Her mixed-use concept reinvests in downtown Garrettsville with wide, aesthetic sidewalks sans curbs for outdoor dining; an enhanced boardwalk with waterfall views; 13 new retail spaces on Main Street with 26 second-floor apartments; a dozen new town homes along Center Street; restaurants featuring glass garage-door fronts that could be rolled back for open-air dining in good weather; and redesigned common-use intersections (roundels — similar to roundabouts — at the intersection of Elm Street and State Routes 88 and 82; and at the crossroads of Main, Center and Water streets). These would take dominance away from street traffic so people would feel safer to enjoy social interaction, open air dining and strolling around town. Maas also envisions a small hotel at the corner lot in front of the VFW hall.

Maas would maintain parallel parking along Main Street but would add a small parking garage with 85 spaces next to the police department, where the Clock Tower now stands. To further enhance the sense of community, Maas would move the historic Clock Tower, time capsule and new Village Hall to Main Street, set on a grassy Garrettsville Green on the north side of Main Street, where the Buckeye Block anticipates its future.

Maas’ stated mission is “To revive and create a comprehensive approach for downtown Main Street that empowers economic development by making the downtown a place to live, work, shop, dine, and entertain; a village center with a sense of place through shared space.”

By sharing her drawings through this article and other public venues, Maas wants to give people a concrete picture of the possibilities, to gain morale by visualizing what an idealized Garrettsville could offer. This may help residents believe — yes! — it could happen here if we all got on the same page in terms of a common vision and goal.

Just remember, this is a concept with elements for consideration and discussion. No design or plan has been approved by village officials… and funding must lead the way before any plan can be realistically considered. Just think of this graduate architecture student’s dream as a way to exercise the possibilities and generate more great ideas as GarrettsvilleStrong fundraising efforts continue.

If you would like to provide feedback to this design concept, send an email to e.brown@weeklyvillager.com or mail a letter to Estelle Brown, Weekly Villager,

8088 Main St, Garrettsville, OH 44231.

Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary Club   received the “sincerest form of flattery” when President Delores McCumbers  revealed that the Portage Cluster of Rotary clubs had emulated the local group by issuing a release on “Why I Support Rotary”, listing many of the community-based activities and international interests of Rotarians.

The Community Christmas Tree project was part of the meeting’s discussion. The tree is to be located downtown at the former Chic and Shabby/Root Store corner, donated by Dane Horvath of Horvath Landscaping.  Tom Collins will be providing lights and community members will be invited to bring (non-breakable) ornaments to decorate the tree.  On Saturday, November 8th and Saturday, November 15th, Santa’s sleigh will be on-site, as will Santa, from 12:00 to 4:00.  At that time, donations to the People Tree or the Community Cupboard will be received—food items, a toy or cash donations.  Possibility of  photo opportunity as well.  On the 8th and the 22nd , District 6630 Rotarians are invited to a Cash Mob/Flash Mob in the village, Sam Bixler and his horses and wagon will be delighting   passengers about town and the Spirit will be in the air.

The Silver Creek Garden Club of Garrettsville has made a generous donation to assist in planting bulbs around the fountain by the Boardwalk and at the entrance signs to the village.  Volunteers for the planting operations would be appreciated; see any Rotarian.

Tom Collins  reported that our resident exchange student, Zad, has been attending district-wide activities for exchange students, including overnighters and tours of Cleveland’s west side…east side next?  He continues to be taken aback by the sheer abundance he sees. Ted Lysiak revealed that the James A. Garfield Elementary has been tagged as  a “School of Honor”—one of only 48 in the state—as a result of its achievements and progress over recent years.

The Reverse Raffle and Silent Auction is on track and ROLLIN’ for next week.  Tickets still available but get them soon.  See any Rotarian.

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Mantua – This school year the Crestwood District began using Google Apps for Education and is a “Google District.” The technology department has been hard at work ensuring a smooth transition and we are continuing to add applications for our teachers and students to use.

Why did we switch to Google Apps?

•  Google apps allow us to provide our teachers with unlimited storage space for free.  In any other situation the cost to provide unlimited data storage is prohibitive.

•  By using Google, students and teachers have access to  documents anywhere they have Internet access including  word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, web sites,  calendars and more.

•  Offers security features that allow us to keep our data  safe.

•  Allows for document sharing among teachers and  students giving them greater opportunities to collaborate.

•  Alleviates internal technology department from tasks in  maintaining data storage and securing data.

•  With all teachers and students having access to digital  content we are able to reduce paper costs.

Google is adding applications all the time that will allow our teachers and students to be more productive and collaborative. In addition to using the Google Apps we will be adding Chromebook labs throughout the district, which will increase our students’ access to technology. We are excited about the opportunities that using Google apps brings to our school.

Cutting the ribbon on Hiram College’s TREE House (From left to right) Kendrick Miller, Caitlin Joseph, Simon Bednarski, Caroline Georskey, Michael Benedict, Ryogo Suzuki, Debbie Kasper, and Sarah Mabey

Hiram –  “TREE House exemplifies what is distinct about Hiram,” beamed Dr. Debbie Kasper, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at Hiram College. From its radiant heat in the basement floor to its R60-rated insulation in the attic, the TREE House is a model of energy efficiency and sustainability.

Work was done by local contractors, and supported by volunteers from faculty, staff and the community.

Local resident Scott Robinson supplied the fine carpentry work. Mike and MJ Viggiani from Mike’s Electric in Hiram, OH completed electrical work. They installed the energy-conserving LED lighting systems and energy-monitoring systems to enable Hiram College to track energy usage throughout the structure. Dominic Gualtieri, of Gualtieri Construction in Hiram, worked on foundation and footer work, helping the TREE House, much like trees themselves, grow from the ground up. Using less traditional materials like foam blocks, and simple tools including a drill, a reciprocating saw or other cutting tool, and plenty of zip ties, Gualtieri remarked, “the process is easy enough for an average homeowner to do.”

Insulation guru Nate Adams from Energy Smart Home Performance in Mantua, lent his expertise to the project as well. According to Adams, at the start of the project, blower door tests — used to measure a home’s airtightness, — were measured at 6,700. The team’s goal was to reduce that number to 2,000. After all the work the team has completed, the TREE House now scores under 1,000.  A Home Energy Rating System (HERS) index rating measures how energy efficient a home is. A score of 100 is the goal for structures to meet the 2009 standards. Adams continued, “The TREE House started at 208, but is now listed at around 50.”

According to Jim Zella, the architect and builder from Hiram who served as the Project Manager, “Air leakage is the most important factor for energy use. To improve comfort and reduce moisture problems, tighter is better. But if a home is too tight, air quality may suffer.” To solve this issue, an Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) was installed to give the bad air a way to get out. The ERV pulls fresh air in, while filtering incoming air and exhausting stale air. In the process, exhausted air helps to warm the incoming air, making the system more effective.

Zella shared how the old siding, which contained lead paint, was left in place and encapsulated in cement board siding. This not only kept harmful materials out of a landfill, but serves to diminish the heating system requirements of the building. Since the envelop of the house is tight, it doesn’t require as much energy to heat. “I’m very pleased with what took place at this green and sustainable project,” Zella continued. It was truly a team effort that resulted in a reduction of energy usage at the TREE House — a whopping 75% lower than the original structure.

Several foundations have helped fund this project, including the Kent H. Smith Charitable Trust; Dominion’s Higher Educational Partnership; and the Lubrizol Foundation. In addition, private donors have also given their support, including Jane & George Rose, Merrill Preston, Jr.; Damaris Peters-Pike & Ken Pike; Steve Zabor, and Kathryn Craig. The overwhelming support is what Kasper says made it, “genuinely special and rare. All in all, it has been a grand learning experiment, and the kind of thing Hiram does best,” he continued. “What we’ve created is a wonderful space to teach and meet and learn.”

The windows on the first floor and some of the second floor have been replaced with more energy-efficient models; the rest will be replaced as budget allows. The old parts of the home were repurposed on site, for example, old windows now top display tables created by local artist Barry Bishop, and an unneeded door was transformed into a corner shelf for a quiet space off the kitchen. One of the goals of this project was to show people how to salvage pieces of older homes, preserving the character while diverting useful items from the landfill. Water collection system will irrigate the on site gardens.

“We’ve been working so hard and dealing with unexpected issues on a nearly daily basis for so long now, it feels really surprising — in a good way — to have most of the major work behind us and to think we’ll actually be able to use the house,” shared Kasper.  One member of the Environmental Studies Department has already moved in, while the rest of the Department is scheduled to do so over the holiday break.  “Ever since the grand opening, we’ve been getting lots of questions from students who are eager to use the space!  They will be very happy to know that we plan on teaching several classes there this spring,” beamed Kasper.

The next steps for the TREE House will be to learn how to effectively use the space, given its collection of advanced technologies. In addition, the team will be hard at work compiling data they’ve been collecting throughout the process. “We learned a lot through the process, and continue to do so,” shared Kasper. The TREE House team has documented throughout the process, and will share that data so that others can learn from their experiences. Data regarding the various systems and cost savings will be posted on the TREE House website hiram.edu/sustainability/tree-house. In addition, over the next few months, information about some of the most important features will be shared on informational placards that will be posted throughout the house, allowing visitors to learn more and link to the website for additional resources.

Minor work is still being finalized on the TREE House, with a schedule for public access to be established in early 2015. Contact Debbie Kasper at kasperdv@hiram.edu for more information.

Garrettsville –  The strongest structures are those built with the strongest foundation. The same is true for education.  Student success is often predicated on a strong foundation of literacy and mathematics. James A. Garfield Elementary has always provided students with a strong academic foundation, and Ohio recently affirmed this effort.  Last week the state of Ohio recognized James A. Garfield Elementary students, teachers, staff, administration and community for maintaining high academic achievement among their students, including many from economically disadvantaged circumstances that can make learning difficult.  They were named a School of Promise as well as a High Performing School of Honor.

The awards are extremely prestigious.  There were only 98 Schools of Promise and 48 High Performing Schools of Honor from around the entire state. Each program has different criteria.

To qualify as a School of Promise, a building must meet these criteria:

• Eighty percent or more of students in grades that took the 2013-2014 Ohio Achievement Assessments must have rated Proficient in reading and math, including economically disadvantaged.

•  Score an Ohio School Report Card grade of A or B on their Annual Measurable Objective, to narrow performance gaps between student groups.

• Receive an A, B or C on student learning progress through the school year and a grade of A or B on high school graduation rate, if they were high schools.

• Serve at least 40 percent economically disadvantaged students (JAG Elementary currently serves 41%).

The Schools of Honor initiative builds on the Schools of Promise program, recognizing schools that exceed Schools of Promise criteria. To be a High Performing School of Honor, a school must:

• Be Title 1 eligible and serve 40 percent or more economically disadvantaged students.

• Have 90 percent or more of all students score Proficient on the Ohio Achievement Assessments over the last five years.

• Have 80 percent of all groups of students (economically disadvantaged, students with disabilities) who are Proficient.

• Show progress in meeting Annual Measurable Objectives and student learning progress over a five-year period.

High Progress Schools of Honor are buildings that have made the greatest five-year gains.

We should all be very proud of our students, staff and administrators.  This award affirms what we have known for some time.  Our teachers work hard to foster great relationships with kids.  They use data to help learn about student strengths and weaknesses and then work together to make sure all students grow. This, coupled with the support of a great community and parents is an obvious recipe for success.  Congratulations to James A. Garfield Elementary School staff, students and administrators on their phenomenal work.

Presidents of the five higher education institutions that serve Summit and Portage counties gather for the Talent Dividend Prize announcement in Washington, D.C. Pictured (left to right) are Jay Gershen of Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), Para Jones of Stark State College, Beverly Warren of Kent State University, Lori Varlotta of Hiram College and Scott Scarborough of the University of Akron.

Hiram – Hiram College’s innovative degree completion and retention programs helped the Akron region secure a $1 million grand prize from CEOs for Cities for its growth in college degree attainment over the past four years.

CEOs for Cities announced on Oct. 29, 2014, in Washington, D.C., that the Akron Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) had the biggest improvement in degree attainment in the nation, out of the 57 regions competing in the National Talent Dividend. The Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education (NOCHE) accepted the award on behalf of the Akron MSA educational community which is composed of Hiram College, Kent State University, Northeast Ohio Medical University, Stark State College and The University of Akron. These funds will make possible additional college attainment initiatives throughout the region.

“This award helps to symbolize and actualize the collaborative partnerships that exist between Hiram College, the other regional colleges and universities in Northeast Ohio, and NOCHE,” said Lori Varlotta, Ph.D., president of Hiram College. “Hiram takes great pride in being a part of the region’s efforts to improve degree attainment. I am especially proud, however, of Hiram’s success in educating and graduating–in very large proportions–first generation students most of whom ultimately live, learn and earn in Northeast Ohio.” Dr. Varlotta attended the award ceremony, along with presidents from Kent State University, The University of Akron, Northeast Ohio Medical University and Stark State College, the colleges and universities that are part of the Akron MSA.

Hiram College’s share of the grand prize will be put toward degree completion initiatives.

Two of the defining efforts that led to the Akron area’s recognition were collaborations between Hiram College and other institutions in the region:

• Success Scholarships: Hiram College, Kent State University and The University of Akron awarded scholarships to students within a semester of graduation who had a small amount of unmet financial need. These completion scholarships of less than $1,000 each made the critical difference in earning a degree for local college graduates over the past few years.

• Pathway Programs: Hiram College, Kent State Universities and the University of Akron all prepare future physicians for medical school through focused pipeline programs, in partnership with NEOMED. Through Hiram College’s B.A. to M.D. Pathway Program, up to five Hiram sophomores who aspire to be future primary care providers are accepted each year into NEOMED. Upon successfully completing a Hiram baccalaureate degree and passing the MCAT, students will have a seat waiting for them in medical school.

Hiram College also contributed to regional degree attainment through several of its own initiatives. The MAP-Works program, implemented in 2011, has positively impact traditional student retention. In 2013, students who accessed their MAP-Works report persisted from fall to spring at a rate of 91 percent, compared to a rate of 81 percent for those who did not access the report. A survey-based program, MAP-Works empowers faculty and staff to positively impact student success and retention by identifying student issues and concerns early in the term.  The program provides Hiram with the information necessary to identify and coordinate interventions with transitioning, high achieving, and high-risk students.

Over the past year, Hiram College awarded bachelor’s degrees to 32 students who completed requirements entirely on a community college campus. These students, the first of many to come, earned their bachelor of arts in accounting within 18 months of enrolling in Hiram’s partnership program with Lorain County Community College. 82 percent of these students earned their degree while working, and they boasted an average grade point average of 3.4. Hiram College now has established partnership programs at Lakeland Community College and Cuyahoga Community College, Eastern Campus.

According to CEOs for Cities, the Akron MSA produced 2,139 more postsecondary degrees than four years ago for an astonishing 20 percent increase. The increase in degrees awarded was a result of cross-regional and cross-sector collaboration including two-year, four-year, public and private higher education institutions and their many collaborating partners. The Northeast Ohio Talent Dividend galvanized support for collective impact in raising educational attainment across four metropolitan areas, including Akron.

“We are so proud to recognize the achievements of Greater Akron and its peers across the country,” said Noel Harmon, national director of the Talent Dividend. “This award is the result of years of hard work, and we are hopeful all of Northeast Ohio’s cross collaborative efforts provide inspiration and a roadmap for other cities as they work to increase postsecondary attainment.

Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education (NOCHE) has been leading Northeast Ohio Talent Dividend in four metropolitan areas (Akron, Canton, Cleveland, Youngstown) since 2009, as part of the national contest.

“Northeast Ohio boasts a gigantic increase of 92,000 more college degree holders since the Talent Dividend began, a substantial gain of almost three percentage points in attainment,” said Shawn Brown, vice president of the Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education. “The accomplishments in Summit and Portage Counties are significant, and they are part of an even bigger success story on college access and completion that has accelerated brain gain across Akron, Canton, Cleveland and Youngstown.”

Burton – Enjoy a day of holiday shopping in the country at a collaborative event featuring local artists, craftsman and direct sales vendors.  This event takes place Saturday, November 29th from 10am – 4pm and Sunday, November 30th, 2014 from 11 am to 6 pm at the picturesque Red Maple Inn at 14707 South Cheshire Street in Burton, Ohio.

Unique gifts, stocking stuffers, local crafts, chocolates and more will be available to purchase or custom order.  Every vendor will donate one item to go into a basket which will be raffled off to one lucky winner.  Proceeds will go to Sponsor-A-Family in Geauga County.  Last year’s event raised over $300!

Some of our vendors include Origami Owl, Gold Canyon Candles, Thirty-One Gifts, Buckeye Chocolates, Pampered Chef, Lilla Rose, Avon, Libby Lane Creations, His Daughter Soaps and Scrubs, Haute Mess Creations, Two Cheeky Cats, Jenny’s Jewelry, Hand Painted Ornaments, Beaches and Dreams Travel, Reversible Aprons and more!

We hope you will join us at this stress-free holiday shopping event!

Garrettsville-Hiram Rotarians were gratified to meet some of the eighth grade Power of the Pen team members from James A. Garfield Middle School and their coach/advisor, Jackie Lovelace.  Ms. Lovelace, who has been the coach/advisor/motivator of the Garfield program for 13 years, introduced the group and offered a brief overview of the program, the procedures of competition and the excellent results which the students have achieved.  She also read examples of the students’ writings and it was clear why they had been so successful—excellent use of vocabulary and composition skills.  The G-H Rotary has, for the last five years, sponsored the district competition held at Garfield and was proud to see the hardware(trophy) that the writers had garnered.  Everyone will be pulling for these talented individuals—and their seventh grade counterparts—to go to the state competition this year.  It is a learning experience all around.

The trash pick-up on October 25 was successful…and fun.  The weather was good, the crew (Rotarians and Interact Club members) was convivial and enthusiastic, lunch at McDonald’s was fun, the pictures caught it all.  The Portage County Park District Foundation will be chipping in on the Headwaters Trail project now in the planning stages.  Some local members attended the Rotary/Bob Evans fundraiser       for Polio Plus, a Rotary community health initiative. Local exchange student, Zad, got to go to a district-wide Rotary exchange student get-together and get a feel for the upcoming Halloween activities.  Rachel Schwan, in Thailand, got to attend a RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Award) activity in Thailand; this is a program that got its start with Dr. Bob Jackson , long-time member of the local club, district mover-and-shaker and all-around good guy.  Tempting to say, “What goes around, comes around” on the upside too.

Then it was “off to the races”…or, rather, “off to the raffle”.  The year’s big event, the Reverse Raffle and Silent Auction is coming up on November 13—almost here—and preparation is the word of the day.  Tickets are available.  Everyone is invited.  Donations and sponsorships are welcome.  Officials from all over have been invited.  It’s the 30th anniversary of this popular fundraiser and it looks to be the best yet.

November 13

SugarBush Golf Course

Don’t miss it.  Get your tickets NOW.

A collection of Santas carved by Mike Kortan will be on display in the Nelson United Methodist Church.

Garrettsville – Cue the silver bells! It’s Christmastime in the village.

The traditional James A. Garfield Historical Society’s Christmas Walk is the official start to the local holiday season. Alternating with Mantua every year, the 2014 Christmas Walk is featuring Garrettsville homes and is set for November 7, 8, 9 and 14, 15, 16. On Fridays and Saturdays, the Christmas Walk operates from 10am-5pm; Sundays 12:30pm-5pm. Tickets are $10 per person and can be purchased at the historical society on tour days at the historic Mott Building, 8107 Main Street. Proceeds from this event support the historical society’s ongoing efforts to preserve and display local history, and to offset its operating expenses.

Candle Light Night will kick off the big holiday event on Thursday, November 6, 6:30-9pm. This intimate candlelight tour of homes begins with appetizers served at the historical society. The evening tour includes visits to the four specially-decorated featured homes, the craft show & sale, and the Nelson United Methodist Church, which is celebrating its 200th anniversary. Each participant also receives a complimentary Christmas ornament and a year’s membership to the historical society. The $25 tickets must be reserved and purchased in advance by contacting historical society president Kit Semplak at (330) 569-7996 or ksemplak@gmail.com .

On regular tour days, the Nelson United Methodist Church which will be decorated for the season according to the theme, ”HEAVENLY HOST,” and will be serving a festive luncheon. Lunch hours are 11am-4 pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and 12 noon -4pm on Sundays. The menu consists of a turkey plate, pulled pork plate, chicken salad sandwich, hot dogs and homemade soups and desserts.

Don’t forget the Crafts & Artisan Show open during tour hours at Garrettsville Village Hall, 8213 High Street. It’s  a great opportunity to buy local, support area crafters, and find distinctive handmade gifts to  celebrate the season, including Christmas décor, floral designs, jewelry, hand-sewn products and baked goods. Craft show organizer Maureen See indicates there are a few openings remaining for last-minute vendors. If interested, call her at (330) 527-4674.

Featured Garrettsville home-owners, corresponding themes, and locations include:

Earl & Bonnie Kissell with “A THYME TO BLOSSOM” at 7521 State Route 82, the original home of the Raymond pioneer family, who owned over 400 acres around the house. The home appears as early as 1850 on the Portage County map and is known as “The old Carlisle farm.” This Western Reserve home now reflects Bonnie’s green thumb. A master gardener, her home features a garden room and many beautiful holiday arrangements. The Kissell Family has also blossomed, so visitors will enjoy how the Kissell children and grandchildren are incorporated into the decor. “Thymes” gone by are represented with vintage paper dolls decorating the tree, an arrangement of antique brass candlesticks on display, and other delightful holiday assortments.

Kathy & Tom Countryman with “HOMESPUN CHRISTMAS TREASURES” at 11458 Rolling Meadows, a home reminiscent of the Southern low country. Visitors to this home will find handmade, detailed decorations, fine woodcrafts, stitchery, a cookie jar collection, and much more to inspire one’s own Christmas creations.

Back within village limits is Brenda Reiner with “HEAVEN and NATURE SING” at 8106 South Park. This ranch home was built in the 1960s. Featured Christmas decorations feature Brenda’s favorite things: her collection of angels and her love of all things in nature, including a variety of birds, butterflies, and cute little critters. Visitors will also be treated to mannequins adorned in vintage holiday clothing.

Mark & Anne Kontur with “TINKER’S CHRISTMAS” at 9032 State Route 305 in Nelson. This Western Reserve century home was built by Benjamin Stow Tinker in the 1830s. He was 5 years old when his father brought the family to  the Nelson wilderness in 1805. John Tinker, his father, was a Revolutionary War veteran, according to Semplak. His importance and influence in the Nelson community is reflected in the names of the Tinker Cemetery across the road (now known as Prentiss Cemetery) and Tinker’s Creek.

Step into the season with the area’s original Christmas Walk, a local holiday tradition since 1980. Gracious hosts, beautifully-decorated homes, distinctive crafts, comfort food, neighborly pleasantries … all bring to mind that familiar carol … “In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas!”

Garrettsville-Hiram Rotarians were treated to a  local small business success story at their noon meeting on Monday, October 20 as Jessica Brokaw described the commercial progress of her husband, Doug Seaman, of Doug Seaman Decorating, LLC ,recently one of the local contractors involved in the work on the addition to the James A. Garfield Elementary school.  The painters always get the last walk-through and their commitment to quality is evident all over the building.  Doug began painting with his dad ( and now with his father and son) and other contractors then decided to take the leap into being an independent business upon landing a contract with Applebee’s, Inc.  An LLC (limited liability company) is a flexible form of enterprise that combines features of partnership and corporate structure; Doug Seaman Decorating, LLC was formed in 2013 with help from Tanay Hill, of Huntington Bank’s Garrettsville office and has a learn-as-you-go attitude toward business, a philosophy of hiring quality workers and a commitment to giving back to the community, developing  and deserving trust.  Doug Seaman Decorating, LLC is a prime example of how a skilled tradesman can fit into the larger economy and support family and community prosperity.

Also making a presentation was Colleen Steele, head teller at the Middlefield Bank and a member in good standing of the Garrettsville Silver Creek Garden Club.  Wearing the latter hat, she invited the Rotarians to be a part of the community  photo calendar being offered by the Garden Club to finance the flower baskets hanging from streetlights throughout the village.  The opportunity to give the community advance notice of regularly-scheduled events such as the Reverse Raffle (November 19th  this year, coming soon; get your tickets) and Family Week (2015, February), even regular meeting days at Cal’s II was too good to pass up.

Personal invitations to the upcoming Reverse Raffle have gone out to state and local officials of every stripe to be a part of the evening coming soon.  Members need to turn in tickets and payments as they go

Tom Collins reported on the progress –and success—of a local re-imagine and rebuild Garrettsville project focusing on the Headwaters Trail as a development focus for health and well-being as well as the local economy.  The District(6630) and local clubs have chimed in for matching funds; plans are in the works!

Further discussion bubbled up  concerning the possibility of having a Community Giving Christmas  Tree on the open space downtown, possibly in conjunction with the People Tree.  More to come.

Roadside Clean-up of State Route 82 between Garrettsville and Hiram will be on Saturday, October 25 (a busy day all around); any volunteers should meet at 9:00 at the Carlisle barn at the bottom of the hill.  Lunch will be at McDonald’s.  Y’ all come, now.

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Hiram – The renowned folk ensemble Harmonia will present a free concert at Hiram College on Saturday, October 25 at 7:30 p.m.  Location is Frohring Recital Hall, 11746 Dean Street.  Harmonia plays the traditional music of Eastern Europe, ranging from the Danube to the Carpathians.  Its repertoire reflects the cultures of the region:  Hungarian, Slovak, Ukrainian, Romanian, Croatian, and Gypsy.  The ensemble’s performances on authentic folk instruments evoke the full range of human emotions, interspersing fiery, passionate virtuosity with soulful melancholy and nostalgic yearning.

The ensemble uses instruments as varied as accordion, upright bass, violin, panflute, and cimbalom (the East-European 125 string hammered dulcimer).  The musicans come from varied backgrounds, finding a common musical language in Harmonia.  SingOut! Magazine called their performance “Brilliant.  Lush.  Dazzling.”  National Public Radio declared the group “a musical gem.”  The group is based in Cleveland but appears widely throughout the U.S. and beyond.

The concert is co-sponsored by the Hiram College Music Department and the Hiram Community Trust.  Further information: dreisbachts@hiram.edu or 330-569-5294.

Kyle Borelli escorting his Grandmothe Kathie Lutz with honorary grandson Christopher Blewitt.
Photo courtesy of Karrie Blewitt

Garrettsville – The Garfield Stadium was a sea of pink Friday night as the G-men football team held a “pink out” night to pay tribute to those who have conquered breast cancer, those who are conquering the disease and those who lost the battle prior to the Mogadore-G-men game.

Earlier in the season, several of the football moms decided that since so many of the players families were touched by the disease, they would pay tribute to those family members. They chose October because it is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The group designed a t-shirt and organized the sale of the shirts for the game. The proceeds from the event will be split, with a portion of it going to the Melissa Knight to help with her on-going medical costs as she fights the fight and the remaining portion will go to the junior class. The shirt had a dark pink ribbon on the front laced similar to football lacing that had the slogan “Tackle Cancer” on it. The team sold over 100 pink t-shirts.

Friday night, prior to the game, they honored those who have won the battle, those who are fighting the battle and those who lost the battle by wearing the pink t-shirts and by giving recognition to those family members. The football players then escorted their family member a crossed the field prior to the game.

Those honored were, one year survivors Judy Blewitt, escorted by her grandson, Christopher Blewitt, and Kathie Lutz escorted by her grandson, Kyle Borelli and honorary grandson Christopher Blewitt.   Ante Dejanovic and his dad, Mio honored Ante’s mother and Mio’s wife, Kasenna who lost her battle five years ago. Devin and Dayne Karlovec escorted their grandmother, Rella Hoskins, who is a 30 year survivor, Brad Martin escorted his aunt, Jonnie Manista who just finished chemo, he also honored his grandmother Bonnie Nedelka who lost her battle 14 years ago, Hayden Nichols escorted his grandmother Janet Nichols who is a four year survivor. Chandler Stefanek escorted his grandmother, Pat Stefanek, who is a 20 year survivor, Noah Owens escorted his grandmother, Mary Anne Dunning and lastly, Melissa Knight was escorted by her daughters, Sierra and Alexis Knight, and Dalton Fall. Melissa is currently fighting the disease.

Although the stands and sidelines were a sea of pink, the game was all green as Mogadore defeated the G-Men 49-7.

Garrettsville – Our students continue to perform at amazing levels.  Academically they exceed expectations.  On the latest report card they ranked among the best schools in the region. Our sixth graders set a JAG record as 92% passed the state reading test.  Eighth grade students also set a JAG record with 95.8% passing the state reading test. Our seventh graders also set JAG records in math (90.7%) AND reading (96.3%) on the state tests.  Finally, our fourth graders performed at the highest levels as they achieved 100% passage on their state reading test!

While testing is how the state ranks our schools, our students excel in so many more areas.  For example, JAG High School students earned 102 college credits through dual enrollment and AP courses. Our band continues to impress at band shows across the area, and even performed at the Hiram College Homecoming game!

Our teachers are awesome. Students perform at high levels, but behind every high test score, academic accolade or athletic achievement there is a team of hard working teachers.

Members of our community have come to expect to see and experience excellence from their schools. You have supported our school system, and this support has been crucial to our excellence. This is what we all expect from our students and one another. Great communities are made even stronger with great schools.  We are committed to excellence and will continue to look at ways we can improve.

As I reflect on my first year as the Superintendent of your schools, I am assured our community is the best place to live, work and learn. My expectations match those of our students, staff and community……..excellence in all aspects of what we do!

As always, I invite you to contact me directly in the office (330.527.4336), on my cell (216.534.7413) or by email (tlysiak@jagschools.org) if you ever have any questions or ideas to share.

Go G-Men!

Mantua – While some kids treasure their extra days off school by sleeping in, on NEOEA Day, several kids donned  rubber boots, joined their families to hunt for treasures in the heart of Mantua Village. At Mantua’s Buchert Park (4800 East High Street), the group met Ryan Moss from the Ohio Division of Natural Resources. Moss donned his waders to enter the river, showing firsthand some of the hidden treasures that can be found in a typical Cuyahoga River monitoring exercise.

First, Moss used a Turbidity Tube — a narrow PVC tube roughly two feet long — to show participants how to measure the river’s water clarity. Looking through the side of the tube, the water appeared remarkably clear. But changing perspective and looking through the top of the tube, participants realized that because of sediment, the bottom was hidden, just as the river’s bottom is hidden from view. Moss’s next step, however, shed plenty of light on some of the interesting creatures that call the Crooked River home. And while the depth and current of the river made it impossible for the children, mostly third graders from Crestwood Intermediate School, to enter the river, Moss brought some of the river to them.

Moss used two plastic shoebox-sized bins as mini aquariums, which he filled with river water. Taking a three-foot section of netting, Moss entered the river and used his feet to jostle the rocks resting on the river’s bottom, sending its former occupants into the waiting net. After carefully closing the net, Moss exited the river, opening the net flat so that the group could locate critters, examine them, and place them into the waiting bins. Hidden among the fall leaves, participants found crayfish, a multitude of insect larvae, tiny freshwater clams and a water penny beetle. Moss and a team of volunteers monitor the Cuyahoga in various locations during early spring, summer and fall to test water quality of the river by the variety of creatures found within it. According to Moss, the river quality at Buchert Park rated excellent that day.

After releasing their treasures back into the river, participants followed Rosemary Krupar, CIS third grade teacher and Teacher-Ranger-Teacher for Cuyahoga Valley National Park, down the nearby Headwaters Trail to investigate the Oak Ridge Trail. The boisterous group startled a snake sunning itself along the trail as they identified leaves, explored the woods, and enjoyed the crisp fall day.

Nature Treks is a free extracurricular program to provide outdoor education to Crestwood students and their families. During several sessions throughout the 2014-2015 school year, families will meet at various sites in the area for interactive nature experiences. These sessions take place on select weekdays when school is not in session. For more information on upcoming Nature Treks, contact Rosemary Krupar at Crestwood Intermediate School, rkrupar@crestwoodschools.org.

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Is there a threat of Ebola in Portage County?

• Stay calm. Portage County has NO cases of Ebola, and the threat of Ebola virus transmission in Portage County is extremely low.

• At this time, because the nurse who tested positive for Ebola visited Summit County on October 10-13, Summit County Public Health is conducting the communicable disease investigations with people she contacted during her visit.

• After preliminary investigation, SCPH has not identified any public events or large public gatherings attended by the affected healthcare worker in Summit County, Portage County, or any other surrounding counties.

• It appears as though the healthcare worker who has Ebola had limited social contact outside of a small number of family and friends.

• There is no need to close schools or cancel events.

Is there a threat of Ebola at Kent State University?

• Stay calm. There are NO cases of Ebola on KSU Campus.

• The nurse who tested positive for Ebola did not visit KSU during her visit.

• Three family members who had contact with the nurse who tested positive for Ebola work in administrative services at Kent State University, and staff members in those departments have been briefed. The three employees do not teach in the classroom and have little or no contact with students.

• The identity of the employees will remain confidential to protect their privacy.

• They have not reported any symptoms. Out of an abundance of caution, KSU has asked the three employees to remain off campus for the next 21 days and self-monitor per the CDC protocol.

• Classes are not cancelled. All KSU buildings remain open. Regular campus activities, including Homecoming, will continue as planned.

Can you tell me more about Ebola infection?

• Ebola is a rare and potentially deadly disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus strains.

• Ebola is spread by touching the blood and bodily fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of a person who is sick with blood and bodily fluids on it like clothes and bedding.Ebola is not spread through the air, food, or water.

• Patients are contagious only when they are symptomatic and show signs of a fever. Symptoms include:

o fever (greater than 100.4 F)
o diarrhea
o severe headache
o vomiting
o muscle pain
o stomach pain
o weakness
o unexplained bleeding or bruising

• Coughing and sneezing are not symptoms of Ebola. They are symptoms of the common cold or a respiratory virus, such as the flu.

• Anyone believing that they have been in contact with a person with Ebola should contact their health care provider.

• There is no FDA-approved vaccine or medicine to treat Ebola. However, treatment can be offered for symptom management, such as keeping the patient hydrated, maintaining normal oxygen and blood pressure, and treating other infections as they occur.

What can I do to make sure I don’t catch Ebola?

• Ebola is spread through direct contact with blood and bodily fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of an infected and symptomatic person. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 30-60 seconds.

• Do not handle items that may have come in contact with blood and bodily fluids.

• Seek medical care immediately if you develop a fever (greater than 100.4 F), severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, and unexplained bleeding or bruising and have had contact with someone who has been diagnosed with Ebola.

What is Portage County doing to respond to Ebola?

• The local health departments have been working with community partners for years to plan a strongly coordinated community response to public health emergencies. The Incident Command Structure, including the Joint Information Center (TIC), is an efficient and well-planned way to prepare for and respond to public health and safety concerns.

• In response to the public health concern of Ebola, the Joint Information Center, or JIC, has been activated in Portage County. This means designated Information Officers at several community agencies come together to ensure we are communicating effectively between agencies and with the public about Ebola. This group also ensures that local residents, families, healthcare providers, and first responders have the most up-to-date information about Ebola.

• The JIC includes: PCHD, Kent City Health Department (KCHD), Portage County Emergency Management Agency (EMA), Robinson Memorial Hospital, and Kent State University. In addition, the partners are engaged in the following activities:
• Kent City Health Department: Because the area of highest concern in Portage County is Kent State University, Kent City Health Department is working diligently to resolve any issues of concern in that jurisdiction.

• Portage County Health Department is fully engaged in monitoring the health status of its residents and is working closely with KCHD and Ohio Department of Health in this regard.

• Portage County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) has activated their staff to monitor the Ebola situation.

• Robinson Memorial Hospital is taking extensive precautions to protect staff and increase readiness to care for potential Ebola exposure or confirmed cases.

• KSU University Health Services has activated its internal Incident Command Structure on a small scale.

What else is being done outside of Portage County?

• As of October 15, Ohio Department of Health has activated its Ebola preparedness plan.

• As of October 15, Summit County Public Health has activated its Incident Command Structure (ICS).

Because the nurse who tested positive for Ebola in Dallas on October 14 visited Summit County on October 10-13, SCPH is conducting the communicable disease investigations with people she contacted during her visit.

Where can I get more information?

• Call Summit County Public Health’s Ebo1a information line at 330-926-3939, or call Ohio Department of Health’s Ebola call center at 1-866-800-1404.

• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov/ebola.

• Ohio Department of Health at www.odh.gov/.

• Portage County Health Department at www.co.portage.oh.us/healthdepartmenthtm.

• Kent City Health Department at www.kentpublichealth.org.

• “Like” Portage Prepares on Facebook and Twitter for updates.


PORTAGE COUNTY LOCAL HEALTH DEPARTMENTS

JOINT COMMAND TEAM