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Garrettsville – On March 11, 2011, Charles Klamer will celebrate a benchmark which makes him the longest-serving school district superintendent in Portage County. On that date in 1991, Klamer became superintendent of the James A. Garfield School District.

Over the next 20 years, he was to pull the flailing school district from the brink of bankruptcy, oversee a successful tax levy that allowed for the construction of a new middle school and a renovated high school, and guide the student body’s scholastic improvement so the district would reach the state’s highest rating for performance in standardized tests, attendance and graduation rates: Excellent with Distinction… all this despite the fact that JAG schools spends less per pupil annually than all but two other school districts in the county. (In 2005, Klamer retired, then was immediately rehired by the board at a lower salary, saving the district about $90,000 over two years.)

With all of this in mind, and Klamer’s current contract set to expire July 31, the JAG Board of Education has extended the superintendent’s contract for another four years. Klamer’s salary under his new contract will remain at $60,000 annually.

Why didn’t the superintendent simply let his current contract run out, so he could retire, satisfied, with the district at the top of its game? “The people keep me here,” Klamer says with a broad smile. “This is my home; this is my community.”

That was not always the case. Before coming to the Garrettsville area, Klamer was superintendent of the Bloomfield-Mespo School District in Trumbull County for nearly 10 years, following two years there as a middle school and high school principal. “But I had my eye on the James A. Garfield School District all the while,” Klamer sys. “I felt that this district had a lot more potential than it showed from the road, whenever I drove by on State Route 88.”

When Klamer became JAG superintendent in 1991, he arrived on a chaotic scene where a “lack of trust, a lack of transparency, and a lack of acceptance of one another had been the rule. The district was basically bankrupt, having accumulated a lot of debt,” Klamer recalls. The levy had failed eight times already, and was about to go on the ballot for a ninth time.”

“But I’m a rather positive person,” Klamer says. “And I came here with a vision. This was one of the only local school districts remaining with a centralized business community that catered to kids — a roller rink, a bowling alley, Dairy Queen and other family-friendly restaurants, parks, a safe atmosphere, strong churches and civic involvement, and caring parents. I believed in this district from the start.”

Klamer deflects any credit given to him on behalf of the district’s achievements. “”It’s not what I’ve accomplished but what the kids, the community, parents and staff have accomplished since I’ve been here. These people work hard and are committed to excellence.”

Looking toward the next four years, Klamer’s main challenge is to sustain Excellence with Distinction. “It’s one thing to get on top academically. It’s quite another to maintain it!”

Garrettsville –  Don’t ever underestimate the power of setting a lofty goal. Call it an unrealistic challenge, an impossible dream or a ridiculous notion. But Chris Perme calls it DONE! And the reward is well worth the time and effort to make it happen.

Christopher Perme, CLTC, Financial Services Professional at Perme Financial Group in Garrettsville, has been a financial planner since 1989, helping his neighbors and friends secure their nest eggs, plan for retirement, and otherwise manage their finances wisely. But now he has gained the corporate spotlight, being named the 2010 Gold Associate of the Year through MassMutual’s northeast Ohio office, known as Skylight Financial Group.

Despite being a small-town agent among big-city competitors from the Cleveland metro area, Perme outperformed 85 regional agents from MassMutual. He was named among 250 premier producers nationwide who qualified as Blue Chip Council members in 2010. He was 15th among 5,200 in premium production, and ninth of 5,200 (third in the region) in annuity production. He increased his own rate of life insurance production by 700% in 2010. Perme’s combination of exponential production, agency and community involvement, plus his wide breadth of offerings elevated him to MassMutual’s highest award for northeast Ohio.

How did he do it? Perme says, “I’m driven. I’m competitive. I set a goal and I went for it. What I realized was, once you hit that goal, and you’re up on stage accepting that award, you realize, it wasn’t so hard after all. If you see where you want to be, you’ve just got to build a bridge to get there. I am finished with self-limiting behavior and the way of thinking that says, ‘You can’t do that!’ Figure out how to get it done. Period.”

Perme acknowledges he has had help with bridge-building, primarily from his office manager, Melissa Wilde, who sees to it that all the increased paperwork goes through accurately and securely; and his wife, Jenette, who is patient with his long and odd working hours…as well as their children, Christopher (9) and Jordan (7). He also credits this community with being composed of “Mayberry” qualities that make his job easier and a joy to do.

“It’s different out here,” Perme says affectionately. “This community is not made up of people who throw all their money into McMansions they can’t afford to furnish. They tend to be reasonable and responsible with their money. They actually have stuff paid off rather than going deeper in debt. So it’s very rewarding to help these true Americans prepare for their futures and better their situations.”

Perme grew up in Kirtland, but settled in Garrettsville in 1996 with his family after establishing his office along Eagle Creek at the intersection of Main and Freedom Streets, in the heart of the village’s downtown district. Perme loves the small-town atmosphere, where he can do a professional job without worrying about big-city expectations.

“If I’ve got a tie on, will that make your investments go up?” Perme asks. “Of course not! I love a community where I can do the same work in jeans and my ball cap. There’s no better place to work and live than right here, in the middle of nowhere.”

Windham – The W.V.F.D. Joint Fire District Board met for their regularly scheduled meeting recently.  Prior to the meeting each board member had an opportunity to see the possible new ambulance for the district. The new ambulance is a 2010 Ford E-450 super duty that is set up exactly like the primary ambulance they are already using. This unit, if purchased, will replace the older of the two units they have in service. After viewing the ambulance, they called their regularly-scheduled meeting to order. First item on the agenda was to choose a chairman and vice chairman of the board for the new year. The board chose Dann Timmons as the chairman and Donny Altiere as the vice chairman. Next item on the agenda was the approval of the minutes of the last meeting, bank reconciliation, and January bills and wages.

Fire chief reported that all the trucks were in good shape except for truck 2815.

Engine 2815 was sent to Wire Wizards in Akron to have electrical work done to the inverter when the alternator shorted out. The alternator was replaced as well as two regulators in the inverter.

The chief also reported that the fire extinguishers, Scot Air Paks and new radios were in, however the air packs came without audio which is needed and the board agreed to order them. When the department purchased these previously they came standard with the air paks but now they have to be ordered separately. The Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (M.A.B.A.S.) is been revamped and is ready to be used. This procedure is set up for our dispatchers to make calling for mutual aid departments easier. When activated, the dispatcher will be given a box alarm and number. In the number is all the information he/she needs to call out the mutual aid. Such information includes the fire department, equipment needed and phone number of the M.A.B.A.S. requested.

The chief stated that the office is almost completed and they will be soon working on painting the meeting room. The firemen will do the labor. All the board will need to do is purchase the paint. The chief also reported that after they had evaluated everyone’s gear and discovered that two sets are outdated and two other sets need to be cleaned. The gear was sent to Warren Fire who routinely handles their equipment needs. Finally the chief reported that Rich Gano has submitted a resignation for retirement from the fire department. Mr. Gano has faithfully served the community for 29 years as a firefighter and a medic. The board regretfully accepted his retirement and thanked him for all the years he had served the community faithfully.

Mr. Terry Fund from Lifeline Emergency Vehicles presented figures to the board for the purchase of a new ambulance. After some discussion the board tabled the approval of the purchase until next month so the board could review the proposal and inquire about a lease-purchase.

The fire board meets on the second Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at the fire station. All meetings are opened to the public.

Did anybody see the animals lining up two-by-two down by the bridge?  Holy Cow! (Bull and cow, if you want to get technical.)  What wild weather!  March, acting like a typical cat, couldn’t wait to “come in like a lion” and pounced on the last day of February.  What a crazy Monday.  Flood warnings were posted all over northeast Ohio.  Ice was churning down rivers at some of the highest levels in decades.  Garrettsville was swamped for a while, with police barricades on village streets…including   in front of the firehouse.  Low spots turned into lakes and caused motorists to slow to a crawl to avoid the “paddlewheel” effect. {with apologies to Alfred Lord Tennyson : Flooding to the north of us, Flooding to the west of us, Flooding to the east of us , Flood at our center.  Scarce one from G-Ville could exit or enter…. “Charge of the Light Brigade”}

Then the temperature proceeded to drop like a stone and it was back to snow again.  How often in winter do we have the high temperature  for the day arrive at just after midnight…or hear thunder and see lightning through clouds of ground fog?  While it’s pounding down rain?  Good grief!

If we are to be compensated for the sturm und drang of this whole episode, it may well be in an outstanding sap run this year.  Warm during the day/cold at night is supposed to be the magic formula and we’ve been approaching that–more or less–for a couple of weeks now.  It’s probably not much fun for the maple producers, having to slosh out to the sugarbush to check the buckets–dilution is not our friend; it already takes upwards of forty gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup… or the lines, if plastic tubing is involved, our little rodent friends love that stuff… and the sugar shack to keep the boilers going full bore.  At least hanging around roaring fires gives some hope that your toes will not freeze and drop off to rattle around in your boots.  Tromping out in the woods does not have that benefit.

One thing I remember from my misspent youth (what a cutie– navy blue snow suit and stocking cap, dark boots with frozen toes inside) was riding on the back end of a sap vat on a horse-drawn sledge through the woods and winding up at the sugarhouse to eat hot dogs,  either boiled in the sap or roasted on sticks at the fire under the boiler.  The organizers of the operation always kept dill pickles and saltine crackers handy to cut the sweetness a little…heck, everyone was out there for the day and wound up drinking sap rather than hauling water out to the woods.  For a change, every so often, somebody would put a small pot on the fire someplace and cook some syrup down to soft ball or hard ball stage and then pour it on snow to make what was known as maple taffy.  You could also cool the stuff a little and beat it together with snow to make “maple ice cream” (It was wise in that situation to check the snow very carefully…yellow snow does NOT make vanilla.).  I have a feeling that is not quite how things are conducted nowadays.  Perhaps a field trip to Apple Maple Products is in order.

Actually, a quick check of the “You’re Invited” section indicates that an inquisitive sort could find several places to find out possibly more about maple product production than they ever wanted to know.  Give one a shot.  It’s bound to be interesting.

Also interesting is the proliferation of  pancake breakfasts… lunches…dinners…suppers…whatever now showing up in just about every neighborhood hereabouts.  Butter melting. Syrup flowing.  Sausage sizzling.  Buckwheats rule!

Get out and enjoy the fruits–metaphorically speaking–of the season.  We might as well get something out of it.  ”The lamb” part of March won’t be “waggin’ his tail behind him” for a while yet.

Baaaa.

Windham Village council met for their regularly scheduled meeting in council chambers at village hall.  Council members in attendance were Rachel Barrett, Scott Garrett, Kelly Meszaros, and Jena Miranda. Council member Phil Snyder was away for a family emergency. Fiscal officer Lloyd Billman reported that the expenditures for January were $ 150,437.91 and the bank reconciliation for January with an all-funds reconciled balance of $561,620.73.

Council president requested an executive session to discuss personnel issues. Council members returned from the executive session after a half hour with no business to vote on from the session.

The board had a prior request from Mr. Dave Apthorpe who is the plant manager for Harbison Walker. Mr. Apthorpe had concerns over new water and sewer rate the village instituted last month. Apthorpe claimed the company’s previous consumption was 685,000 gallons for a month and their bill was $5,768.89. This last month they used 615,000 gallons and were billed $11,838.75. Apthorpe complained that this was double his previous bill for fewer  gallons used. Mayor Rob Donham stated that they re-configured how they bill water and sewer rates to make them more fair. In the past everyone was billed for minimum usage and those who were single or used less water were being billed for water they didn’t use or need. The rates are now billed per 1000 gallons used. The new rates would encourage conservation and equalize the injustice for the low volume users. In the past many residents who used the least amount were funding those who used the most water like the area businesses. Mr. Apthorpe complained that this was a 125% increase and what was he supposed to tell the corporate head why his budget he submitted for the year won’t work. The mayor explained that this was how it was going to be and suggested they look at ways to use less water or loop their water so they could re-use it to reduce their cost.  (Harbison’s large consumption of water is used to cool their machinery.) Donham also offered administrative help to explain to Harbison’s corporate head why the bills have increased.

Paul Blewitt also had a prior request to speak. He was questioning the village’s hiring practices. He wanted to know what it took to get an interview, if and when they actually advertised the position and if they interviewed applicants for the full-time temporary labor position at the water plant. The mayor responded by saying they don’t disclose personnel issues to the public,  however they follow the guidelines set by the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) and the codified ordinances of the village. After some bantering back and forth the mayor stated that they did interview some of the applicants and they hired the best candidate for the position.

In other business, council authorized the purchase of a 2007 Crown Victoria Police Cruiser. The action ratified the authority council gave the police chief at a previous meeting to purchase a cruiser. Council also approved the carry-over of the balance of the police chief’s sick leave hours from the State of Ohio Department of Mental Health at Northcoast Behavioral Healthcare where he had been previous employed. They also adopted the new sewer rates, tabled the adoption of the water rates and tabled a contract with Glacial Energy of Ohio Inc and the contract with the Library. The contracts were tabled so their legal counsel could make changes to the verbiage of the contracts. Lastly Cecelia Swanson from the Portage County Library thanked council for helping them relocate to another facility in the village. She also inquired about the further use of the structure only so they knew how much they needed to dismantle, clean etc. The mayor told her to leave what they wanted and they would take care of it since it appears that the building that housed the library will probably be demolished. The village council meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the village hall.

Middlefield - Vinny’s Authentic Italian Eatery located at 15620 West High Street in Middlefield is sure to please any lover of Italian food.  Vinny’s offers its patrons mouth-watering Italian cuisine at a very reasonable price.  You can expect good, fresh food as well as friendly service.  Their hours are Tuesday through Thursday from 11:30 am until 8 pm, Friday and Saturday from 11:30 am until 9 pm and Sunday from 12 pm until 7 pm.  They are closed on Monday.

Appetizers include fresh fried mozzarella, calamari, bread sticks and more.  Pick a pizza with your choice of toppings or choose from one of the specialty pizzas: White pizza, basil portabella, or meatball morsel.  You can even pick up a slice or two of cheese or pepperoni for lunch (between 11 am and 4 pm).  There are several wonderful entrees to choose from, including pasta, Chicken Picatta or Marsala, Veal Marsala, sautéed shrimp, lasagna and vegetarian options.  They also offer “sangwhiches,” salads, soups and a kid’s menu.   Sides include Italian Risotto-rice with cheese and mushrooms or with shrimp and spinach.  Be sure to leave room for one of the delicious desserts of Tiramisu, Cannoli, Spumoni, caramel apple cheesecake or chocolate confusion cake.  When you are there check out their specials too.

Blaze Tishko and Sam Crea, the owner’s of Vinny’s, have a wonderful and interesting story.  Both men ended up at Newbury High School, although not friends during school,  Blaze knew Sam’s younger brothers and visited the house all the time.  Sam’s mother owned a restaurant called Kitty’s Place.

After high school Sam became a police officer and then went into construction.

Blaze worked at a friend’s uncle’s restaurant in Little Italy.  There he started washing dishes and eventually started to do some of the cooking.  Blaze thought about chef’s school but decided to take a different path, hotel management.  This is when Blaze learned the business from all angles; he washed more dishes, waited tables, tended bar and worked room service in hotels from Cleveland to Columbus and back again.  He left the business for two years to tour America and Europe with his band.  After the tour, he met a woman, married her and quit the band for good.

That is when he started running a restaurant for his stepfather, and decided to move to Geauga County to raise his family.  Unfortunately, the restaurant endeavor did not work out, but Blaze soon found out he was going to be a father and decided he needed to have a trade job in order to raise his family.  He began work as a union bricklayer but did not particularly like it so a friend got him a job at Sand Ridge Golf Course.  After golf season, he got work at Fowler’s Mill as a server then moved into management, but ended up going back to work at Sand Ridge the next season.

Then came a job at Welshfield Inn which helped Blaze to hone his craft and learn the actual business of running a restaurant.  Unfortunately Blaze got cancer and had six months of chemotherapy that laid him up.  There were days he could not get out of bed for being so weak.  The people at Welshfield Inn really helped him through this rough patch.

Blaze then started working at Fowler’s Mill again.  It was there that he and Sam started thinking about and talking about opening a sandwich/pizza shop, this went on for a few years.  With chemotherapy done and a new zest for life, Blaze found this time to be right to make a change and he was ready.  Soon they found a location (the one they are in now), bought a pizza oven and opened Vinny’s on March 1, 2010.

Both Blaze and Sam are completely committed to adhering to strict Italian cooking and recipes as well as always providing the customer with a superior product.  You will not find a deep fryer or dried seasonings on the premises.  This is not fast food but it is great, fresh, authentic Italian food.  Food is in these guys’s blood and it shows in the quality and commitment they have.  It shows in the taste of the food and in the atmosphere.  They know what they are doing.

They are approaching the anniversary of their first year in business and have a loyal following.  If you want to learn more about Vinny’s, check out their website at www.vinnyspizzashop.com.  The next time you have a craving for authentic Italian cooking, why not try Vinny’s.  You will not be disappointed.

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Janet Esposito, Portage County Auditor, is reminding all County residents to make sure they are receiving all the tax reductions they are entitled to off their real estate bills. Senior citizens 65 or older are entitled to the homestead credit for real estate or manufactured homes. Even if a resident turns 65 during this year, they also need to apply before the deadline of June 6, 2011. Prior to July 1, 2007, this credit was based on income and age. However, now it is based on age ONLY. Also, if a homeowner is under 65 but permanently and totally disabled, they are  entitled to this reduction. Taking the few minutes to complete this application could bring the homeowner between $300 to $400 a year in tax savings.

There is one more tax savings program  of   2-1?2% Owner Occupied Real Property Tax Reduction. To receive this reduction, the home needs to be the resident’s principle place of residence and can only be received on one home for real estate or manufactured homes. You must own and occupy your home as your principle place of residence on January 1 of the year that you apply. If you have retained Life Use (LU) or Life Estate (LE) on the deed where you live, you can also apply for the above credits. The same deadline of June 6, 2011 also applies to this application.

If you wish to check and see if you are currently receiving these reductions, please look at your real estate tax bill for a dollar amount opposite HOMESTEAD and 2 1?2% HOMESITE. If no amount appears on these lines, please contact our office at (330) 297-3569 or (330) 297-3570 or (330) 297-3571 to request an application to be mailed to you. Also, you are more than welcome to visit our office at 449 S. Meridian St., Ravenna, 5th floor, Monday thru Friday 8am to 4:30pm or our website is www.portagecountyauditor.org.

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March is around the corner and that means the March Maple Madness Driving Tour is ready to roll.  The tour is sponsored by the Ohio Maple Producers Association and maple producers across Ohio.  The event takes place March 12 & 13, 19 & 20, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This year there are 40 stops in Geauga County, Ashtabula County, Portage County, Lake County and across Ohio that will be open for the free, drive-it-yourself tour.  Experienced sugar makers will be on hand to answer questions and conduct the tours.

Several Saturday only stops are Amish sugarhouses.  Dress for the weather with coats and boots.

A complete tour stop list will be available at each stop or can be printed off at www.ohiomapleproducers.com. Some of the stops will be small operations where enough sweet, golden syrup is made for the family’s annual needs and some are  large commercial operations.

New to the tour this year are Hale Farm, Hueston Woods and Hancock County Park District.  The Burton area will also have a bus to select sugarhouses, fee charged.  For complete  bus information visit www.ridethebigbus.com.

For more information on the tour or maple production, contact Terese Volkmann, Tour Chair,  440-834-1415, or Volkmann@simcon.net.

Maple syrup is made in only a very small part of the entire world.  Geauga County and northeast Ohio are in the heart of this amazing area.  Maple syrup production in northeast Ohio dates back to Native Americans who tapped the maple tree each spring to make sweet sugar.  The tradition continued, beginning with early settlers and has survived  today.

Visit a maple operation during the 2010 March Maple Madness Driving Tour and learn about pure maple syrup.

Garrettsville – Charles Chevrolet is supporting the Garrettsville community through a partnership with Garrettsville Baseball League. The dealership will provide baseball equipment, instructional clinics, a monetary donation, and an opportunity to raise an additional $10,000 in funds through a Chevy vehicle giveaway-fundraiser.  The effort by Charles Chevrolet is part of the Chevy Youth Baseball initiative being rolled out across the nation from March through July 2011.

“Baseball is a great American past-time and Chevrolet is proud to have a longstanding history with this tradition on a national level. Charles Chevrolet is bringing that level of commitment for youth baseball to the Garrettsville community, where our customers and their families live,” said Bruce Abraham, vice president for Charles Chevrolet. “Our youth baseball program in Garrettsville is truly cherished and we are happy and excited to support the kids in a significant way.”

Charles Chevrolet will present the Garrettsville Baseball League with equipment kits complete with equipment bags, baseball buckets, dugout managers, and Chevy Youth Baseball t-shirts.  The sponsorship includes clinics with experienced instructors from former MLB/MiLB players and coaches or the Ripken Baseball professional staff.

In addition, a one-time monetary donation check will be presented by Charles Chevrolet to Garrettsville Baseball League.  The team also will have an opportunity to raise additional funds for their use as part of a Chevy Youth Baseball Fundraiser.  Sponsored leagues across the country will each receive 2,000 fundraiser entry tickets to distribute for a suggested donation, and the league will keep 100 percent of proceeds raised.  At the end of the fundraiser, there will be five winners of a Chevy Equinox or Chevy Cruze vehicle of choice (up to $30,000 in value), and in each participating market there will be a secondary prize of a home entertainment center valued at $1,000.

Chevrolet is recognized on the national level as the “Official Vehicle of Major League Baseball.”  “Chevrolet vehicles are made for families and we hope the kids or their parents will consider a Chevrolet as an official vehicle of their household,” said Abraham.

Chevrolet has expanded its support of MLB to the youth baseball players in communities across the country through the Chevy Youth Baseball program. The Chevy Youth Baseball program began in Atlanta in 2006. In 2010, more than 980 Chevrolet dealers participated in Chevy Youth Baseball and helped raise more than $3 million for youth baseball programs across the USA.  Now going into its sixth year, more than $10 million has been contributed to youth baseball in the communities where Chevrolet’s customers live, work, and play. Currently, 1,423 Chevrolet dealers are participating in this national program.

For more information about Chevy Youth Baseball, please visit www.youthsportswired.com.

Pictured above are (front row) Hallie Zdanczewski, Caitlyn Isler, Julia Brookover; (back row) Jeremy Isler, Sarita Greene, Marietta Brown, Barb Burns, Kendra Wilmington - Manager of the Windham Salvation Army, and Principal Michael Chaffee

Pictured above are (front row) Hallie Zdanczewski, Caitlyn Isler, Julia Brookover; (back row) Jeremy Isler, Sarita Greene, Marietta Brown, Barb Burns, Kendra Wilmington - Manager of the Windham Salvation Army, and Principal Michael Chaffee

Windham – Recently the students of Windham Junior and Senior High Schools had a canned food drive to benefit the Windham Salvation Army.  The students collected over 300 canned goods and raised $120.  As a reward for reaching their goals, the students were treated to a demonstration from the Portage County Sheriff’s Department Canine Unit.

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Burton – Do you long for the taste of real homemade baked goods made with fresh ingredients from scratch?  If so, Countryside Home Bakery located at 17075 Mumford Road is the place to go.  Countryside Home Bakery offers many different types of baked goods such as breads, dinner rolls, pies, cookies, pecan rolls and their specialty cinnamon rolls.  You can also find a variety of fry pies on Fridays and Saturdays.  In order to provide their customers with other  quality food options, they also offer  locally-produced regular and sugar free jams and jellies, dill pickles, barbeque sauce, cashew crunch, honey, maple syrup and concentrated homemade iced tea mix.  Want something special, no problem, they also take special orders.
Ivan Bender, the owner, explained that the bakery opened in 2005 to help supplement the family income but has turned into a successful family-run business.  Mr. Bender explained that it is the use of fresh ingredients, the homemade touch and the wood burning baking oven that has helped make the business a success along with a lot of hard work.  The baked items contain real butter and they use canola oil in the baking as often as possible.  Mr. Bender explained that there are just some things that do not work well with canola oil, but they use it whenever they can.  They use tried and true traditional recipes and basic baking techniques.
Mr. Bender also explained that everything is homemade, even the pie fillings.   The idea is to provide their customers with high quality, homemade baked goods.  That idea has worked as their customers come back time and time again and they gain new ones all the time.
The bakery is normally open Wednesday through Saturday from 8 am until 5 pm.  The bakery is located approximately 1.5 miles on Mumford off of Route 168, also known as Tavern Road. There is a sign at the corner of Mumford and 168.  If you are traveling on Route 422, turn onto Mumford Road and drive approximately 2.25 miles north.   The bakery is located between Patch Road and Nash Road on Mumford.
Do not forget about them when holidays approach, during those special times of the year they offer holiday cookies and gift baskets as well as specialty baked items.  You can get your dinner rolls and breads there.  You can make any meal special with homemade breads and rolls from Countryside Home Bakery.
If you have specific questions or want to place a special order, you can call them at 440-834-0776, please let it ring; someone will pick up or you can leave a message. The bakery may be a little off the beaten path, but is well worth the time and the trip to stop and taste the difference freshness and traditional homemade baking makes.  Countryside Home Bakery is another one of many Geauga County treasures.

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Burton – Division III of the annual Friends of the Burton Public Library Chess Tournament was completed Saturday, February 19, by 7 participants from northeast Ohio.
One player, Nathan Ferris, a 12th grade Perry High School student won all four of his games and the first place medal.
Two players scored three points each:     Jonathon Bumbarger, a sixth grade Wickliffe student;    Christopher Koschki, an eighth grade Berkshire student from Claridon.
A playoff game determined Bumbarger to be the second place winner with Koschki taking third place.
Division IV (Adults) will be played Saturday, February 26

Call the Burton library at (440)834-4466 to register.  The rear entrance to the library will be open at  10:00 a.m. to admit participants.   The tournament is free and open to all.

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I apologize for no bowling article last week; I was bowling in the Ohio Women’s Intercity Tournament last weekend in Sandusky.   We had a great time (and I bowled fairly well).  So this time I have two weeks of scores to report.
This week’s high series was rolled by Kim Wampler.  Kim had 210 her first game and a 538 series.  Kim’s team, the Attitude Adjustments, was on a roll; Jessica Potteiger shot 526 and Ryan Ambler shot 522, with a high game of 214.  Zach Hoffman and Collin McGurer both shot 203 their last games; Zach rolled a 533 series.  Shannon Kerr had a whopping 173 game, 77 pins over her average of 96.  And teammate (and sister) Emma Kerr was 48 pins over the first game with her 118 game.   The Dominators team was 142 pins over average the first game; Belladonna Titschinger was 46 pins over average with 124, Ali Franklin was 46 over with 160, and Shayne Carter was 50 pins over with 134.  Other nice scores:  Noah Hoffman, 124 (30 pins over average), Taylor Mick, 133 (30 pins over), Kayla Hunt, 117 (49 pins over), Jaret Doraski, 178 (42 pins over), Nick Toke, 158 (36 pins over), Zach Capron, 138 (48 pins over), Kurt Bokesch, 164 (43 pins over), and Noah Shannon, 164 (33 pins over).
In the 9:00 Trio League, Danny Painley had high game with 163.  High series was rolled by Ashleigh Quiggle with 362.  Other nice games were rolled by Nathan Slaughter, 140 (62 pins over average), Danielle Tuttle, 126 (49 pins over), Joey Ewell, 134 (45 pins over average), Floria Gerardino, 116 (40 pins over , Nathan Pallotto, 126 (38 pins over), Matt Hale, 100 (35 pins over), Makayla Gough, 114 (34 pins over), and  Adam Norris, 127 (34 pins over).
Last week’s high scores in the 9:00 Trio League were rolled by Emma Dockery.  Emma shot 139, 173, and 180 for a very nice 492 series.  Other nice games:  Kassie Fedor, 152, (54 pins over), Nathan Phillips, 147 (52 pins over), Danny Painley, 140 (44 pins over), Jack Norris, 99 (42 pins over) and Courtney Lytle, 131 (41 pins over).
High series last week in the 11:00 Trio League was Collin McGurer with 502.  Collin also shared high game honors with Adam Tanner with games of 186.  Some other nice scores were rolled by Nick Toke, 181 (60 pins over average), Andrew Morrissey, 153 (48 pins over), Jaret Doraski, 181 (47 pins over), Kurt Bokesch, 166 (47 pins over), and Lucas Titschinger, 125 (40 pins over).
Top scores in the 9:00 PeeWee League were Kalen Caris with 105, Hannah Madden with 98, and Alex Gage, also with 98.  Last week’s high bowlers were Travis Horner with 127 and Isaac Trickett with two games of 96.
Owen Wolff had high score in the 11:00 PeeWee league with 125.  Darrion Sidwell shot 105.  And last week’s high PeeWee scores were  Katie Fazi  with 108 and Jordan Kwiecinsky with 97.

Garrettsville –  It’s gonna be sweet! …Not just the edible set of candy confections, but the entire production of “Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory”, the spring musical taking the James A. Garfield High School stage April 7-10. Come and see how Violet Beauregarde morphs into the Blueberry Girl, how snotty Veruca Salt can be, how the Oompa-Loompas make all that candy, how strange Willie Wonka really is, how Charlie makes everything alright, and so much more.
Why Willie Wonka? “We wanted a show that appeals to the whole family, something that everyone would enjoy,” says producer Joe Gaither. “It’s kind of a funny story really… Do you remember that AT&T commercial that ran all summer long? The one with the paper sketches interacting on the streets of a city with the music of “Pure Imagination” sung by Gene Wilder (the original Willy Wonka)?  That’s where the idea came from.”
Most of the lead roles are being played by high school students and some of the younger roles are being played by middle school and intermediate school students. “The nice thing about theatre at Garfield is that the kids really adapt well to their roles,” Gaither says. “With a little costume, makeup, and some attitude, the audience will never know that an adult role is being played by an 18- or perhaps a 16-year-old.”
People routinely ask which movie is this production closest to, the Jonny Depp or Gene Wilder version? Gaither responds, “Well, the Jonny Depp version is closest to the book (by Roald Dahl) but the music comes from the Gene Wilder version. You will find a lot of similarities to both movie versions in this stage performance.”
Anticipating another sold-out performance (like last year’s Beauty & the Beast), Gaither has pre-show tickets going on sale February 28. This year, assigned seating is being utilized, so patrons will be able to select the seat of their choice (based on availability). Payments must be made in order to reserve tickets. Gaither has the layout of the auditorium posted on the school website to make it easier for parents and the community to view a seating chart as well as a form to mail in ticket payments. You will find links to these in the “NEWS” section at the top of the right column of the James A. Garfield High School home page: http://www.garfield.sparcc.org .
People may also call high school secretary, Mrs. Young, at (330) 527-4341 or can stop in at the high school front office during business hours (8 a.m. – 2 p.m.) to purchase tickets.  If you call to reserve tickets, payment must be received within 24 hours or the reservation will be forfeited.
Ticket prices are $7 for adults and $5 for students 18 and under, and for senior citizens. All checks must be made out to James A. Garfield Local Schools. All sales are final; there are no refunds or changing of seats and dates after purchase is made.
Showtimes are at 7:30 p.m. April 7-9, and 2 p.m. on April 10 (doors open 30 minutes prior to start).
Fundraisers are in motion to offset costs for the musical, including school dances, silk rose sales, a concession stand, and program ad sales. ‘Breakfast with the Characters of Willy Wonka’ will also be hosted at James A. Garfield Elementary School in early April, before the start of the school day.  Information will be sent home with all elementary students.

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Mantua – The Mantua-Shalersville Area Chamber of Commerce met on February 16, 2011. The featured business was GoRilla Productions of Mantua. Owner Brent Simon offers custom web design, web maintenance, website tune-ups, and multimedia production. He offers quality services at prices that are affordable.
Crestwood School District is happy to announce that this year the 8th graders will be taking the first trip to Washington D.C. The Scholarship Committee is planning to give out two $1,000 scholarships and is asking for businesses to sponsor holes at the golf outing to help cover the scholarships. Scholarship applications are due by April 19. Applications can be found online at the Mantua-Shalersville Chamber website with complete rules and mailing information.
The Portage County Soap Box Derby has cars and needs drivers. Businesses are also welcome to sponsor a car. For more information on drivers and sponsors, please call Dean at (330) 351-3035, Kelly at (330) 541-1075 or Barb at (330) 931-0537.
Eddie Brunner announced that the Downtown Revitalization now has its 501-c3 status. She reported that they are working on getting money from the County Commissioners and trying to obtain grants.
The majority of the meeting was given to the discussion of the ordinance that the Mayor would like to have put on the ballot limiting truck access on certain common routes into Mantua. The Mayor claims that trucks are causing major damage to certain roads. There are many trucking companies located in Mantua that employ local residents. Also many businesses in Mantua depend on the trucks to get supplies or they can count on supplying trucking companies and drivers with fuel, food, parts and service. The Mayor was invited to attend the Chamber meeting but was unable to attend. It was decided that the Chamber Officers would try to meet with the Mayor before the next meeting.
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 16th at 7:30am.

Nelson Twp. – Nelson Township Trustees met for their regularly scheduled meeting with about ten residents in attendance. Fiscal officer Mr. Finney presented bills and wages to the trustees; after reviewing them they approved the affidavits. The trustees noted that the windows at the community house were installed and the doors should be in by the end of March.
Mr. Turos gave an overview of the state township meetings that the trustees attended. Items they discussed were cyber liability, snow removal liability, roads, and bridge liability. Mr. Turos also stated that he had the opportunity to share with other townships the legal situation Nelson is in with U.S Liquids. He said he found many were interested in the situation because they were also approached by a “green” company that was interested in establishing a product recycling center in their township.
Trustee Wilson stated that they had received an offer to have the gas well swabbed out this week and this would be cheaper than previously thought. Before the well could be swabbed, they need to prove who is the owner of the wells and pump. Once that is determined, the wells will be swabbed and they will be able to start using the fuel from them in the maintenance building. For the last few months they had been heating the building with portable units.
Trustee Leonard stated that he is still investigating the fuel tank situation and it appears they can do most of the work themselves saving the township money.  New EPA mandates are the reason Nelson has to replace their current tanks with double-walled tanks. Trustee Leonard also stated that the Block Watch Program conducted by Sheriff Doak was attended by 30 residents. The program lasted an hour and everyone seemed interested in seeing this instituted.
Leonard also reported that the web site was up and running. After some investigating and checking with the prosecutor, it was recommended that they not do a blog on the website.
Fiscal officer Finney reported that the general fund of the budget was very tight and he wasn’t sure where else he could cut. This brought up a discussion on the rising insurance cost for township employees and elected officials. Mr. Turos stated that “The insurance cost are a cancer that is eating away our funds”. He also stated that, “It is the trustees responsibility to take care of the roads and cemeteries and the funds are just being eaten up by insurance costs and it has to stop.” The trustees agreed they would have to do something with the insurance costs and would look into it in the near future. Finney stated that the other designated funds were good it was just the general fund that was running very lean.
Mr. Leonard re-introduced Boy Scout Josh Gula from Mantua who is a member of the Nelson troop. Mr. Gula brought drawings for the trustees to check out for the two signs he will build for the township. The signs are Gula’s Eagle Scout project. One will be located at the new baseball field at Pixley Park and the other at the Community House.
The trustees decided to move the township meeting to the Community House until May, that way there will be no confusion over the meeting place while they solve the heat dilemma at the maintenance garage. The trustees meet at 7:30 on the first and third Wednesday of each month.

Garrettsville Mayor Craig Moser and Council President Rick Patrick took a gentlemen’s bet, whether the bridge it would reopen by Monday, February 21 or not.  Guess who won?  Pictured are ODOT Engineer-Craig Dunbar, Community Ambulance-Pam Collins, Fire Chief Dave Friess, Ambulance Chief Chris Sanchez, Mayor Craig Moser, Police Chief Tony Milicia, Council President Rick Patrick, and Councilman Bob Matson.

Garrettsville Mayor Craig Moser and Council President Rick Patrick took a gentlemen’s bet, whether the bridge it would reopen by Monday, February 21 or not. Guess who won? Pictured are ODOT Engineer-Craig Dunbar, Community Ambulance-Pam Collins, Fire Chief Dave Friess, Ambulance Chief Chris Sanchez, Mayor Craig Moser, Police Chief Tony Milicia, Council President Rick Patrick, and Councilman Bob Matson.

Garrettsville – The break in winter weather we experienced last week was just what ODOT needed to take the wraps off the State Route 82 Bridge and re-open it to vehicle traffic… nine months after the old bridge was closed for demolition and reconstruction.
The new, rolled steel frame bridge spanning Eagle Creek at Windham and Main Streets (SR 82) opened on Thursday, February 17 after being closed since May 2010. The historic arch bridge that once linked motorists to downtown Garrettsville had been built in 1932.
“It has been a long and complicated struggle for everyone; especially the Main Street merchants,” stated Council President Rick Patrick.
The new bridge was originally scheduled to re-open in early October 2010, but the extensive demolition process, time-consuming detail work, weather problems and engineering snags accumulated, prolonging the bridge closure. In January 2011, ODOT engineer Craig Dunbar warned that bridgework had to be suspended throughout the remainder of winter, because concrete would not set unless we experienced several consecutive days of dry, above-40-degree-days. Considering the severity of this winter’s weather, Dunbar expected to get back to work in April, with the total project coming to completion in May, one year after the project began.
But that prolonged delay did not sit well with Patrick, who wanted to relieve local businesses and patrons from the inconvenience of the extended bridge closure. “I have been in contact with Craig Dunbar right from the beginning, and just recently had told him that enough is enough! The weather is getting warm enough to re-open for vehicles and we need to make it happen. Craig has been very cooperative throughout the whole project and agreed to do what it would take to get it reopened that week,” Patrick said.
A stretch of sunny, spring-like weather last week melted away the mounds of snow that had covered the bridge all winter, and allowed work crews to make saw-cuts across the deck of the bridge pavement, providing road surface traction. Plastic sheeting came down from around the bridge railings, allowing the concrete to cure in the sun. Roadblocks were removed, detour signs came down, and surprised motorists began crossing the new bridge on Thursday.
The noticeably wider bridge features baluster concrete railings and is illuminated by antique replica iron lamp-posts with etched-glass globes. It is open to motorists, but is not totally completed. Sidewalks, landscaping, concrete sealing and road striping have yet to be done, and a special dedication of two historical markers will be made in the late spring or early summer… and then the $1.8 million project will finally be done.

Garrettsville – True artists are said to look at the world differently. They tap into that side of themselves that allows them to find beauty and melody in things that other people just see as objects. Vox Voronet is a band made up of four musical artists who derived their band’s name from a color of blue seen in a fresco, Voronet Blue. This vibrant, intense shade of blue signifies the intensity of their music.
Vox Voronet’s members came together last spring to create a style of music that is both appealing and intriguing. Like many bands, each member started out with a passion for music. Andy Kohler, originally from Nelson, plays guitar and sings; Chris Wetzl, originally from Youngstown, plays the bass and synthesizer and sings; Matt Kluchar, also from Youngstown, plays drums and sings; and Scott Teresi, originally from Garrettsville, plays the piano and saxophone. Each band member brings his own style and influence to create a unique style of music.
The band’s indie/pop music —  music that is independent of major labels — and its direction are in the hands of the band itself,  not grounded in any specific genre of music. When they practice and play in concert, each member listens to the flow created by the other members and joins in with his own contribution. Their goal is to capture their audience with their music, allowing them to be swept away in the moment and crave more when it is over.
Vox Voronet started doing live shows in the fall of 2010, their first show being at Sadie Rene’s in North Canton. They have played at many different venues since. The band continues to practice and create new music. Their long-term goal is to rework their live performance music into studio format to create a CD for distribution. Currently you can hear them at http://voxvoronet.bandcamp.com and www.youtube.com/voxvoronet. You can also follow them on Facebook to see where they are performing next and what they are up to.
If you are intrigued by this band and their unique sound, you have a chance to see them locally on March 4th. The band is returning to Scott and Andy’s hometown of Garrettsville to perform at the Roller Hutt from 10-11:30pm (admission is $5). This isn’t just a show for the younger generation, parents are welcome to attend and enjoy the show.

“Sizzlers” star Pastor Rick Hughes.

“Sizzlers” star Pastor Rick Hughes.

You’ve still got time to get to some Family Week activities sponsored by the Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary Club.
Friday, February 25 is Friday Night Out.  Take your whole troop to one or more of the local activities-bowling skating, dining, etc.–featured in the Villager pages.  Make an evening of it.  Connect.  Enjoy.
Saturday, February 26 is the Family Fun Festival at the James A. Garfield Elementary School from 11:00am to 2:00pm…food, fun inflatables…games, great doughnut holes…what a good time!  Ask-A-Doc is a new wrinkle and an introduction to Dr. Jessica Bittence, who’ll be the guiding light at the coming Robinson Health Center at Garrettsville.  Come meet the “new kid on the block,” get your blood pressure checked, get information on services and support groups offered by Robinson.  Stay for the awards and prizes.  Bring the family. Make a day of it!
Of course, you missed the 10th Annual Family Music Festival.  It was the kick-off event for the whole week and featured performers from across the spectrum of local talent, from Jill Waters, who opened the proceedings with the National Anthem (accompanied by Rotarian Jim Irwin), through the “Sizzlers” of the Nelson United Methodist Church (You know how the TV people do those “roasts” of celebrities ?  Well, this was a “kinder, gentler”…funnier…version for local consumption.  No major flames but some cute sparks), the Singing Grannies, the choir of the Windham United Methodist Church, the Windham Country Classy Red Hatters, harpist Ellen Eckhouse with a medley of Irish tunes, Tom and Brenda Mesaros and those ever-popular Friends– Roy Pancost, Dale Lacan, and Butch Seiler.  Tina Lemley rounded off the afternoon by leading the audience and performers in singing a family-themed farewell.  Great stuff…and just the beginning!

Hiram – Hiram College’s Lindsay-Crane Center for Writing and Literature invites you to attend a convocation with poet and essayist Rebecca McClanahan on March 1, 2011 at 7 p.m. in the Pritchard Room of Hiram College Library.
Rebecca McClanahan has published nine books, most recently Deep Light: New and Selected Poems and a suite of memoir-based essays, The Riddle Song and Other Rememberings, which won the 2005 Glasgow Prize in Nonfiction. She has also authored four previous books of poetry and three books of writing instruction.
McClanahan’s work has appeared in The Best American Poetry, The Best American Essays, The Pushcart Prize series, Poetry, Kenyon Review, The Georgia Review, The Gettysburg Review, Boulevard, and Ms. Magazine, as well as in anthologies published by Beacon, Norton, Doubleday, St. Martin’s, Putnam, Penguin, and others.  She conducts readings, workshops, and lectures throughout the country, and teaches in the low-residency MFA programs at Queens University and Rainier Writers Workshop. Her current work-in-progress, a multi-generational nonfiction saga of an extended Midwest family, focuses on the difficulties and rewards of communal bonds.
The Lindsay-Crane Center wishes to thank the following organizations for their generous support of this event:  Building Community Through the Arts, the Office of Institutional Advancement, the Office of Alumni Relations, the Office of Special Events, and the Department of Education.

Mantua – About 400 parents, teachers, current and incoming high school students attended Crestwood High School’s first ever 8th Grade Information night, Feb. 15 at Crestwood High School. Forty-five different high school groups participated in the event, ranging from academics to extra-curricular and co-curricular subjects. Many of the tables that the high school students created for the student showcase involved interactive activities and games. Some offered prizes and giveaways.


bout 400 parents, teachers, current and incoming high school students attended Crestwood High School’s first ever 8th Grade Information night, Feb. 15 at Crestwood High School. Forty-five different high school groups participated in the event, ranging from academics to extra-curricular and co-curricular subjects. Many of the tables that the high school students created for the student showcase involved interactive activities and games. Some offered prizes and giveaways.

About 400 parents, teachers, current and incoming high school students attended Crestwood High School’s first ever 8th Grade Information night, Feb. 15 at Crestwood High School. Forty-five different high school groups participated in the event, ranging from academics to extra-curricular and co-curricular subjects. Many of the tables that the high school students created for the student showcase involved interactive activities and games. Some offered prizes and giveaways.

Crestwood Middle School students and their parents were invited to the event which was organized in order to help ease the critical transition between middle school and high school.

“Statistics show that if a student is not successful during his or her 9th grade year, they are much more likely to continue to be unsuccessful during their remaining years of high school and are at an increased risk of not graduating,” said Crestwood High School guidance counselor and event organizer Tracy Kuntz. “We feel that providing guidance and support to students and their parents when they are making the transition from middle school to high school is critical in helping our students to have a successful start to their high school career and future.”
In addition to the student showcase that took place in the high school gym, there were two additional presentations: The first featured high school counselors outlining graduation requirements and scheduling classes for high school. In the second presentation Kent State University Geauga branch representative Tom Hoiles discussed what 8th and 9th graders should be doing now to plan for college after high school.\
“This was the first time that we held this event at Crestwood High School,” said Kuntz. “The participation and dedication that was shown by our high students and staff was remarkable. Everyone came together to make the evening great. This was truly a team effort and a huge success for our students, our building, and our community.”

Mantua – About 400 parents, teachers, current and incoming high school students attended Crestwood High School’s first ever 8th Grade Information night, Feb. 15 at Crestwood High School. Forty-five different high school groups participated in the event, ranging from academics to extra-curricular and co-curricular subjects. Many of the tables that the high school students created for the student showcase involved interactive activities and games. Some offered prizes and giveaways.Crestwood Middle School students and their parents were invited to the event which was organized in order to help ease the critical transition between middle school and high school.“Statistics show that if a student is not successful during his or her 9th grade year, they are much more likely to continue to be unsuccessful during their remaining years of high school and are at an increased risk of not graduating,” said Crestwood High School guidance counselor and event organizer Tracy Kuntz. “We feel that providing guidance and support to students and their parents when they are making the transition from middle school to high school is critical in helping our students to have a successful start to their high school career and future.”In addition to the student showcase that took place in the high school gym, there were two additional presentations: The first featured high school counselors outlining graduation requirements and scheduling classes for high school. In the second presentation Kent State University Geauga branch representative Tom Hoiles discussed what 8th and 9th graders should be doing now to plan for college after high school.\“This was the first time that we held this event at Crestwood High School,” said Kuntz. “The participation and dedication that was shown by our high students and staff was remarkable. Everyone came together to make the evening great. This was truly a team effort and a huge success for our students, our building, and our community.”

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Windham – The wait is finally over for the patrons of the Windham branch of the Portage County District Library. Last Thursday, the library opened to débuted its new facility after being closed for about a month. The library is now located at 9005 Wil-Vern Drive inside the Renaissance Family Center (RFC). The hours to the library have changed so please note the new hours: Monday & Friday 10:00am – 4:00pm and Tuesday – Thursday 12:00pm – 6:30 pm. The library is still waiting on internet connections for their computer lab and phone lines but all other aspects of the library are open. The staff anticipates having all services up and running with in the next two weeks.  They also expect to have their same phone number as soon as the phone company releases it. Watch for the children’s programs to be announced soon.

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Hiram – All council members were present during the February 8th council meeting except Councilperson Donley.  At 7 pm, Mayor Bertrand called the meeting to order.  After a moment of silence and the Pledge of Allegiance, the Mayor asked for approval of the 1/25/11 Special Council Meeting minutes and the motion was passed as were the minutes from the 1/11/11 regular council meeting.
The Mayor then asked if there were any public issues to be addressed.  A concerned citizen spoke up regarding her concern about the local bar at Hiram College.  She had found out from Facebook and other sources that the bar was planning on having exotic dancers, a wet t-shirt contest and that there was underage drinking and fights occurring.  The Mayor asked the police chief to address those concerns as well as the fire chief.
The police have been aware of these allegations and have been doing routine ID checks especially during the peak business times.  It was thought that the dancers and contest had been cancelled.  Two arrests were made from the fight mentioned above and that  situation was controlled.  The fire department has gone there to check for fire code violations and to verify that the establishment is well within its occupancy limits.  During one check, the occupancy limit was exceeded, the place was closed for a few hours and allowed to reopen as long as limits were kept to the standard.  After much discussion, it was determined that the police and fire were employing diligence to keep the area safe and keep underage patrons from drinking.  They will continue their vigilant stops and watches.
The Police Report was submitted to council along with the yearly report.  The report detailed past and on-going police training schedules and requirements.  Sgt. Fletcher retired after 19 years of service as well as many other years of service elsewhere.  He was praised highly for his service and commitment. The police chief reported that arrests were up.  They are increasing the off-duty police rates to be more current.
The Fire/EMS Report was submitted to council.  They answered 42 calls last month with an average response time of six minutes and two seconds.  The new fire truck is in and they proudly showed it off after the meeting.  They are very happy with the craftsmanship.  The fire/EMS crew has worked very hard getting all the equipment installed and it should be in service shortly.
The village administrator’s report was submitted to council.  He reported that the cemetery fund spent a little more than the income to date.  The first check for the NOPEC grant has arrived and it was allocated to replace the furnace which was an unexpected expense but he was glad to have had the funds.  The new furnace is a highly efficient unit.  There are still two more payments coming from that grant.
The Mayor’s report was also submitted to council.  He detailed more about the NOPEC grant and how it is to be used for energy efficiency and energy improvements.  He commented on a Public Works Grant.  He explained that the Village is trying to purchase some Hiram College land  (at no cost to the residents): no word back at this time regarding the purchase.  He met with the President of Hiram College to discuss a contract increase for fire and police over a two year period.  He also mentioned that the trash hauler contract would include the college.
The Fiscal Officer’s Report was submitted to council.  The fiscal officer urged the council to come up with a five-year plan; to set aside funds for improvements, repairs, and to prepare for other future costs.  She asked for a motion to approve the financial report submitted and it was passed.  She then asked for a motion to pay bills and it was also passed.
Ordinances:
2010-24: Trash Hauler – Removed from table.
2011-01: Zoning Permit and Fee Schedule (2nd reading) – There was more discussion regarding the fee schedule.  It was thought by council, that the proposed increase of variance fees to $250 was too high for residents.  It was determined that the fees charged help cover costs associated with inspections for variances.  A motion was introduced to make the fee $50 instead of $250, the motion was passed.
2011-02: An ordinance amending the permanent appropriations in several funds and declaring an emergency.  A chart was distributed that outlined the funds that needed amendments.  The motion was passed.
2011-03: A resolution authorizing the application for and subsequent acceptance of grant funds by the Village of Hiram and declaring an emergency.  There was concern that the rates were not reflected in the resolution.  The verbiage was changed.  The Village Administrator will present the current resolution for second reading at the next meeting.
The meeting then convened into Executive Session.

The Weekly Villager has prided itself on covering local area news for over 30 years. Our readers look to our paper to provide stories that have meaning to each community.  We also pride ourselves on being a family-friendly newspaper.
Our reporters cover meetings and events, many of which can be controversial. We do our best to report the facts. Our aim is to provide our readers with an unbiased look into situations which at times can be very emotional.

Over the years we have fielded many phone calls asking why we did not report all of the “he said, she said” activity at a meeting or event.  Our answer is simply this — we will report the news objectively.

We firmly believe that once again, another small American town will overcome the in-fighting and band together!

That being said, we at the Villager feel that Newton Falls is a great community, one which has a lot to offer its residents, businesses and visitors and one which we are proud to be associated with!

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Garrettsville – Just when it appears that there will be no end to stagnating winter doldrums, Family Week breaks up the monotony with live entertainment, contests, dinners out, a health fair and carnival of fun. Sponsored by the Garrettsville-Hiram chapter of the Rotary Club, this annual weeklong celebration to empower the family runs from Sunday, February 20 – Saturday, February 26. And it’s all free!
New this year is a Health Fair on Saturday during the Family Fun Festival, 11a.m.-2 p.m. Robinson Memorial Hospital will be at Garfield Elementary School to introduce Dr. Jessica Bittence of Garrettsville Family Medicine and the Robinson Health Center at Garrettsville, which will open near the high school and Just for Kids child care center on State Route 88 later this spring. Dr. Bittence will be at an “Ask-A-Doc” table, so the community can meet her and ask questions. The doctor will offer blood pressure readings and hand out information on different services and support groups Robinson offers.
The week’s activities kick off with a Music Festival featuring live performances by local vocal groups at 2 p.m. Sunday, February 20 at Garfield Middle School’s Iva Walker Auditorium.
Tuesday, February 22 is Grandparents’ Night at Portage County Library’s Garrettsville Branch, from 5-6:30 p.m.
Friday, February 25 is Family Night Out, with participating local merchants offering special deals to inspire families to go out together for the night. (See the ad in today’s Villager.)
Winners of family-friendly contests will be publicly awarded at Rotary Family Week’s Recognition Program on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m., following the festival. Students aged K-12 from Garfield, Windham, private and home schools are competing in an art contest with pieces that reflect the Rotary Family Week Theme: “Putting Families First.” Judges will select from each grade category the three entries that best reflect the Family Week Theme, originality and neatness.
A community-wide photo contest (open to all residents of Freedom, Garrettsville, Hiram, Nelson and Windham) is also based on the “Family First” theme in two categories – individual photo and a photo collage. These family photos reflect any one or all of the following characteristics:
• Having Family Fun Together
• Memorable Family Activity
• Our Family Adventure
• Reflecting a Family Tradition
• A Humorous Family Moment
• A Special Family Vacation
• Other Family Photos depicting special events or memories
The Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary Club has also searched out the longest-married couple living in the communities of Freedom, Garrettsville, Hiram, Nelson, and Windham. The Longest-Married Couple in our area will be honored during the awards ceremony on Saturday, February 26. In addition to being recognized, the couple will receive an assortment of gifts from local businesses, including Sparkle Market, IGA, Art N Flowers, The Hiram Inn, and Main Street Grille Restaurant.
Finally, the selection of a Family-of-the-Year (from Freedom, Garrettsville, Hiram, Nelson, or Windham) will be celebrated as part of Rotary Family Week, because “Strong families are the building blocks of strong communities,” says Rotary president Amy Crawford. A family exemplary of the Family Week theme will be recognized and honored Saturday afternoon, with an Ohio Family Fun prize package.
Eligible families have been nominated by community members who submitted essays describing how the family puts their family first and increases family time together. This contest — and the entire line-up of Rotary’s Family Week activities — was founded on the basis of former First Lady Barbara Bush’s famous statement, “Our success as a society depends not on what happens in the White House but on what happens inside your house.”

Garrettsville  – Just when it appears that there will be no end to stagnating winter doldrums, Family Week breaks up the monotony with live entertainment, contests, dinners out, a health fair and carnival of fun. Sponsored by the Garrettsville-Hiram chapter of the Rotary Club, this annual weeklong celebration to empower the family runs from Sunday, February 20 – Saturday, February 26. And it’s all free!
New this year is a Health Fair on Saturday during the Family Fun Festival, 11a.m.-2 p.m. Robinson Memorial Hospital will be at Garfield Elementary School to introduce Dr. Jessica Bittence of Garrettsville Family Medicine and the Robinson Health Center at Garrettsville, which will open near the high school and Just for Kids child care center on State Route 88 later this spring. Dr. Bittence will be at an “Ask-A-Doc” table, so the community can meet her and ask questions. The doctor will offer blood pressure readings and hand out information on different services and support groups Robinson offers.
The week’s activities kick off with a Music Festival featuring live performances by local vocal groups at 2 p.m. Sunday, February 20 at Garfield Middle School’s Iva Walker Auditorium.
Tuesday, February 22 is Grandparents’ Night at Portage County Library’s Garrettsville Branch, from 5-6:30 p.m.
Friday, February 25 is Family Night Out, with participating local merchants offering special deals to inspire families to go out together for the night. (See the ad in today’s Villager.)
Winners of family-friendly contests will be publicly awarded at Rotary Family Week’s Recognition Program on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m., following the festival. Students aged K-12 from Garfield, Windham, private and home schools are competing in an art contest with pieces that reflect the Rotary Family Week Theme: “Putting Families First.” Judges will select from each grade category the three entries that best reflect the Family Week Theme, originality and neatness.
A community-wide photo contest (open to all residents of Freedom, Garrettsville, Hiram, Nelson and Windham) is also based on the “Family First” theme in two categories – individual photo and a photo collage. These family photos reflect any one or all of the following characteristics:
• Having Family Fun Together
• Memorable Family Activity
• Our Family Adventure
• Reflecting a Family Tradition
• A Humorous Family Moment
• A Special Family Vacation
• Other Family Photos depicting special events or memories
The Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary Club has also searched out the longest-married couple living in the communities of Freedom, Garrettsville, Hiram, Nelson, and Windham. The Longest-Married Couple in our area will be honored during the awards ceremony on Saturday, February 26. In addition to being recognized, the couple will receive an assortment of gifts from local businesses, including Sparkle Market, IGA, Art N Flowers, The Hiram Inn, and Main Street Grille Restaurant.
Finally, the selection of a Family-of-the-Year (from Freedom, Garrettsville, Hiram, Nelson, or Windham) will be celebrated as part of Rotary Family Week, because “Strong families are the building blocks of strong communities,” says Rotary president Amy Crawford. A family exemplary of the Family Week theme will be recognized and honored Saturday afternoon, with an Ohio Family Fun prize package.
Eligible families have been nominated by community members who submitted essays describing how the family puts their family first and increases family time together. This contest — and the entire line-up of Rotary’s Family Week activities — was founded on the basis of former First Lady Barbara Bush’s famous statement, “Our success as a society depends not on what happens in the White House but on what happens inside your house.”

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So did you make it down to the Community EMS Boot Camp last Saturday? Why not? You still have time to join in the effort to shaping up our community. Joining doesn’t mean you have to lose weight, maybe you would like to simply tone up or get into shape for the upcoming summer. The point is that you can still join the other sixteen participants by calling Community EMS at (330) 527-4100.
In my last article I told you how well we at the Villager did on our physical fitness test. (Yes, I’ve still got muscles hurting that I had forgotten that I even had!) This week I promised to let you know what our plans are for reaching our goals. Michelle has set her personal goal to tone up. She has decided to focus on walking and doing sit-ups; push-ups are not high up on her list as she feels that each paper-delivery day she gets plenty of upper body work out. Chris has set her personal goal to strengthen her core muscles to help alleviate back pain and lose a little weight. She has decided to change her eating habits, exercise and keep a positive outlook. (Secretly, Michelle and Chris want to make sure they live long enough to become a burden upon their children.)
I have set my personal goal to lose some weight and get into shape. This week I began the weaning process. (I know it sounds like procrastination to you all, but from a professional procrastinator like myself I assure you it is not.) I have cut down on the salt, sugar, soda pop, and snacking. I have also kept myself out of the kitchen after 7pm and am drinking more water.
I also plan to add some exercise at least three times a week – beginning Monday. Like a true friend, Michelle has offered to steal my hidden stash of candy and run, thus causing me to chase her and that would definitely count as exercise. If you have Time Warner you may be surprised that there are many exercise channels that allow you to do anything from kickboxing to Pilates. I am going to focus on aerobics to help burn calories. I would like to start losing some weight before I switch my exercises to tone up.
Need some helpful ideas on getting started? How about keeping a small notebook to record what you have eaten, how much water you have drunk, and how long you are exercising. This may not seem like much, but it gives you something to look at to improve upon. Remember that reaching your goal is competition with yourself, not others. How about finding that favorite summer outfit in the back of your closet, go ahead and try it on. Does it fit? Hang it on your closet door and try it on every week to measure how well you are doing. Stay away from the scale! I don’t own a scale for a reason – they are more depressing than the evening news. Exercising also causes you to build muscle that weighs more than fat. If you don’t totally avoid the scale, then at least don’t step on it every day; it does nothing for your ego.
Community EMS Boot Camp is planning fun things for the participants to do, including canoeing and walks. Not only can you improve your self-image and your self-esteem but you can make some new friends while you are at it!

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Garrettsville – Village Council opened their monthly meeting on Wednesday, February 10th  with Mayor Moser  recognizing Council President Rick Patrick’s half-century birthday; they then got down to business.  The mayor, five council members, the village solicitor & clerk-treasurer were all in attendance (councilwoman Karen Clyde was absent).  The minutes of February’s meeting were approved with one minor correction to who was in attendance.  There was a quick discussion about tax revenue increasing and upcoming bills that would need to be paid before a motion to pay the current bills was passed.

The first thing on the agenda was to clarify the definition of employee comp time as presented in the village employee manual.  After much discussion, it was deemed that the intent of the original definition was that no employee shall carry more than forty hours of comp time at any time.  The mayor and council further clarified the issue by stating any comp time earned in excess of the forty hours will be paid as overtime by the end of the pay period in which it was earned.  Currently, employees carrying more than forty hours will be paid for the overage in the next pay period (the end of February) to bring everyone down to the forty-hour cap.   It was also suggested an ordinance was needed to purge the employee manual of confusing verbiage.

Next, council passed a motion to pay the Garrettsville branch of the Portage County Library a portion of the cost of their annual 2010 utilities as has been done in past years.

Up for discussion next were the vehicle replacement options for the village police department.  The new vehicle will be replacing an older, high-mileage cruiser and will also be able to accommodate the K-9 unit.  After looking at what was available and considering the benefits and needs of the department, council voted to approve the purchase of an outfitted Chevy Tahoe.  The cost of the base vehicle through Charles Chevrolet is $26,914.55 and will come from the general fund.  The equipment needed to outfit the new cruiser will cost $16,136.85 and will come from the drug & alcohol fund.  Council President Rick Patrick said the cruiser that is being replaced will be auctioned off.

Councilman Chuck Klamer reported on the status of the sidewalk project.  He said the plan is to finish Center Street and then move to Liberty Street.  He also reported that no determination has been made yet to whether the sidewalks on Liberty Street will be on the east or west side, but that the east side would have a tie-in with the [Reserve at Eagle Creek] development which is required to put in sidewalks as part of zoning.  It was decided to table further discussion on the project for now.

The mayor updated everyone on the Economic Development Board meeting that was held February 3rd.  He stated the topic of discussion was whether chicken coops were against village ordinance or not.   He said currently residents were allowed to keep the fowl as long as they were contained and not allowed to roam free.  A motion was passed for the Development Board to do more research on the subject before a final determination is made.  The mayor also stated that talks are on hold with T-Mobile for the antenna project for the top of the water tower.

Council President Rick Patrick gave an update on the SR 82 bridge.  He said all work is on hold until the weather stays above 40 degrees.  The contractor still has to make cuts in the concrete decking which can’t be done in the cold temperatures.  He also said the state’s plan is to seal the bridge with the same colored sealer they used on the South Street bridge.  He said the contractor advised him to send a letter to the state requesting a clear sealer.

Patrick also updated everyone on the accessorizing of the new dump truck and said the old truck it replaced will be listed on eBay soon.
The next regular Village Council meeting will be held on March 9th at &:30 p.m. at Village Hall.

Garrettsville – Brian Gorby is a proud father. And he has every right to be. His son, Travis, has been selected as McDonald’s Student Athlete of the Week, representing the Greater Cleveland/Northeast Ohio area. A television news crew from WEWS Channel 5 traveled to the Garrettsville G-Plex sports complex on Tuesday night to video and interview the freshman soccer standout for broadcast on Wednesday.

Travis  — who just turned 15 in October — coaches a soccer foot skills clinic every Tuesday night at the G-Plex for rookies aged 4 -14. Travis started every varsity game this year as a freshman at James A. Garfield High School, playing outside midfielder. The JAG varsity soccer team won a record number of games this past season, advancing to the state regional tournament against CVCA, which ultimately won the state title.

Not only did Travis earn his varsity letter, but he received the Top Freshman Award from Head Coach Michael Coney, and the Portage Trail Conference Scholar Athlete Award for Academic Achievement while participating in the sport. Travis maintained a perfect 4.0 grade average while taking Advanced Placement college-level classes…  with perfect attendance, too.

Travis has been playing soccer for 11 years now — on 55 different teams. He has played in almost 500 soccer games, scoring 650+ goals and making 700+ assists. While in eighth grade, he was playing on four different teams in four different leagues at the same time (finishing up two indoor leagues while playing on two outdoor leagues). The teams went a combined 44-1-1, with Travis scoring 96goals and 106 assists, primarily playing the center midfielder and forward positions.

While WEWS Channel 5 puts Garrettsville in the regional spotlight, its prestigious honor is especially significant for Travis, who has been selected for an award usually set aside for upperclassmen; and among peers from big schools in the most competitive athletic divisions.

Since 2007, relatively few student athletes from Portage County have been named McDonald’s Student Athlete of the Week. The only former James A. Garfield student listed is Olivia Dressler, named during her 2008-09 senior year; one of the top female goal scorers in Ohio soccer history.

The McDonald’s Student Athlete of the Week honors teens who are “true all-stars, both on and off the field.”  Nominations are taken on behalf of those deserving recognition for hard work and a winning attitude.

Coaches, teachers, friends, family members, teammates, classmates or neighbors can submit the names of students who excel at their game, give back to the community and value education. News Channel 5 honors athletes each week who set examples in the classroom, on their team and in the community.

Travis is accustomed to achieving high aspirations at a young age. While in middle school as a member of Beta Club, he was selected as a People to People Student Ambassador and traveled throughout Europe for three weeks during the summer of 2009, visiting Belgium, England, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

He has also been Student of the Month at Garfield almost every year since first grade, and has won numerous other academic and athletic awards over the years, including a Portage County D.A.R.E. essay award when he was in fifth grade.

According to Travis’ father, “His trophies and medals almost clutter his room because there are so many, and I have cut out many articles and saved stacks of newspapers with his name in them for his scra book, along with all of the academic and athletic awards programs from the school that I save with his name in them. He has numerous letters of recognition and congratulations from the superintendent, the board of education, his past principals and teachers. I could go on and on… and if you couldn’t tell, I am very proud of him (I’m proud of all three of my sons).”

Freedom Twp. – Highlights of the February 3, 2011 Trustee meeting were:

Mr. Tom Mesaros was appointed to the Zoning Commission for a one-year term.

Zoning Inspector Derthick reported one permit issued for a new single family home.  A resident on St. Rt. 700 has not responded about removing an unlicensed vehicle from his property. Trustees approved turning the problem over to the Prosecutor’s Office.
A request was made by a resident to transfer a grave lot to her. It was determined this could not be done as it is part of the deceased’s estate, so no action can be taken without proper legal authority on behalf of the estate.

Rental fee for the town hall pavilion was discussed. It was agreed to charge $25 rental plus $25 security deposit, both to be paid at the time of rental. A resident questioned why the fee should be the same for residents and non-residents. After discussion trustees changed to $25 for residents and $50 for non-residents, with corresponding security deposit.
It was noted Freedom Township will be hosting the County Association dinner/meeting on August 20, and the Community Picnic will be held on August 21.
Mr. Zizka said the bad weather has set back town hall roof construction work and it may be mid-February before work is started.
Mrs. Nicholas reported being contacted by the J.A. Garfield Class of ’61 asking if the pavilion and town hall were available for their class reunion June 19, and what the fee would be. Both buildings are available that date. It was agreed to waive the fee for this non-profit group, as many of the graduates are township residents.
Earlier in the meeting Mr. VanSteenberg reported they have been plowing and salting to keep the roads clear and they have not yet ordered any of our current allotment of salt, but will as soon as we have the space available.

(front row) Brooke Heavner, Brett Hammonds, Mrs. Bell, Rachel Gruszewsk, (back row) Josh Whan, Kendall Morrison, Mike Jajcinovic and Danielle Hickman(photo courtesy of Josh Simmons/Bird’s Eye Photography)

(front row) Brooke Heavner, Brett Hammonds, Mrs. Bell, Rachel Gruszewsk, (back row) Josh Whan, Kendall Morrison, Mike Jajcinovic and Danielle Hickman (Photo courtesy of Josh Simmons/Bird’s Eye Photography)

Rivalries have been around for years and many times the rivalries brings out the not so good in people. Folks get so caught up in the rivalry they have a tendency to be more negative than positive, but that has been changed recently with the Garrettsville–Windham Rivalry.

Last fall when Mike Chaffee took over as the principal of Windham Schools, he wanted to revive the rivalry that had somewhat died down over the years with Garrettsville. Chaffe wanted to turn what often  becomes a week of pranks and sometimes vandalism into a week of positive, healthy competition for a good cause.  He thought: after all, we already have one good cause that both schools are involved with, the Volley for the Cure. The annual Windham-Garrettsville volleyball game has always been Volley for the Cure, a fundraiser for breast cancer, so why not expand it to other causes for other head-to-head competitions.
Chaffe had several ideas and contacted Joe Malmisur, principal of neighboring James A.  Garfield High School, to see if he would be on board with the idea, Malmisur agreed that the kids needed to have their energies channeled into a positive challenge rather than a negative one, thus creating “Rivals for a Cause.”

The “Rivals for a Cause” was launched the week of the Garfield- Windham basketball game held at Windham on February 4, 2011. The schools each had planned a food drive, t-shirt sales to benefit St. Jude Children’s Hospital and the head-to-head basketball competition for a chance to keep the revolving trophy that was established for the entire 2011-2012 school year.

The hospital  benefit  suggestion came from Danielle Hickman who had recently toured the hospital when she represented Windham at the Liberty Bowl over the Christmas holiday.  The hospital tour inspired her to consider raising funds for the facility. Both principals agreed it would be a good cause. Both schools’ student councils were challenged to raise funds by selling t-shirts, with the proceeds going to the hospital. Each school sold different colored t-shirts; Windham sold white shirts while Garrettsville sold gray shirts to raise funds for the hospital.

The rivalry week came and the t-shirts were ordered, but due to two snow days that week, the sales week was limited to two days. In spite of the shortened week, the schools were still able to raise a combined total of $1,500 for the hospital.
The yet-to-be-named revolving trophy will be awarded at the end of the school year to the school which has won the most varsity head-to-head sporting events this school year. The winning school will have the trophy to display until the end of the next school year. They will  hold the bragging rights for the year as well.

The schools also plan on holding a name-the-trophy contest later this year. Each school will submit name ideas and the principals of each school will choose the top 5 or 6 entries from each school. They will then give the mayors of the two towns the job of deciding the winning name for the trophy.

The food drive seemed to be a fantastic way to serve the community and still rival one another, however the two snow days that week severely limited the collections at both schools and they have decided to postpone the drive to the week of the Garrettsville-Windham baseball games.

Portage County – At the January meeting of the Portage County Suicide Prevention Coalition, one of our members said, “We are in the business of hope.”
The comment came after the Portage County Coroner’s report that showed 2010 as the highest year on record for completed suicides since 1980 when the office started organizing the information.
The Coalition was established in 2003 to increase awareness of warning signs, combat stigma, help survivors and be a touch point for hope in this crusade to save lives. We have provided forums for learning about prevention and safe places for survivors, those left behind, to talk.
In 2007, there were 11 suicide deaths. That number has been increasing up to last year’s total of 28.  A similar, alarming increase occurred in Stark County for 2010. At the same time, calls to Townhall II’s Helpline, a 24-hour crisis phone line funded by the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County, have increased 69 percent.
From 1995 to 2009, there was one completed suicide by a child or teen. Since 2009, four young residents under 20 years old have died by suicide.
What would you be thinking if you were on the Coalition? Is this hopeless? Is there no way to reach mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, friends and co-workers at risk? How can you know when someone is in such pain?
That is when the one voice cuts through the despondency and says, “We must continue to tell people that there is hope.”
The heartache that comes with even one loss of life to suicide is what drives Coalition members to continue to talk in the community about the warning signs, what to do when someone you care about is at risk and where to go for services. There is hope if one person is helped.
“Most people don’t feel comfortable saying the words, ‘Are you thinking about suicide?’ or telling family or school counselors that this person is talking about suicide. The coalition wants to help community members learn to take life-saving action,” said Paul Dages, Coalition coordinator and emergency services coordinator for Townhall II.
What are the warning signs? They include: feeling depressed; life crises, such as relationship problems, school difficulties and financial issues; talking about death and suicide; giving away prized possessions; taking unnecessary, dangerous risks; having a predetermined method of suicide and sharing it; appearing suddenly happy after a long depression; withdrawing from family and friends; losing interest in regular activities; changing eating and sleeping habits; access to firearms; and family history of depression and suicide.
Teens may show many of the same may signs but may exhibit some unique symptoms including childhood trauma and abuse; recent break up of a relationship; presence of a psychiatric disorder; frequent expressions of rage; increasing use of alcohol or drugs; exposure to another’s suicidal behavior; family instability and significant family conflict. In addition, teens who are being bullied and/or those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender are at increased risk.
Joel Mowrey, Ph.D., associate director of the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County, said research has established action steps to prevent suicide. First, listen without judgment. Second, ask the person if she or he is considering suicide. Finally, arrange for the person to seek services, including a suicide prevention phone line, 24-hour crisis service or hospitalization. Mowrey advises not to keep suicide ideation secret or leave the person alone. He also adds that it is important to give the person hope that things can and will get better.
“The goal is to get that person to counseling and treatment. Depression, along with other mental health problems, is highly treatable and counseling can help with other life issues,” said Mowrey. Treatment services are offered on a sliding fee basis through community agencies that receive funding from the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County.
Portage County has 24-hour crisis intervention services through Coleman Professional Services and Townhall II. Both agencies answer crisis calls and offer walk-in services.
The numbers for Townhall II’s 24-hour suicide prevention HELPLINE are 330-678-HELP(4357) and toll free 1-866-449-8518. The agency is open for walk in counseling from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday at its offices, 155 N. Water Street, Kent. Persons needing help should call the HELPLINE before arriving.
Coleman Access Services at 3922 Lovers Lane, Ravenna, is available for calls and walk-in counseling any time of day. The 24-hour phone numbers are 330-296-3555 and toll free 1-877-796-3555.
The Coalition meets the third Thursday of each month at 3 p.m. at the MHRB, 155 E. Main St., Kent. New members are welcome. Call Paul Dages, the coordinator, at 330-678-3006 for more information.
The Mental Health & Recovery Board has also established a monthly support group for persons who have lost a loved one to suicide. The Survivor of Suicide group meets the last Wednesday of the month 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the MHRB office, 155 E. Main St., Kent. Call Mowrey at 330-673-1756, ext. 203, for more information. Or email joelm@mental-health-recovery.org.
The Web site of the Mental Health & Recovery Board has a section on suicide prevention with links to related Web sites. Go to www.mental-health-recovery.org.

Windham – Monica’s Café is slated to open early February 2011 in the old T&J’s Restaurant located in the Shops of Windham next to the Sparkle Market in Windham.  The first question I asked owner Monica Welton was why a restaurant in this economy, and why now? Monica responded that she had always wanted to have her own restaurant and when the opportunity presented itself she felt now was the time to do it.
Welton grew up in Windham and now resides in Freedom Township. She has never owned a restaurant before but has had twelve years experience as a cook, inventory control and supply purchasing. She has also had a lot of experience in the catering field. Owning a restaurant is a new venture for her, but she says she is up for the challenge. Monica sought out professional advice and enlisted the help of her husband, DJ, family and friends to help her get the business launched.
The last few weeks for her have been a total whirlwind, ordering supplies and equipment, designing a menu, figuring out seating arrangement, décor, hours of operation and, of course, all those permits one needs to open. If that wasn’t enough,  Monica volunteered to cook January’s free community meal at the Renaissance Family Center last week too. She was using this as a community service opportunity and to introduce herself and her food to the community. A win/ win for everyone.
One can expect the café to serve home-style foods made from scratch. The menu will showcase homemade soups, entrées, salads, and fresh bakery.  They will also have daily specials, and even features like “Italian Night.”  Breakfast will be served daily and those who eat out often may want to join the “Breakfast Club.”  The Breakfast Club offers a punch card, when you purchase nine breakfasts, you receive the tenth breakfast free — unlike the movie, detentions will not be required to join the club.
Other plans are to offer a delivery service to the businesses community in the Garrettsville and Windham area, fish fries on Friday night, fresh fruit in season and more.
The Café is open Sunday thru Thursday 7 a.m. -7 p.m. with hours on Friday and Saturday 7a.m.– 9 p.m.

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Mantua – Meghan Sara of Mantua won the Girls 10 year old division while representing the K of C Mantua Council # 3766 at a recent District level of competition in Kent.  Meghan will receive a medallion for her success and an invitation to the Regional level in Warren later in February.  Eight participants from the Mantua area were the largest council representation at the district level competition.  All contestants performed well while attempting to achieve the best of 25 Free Throw shots.  Members of the Mantua K of C would like to thank all of this year’s participants once again and wish the best of luck to Meghan

Garrettsville – The First  Annual G-Men Classic High School Bowling Tournament was held on Saturday, January 29th at SkyLanes.
A packed house of hundreds watched sixteen teams consisting of the top boys and girls in Northeast Ohio bowl for the championship trophy in each division.
The boys from Massillon Perry defeated Garfield in the finals while the Hubbard girls (pictured) dominated all the way through and beat Cuyahoga Falls to grab the title in the girl’s division.
Some outstanding individual scores were shot on this action packed Saturday.  Leading the way were two bowlers from Hubbard.  Alex Toy grabbed top honors in the boys division with a fine 722 series and Samantha Dudley was the girl’s medalist with a 677 series.

Mantua - Mantua Youth Wrestling took First Place at the Portage Lakes Varsity Tournament on Saturday, January 22, 2011.
This tournament was a six team round robin that included: Springfield, Coventry, Akron Copley, Portage Lakes Wrestling Club and Barberton. This was the first time in Mantua Youth Wrestling’s history that the team won 1st place overall.
The team was lead by coaches: Dean Olson, Mike Picone, Kevin O’Neil, Kit Brunty and Jeff Dunfee. The dominating varsity team included: 6th graders Zach Brunty, Lucas Gerardi, Alex Kachenko, Jake Kollman, Michael Picone, Nick Vespucci, Max Weatherbee and Josh Williams, 5th graders Tom Carson, Lincoln Chiller, Nick Scarl, Dominic Szuhay and Mackenzie Tayerle, 4th graders K.J. Brunty, Jeffery Dunfee and Domenic Picone, 3rd graders Kayton Craft and Brett Szuhay, 1st graders Evan Daniels and Jacob Rowe.

The team had eight  undefeated wrestlers that day. They are now preparing for the upcoming Sectionals, Districts and States.

Windham – The students in Windham High Schools’  Design & Illustration classes participated in the NAACP Art Show as a part of the organization’s  annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Prayer Breakfast held in Kent , Ohio.
All Portage county students were invited to contribute artwork depicting Dr. King’s life and legacy.
The artwork of Sherry Corley, Kyle McManus, Kaitlyn Nagy, and Megan Howell was selected from Windham  to go to Kent for the show.

Congratulations to Megan Howell who won 2nd place at the show!  All of the artwork was on  display at the United Church of Christ in Kent during  the month of January.

Nelson Township – The Nelson Township trustees met for their regularly scheduled meeting with the fiscal officer and two of the three trustees present. Trustee Bill Wilson was unavailable. Fiscal officer Dave Finney presented bills and wages to be approved. Finney also stated that the first electronic IRS payment for withholdings had been sent and that because of his disability he has been given the approval to use a facsimile signature rather than a handwritten one. He stated that under the Ohio revised Code ORC elected officials are permitted to use a facsimile signature on checks and reports. Mr. Finney also presented an affidavit from Davey Tree for $149 to fertilize trees on the circle. After some discussion the trustees agreed to approve this expenditure because it would help keep the trees healthy.

Trustee Joe Leonard announced that after months of hard work the new township web site is up and running. The website has a brief history of the township along with pictures from various activities, meeting times and dates, local attractions, zoning information and more. One can checkout the website at www.nelsontownshipohio.org.

The township received a letter from the prosecutor that stated they had not proved their case against a property owner over junk vehicles. It stated that since the vehicles had engines, transmissions and it appeared that he wasn’t using his property for commercial use they ruled in favor of the property owner.

A&M Doors was able to amend and revise their door bid by offering the township an alternative door solution. The doors they propose will save the township about $1782.55 and were a better quality door than the original specs called for. The township approved the amended proposal for doors from A&M Doors and they should be installed by the end of February.

Trustee Joe Leonard stated that he had been working with Ravenna Oil to solve the fuel tank issue. It appears that the township legally can not purchase fuel from the school, so they need to get their fuel tanks updated. Ravenna Oil has made a proposal that the township could rent to own a 520 gallon tank and pay $90 a month for 5 years then it would become property of the township. The tank carries a 30 year warranty. Mr. Leonard stated that he will contact other oil companies to see what plans they offer. The fiscal officer explained that when they moved to Pixley Park all their fuel tanks were in compliance with the laws at that time, however the laws have changed and the township needs to get it’s fuel system in compliance with the new laws before they start issuing heavy fines.

In other business the board approved the appointment of Chris Conkol to the zoning board of appeals (ZBA). Mr. Turos stated that after interviewing the two candidates that they feel they chose the best one for the position. He stated that both candidates were qualified and encouraged the other one to re-apply for a position on the board that that will be open next year.
The Nelson township trustees meet on the first and second Wednesday of each month.

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Windham – The Windham Lions Club recently invited Windham Mayor Rob Donham to give an outline of what the village plans for the future are. An interesting talk was enjoyed by the members as the mayor took them from his inauguration to present day Windham. His remarks reassured everyone present that the Village was moving away from old ways and was headed in the right direction.

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Newton Township – The January meeting of the Board of Trustees opened at 7:30pm with all members present. Business was as usual with reports from the zoning director, the sheriff’s department, and cemetery news. The road crew reported two new street signs and two stop signs that had been stolen and replaced, as well as general plowing and salting efforts. The crew has ordered seventy-five ton of salt and seventy-five ton of mixing to help drivers get through the typical Midwest winter.

By way of Township finances, Ella Johnson discussed increases to annual expenses and Mr. Nemet announced that the Township will be saving some money this coming year – the next five years, as a matter of fact. Every year the Township contributes monies to help with the operating costs of the Newton Falls Joint Fire District which is responsible for keeping the citizens of not only the city but the township safe. Each year the contribution automatically increases by 3%. It has been decided that the Township’s annual contribution will be frozen at the amount given in 2010 which was $53,758. This freeze will be active for the next five years so that the years 2011-2015 will remain the same. For 2011 the Township is saving $1,612 but over the next five years the savings will be $25,177 for not automatically increasing the contribution. Mr. Nemet stated that the “fire department will be able to survive without that money” and now the Township will not be seeking a levy on township residents to help out with that annual contribution increase. The next increase will be in 2016.

Also in fire department relations, the NFJFD has been utilizing a building across from Arby’s to store a few of the fire trucks. This garage is currently owned by the Township, which also stores some vehicles and supplies there. It was proposed that the Township offer the building up for sale to the fire department for $50,000, payable over the next five years as a $10,000 decrease from the now-frozen annual contribution. The trustees plan to schedule a special meeting to discuss the actual selling price, whether to raise or lower it, or even the possibility of simply donating the building to the shared fire district as a goodwill gesture. An audience member inquired if the fire department was ever going to build the new station over by First Street, but that project is at an indefinite standstill.

In other news, Mr. Page reported that the pressure washer is having mechanical difficulties. Mr. Augusta said that they are working on updating and upgrading the website. He mentioned last month’s meeting about the fracking and reported a “good turnout” of about a hundred people. There will be an upcoming meeting on February 15th in Liberty that will discuss how the oil industry operates as well.

Back in November possible changes to the cemetery guidelines were  discussed about  to determine residency versus non-residency rates and other potential alterations. The goal was set to close that subject by the February meeting.
Other highlights include updates to the employee handbook, and a motion passed unanimously to give the Cemetery Association $1,000 to offset the cost of moving trees.
There was no new business except to pay the monthly bills and the meeting adjourned in just under an hour.

Windham - The Windham Historical Society has become the repository of many of the artworks of world famous woodcarver Huber King, who spent his entire life in Windham. King received numerous awards in juried competitions, including his American Bicentennial carving, pictured above, which he boldly entered into a British woodcarving show in 1976.The carvings are the donation of his son, Dr Darryl King of West Virginia. They will be on display at the next Historical Society meeting on Monday, February 21, at the Brick Chapel, 9001 North Main Street. Doors will open at 6:30 and the public is welcome to tour the museum.

At 7 PM, longtime area antiquarian Larry Fischer will speak on “Gizmos, Gadgets and Doodads”. There aren’t many artifacts or thingamajigs that Fischer hasn’t encountered in his travels, and he’ll present some of his more entertaining discoveries.

The Historical Society continues to work hand in hand with the Windham Bicentennial Committee in coordinating the 200th Anniversary Days the village will stage in late July, with several days of parades, celebrations, homecomings and general merry-making.

The Society is always interested in obtaining, whether permanently or on loan, any object relevant to Windham. Items of special interest include films, pictures, scrapbooks, ephemera, newspapers, advertising, tokens, school items, sports items, or family genealogy. The society has extensive facilities for copying paper items.
For more information on the Society or the Bicentennial plans, please call President Lynnea St. John at 330-326-6061, or email her at lynnya45@yahoo.com.

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Windham Township – The Windham Township Trustees held a public meeting prior to their  regularly scheduled meeting to discuss proposed zoning changes.  The zoning proposal brought out about 25 residents who wanted to have their say about the zoning issues. After about an hour of discussing flag lots, lot sizes, square footage allowances, frontage, variances and other property use changes, the trustees decided they would toss the proposal back to the planning committee and to have another revision drawn up before making any permanent changes. With that being done the regular business meeting was called to order.

In safety, the Portage County Sheriff wants to increase patrols in the northern part of the county and plan to use the North Post more. (The sheriff’s office uses a portion of the town hall for their North Post in the county.)  The sheriff’s office would like to have an outside phone installed at the facility so people will be able to contact them when the post isn’t manned. The trustees stated that they would need more information on the issue before making a decision on the outdoor phone.

In zoning,  Zoning Inspector Rich Gano stated that the agricultural use form he created was deemed legal by the prosecutor and he would like to institute it soon.  A resident questioned whether if a resident paid the $300 variance fee and the variance was granted, could the township reimburse the money paid for the variance application? The resident complained that they were punishing the residents by charging $300 fee for a variance just because the zoning code doesn’t address a certain issue and he felt that the zoning board of appeals (ZBA) should not make a profit. The trustees stated that the ZBA doesn’t make a profit. After some discussion, the trustees stated that they would see what other townships do before rendering a decision but they would not be able to refund the entire fee because they have to pay for the court reporter and zoning appeals members to hear the case.

Road Supervisor Rich Gano stated that the roads were in good shape, plenty of material was available  and all the equipment was in good running order. The trustees thanked the road crew for all their hard work and also stated that the roads were looking good in spite of all the recent snow and ice
Trustee chairman Dann Timmons passed out the new employee handbook proposal for the trustee to look at. He stated that the township’s insurance carrier is mandating that they have one. The trustees will have a month to look over the proposal before making any changes to the handbook at the March meeting. Mr. Timmons also stated that they had applied for the NOPEC grant and should be hearing from them in the next few weeks. The trustees meet on the first Thursday of each month at 7 pm at the townhall.

Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary caught a glimpse into an appalling abyss with Roger Cram’s presentation on the hidden world of human trafficking, something that few are aware of and fewer still wish to acknowledge, confront or take adequate measures to end.  While calling the U.S, “the ostrich nation”, he offered statistics on the numbers of  street kids, illegal immigrants, homeless persons in this country as well as the forced labor (enslaved people, young and old) worldwide  involved in the production of many popular products, both agricultural and industrial, and in the sex trade everywhere.
January has been designated National Human Trafficking Month but little recognition of this fact is to be found in the media, or anyplace else.  Unrecognized, as well, is the existence of slavery as the fastest-growing enterprise of organized crime.  The laws applicable in these cases tend to frame the victim as the culprit and fail to recognize the psycho-social, emotional, economic and dependency issues behind the complex situations which contribute to the continued existence of slavery in the modern world.  Slaves are cheap, cheaper now than when President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, hidden behind food, electronics, carpets, natural rubber products, diamonds, tennis shoes….
The U.S. Department of Justice has publications on-line containing shocking revelations.  The Alliance Against Human Trafficking, headquartered in Toronto, Canada, is another source. If it is, indeed, true that “there is none so blind as he who will not see”, we must open our eyes and deal with this scourge…once again.

I’ve had enough! Enough of eating fast food because I am too tired to cook after a long day. Enough of doing the funky Egyptian chicken dance around the bedroom after I put on my jeans just so I can breath. Enough of being tired and run down all the time. I have definitely had enough of getting winded from just walking upstairs! And now I am going to finally do something about it.

While I was typing up the press release for the Community EMS Boot Camp for last week’s paper, I thought how easy that it would be to get involved – I mean after all it is for a good cause. I would like to lose some pounds and get into shape. But I know that doing it alone is my biggest downfall everytime I begin another “diet”. So after speaking with the owners of the paper, we have all decided to do some “self-improvement” around the office.
This morning, bright and early at 8am Captain Craig Barrett agreed to meet Michelle, Chris and me for our physical fitness test so that I could outline the beginning our of journey for our readers. (I might include that I had written a rough draft of my obituary in case of my untimely death by exercise occurred.) The fitness test provided us with a baseline so that we could improve upon ourselves.
Our goals are different, Michelle would like to tone up and get into better shape, while Chris and I would like to lose some weight and get into shape.

After taking the fitness test, we have all agreed that we will go home tonight and write our goals out to share with each other tomorrow. In next week’s column I will let you all know what our goals are and how we are going to go about achieving them. Community EMS will also provide us with information and sessions we can attend if we choose.
If you are worried about joining the Boot Camp…no need to worry because your results will probably be better than ours collectively. And remember the idea behind Boot Camp is to provide you with support from a group of people who are trying to improve themselves just like you. Working together as a group will provide motivation and support and make it fun. Need some further motivation? Last year one of the participants, Sandy, lost 40 pounds!

We all know getting started with any diet or exercise program is easier to do when you have a friend to complain and whine to. What? That is what we all do and we expect our friend to not baby us around and tell us to stop our whining and throw the candy bar away! (Nothing beats the brutal honesty of a friend!) We here at the Villager are inviting you to join us in our “self-improvement” by signing up for the Community EMS Boot Camp by calling the station at (330) 527-4100. Check out what is happening on Facebook by visiting the Community EMS Boot Camp page.

From left to right: Street Superintendent Mike Heyd, Council President Rick Patrick, Kepich Ford owner Pete Kepich & Salesman Daryl Fall (not pictured Salesman Mike Dye)

Garrettsville – The Village of Garrettsville recently purchased  a 2011 Ford F550 4X4 Dump Truck which will replace the 1974 Ford F700. This is the first dump truck the Village has purchased since 2001. The ‘74 F700 will be offered  for auction on Ebay for anyone interested.   On the agenda for 2011 are the replacement of the police department’s K-9 car, a new zero-turn mower and researching several different leaf vacuum systems.

Garrettsville – Roger and Connie Angel opened the doors of Dairy Queen early Wednesday morning as they hosted the first meeting of the Garrettsville Area Chamber of Commerce for 2011.

A review of the treasurer’s report was first up and it was announced that the sale of the 2011 Chamber calendars had netted $700 towards the flower basket fund.
Aaron provided the chamber with an update on Summerfest 2011 and the new events that will be taking place – some of which are a mining sluice, a possible charity card tournament with gigantic playing cards and the Summerfest Wedding.  The Garden Club will be joining this year’s event with a flower show.  Cav’s tickets are still available for the March 6th game – cost is $35 per ticket with proceeds benefiting Summerfest.

The chamber voted unanimously to be a co-sponsor of SummerFest  along with the Villager – additional sponsors are still needed – please contact Aaron at 330-527-9999 if you or your business is interested.

Last year’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Garrettsville was a success and will be repeated this year.  Look for more info to come.

Greg McDivitt, Garfield’s Athletic Director, gave a presentation on the scoreboard signage at the schools.  Businesses are encouraged to show their support of the schools by taking advantage of this advertising opportunity.  Please contact Greg at 330-527-0039.

Cruise Nights will return in 2011 – look for the classic cars to return in May.  Official dates and locations will be announced soon.  Sponsors are needed for this event to help defray the costs of entertainment, trophies and advertising.  Please contact Rick Patrick at 330-527-2865 for more information.

Hallie Higgins thanked all who supported the People Tree and announced that 128 families were helped this past holiday season.  There is a Kiwanis Spaghetti Dinner being held on February 18th where a portion of all pre-sale tickets sold will be donated to the People Tree.  Please contact Hallie at 330-527-4097 if you are interested.

The 2011 Chamber Officers are as follows:  President – Eva Szasz; Vice-Presidents – Gretchen Cram & Rick Patrick; Treasurer – Erika Frankel and Secretary – Michelle Zivoder.

The Planning Commission will meet on Thursday, February 3rd at 7 pm and Village Council will meet on Wednesday, February 9th at 7:30 p.m. – both meetings are held at Village Hall and the public is invited to attend.

Hiram – After lengthy delays since mid-November, Portage County Commissioners finally held hearings to consider the annexation of approximately139 acres from Hiram Township to Hiram Village last week. The proposed annexation would pave the way for private developers to build retirement housing on the parcel of land originally set aside for Hiram College expansion.

Hiram College and Village Builders of Hiram originally petitioned to annex land adjacent to the village’s north border, for phased construction of approximately 200 residential units for retirees on 90 acres north of the Hiram College campus. The college expects to set aside 50 acres in part of the Silver Creek Watershed as a conservation area.

A surprise awaited those attending Monday’s opening session, according to various reliable  sources. Ed Wurm, a partner with Mike Maschek Sr. in Village Builders of Hiram Inc., announced their firm is withdrawing as developer of the construction project. The decision reportedly is due to economic issues unrelated to the long and contentious annexation battle.

Wurm said the 90 acres Hiram Builders purchased from Hiram College for development would revert back to the college, as stipulated in the purchase agreement. Hiram College President Tom Chema indicated that Village Builder’s pullout will not impede the project’s progress, saying he expects no difficulty in finding another builder for the 55-and-older independent and assisted living development.
Following Monday’s testimony, ensuing hearings were postponed for two days, due to Commissioner Maureen Frederick’s battle with the flu. Consequently, conflicts arose in scheduling expert witnesses and testifying attorneys. So, although hearings resumed on Thursday, further hearings now have been extended nine additional days, through March 18. Commissioners will deliver a decision on the annexation request within 30 days after overall hearings conclude.

Last November, two of three commissioners — Chuck Keiper and Chris Smeiles — cited potential conflicts of interest for being unable to participate in the hearings. Consequently, hearings were postponed until late January, when newly-elected Commissioner Tommie Jo Marsilio would be in office and could preside over the hearings with Frederick (Commissioner Chris Smiles continued to recuse himself.) A majority of the three commissioners is needed for any vote.

Marsilio – a Republican –  replaces Democrat Keiper, who served on the board since 1993. Democrat Maureen Frederick has been a commissioner since 2003. Democrat Smeiles is the senior commissioner, having taken office in 1989.

The hearings were reset for January 24-26 at the Portage County Administration Building in Ravenna, with three sides represented:  the petitioners for the annexation, the village and the township.

But they were cancelled January 25 and 26 after a full day of testimony January 24, due to Frederick’s illness. They resumed January 27 with testimony from Hiram Mayor Louis Bertrand, Police Chief Mark Lombardi and Hiram Village Administrator Robert Wood.

Newton Falls – The officers of the Newton Falls Police Department were honored Friday during an annual awards ceremony luncheon held at the Covered Bridge Restaurant’s banquet hall. Department members and invited guests gathered to recap the various events of 2010 and to give tribute to the everyday heroes in blue who protect the city. Among those city officials present were Mayor Waddell, City Clerk Kathy King, and City Manager Jack Haney; the latter offered a gracious blessing to open the proceedings.
Chief John Kuivila announced that there were forty-three more awards this year than there were last year resulting from the courageous actions of the department over the course of approximately 16,000 calls for service. He is “looking forward to a great 2011” and hopes to decrease the need for that volume of calls for aid, making our town safer as a result.

Among the commendations presented were military service awards, perfect attendance in 2010, certificates of appreciation for the NFPD auxiliary, recognition for involvement in the Fill-a-Bus efforts, various community service participations, civic achievements, and overall good conduct awards. There was even a mention for Gator the Police Dog and his two-legged companion, Officer Laswell, for their roles in a recent capture. The list continued with mission-specific honors for officers’ roles in incidents such as successfully recovering a missing juvenile, the marijuana bust, and the extraordinary dispatching during the major house fire last fall, just to name a few.
Turning the tables for a moment, Officer Sheri Bailey spoke about how the police department is like a family: they support each other like a family, they have fun like a family, and they even fight like a family, but when all is said and done they will always be there for each other. As she stated, it is because of the leader of the family, the chief, that they are able to succeed. Officer Bailey presented an acronym  (because we all know the police department loves acronyms) in honor of the Chief: the “C” is for “Courageous,” the “H” is for “Helpful,” the “I” is for “Integrity,” the “E” stands for “Exceptional,” and the “F” is for “Friend.” In a show of appreciation for  his influence and involvement in the department, she played a video of comments from the public for the Chief and fellow officers. Several co-stars of the film gave a simple “shout-out” to the Chief and the department in general. Whether delivered with serious gratitude or threaded in a good-natured joke, “It’s a pleasure working with him and to have him here in Newton Falls,” was an echoed sentiment throughout. The tribute concluded with a photo slideshow set to the strains of the humorously appropriate “Jailhouse Rock.”

Chief Kuivila responded to the accolades by saying “It’s nice to look back over the past couple years,” but stressed that “It’s about all of us, not just me.”
One man in attendance with serious gratitude for the quick actions of the police department is Daniel Bowers whose heart stopped in November. Sergeant Rick Lisum and Officer Dave Garvey successfully used an AED to save his life. Mr. Bowers was  on hand to present the Life Saving Award to these men.

The ceremony concluded with the presentation of other Life Saving Awards, as well as a special appreciation to the Covered Bridge for their help toward the police department throughout the year. It was announced that the Officer of the Year is Andy Harvey with the Sergeant of the Year being Steve Storm and Dispatcher of the Year Jim Zimomra. Ending on a humorous note, last but not least was an award given to Charlie Wilson: Most Unreliable Person Affiliated with the Newton Falls Police Department.

Congratulations to all the officers and a continued gratitude for a job well done!

Garrettsville – Bulletin: the James A. Garfield Quiz Masters appeared this past Saturday on the WEWS Channel 5 Academic Challenge program at 7:00.  Interesting mix of competitors–Indian Valley (Gnadenhutten, Tuscarawas County), Canton Central Catholic and Garfield.  Quite an extensive viewing area the station has from which  to draw participation.  It was a “Great Battle of the Brains” whereby the Quiz Masters gave quite a performance! Team Captain  Molly Everett, Logan Dean and Eileen Mangan did a wonderful job  squeaking out a very impressive win which included capturing several bonus round  points!!  Great Job!

Apropos of which, here’s a heads-up   about the return of Machine-O-Mania/Touch-A-Truck in concert with the annual village-wide yard/garage/porch sale on May 21st & 22nd.  Save that Sunday morning and afternoon to come on out to the James A. Garfield parking area to get a look at the BIG BOYS…and GIRLS, for that matter.  If it’s large and lovingly polished, if it’s fast and fairly loud, if it’s got tires that could be lived in by most of the population of Latvia, it’ll be there.  The gathering is a fund-raising activity of the Garfield Quiz Masters and it’s FUN!  Plan now to attend.

Garrettsville – The rumors have been spreading like wildfire. Yes, it is true. Now that the ink is dry, Monica has given us her blessing to let you know that it is official — Miller’s Family Restaurant will be moving to a new location.
Miller’s, which recently celebrated its 15th anniversary in December 2010, was started by Monica Miller and located in Windham. Fourteen years ago she made the decision to move to Garrettsville when a space on Main Street became available. From her Main Street location, Monica and her family have served up delicious meals to many faithful customers. Now Monica has found a way to better serve those loyal customers who have dined there for years, and new customers who have yet to walk through the door.

Miller’s Family Restaurant is happy to announce that they will be moving, but not far! They are headed just down the road to 8045 State Street, the old Sky Bank and Garden Bistro building. When I asked Monica what her customers thought she commented that they are very excited – especially about the parking. Customers will now enjoy the convenience of a parking lot and the fact that the restaurant will now be handicap accessible. Inside, customers will enjoy more seating in a roomy atmosphere.

Miller’s will still offer the same great menu and prices, and they will also be bringing back an old favorite — Monica is pleased to announce that she will open her doors on Thursday and Friday nights for fish fry dinners.

Miller’s Family Restaurant is planning on being open at their new location the first week of March.

Newton Falls - The council members gathered at the community center with the mayor, city manager, and city clerk last week for a special work session. The law director was not present.
After the Pledge of Allegiance, Mayor Waddell opened the workshop, instructing those present that this was a time to put ideas and questions on the open table and “resolve differences in a professional and productive manner.” This time should be used to find ways in which Council would continue to serve the public and the best interests of the community.
During the two-hour time frame, Police Chief John Kuivila reminded Council about the issues with dispatching and the importance of moving forward with the intention of addressing them quickly. “I believe we need to keep dispatch,” he said. “It’s a benefit to the community.” However, he cautioned that the budget has already been cut and more cuts may be in the future for the police department. The dispatch center is currently costing roughly $300,000 a year. It could possibly be outsourced if it comes down to it, but the Chief expressed concern that other departments would not want to dispatch for Newton Falls because of the turmoil that has been going on. He also stated he needs the support of council whichever way he decides to go concerning this matter and is still seeking clarification from council on which way they will collectively agree.
Councilman Monteville suggested that he would like to have the opportunity to sit down and write out the pros and cons for the various options and see something on paper in order to make a decision. Mr. Haney has plans to prepare a report so that Council may schedule an executive session to “hammer things out” and start to move forward on what is becoming quite the time-sensitive issue.
Further in monetary concerns for the city, the Finance Director has “serious concerns about the general fund going forward” and discussed plans for road maintenance around town. “By 2012 we will be unable to carry current services in as they are,” she explained, anticipating changes in government funding. Councilwoman Johnson asked about how the city is collecting from people who have not paid their utility bills, specifically those who have been consistently in arrears for months and months. The Finance Director assured that “we will be pursuing a higher level of collections this year for people who are delinquent.”
Also on the agenda for the special meeting was setting clear and specific performance goals for the city manager. Each council member submitted a list of what projects they would like to see Mr. Haney involved in and tangible goals he is expected to meet. Other highlights include discussion of the new baseball concession stand to be built for the youth leagues, which is in its early stages; looking at long-term design of the park facilities in general and the most effective and architecturally-pleasing layout for twenty years down the road; a suggestion made by Mr. Haney to institute an Adopt-a-Spot program to encourage local businesses or groups to volunteer to clean up, beautify and maintain the landscaping in public areas, mentioning specifically the Waste Water Plant signs; and fine-tuning the aforementioned list of expectations for the city manager by identifying what are reasonable requests and quantifiable goals.
Councilman Luonuansuu made the motion to hold a regularly-scheduled conversational caucus before the official business portion of council meetings. Effective starting with the next meeting on February 7th at 6pm, this time will be untelevised and will allow council members to hash out details and be on the same page on issues to be discussed in front of the public. The motion passed 4-1. The televised portion will now begin at 7pm.
A meeting is also planned for February 28th to further discuss the finance and dispatch issues.