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Iva Walker & Rellajeanne Cooke with the Piecemaker quilt (photo: Kim Breyley)

Garrettsville - The Village Piecemakers, a Garrettsville area quilt guild raffled a beautiful king size quilt over the Christmas season. The winning ticket was drawn by Iva Walker as the quilt was displayed and tickets were sold in her home during the 2010 Christmas Walk. The winner of this stunning quilt was Ms. Carol Claus of Independence, Ohio. Ms Claus traditionally participates in every Christmas Walk. She sets aside the time and titles it, ‘the sacred weekend’ that she, her sister and neighbor faithfully attend.

Ms Claus contributed a generous donation to the guild after receiving her prize.  Funds received by the guild are used to further club activities and are donated to worthy local non-profit organizations.

This quilt, machine-pieced and quilted by guild members, is comprised  mostly of fabrics purchased from a local quilt and gift shop, “The Shaker Tree” on Main Street in Garrettsville.

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

Chandler Bee and Ethan Milko (Photo: Iva Walker)

Garrettsville – Excitement filled the air.  Tension mounted as the contestants moved into position for the competition.  The crowd was hushed….  No, wait…this was the annual James A Garfield Middle School Spelling Bee…this crowd is never hushed…quiet, maybe…attentive, perhaps…but hushed?   In your dreams, Principal Tom Sullivan, organizer Jackie Lovelace, in your dreams.

The judges table featured a Webster’s Unabridged, three judges and the dreaded bell to signal lack of orthographic (Look it up) success.

The microphone–center stage–was adjusted  to pick up the veriest whisper from the height-challenged or the stratospherically-inclined.

And the words rolled forth: gnash, versatile, suffrage, grammarian, monstrosity …speaking of which, who picks these things out anyway?   One interesting moment of the event came about when Becky Kirk, who was cruisin’ up to that point, got the word, “yippee”.  The pronouncer spoke the word…silence…spoke the word again–with definition…silence…spoke once more, with feeling…then Becky turned  and said, incredulously, “Is that THE WORD?”  It was, and she spelled it right to move on to the next round.  At one point, all of the spellers in the rotation had missed their words, so everyone got another crack at the brass ring.

The two survivors of the process, Chandler Bee and Ethan Milko–a seventh grader and an eighth grader, held up through all that and the finale words–surmountable and   herringbone–to take finalist honors and head for the county bee which will take place at Maplewood Career Center on February 1st at 6:30 p.m.  Congratulations to all participants and good luck to our champs as they head to The Big Enchilada.

Photo: Estelle R. Brown

Garrettsville – ‘Good things come to those who wait.’ So the saying goes. But for those waiting for the Windham Street (State Route 82) Bridge to open for traffic, patience is a virtue that will have to be exercised for at least four more months.

Initially, ODOT (Ohio Department of Transportation) engineer Craig Dunbar set October 1, 2010 as the completion date for the Garrettsville bridge project. Then, due to weather delays, ODOT issues and county engineer complications, the completion date was set back to the end of November. Then it was re-set to sometime before the holidays… and now “we’re looking at sometime in May 2011 for the bridge project to be completely done,” Dunbar says.

Possibly — if the weather warms up to at least 40 degrees and stays dry for a string of consecutive days — the bridge could open to vehicle traffic later this winter but remain closed to foot traffic until late spring.

Last week, the eight-man crew erected a concrete railing along the east side of the steel-beamed bridge. This week, they have been working under the cover of heated plastic sheeting to erect the west-side railing. Most likely, workers will take a break from bridgework until after winter’s grip begins to thaw, most likely resuming their work in April.

Dunbar says that several steps need to be taken before the new bridge opens:

1)Saw cuts need to be made across the deck of the bridge pavement in order to provide road surface traction;

2)Pavement markings need to be painted when the surface reaches 40 degrees or better;

3)Concrete sidewalks need to be poured;

4)Four antique-style iron street lamps need to be erected;

5)All surface concrete must be painted off-white.

Work began in May 2010 to demolish the deteriorating arch bridge that spanned Eagle Creek and connected drivers to downtown Garrettsville. It was expected to take six-to-nine months to replace it.

Despite setbacks, the $1.8 million venture will eventually produce a rolled steel frame bridge spanning Eagle Creek with a concrete facade similar to the original historic bridge erected in 1932, featuring baluster railings illuminated by street lights reminiscent of those removed from the old bridge.

“This bridge has required a lot of detail work,” Dunbar reports. “I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s not really an arch bridge. It just looks like one.”

Windham – The Village of Windham’s search for a police chief came to an end last week with council approving the hiring of Gene H. Fixler to serve as the Chief of Police for the village.  Mayor Rob Donham II issued the oath of office to the chief in front of a crowd of well wishers, friends, former colleagues and family at the December council meeting. The chief’s son Brian Fixler was given the honor of affixing the Windham Police Department (WPD) chief badge on his father.

Chief Fixler brings 36 plus years experience to the Windham Police Department. During the course of his career Fixler has served in various capacities in law enforcement and most recently served as a Lieutenant with the Grand River Police Department and also served as a Lieutenant of the State of Ohio of Mental Health Police Department Northcoast Behavioral Healthcare. Chief Fixler is expected to be officially on the job within the next few weeks.

In other council news, Mayor Donham stated that he attended the last Portage County District Library (PCDL) board meeting and the board appreciated the village subsidizing the library. The Village of Windham agreed at their November meeting to subsidize the library $800/ month if they would relocate to a facility within the village limits. The PCDL expects to relocate to the Renaissance Family Center (RFC) in the next month or so. The village also thanked Windham Township for their willingness to loan them snow removal material if their supply became depleted in the recent storms, however, the assistance was appreciated and turned out not to be needed. Finally, the Parks and Recreation Committee announced the winners of the annual lighting contest. Committee chairman Phil Snyder stated that they had 160 homes entered in the contest and the winners are:

1st place: Bud and Rella Mullinax of Spring Drive,

2nd place: Carl and Marian Angus of Spring Drive

3rd place: Ken and Kaye Friend of North Main Street

Honorable mention: Don and Kim Ridenbaugh & Ken and Freda Shearer

Mr. Snyder thanked all the participants and encourages more folks to considering entering next year. Prizes were donated by local businesses.

In other Windham Safety news, the W.V.F.D. Joint Fire District issued the oath of office to newly-appointed Fire Chief Mike Iwanyckyj. The Fire Board Fiscal Officer Jayme Neikirk issued the oath of office while retiring Fire Chief Clair Simpson affixed the chief’s new badge.

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Windham – The New Year was barely a day old when long-time patrons gathered at T& J’s restaurant in Windham to say good bye and enjoy one last breakfast at the local eatery. Patrons stated that losing a morning place to gather, eat breakfast and catch up on local news is just another sign of the times and they hoped someone would consider opening another eatery in the same location soon. “It is truly a sad day in Windham as we see another business becomes a victim of the economy,” stated one resident, who just shook his head and said, “It is just a sad day.”

The restaurant-closing rumor began circulating earlier this week and was later confirmed late Friday by one of its employees. Owner Tim Goodwin said the closure is bittersweet. “I am sad about the closure but looking forward to starting a new chapter in my life. I have recently finished nursing school and I am scheduled to take my state boards later this month. Besides my full time job at the Ford Motor Company I plan on seeking part-time work as a nurse.” The owner cited the sluggish economy as the primary reason for closing the facility, however changes to his family dynamics over the past few years were also a contributing factor in his decision to permanently close the facility.  Goodwin stated that the last few months have been rough and the business started to decline when the economy tanked in 2009. The closure leaves nine employees out of jobs effective January 2, 2011 with four of the employees being Goodwin’s adult children.

Goodwin purchased the local eatery in 2005 when it was formerly known as Vi’s Family Restaurant. About nine months ago he relocated the restaurant from the old Dairy Queen building to the Shops of Windham. The Shops of Windham are located in the former Windham Pharmacy Facility next to the Sparkle Market. Tim said when he purchased the restaurant he was laid off from his full-time job and had time to run the eatery with his dad’s help.  Since that time, he started to pursue and has obtained a nursing degree, and was called back to his full time job, both responsibilities left him little time to run the business, especially when he was unable to be there.

When asked about hiring a manager to run the eatery he said it was considered but because of the economy they decided the best thing for them would be just to close. He also stated that he had several inquiries from folks who were interested in purchasing the eatery but no one was able to secure financing or come up with the funds needed to purchase the facility. I asked about the future of the building and he stated he was uncertain what the building owner’s plans were. (Calls to the building owner were not returned before press time.)

The restaurant was slated to close at 3 pm Sunday January 2, 2011 and leaves Windham without a sit down eatery. Prior to closing time Goodwin stated that he would auction off all his equipment and any remaining inventory to the public.

The equipment was purchased by Patti and Jim Moore and is being included with their property that is currently for sale on SR 303.

Source: http://www.myspace.com/dustbustersmusic

Source: http://www.myspace.com/dustbustersmusic

Hiram – The old-time string band The Dust Busters will play a free concert in Frohring Recital Hall, Hiram College on Wednesday, Jan. 19 at 7:30 p.m.   The group includes Walker Shepherd (banjo, guitar, bantar, fiddle), Craig Judelman (fiddle, pump organ) and Eli Smith (guitar, banjo, manjo, bantar, harmonica, autoharp).  Their music integrates a wide range of old-time songs, ballads, fiddle tunes and jug band blues infused with the freewheeling high energy that characterized early string bands such as The Skillet Lickers.  They are inspired by the fusion of Scots-Irish and African music that took place in Appalachia, the Western states and the Deep South from earliest colonial times through the Second World War.  Carrying this music forward with authenticity and creativity, the Dust Busters make it thoroughly contemporary, meaningful, and fun.

Band members met while playing in a larger group with folk legends John Cohen of the New Lost City Ramblers and Peter Stampfel of the Holy Modal Rounders.   The Dust Busters are presently based in Brooklyn, NY where they have played at venues such as Club Passim, the Jalopy Theater, The Brooklyn Folk Festival and Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour.  Their website is www.DustBustersMusic.com.

The concert is sponsored by the Hiram College Convocation program, Special Events, and the Music Department.   Frohring Recital Hall is at 11746 Dean Street, Hiram.  For further information, call 330-569-5294.

Newton Falls – The first council meeting of 2011 ushered in the new year by bringing some old business from 2010 with it, literally. The December 20, 2010 meeting had been adjourned by a 3-2 vote in the middle of closing public comments because of the majority of council’s frustration over continual catcalls from the audience. Since then, Mayor Waddell, along with Law Director Fritz, examined Robert’s Rules of Order to find that such a move was not permissible according to the guidelines which council meetings are expected to follow. Specifically, an adjournment may not be passed while someone is at the podium, which was exactly the case at the last meeting. Due to this finding, the last meeting of 2010 was never officially adjourned, and thereby technically carried over into the start of this past Monday’s meeting.

All officials were present and after the Pledge of Allegiance Mayor Waddell explained to council that when obtaining public records they will now be expected to pay for the copies they request just as any other citizen would be required to do. This has been a free practice for council members in the past but the general public has always had to pay to offset the cost of the ink and paper used to duplicate the records and council should do likewise.

Councilman Luonuansuu questioned the listing on the agenda which addressed the abrupt, and now deemed unofficial, end to the previous meeting. After Mr. Waddell and Mr. Fritz explained how the discrepancy occurred (due to interrupting a member of the public who had been speaking at the time the motion had been made and passed), Councilwoman Johnson asked if council would have to continue putting up with “those clowns” from the audience (the small majority of people who continue to loudly voice their opinions from the podium) since council cannot adjourn at will to prevent someone from talking. The mayor responded by reminding all present that those members of the public who wish to attend the meetings in person as well as those seated on the council need to uphold a professional decorum while interacting at the open-forum business meeting.

Also to be noted is that the Board of Election is scheduled this week to review the signatures submitted in support of holding a recall election that could potentially remove Councilman Luonuansuu, the Ward 4 representative, from his position. If the paperwork is found sufficient, the election will be set in the near future. Mayor Waddell pointed out that February 8th has already been designated by another district for a special election and if Newton Falls also chooses this date it would save the city some money. He thereby recommended that date for the possible upcoming recall, but it will ultimately be up to council to decide when it should be scheduled.

The charity drawing winner this week is the NF Tiger Tattler.

During individual reports, the operation of the town’s tornado siren was addressed. It is the practice in Newton Falls to test the siren every Saturday. Some residents hearing the siren thought there was a real tornado approaching, but a reminder: if it’s a clear day and the siren goes off, and it happens to be a Saturday, and twelve-noon, don’t panic – chances are it’s just the test and citizens should not be concerned.

At the last meeting, it was requested of the City Manager that he explore the costs associated with bringing security to the community center during meetings. Mr. Haney presented his findings, stating that expenses could range from $300 for a security wand, plus $14-$36 per hour depending on which member of the police force would be standing guard, to $4,500 to install a walk-through security gate at the door. Another option is to relocate back to the city building and utilize the convenience of existing security facilities. This would require no new equipment and about $11 an hour for the established security guard at the building. Councilwoman Johnson opined that if the chairperson could control the public during the meetings, extra security would not be needed in the first place. “I hope you can conduct a meeting without any harassment,” she said, addressing the mayor. “It’s like those are the clowns and this is the circus.”

The Law Director’s report consisted of the fact that he’d worked thirteen hours this month, which would not require any overtime pay. Councilman Zamecnik requested a more itemized accounting of the law director’s billable hours. Councilman Luonuansuu made a motion to amend the minutes from the last meeting to include the two points-of-order that were called during closing public comments, those which had ultimately led to the abrupt adjournment.

Highlights of the rest of the meeting included the mayor pointing out that “there are many sections in Robert’s Rules of Order that give the chair the power to control the meeting” but he hadn’t wanted to be forced to use them. Citing that this meeting was technically considered part of 12-20-2010, the city manager showed a sense of humor by wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. In other business, the sign ordinance was revisited, prompting Councilman Zamecnik to point out that a small committee had been formed during a past Chamber Association meeting (the Rick, Rick, Rick and Jack mentioned in September’s Chamber report) to investigate the best options for this matter and he felt that pushing this through by council before the appointed group had a chance to do so was “haphazard.” Nonetheless, the ordinance passed 3-2.

Councilwoman Hoffman and Councilman Zamecnik moved to nominate Councilwoman Johnson for the vice-chair of council position for 2011. She declined, citing Councilman Monteville as a better choice. Hoffman and Zamecnik voted against that, but Johnson and Luonuansuu voted for it, with Monteville voting for himself and becoming the third in the 3-2 vote.

In other roles that needed filling for the new year, several committee positions had opened. One of them was filled by Phillip Beer, a Fourth Ward resident, who was appointed after Johnson and Monteville voted against him, and Hoffman and Zamecnik voted for him. Councilman Luonuansuu abstained from the vote due to the fact that Mr. Beer was responsible for circulating the recall petitions against him. Mayor Waddell broke the 2-2 tie in favor of Mr. Beer.

In response to the news that council members would be charged for public record copies, Councilman Monteville moved that the council member requesting a public record receive that copy for free, with stipulations for other members wishing to have that information. The motion passed 3-2.

In closing comments, Councilwoman Hoffman stated that “When you’re on council you have to listen to everyone, whatever they say, whether it’s good or bad.” Many who spoke at the podium are looking forward to a great and prosperous year for Newton Falls, but also acknowledged that it will require teamwork.

Mayor Waddell closed the meeting by thanking The Bridge, The Villager, and The Review in covering the meetings and reporting the news in a professional manner.

Due to the holiday, the next meeting will be on Tuesday, January 18th at 6pm.

Newton Falls – The first council meeting of 2011 ushered in the new year by bringing some old business from 2010 with it, literally. The December 20, 2010 meeting had been adjourned by a 3-2 vote in the middle of closing public comments because of the majority of council’s frustration over continual catcalls from the audience. Since then, Mayor Waddell, along with Law Director Fritz, examined Robert’s Rules of Order to find that such a move was not permissible according to the guidelines which council meetings are expected to follow. Specifically, an adjournment may not be passed while someone is at the podium, which was exactly the case at the last meeting. Due to this finding, the last meeting of 2010 was never officially adjourned, and thereby technically carried over into the start of this past Monday’s meeting.All officials were present and after the Pledge of Allegiance Mayor Waddell explained to council that when obtaining public records they will now be expected to pay for the copies they request just as any other citizen would be required to do. This has been a free practice for council members in the past but the general public has always had to pay to offset the cost of the ink and paper used to duplicate the records and council should do likewise.Councilman Luonuansuu questioned the listing on the agenda which addressed the abrupt, and now deemed unofficial, end to the previous meeting. After Mr. Waddell and Mr. Fritz explained how the discrepancy occurred (due to interrupting a member of the public who had been speaking at the time the motion had been made and passed), Councilwoman Johnson asked if council would have to continue putting up with “those clowns” from the audience (the small majority of people who continue to loudly voice their opinions from the podium) since council cannot adjourn at will to prevent someone from talking. The mayor responded by reminding all present that those members of the public who wish to attend the meetings in person as well as those seated on the council need to uphold a professional decorum while interacting at the open-forum business meeting.Also to be noted is that the Board of Election is scheduled this week to review the signatures submitted in support of holding a recall election that could potentially remove Councilman Luonuansuu, the Ward 4 representative, from his position. If the paperwork is found sufficient, the election will be set in the near future. Mayor Waddell pointed out that February 8th has already been designated by another district for a special election and if Newton Falls also chooses this date it would save the city some money. He thereby recommended that date for the possible upcoming recall, but it will ultimately be up to council to decide when it should be scheduled. The charity drawing winner this week is the NF Tiger Tattler.During individual reports, the operation of the town’s tornado siren was addressed. It is the practice in Newton Falls to test the siren every Saturday. Some residents hearing the siren thought there was a real tornado approaching, but a reminder: if it’s a clear day and the siren goes off, and it happens to be a Saturday, and twelve-noon, don’t panic – chances are it’s just the test and citizens should not be concerned.  At the last meeting, it was requested of the City Manager that he explore the costs associated with bringing security to the community center during meetings. Mr. Haney presented his findings, stating that expenses could range from $300 for a security wand, plus $14-$36 per hour depending on which member of the police force would be standing guard, to $4,500 to install a walk-through security gate at the door. Another option is to relocate back to the city building and utilize the convenience of existing security facilities. This would require no new equipment and about $11 an hour for the established security guard at the building. Councilwoman Johnson opined that if the chairperson could control the public during the meetings, extra security would not be needed in the first place. “I hope you can conduct a meeting without any harassment,” she said, addressing the mayor. “It’s like those are the clowns and this is the circus.”The Law Director’s report consisted of the fact that he’d worked thirteen hours this month, which would not require any overtime pay. Councilman Zamecnik requested a more itemized accounting of the law director’s billable hours. Councilman Luonuansuu made a motion to amend the minutes from the last meeting to include the two points-of-order that were called during closing public comments, those which had ultimately led to the abrupt adjournment.Highlights of the rest of the meeting included the mayor pointing out that “there are many sections in Robert’s Rules of Order that give the chair the power to control the meeting” but he hadn’t wanted to be forced to use them. Citing that this meeting was technically considered part of 12-20-2010, the city manager showed a sense of humor by wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. In other business, the sign ordinance was revisited, prompting Councilman Zamecnik to point out that a small committee had been formed during a past Chamber Association meeting (the Rick, Rick, Rick and Jack mentioned in September’s Chamber report) to investigate the best options for this matter and he felt that pushing this through by council before the appointed group had a chance to do so was “haphazard.” Nonetheless, the ordinance passed 3-2. Councilwoman Hoffman and Councilman Zamecnik moved to nominate Councilwoman Johnson for the vice-chair of council position for 2011. She declined, citing Councilman Monteville as a better choice. Hoffman and Zamecnik voted against that, but Johnson and Luonuansuu voted for it, with Monteville voting for himself and becoming the third in the 3-2 vote.In other roles that needed filling for the new year, several committee positions had opened. One of them was filled by Phillip Beer, a Fourth Ward resident, who was appointed after Johnson and Monteville voted against him, and Hoffman and Zamecnik voted for him. Councilman Luonuansuu abstained from the vote due to the fact that Mr. Beer was responsible for circulating the recall petitions against him. Mayor Waddell broke the 2-2 tie in favor of Mr. Beer.In response to the news that council members would be charged for public record copies, Councilman Monteville moved that the council member requesting a public record receive that copy for free, with stipulations for other members wishing to have that information. The motion passed 3-2.In closing comments, Councilwoman Hoffman stated that “When you’re on council you have to listen to everyone, whatever they say, whether it’s good or bad.” Many who spoke at the podium are looking forward to a great and prosperous year for Newton Falls, but also acknowledged that it will require teamwork.Mayor Waddell closed the meeting by thanking The Bridge, The Villager, and The Review in covering the meetings and reporting the news in a professional manner.Due to the holiday, the next meeting will be on Tuesday, January 18th at 6pm.

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Windham – The Windham Historical Society begins its new year on Monday, January 17, at 7 p.m. in the Brick Chapel on North Main Street in Windham.
The Brick Chapel opens at 6:30 to all interested visitors for a meet and greet. The Society has increased its membership tremendously in 2010, and hopes to expand even more in the new year, which marks Windham Bicentennial.
At the November meeting, a large turnout heard sports historian George Belden discuss Basketball before Marty Hill, a salute to the great Windham teams of the 1940’s and 1950’s.
Among the attendees were members of the late 1950’s Bombers of Coach Dick Schlup, which averaged over 20 wins per season. From left to right, they are Tom Denvir, Ken Rowan, Jerry Tacy, Bill Barker, Bill Isler, and current Windham coach Marty Hill.
For more information on the January meeting, please call Society President Lynnea St. John at 330-326-6061, or email her at Lynnya45@yahoo.com.

Mantua – Rick Frato is committed to helping his neighbors retire with dignity. With the opening of his new financial services firm on Main Street, he is in the perfect position to fulfill that hometown commitment.

The Edward Jones financial advisor invites the public to join him at a grand opening celebration starting at 2 p.m. on Friday, January 7 at his office at 10803 Main Street, Suite C. (south door entrance) of the University Hospitals building, in the old village school. Various activities are planned, including a ribbon-cutting ceremony, refreshments and door prizes.

Frato is a graduate of Crestwood High School and Hiram College. He not only lives in Mantua and has established his business here, but he also is a member of The Mantua-Shalersville Chamber of Commerce, The Mantua Rotary Club and The Downtown Mantua Revitalization Corporation. When he states that this community and its people are important to him, his walk confirms his talk.

Frato opened the office in Mantua because this is where he, his wife and five children share a home. However, this office serves surrounding areas including Hiram, Garrettsville and Shalersville. He is licensed in several states and has clients all over the country. Previously an operations manager with Kellogg’s in Cincinnati, Frato has a background in finance and operations management. After joining Edward Jones, he relocated back to Mantua to open his own hometown office.

Frato is passionate about people planning for their retirement and also making sure they have enough life insurance so their families won’t have to struggle without them. All too often, he has encountered people who are getting ready to retire within five or six years, but are just now starting to consider a financial plan to prepare for it.

Edward Jones provides financial services for individual investors in the United States and, through its affiliate, in Canada. The firm’s 12,000-plus financial advisors work directly with nearly 7 million clients to understand their personal goals — from college savings to retirement — and create long-term investment solutions that emphasize a well-balanced portfolio and a buy-and-hold strategy. Edward Jones prioritizes building long-term, face-to-face relationships with clients, helping them to make sense of the investment options available to them.

Edward Jones, which ranked No. 2 on FORTUNE Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” in 2010, is headquartered in St. Louis. The Edward Jones website is located at www.edwardjones.com, and its recruiting web site is www.careers.edwardjones.com.

In order to schedule a financial services appointment with Rick Frato, contact Office Administrator Jeanne Cowart at (330) 274-8087. You may also email Frato directly at Rick.Frato@EdwardJones.com. Or simply stop by the office during regular business hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Commissioner Marsilio being sworn in by her mother, Sandy Pelphrey.

Garrettsville – On Tuesday, December 28, 2010, amid  Portage County political figures, law officers, friends and family, Tommie Jo Marsilio was sworn into office as Portage County Commissioner. The ceremony took place in the Iva L. Walker Auditorium, a fitting location for this James A Garfield alum  who credits former Social Studies teacher, Iva Walker, for her desire to get involved in government.

Assistant County Prosecutor David Brode led the proceedings.  Members of Garrettsville Girl Scout Troop 632 opened the ceremony with the Pledge of Allegiance and Pastor Gray of the First Baptist Church in Garrettsville offered the Blessing.

Commissioner Marsilio was sworn in by her mother, Sandy Pelphrey.

Tommie Jo Marsilio offered her thanks to those who supported her during her campaign and for their continued support. She vowed to do her very best in holding government officials accountable for their actions and to bring government back to where it truly represents the people.

Everyone who attended was offered refreshments of cake and punch in the Commons area following the ceremony.

January 3rd was Tommie Jo’s first official day in office.

Windham –  All little girls have a dream of being Cinderella even if it is only for a moment. Danielle Hickman has had two opportunities to have Cinderella experiences in her life. The first one was last fall when she was crowned homecoming queen at Windham High School. The second opportunity presented itself because of the first one. Danielle received an application through the school to apply for America’s Homecoming Queen Court to represent the area at the Liberty Bowl held in Memphis, Tennessee on New Years Eve. Danielle was one of 107 homecoming queens nationwide selected to participate in the half-time show at the game. The event wasn’t a contest nor was there a naming of “America’s Homecoming Queen”, per se, it was just an opportunity to represent the area and participate in the half-time performance at the Liberty Bowl Game.

Each participant was required to purchase a bowl package that included tickets to the game, a welcome reception, a luncheon and tour of St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, pre-game buffet, participation in the parade and local transportation to the bowl festivities. The girls were welcomed on Wednesday and the next few days were a flurry of activity. Danielle said she felt like a celebrity as they ushered her around to the various events and deemed it a once in a lifetime experience.

The featured event was their performance with the O’Jays during the half-time show at the game. The girls were featured in long white gowns and danced to “Love Train” which was performed by the O’Jays. According to Danielle’s mother, Tammy, it was an awesome site to behold.

The Windham senior said “The trip was an incredible experience where I was able to make new friends from all over the country; it was a trip I will never forget.”  Miss Hickman was one of five Ohioans selected for the honor.

Garrettsville – Jacksons’ Snow Palace was the site of the annual Rotary Christmas Party and White Elephant Gift Exchange on December 20, having been re-scheduled from the previous Monday because of the Arctic conditions existing throughout the area.  Luckily, no actual pachyderms were in attendance because the venue was overflowing with   community interaction, human warmth and good food.  Resident chef, Darlene Jackson, produced a rib-sticking medley of kielbasa, potato, carrot and who-knows-what-else. Other contributors rallied to the cause with appetizers and desserts.

Business was attended to : new members Dennis Gunther (& wife Cheryl) and Mark Orton (& wife Annette)  were officially welcomed into the Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary; Dale Shiffer (the Clockman of Garrettsville) became president by acclamation; preparation for Family Week in February, 2011, was on the horizon.

Then they got down to the meat of the gathering…amid immoderate laughter, cackling and guffaws.  A partial listing of the treasures circulating included a mini poinsettia, a coaster set–hotly-contested, a Coleman cooler, a stuffed, singing snowman, lavender scented stuff,   a teapot, a laser level, one rather rude Santa, packages of cheese, a Lego City Police pen, stationery made from elephant dung (See, they did come after all!) and others items too numerous to mention.  Some of these will, no doubt, appear again next year…which will certainly be a happy one.

Garrettsville – Jacksons’ Snow Palace was the site of the annual Rotary Christmas Party and White Elephant Gift Exchange on December 20, having been re-scheduled from the previous Monday because of the Arctic conditions existing throughout the area.  Luckily, no actual pachyderms were in attendance because the venue was overflowing with   community interaction, human warmth and good food.  Resident chef, Darlene Jackson, produced a rib-sticking medley of kielbasa, potato, carrot and who-knows-what-else. Other contributors rallied to the cause with appetizers and desserts.Business was attended to : new members Dennis Gunther (& wife Cheryl) and Mark Orton (& wife Annette)  were officially welcomed into the Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary; Dale Shiffer (the Clockman of Garrettsville) became president by acclamation; preparation for Family Week in February, 2011, was on the horizon.Then they got down to the meat of the gathering…amid immoderate laughter, cackling and guffaws.  A partial listing of the treasures circulating included a mini poinsettia, a coaster set–hotly-contested, a Coleman cooler, a stuffed, singing snowman, lavender scented stuff,   a teapot, a laser level, one rather rude Santa, packages of cheese, a Lego City Police pen, stationery made from elephant dung (See, they did come after all!) and others items too numerous to mention.  Some of these will, no doubt, appear again next year…which will certainly be a happy one.

Garrettsville – We received many requests.  Some wishes were large and some were small.  We had a wish all picked out.  Then we received a letter from Portage County Children Services’ Director, Penny Ray.  Penny nominated Samantha Mitchell.  Samantha is a mother of an infant son.   She lives in Ravenna.  Two friends from Family and Community Services also nominated her.

The wish was very simple – she needed home furnishings and supplies for her baby.  Samantha is an enthusiastic mother who is looking for work and trying hard to make a good life for her son and herself.

Upon hearing this story, there was no doubt- this was our Christmas wish to be granted.  The shopping was immensely fun.  Chris Perme was an enthusiastic financial partner, but his schedule did not allow him to shop for the gifts.  So our editor agreed to help with the shopping.  Instead of taking the list as suggestions, we decided to treat it as a shopping list.  We bought ALL of the suggested items – a baby swing, cookware, a microwave, and more.

After buying the items, we wrapped it all up and delivered it to our winner on December 23.  This was the best part of all.  Four of us delivered the gifts.  It still took multiple trips from car to Samantha’s home.   I can honestly say this made my Christmas.  I was happy to help such a grateful young lady.  The smile on her face when we carried in the gifts just made my heart smile.

My fellow Santa, Chris Perme, shared these sentiments.  “It started as just something nice to do for the community.  It ended up being a bright spot of my Christmas.  It is truly better to give than to receive.”

On behalf of Perme Financial Group, the Weekly Villager, and me, we wish Samantha and her son the very best.  We were happy to meet her and make her our 2010 Christmas Wish recipient.

A Special Election will be held on Tuesday, February 8, 2011.
Those residents of Geauga County residing in the Cardinal Local School District who would like to vote an absentee ballot should make arrangements now.
In order to request an absentee ballot for the Election, registered voters must fill out an absentee application. Each request must have the applicant’s original signature. Requests may be mailed to:
Geauga County Board of Elections
470 Center St., Bldg. 6-A
Chardon, Ohio  44024
440-279-2030
The Board of Elections will accept mail-in requests for absentee ballots for the February 8, 2011, Special Election thru noon on Saturday, February 5, 2011.  Voters may also vote absentee in person at the Board of Elections office January 4, 2011, through the close of business on Monday, February 7, 2011.
The Board of Elections will be open extended hours for absentee voting on Saturday, February 5th, from 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon
Voters can download an Absentee Application on line at:
http://www.co.geauga.oh.us/Departments/BOE/Absentee.aspx

A Special Election will be held on Tuesday, February 8, 2011.Those residents of Geauga County residing in the Cardinal Local School District who would like to vote an absentee ballot should make arrangements now.In order to request an absentee ballot for the Election, registered voters must fill out an absentee application. Each request must have the applicant’s original signature. Requests may be mailed to:Geauga County Board of Elections470 Center St., Bldg. 6-AChardon, Ohio  44024440-279-2030The Board of Elections will accept mail-in requests for absentee ballots for the February 8, 2011, Special Election thru noon on Saturday, February 5, 2011.  Voters may also vote absentee in person at the Board of Elections office January 4, 2011, through the close of business on Monday, February 7, 2011.The Board of Elections will be open extended hours for absentee voting on Saturday, February 5th, from 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 noonVoters can download an Absentee Application on line at:http://www.co.geauga.oh.us/Departments/BOE/Absentee.aspx

Highlights of the December 16, 2010 Trustee Meeting:
The Zoning Inspector is still having computer problems. Trustees gave permission to get information on a new computer.
Mr. VanSteenberg reported the fuel tank on the ’95 Kodiak truck had a hole in it. Trustees agreed to authorize repair for a cost not to exceed $500. They also authorized purchase of 4 recapped tires for the truck at $225 each, plus $24 each for mounting. They also agreed to have repairs made to the springs on the door at the Route 700 garage for the sum of $235.
Trustee Hammar said our best opportunity for grant money for park projects is Nature Works (ODNR). The county share is going to be about $48,000 this year. The most we could hope to get is 70%. It was agreed he should proceed with the grant request.
Trustees agreed to approve the Delta Dental premium of $69.17 per month for the year 2011. Mrs. Nicholas noted this was a $2.04 per month increase. There was no increase in 2010.
Trustees accepted a $50 donation from Dorothy Morrison and family in memory of Thomas Kristoff.
It was agreed that the Annual Township Inventory would be held Monday, January 10 at 9am beginning at the Town Hall.
Trustee Zizka said mats were needed for the back door and upstairs at the church. Mr. VanSteenberg will check pricing with Rentwear. Mr. Zizka also advised the gutter on the south side of the church came down because of heavy snow and ice.
Mr. Zizka continues to follow up on details regarding the town hall porch project.
Mr. Hammar said there may be NOPEC grant money left over after the initial first round. Mr. Martin suggested if so, we apply for insulated doors and openers for the township garage, also an insulated entrance door.
The draft Cemetery Regulations brochure was reviewed and several revisions suggested. Mrs. Nicholas will present a revised brochure, which includes all the recommended changes, to be considered for adoption by the Trustees at the December 30 meeting.

Because of voter support in November, the Geauga County Public Library system will reinstate opening at 9:00 a.m. six days a week at Bainbridge,   Chardon, Geauga West, and Middlefield libraries beginning January 3. Sunday hours remain 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Story-time classes continue, and additional programs for school-age children, teens, and adults will begin soon.
The website has been updated and provides valuable information, databases, catalog connection, and ebook titles. The Ohio E-Book Project found at www.geaugalibrary.net offers titles to library card holders that can be downloaded to such devices as Nooks, Sony e-readers, and Kobos.  If you have questions about accessing any library service, there is now more time available for staff to assist you!

Mantua – A simple “Thank You” does not seem to be adequate to express our appreciation for all the help we received during the holiday season. Because of the wonderful support 4 C’s received from the community we were able to serve many people this holiday season. We supplied food and gifts for 175 families and that includes 200 children. A special thanks goes out to C-Act, Ravenna Giant Eagle, Monroe’s Orchard and Farm Market, Hilltop Church and all the area churches, Barky Mart, the Mantua Chamber of Commerce, the Knights of Columbus, Crestwood Lions, Kiwanis, American Legion and all of you in the community who donated food items for our give-away.  A thank you too, to our wonderful volunteers, who spent hours packing it all up and distributing it. Every year we realize how blessed we are to live in such a caring community. 4 C’s Council says, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!”

Newton Falls – Visitors to the local history room at the Newton Falls Public Library last Wednesday found they had a new path to take to get to their destination: a brightly colored, candy-laden trail guarded by characters both sugary sweet and grimly gooey.

A Candyland board game, life-sized for pint-sized players, filled up the entire room between the history center and the stairwell, inviting children ages 3-8 to live out one of their favorite kid-friendly activities. This idea was literally thinking out  of the box: scenes and creatures from the classic game came to life as oversized cutouts set at appropriate intervals true to the landscape of the familiar playtime backdrop.
Along the winding road of individual squares, the children had the opportunity to dance past the sugar fairy at Snowflake Lake, get lost in the Licorice Forest, keep sane passing Peanut Acres, and try not to get stuck in the melting mud at the Chocolate Swamp, while successfully sneaking past Glumpy, the Swamp’s gooey guardian. According to game rules, a player would draw a colored card from the deck – in this case individual paper bags – and take a “move” to the next square on the floor corresponding with the color they had drawn. Double-square cards meant even more progress! At various points, in addition to slipping past the vivid characters, the children were instructed to keep an eye out for bowls of real candy matching the imaginary counterparts in the game. A special treat of chocolate chip cookies awaited finishers at the last stop just inside the final fortress of the Candy Castle.
Organizer Chrissy Braun, clad in a vintage-style Candyland t-shirt in appropriate chocolate brown, explained this is the third year the library in Newton Falls has been transformed into a lane of lollipops, but before that she and a colleague hosted a similar experience for children in Stow. Art students from Newton Falls High School helped to paint the giant props and Braun herself tried a creative hand at some of the artwork. The fantasy land only lasted until 6 pm and then reality interceded, but the flavorful fun will come back next year. In the meantime, there will be lots of other exciting events going on at this library and those in neighboring communities.
For other great area activities for kids, check out http://www.newtonfalls.org (Newton Falls Library), http://www.wtcpl.lib.oh.us (Warren), http://www.portagecounty.lib.oh.us (G-ville/ Windham/ Hiram/ Mantua), or your own local library website for crafts, storytime hours, and tot programs!
Oh, and be sure to catch “Puppy Tails” to follow the adventures of Doodle Dog, every other week in The Villager!

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Lake Milton – The Lake Milton Browns Backers held their annual Food and Toy Drive on December 18, 2010 at the Dutch House in Lake Milton.  Club president Gary Rozhon indicated this was their biggest event ever.  Thirty six families and nearly 60 children received food baskets and toys for the holidays.
The festivities began with the arrival of Santa Claus in a fire truck provided by the Lake Milton Fire Department.  Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus then greeted the children and provided them with coloring books, cookies, and drinks.  The day’s events ended with each family receiving a turkey and food basket and plenty of presents for all their children.
President Rozhon summarized the event, “I am truly amazed at the effort our club members have made this year.  Their hard work and dedication resulted in us helping an additional eight families.  With the support of numerous businesses and residents of Lake Milton, we distributed over a ton of food for these families!  Add in the hundreds of toys for their children…words can not express how blessed our club feels to be able to have such a positive impact on our community.”
The Christmas food and toy drive is one of many community events the club hosts throughout the year.  The club has been responsible for raising and donating nearly $10,000 for local families, charities, and goodwill events this past year.  The Lake Milton Browns Backers were recognized as one of the TOP FIVE clubs in the country in 2009.  Their 2010 efforts have resulted in August Club of the Month awards and consideration once again for Club of the Year.
Become a part of something special.  To  join or obtain information about the organization, contact Olde Dutch Mill Golf Course at 330-654-4100.  GO BROWNS!

Garrettsville – James A. Garfield Intermediate School presented Carols and Choruses recently at their annual Christmas Concert. The 5th and 6th grade concert was under the direction of Mr. Gaither and had something for everyone.
The concert started off with a new addition to the music department, the hand bell choir. The ten member hand bell choir played two holiday numbers that delighted those in attendance. They were followed by the jazz band, which performed two selections as well.  The concert moved on to the Fifth Grade Choir, which I must say, was awesome. The choir performed “Christmas Canon” written by Pachelbel and arranged specifically for this performance by Mr. Gaither. This selection was performed in five-part harmony featuring Ramsey Goodner on the violin while Nick Crawford tickled the ivories. The performance knocked the socks off the audience as everyone sat mesmerized by the harmonious sounds coming out of fifth graders’ mouths. The kids did such a wonderful job one could easily forget they were listening to fifth graders. The talent these students displayed totally wowed the audience and made them a difficult act to follow.
Although the choir was a tough act to follow, the sixth grade band stepped up to the plate to put on a concert to remember. We heard many favorite carols, including some new ones, all to usher in the season of good tidings and great joy. Those kids really rocked the house!
The holiday season would not be complete without fruitcake and this concert was no exception. The kids sang a fun selection, “Everlasting Fruitcake” which had the audience chuckling over the lyrics as they sang about the fruitcake that would reappear no matter how hard they tried to get rid of it. The evening closed out with the choir leading everyone in a Christmas Carol sing-a-long. The students and Mr. Gaither made this a concert to remember.

Portage County – Snow days are every school kid’s fantasy come true… until it’s time to make up for lost instructional time. Most area school districts have already exhausted their allowable cancellation days due to two major snow storms in early December. Now districts are on borrowed time as actual winter weather kicks into typical gear, with drifting snow, ice, below-zero wind chills and slick roadways posing hazards for the next three or four months.
Due to a change in state law intended to increase instructional time for students, the number of calamity days for public schools has been reduced in 2010-2011 from five to three. Many administrators and students are hopeful that Ohio Governor-Elect John Kasich will repeal this new law set in motion by outgoing Governor Ted Strickland.
But until then, schools’ first line of defense against inclement weather will likely be two-hour delays rather than cancellations. Late-start days still count as instructional days to the Ohio Board of Education, so the hope is that they will buy districts the time needed to brighten and clear roadways, mitigating the risk of potential accidents.
“Typically, we see three to five weather cancellation days per year,” says James A. Garfield Schools Superintendent Charles Klamer. Considering that three school days were already cancelled by mid-December, it’s likely that the district will double that number before the spring thaw arrives.
Safety for students and bus drivers is a superintendent’s top priority, even with pressure mounting to keep school doors open as scheduled rather than extend the school year with added make-up days. “We drive district roads in the early morning hours, consult with our transportation and maintenance supervisor, other neighboring school districts, road crews and weather forecasts before making any decisions,” says Klamer. “It’s not easy making a decision in the dark. The worst thing to happen is to have a school bus accident on our hands.”
With that in mind, both Garfield and Crestwood school districts will implement two-hour delays when possible, if weather forecasts and local road departments indicate that roads can be adequately cleared in time, and weather conditions are likely to improve throughout the remainder of the day.
Currently, the JAG school year has set June 8, 2011 as the last student day (graduation is June 5). With every school day cancelled hereafter, the school year is another day longer. If 10 cancellation days accumulate, Klamer’s understanding is that the state requires other measures for making up lost instructional time, such as extended school days or Saturday school.
The JAG School Board will finalize its calamity day procedures for the remainder of the school year by December 27, and will post it for parents on the district website: www.garfield.sparcc.org. As always, notification of delays and cancellations will be made available on major radio stations, Fox 8 News and Channel 5 TV weather alerts.
When Crestwood called a snow cancellation on December 14, it became the district’s fourth calamity day this school year, exceeding the state allowance of three. Consequently, Crestwood will be extending the school year an extra day through June 8, 2011… until further notice.
According to Crestwood Superintendent Joe Iacano, Crestwood tries to alert parents of delays or closures by 5:45 -6:15 a.m. that morning. Periodically, forecasts are definitive enough that school can be called off in time for the nightly news the prior evening. The announcement of a closing or two-hour delay will be broadcast on Cleveland television and radio stations and via Crestwood’s Alert Now telephone system. Those who have not signed up for the Alert Now system should contact their child’s principal for details. Parents should avoid calling schools or stations since incoming calls tie up phones and delay notification.
If a Crestwood parent believes it is safer to keep their child home all day due to localized conditions, even after schools re-open, they should send a written excuse the next day and students will be excused and allowed to make up any missed work for credit. (See www.crestwood.sparcc.org for full details.)
Crestwood is the only Portage County district to have surpassed the three-day limit so far. In addition to JAG, five other Portage districts — Rootstown, Ravenna, Aurora, Streetsboro, and Windham — have depleted their three-day allowance. Remaining Portage school districts — Waterloo, Field, Kent, Mogadore and Southeast — have used two snow days and have one bonus day remaining.
…And winter has only just begun.

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The first time Naturalist Services Director Diane Valen did one of these programs, a slideshow on Alaska, it drew a record-breaking 90 people.
But that was back in the beginning, in the winter of 2006, before the popular Armchair Adventure Travelogue Series became a staple on so many calendars and a known means to avoid cabin fever. Now the average crowd is 100; audiences are known to brave blizzard-like conditions; and this season one presenter will even come all the way from Arizona to share her story.
“People sometimes feel like there isn’t anything for them during the wintertime because they’re not skiers and they just aren’t equipped to be outside,” Diane said. “This has filled this niche.”
In addition to a variety of photos and storytelling techniques, many presenters also bring maps, souvenirs or the backpacks right off their backs so people can see what it takes to take such a trip – what do you have to take with you? These items are set up in the back of the room for pre- and post- meeting examination and questions.
The following programs run 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.
Hiking Sedona: Red Rocks – Blue Sky – White Snow – Sunday, December 26
Described by USA Today as “the most beautiful place in America,” Sedona’s beauty has made it a mecca for photographers, nature lovers and travelers to the West. Explore the culture, history and natural features of this spectacular area with Nelson and Marty Kirsch, who for the last 10 years have trekked hundreds of trails and thousands of miles while enjoying winters in Sedona.
The Yukon by Canoe – Sunday, January 16
Details: Paddling 250 miles on the Yukon River along the route of 1898 Gold Rush prospectors, then camping under the “midnight sun,” was the journey of a lifetime for Susan and Bruce Bennett. Now inhabited mainly by wildlife and First People, the Yukon has  spectacular scenery and abandoned 1900s vintage log cabins abound.
Wales & the Isle of Man – Sunday, January 23
Returning by popular demand with a new destination, Sue and Bill Berger invite you to explore the Welsh culture and landscape with stops including the zoo on the Isle of Man and the wind farms in the Irish Sea.
O Brasil (Brazil) – Sunday, February 6
A falls with 26 cataracts, a school of fish that devours a cow in two minutes, water lilies with six-foot leaves and more awesome discoveries are presented in this composite of Doby Green’s two trips to the biggest country in South America.
Ontario Park Primer – Sunday, February 13
Share the wonder of Niagara by night, Algonquin by canoe, trail explorations in Killarny & Killbear and fossil hunting at Stony Point in this sampler of what our neighbors to the North offer for outdoor enthusiasts within a two- to three-day drive of home with Naturalist Services Director Diane Valen.
You, Too, Can Hike the A.T! – Sunday, February 20
Not ready to tackle the entire Appalachian Trail? Chuck Warfield will provide tips and suggestions for day trips and tamer stretches with great views for any hiking level.
Have Tent, Will Travel: 1 Woman’s Solo Odyssey – Sunday, February 27
Mary Jane Skala set off on a cross-country journey with no GPS and no man, woman or dog…just a tent, sleeping bag, 7-year-old car and love of adventure. Follow her 8,000 miles encompassing 15 states, nine national parks, a Nebraska ranch, a snowstorm in the Colorado mountains and a Hopi Reservation.
“People who attend have either taken the trip themselves and want to re-live the experience, have always wanted to go and want to learn more, or have an impending trip,” said Diane. “For my program I had always wanted to do Algonquin, so it’s pretty much a hiking/wilderness experience – backcountry hiking and things. Some of them are more tame.”
Diane added that presenter Chuck Warfield enjoyed several of the series’ previous Appalachian Trail programs before crafting his own: “He said, ‘I don’t have three months to spend on the trail, so I’m doing little segments or I’m day hiking, and I’d like to put together a program to show what you can access and what you can do for short-term hiking if you’re not a hardcore backpacker.”
Registration is not required for these free programs, all fully wheelchair / stroller accessible. Call 440-286-9516 with questions or visit the Park District online at http://geaugaparkdistrict.org or on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

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Newton Falls – Monday night’s council meeting explored changes for the coming new year as the main topic of conversation.
All officials were present and the floor of the forum was immediately turned over to two guest speakers. After the special presentation about city water usage concluded, local Police Chief John Kuivila addressed concerns over the proposed budget cuts for 2011 and how they may affect the dispatch methods in Newton Falls. “If it were up to me, I would love to keep our dispatch center,” he said. “It’s a costly thing, but very beneficial.” He acknowledged that the budget cuts would have an effect on every aspect of the department in one way or another. The specifics of just how the police department is going to operate with the tighter financial limits are still being determined, but keeping the personnel intact is the priority.
After the public had their chance for opening comments, the mayor gave his report, mentioning updates such as the success of the recent Shop with a Cop program during which area officers helped local children have a chance for a happy holiday; commenting on the importance of going through proper committee channels in the new year; and supporting a motion to start off 2011 on the right foot by enstating an employee recognition program as early as January. Mayor Waddell also announced that the charity beneficiary from the last meeting was the Shop with a Cop program, with this week’s random draw contribution going to the Newton Falls Elementary ABC Club. Having an opportunity to officiate his first wedding this past weekend, the recently-inaugurated mayor received a gratitude donation from the couple – he will be paying forward that $50 to the NFHS Technology Club.
By way of individual reports from council members, Councilman Zamecnik welcomed new business, Cubs Corners, a children’s clothing consignment and resale shop, to 26 W. Broad Street. The City Manager mentioned the large crowd that came out to support the Home 44444 the Holidays (- the Fill-a-Bus effort was very much a success as well -) and revealed that some lucky area children will be getting personal phone calls from Santa soon! He also mentioned, on a sad note, that Carl Byer, Jr., who had run the Car Show in town, passed away suddenly; condolences to Mr. Byer’s family.
After the law director’s report, Councilman Monteville immediately made the motion to adjourn into an executive session to discuss pending litigation, in response to a request by Mr. Fritz to do so at some point in the evening.
Highlights of the rest of the meeting included passing an amendment to legislation about the sign regulations. Several weeks ago there had been discussion concerning the posting of signs in town with goodwill messages and the thought that there should be leniency in the existing laws in order to allow such messages to remain. Most notably, the yellow temporary sign utilized by the Chamber of Commerce was specifically referenced, though the conversation pertained to any non-profit entity who wished to express congratulations, encouragement, and other similarly happy communications. There was a bit of confusion at the table over the exact alterations of the verbiage, especially pertaining to the section about political signs, and as a result in the end the ordinance was passed 3-2.
The proclamation of appreciation mentioned at the last meeting was indeed brought to tonight’s agenda, officially thanking the members of the police department who played a part in saving the life of a local man on November 22nd utilizing the AED equipment provided to the department.
In new business, Councilwoman Hoffman made a motion to put security in the community center during council meetings, stating that she was beginning to feel unsafe with the intensity of the recent arguments and citing the unguarded, off-the-street accessibility of the meetingplace as a situation that needed to be remedied. The official motion passed  to have Mr. Haney look into how much it would cost for a security person to be posted at the door during meetings and to report back his findings.
In reaction to continual catcalls from the audience during closing public comments, Councilman Luonuansuu made a motion in the middle of the segment to immediately adjourn the meeting. This would effectively deny anyone else who wished to speak their chance to be heard. The motion passed,  3-2. The next opportunity will be in 2011. Many who did stand at the podium wished a safe and happy holiday to all.

The state’s largest land conservancy is applauding the renewal of a federal tax incentive for private landowners – especially working family farmers – who protect their land with a voluntary conservation easement.
Western Reserve Land Conservancy, which serves a 14-county region in northern Ohio, endorsed the move by Congress to renew the incentive, which had expired at the end of 2009.  The tax incentive has helped the Land Conservancy work with willing landowners in our community to preserve more than 22,000 acres of productive agricultural lands and natural areas.
Conservation-minded landowners now have until December 31, 2011 to take advantage of a significant tax deduction for donating a voluntary conservation agreement to permanently protect important natural or historic resources on their land.  When landowners donate a conservation easement to the Land Conservancy, they maintain ownership and management of their land and can sell or pass the land on to their heirs, while foregoing future development rights.
The enhanced incentive applies to a landowner’s federal income tax.  It:
• Raises the deduction a donor can take for donating a voluntary conservation agreement from 30 percent of their income in any year to 50 percent;
• Allows farmers and ranchers to deduct up to 100 percent of their income; and
• Increases the number of years over which a donor can take deductions from six to 16 years.
“Conservation easements have become an extremely important tool for protecting our treasured natural resources in northern Ohio, and we thank Congress for recognizing the need to renew this incentive,” said Land Conservancy Vice President Eddie Dengg.  “Our whole community wins when thoughtful landowners voluntarily conserve their land this way, protecting wildlife habitat, clean drinking water, productive agricultural land, parkland and scenic landscapes.”
Anyone wanting more information about the voluntary conservation easements can contact the Land Conservancy at (440) 729-9621 or info@wrlandconservancy.org.
According to the Land Trust Alliance, the national organization that provides a voice for land trusts in Washington, D.C., bills to make this incentive permanent have 274 House and 41 Senate co-sponsors from all 50 states, including majorities of Democrats and Republicans in the House. This legislation is supported by more than 60 national agricultural, sport and conservation organizations.
Western Reserve Land Conservancy was formed in 2006 when eight local land trusts joined forces in the largest-ever merger of its type.  The Land Conservancy, which works to preserve the scenic beauty, rural character and natural resources of northern Ohio, has preserved more than 350 properties and more than 22,000 acres.

Hiram – In planning and zoning matters it was earlier reported that the Commission has recommended that Hiram Village adjust its fees on par with other area community zoning permit fees. The new zoning fee schedule will be submitted to Council at the January 2011 meeting. An organizational meeting for 2011 is scheduled for January 4th beginning at 7pm.
The Commissioners’ hearing on the annexation is rescheduled for January 24th beginning at 9am. The hearing will continue until all relevant data has been submitted to that board. The Board will then consider the Petition for Annexation and vote to allow or deny. Their decision can be appealed by either side to the Portage County Common Pleas Court and will not become final until that court decides the appeal, if any.
The demolition of the old Hiram School is now in progress, with the county contract executed and the two demolition permits having been issued for the bid contract of $66,900 to Ace-Zuver, LLC.
Last month the Village applied for a $50,000 NOPEC energy efficiency grant. The grant will be utilized to make energy-saving permanent improvements in village structures. This grant should be awarded shortly.
A grant from Ohio Public Works Commission for $177,500 to fund a Hinsdale Road extension will be awarded in July 2011 with construction completed within a year. Although the extension is now on College property, it will be dedicated to public use.
The Hiram Police Department has recently applied for a $30,000 Federal Grant for the purchase of a police vehicle. This grant would fund the vehicle 100% and there would be no need to use village funds for the purchase.
On Tuesday, December 14th a change-of-command ceremony was conducted swearing in Hiram’s new Fire Chief Bill Byers. Fire Chief Gary Bott has served the community for 36 years, beginning in 1974. Gary now carries the rank of Captain and continues to serve his beloved community. Both Village Mayor and Hiram Township Trustees participated in the change-of-command ceremony and the Rev. Jeff Jackson gave the invocation and benediction. On Monday, January 3rd a meeting is scheduled to discuss the Fire and Police contract with the college and an agreement is expected shortly.
Effective January 1st, Hiram has adopted a newly-revised village income tax, Ord.#2009-31, replacing the 43-year old ordinance. A full copy is posted on the village’s website at www.hiramvillage.org. Other pending legislation includes Ord. # 2010-22, Increase in Fines for Parking Violations will see its third and final reading in January; and Ord.#2010-24, Uniform Trash Hauler for Village and Township will see its second reading in January.
Upcoming meetings for January are the Planning and Zoning, Tuesday, January 4th at 7pm in the Fire Dept. and a Regular Council Meeting, Tuesday, January 11th at 7pm in Council Chambers.

Nelson Township – The Nelson Township Trustees met for their regularly-scheduled meeting last Wednesday with all trustees and fiscal officer in attendance.  The meeting was moved to the community house due to lack of heat at the maintenance building. The trustees stated that the fuel line that runs from the tank to the maintenance building was plugged with salt and need to be flushed out. Until it was completed, they were unable to use the heating system at the maintenance building. Currently, they were using an alternative heat source to keep the pipes from freezing.
The first item on the agenda was to open the sealed bids for replacement doors and windows at the community house.  The window bids ranged from $12,940 – $22,515 and door bids ranged from $5,980-$ 13,900. After some discussion the trustees decided they would table a decision on the bids until they discussed bids with their architect. This decision was based on the fact that the bids were as one trustees stated “All over the place.”
The trustees then discussed the option of possibility renting fuel tanks from Western Reserve. The fuel tanks woulc be  to replace the ones the township uses now to refuel equipment. The current ones are not compliant with the new codes and the cost to upgrade the old ones is out of reach for the township right now. The agreement with Western Reserve would include tank maintenance, changing filters and nozzles. They decided to postpone any decision on this matter until next month, due to a very tight budget.
Speaking of money, Trustee Leonard said he is looking into refinancing the mortgage or trying to prepay the loan on the township garage. After further investigation he discovered that there is a possibility of refinancing or paying down the current mortgage without penalties.  Currently, the township loan is structured so that out of the $21,626 paid annually  $8,000 is applied to the principal and while also paying $13,626 in interest. Leonard was sure he could find a method that would save the township money. Trustee Turos stated that they didn’t have extra money to pay down the loan and when they looked at this issue before, the local banks would only go 15 years, they would need 30 years like the current loan. Turos also stated there was a concern that doing this would bring the township funds too low. The fiscal officer stated that they have $1000 in the debt reduction fund that could be used toward prepaying the mortgage. Trustee Leonard said he will keep looking into the issue to see if he can find a way to save the township money. In other cost-cutting measures, Trustee Wilson has elected to take Medicare Part B rather than the township’s medical insurance. The township will pay Wilson $150 per month to cover his $150 reduction in Social Security benefits each month. This is expected to save the township approximately $12,000 a year. Since there was no other business to discuss the trustees closed out the 2010 year.
They opened the 2011 organizational meeting and on the agenda was choosing a chairman of the board, establishing a meeting date, employee evaluations and making  temporary appropriations.  The board voted Joe Leonard to serve as chairman of the board. They also set the meeting dates as the first and third Wednesday of each month at 7:30 pm at the maintenance building. The trustees went into executive session to discuss employee evaluations, salaries and benefit packages.  The trustees returned from executive session and, there being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.

Nelson Township – The Nelson Township Trustees met for their regularly-scheduled meeting last Wednesday with all trustees and fiscal officer in attendance.  The meeting was moved to the community house due to lack of heat at the maintenance building. The trustees stated that the fuel line that runs from the tank to the maintenance building was plugged with salt and need to be flushed out. Until it was completed, they were unable to use the heating system at the maintenance building. Currently, they were using an alternative heat source to keep the pipes from freezing. The first item on the agenda was to open the sealed bids for replacement doors and windows at the community house.  The window bids ranged from $12,940 – $22,515 and door bids ranged from $5,980-$ 13,900. After some discussion the trustees decided they would table a decision on the bids until they discussed bids with their architect. This decision was based on the fact that the bids were as one trustees stated “All over the place.”  The trustees then discussed the option of possibility renting fuel tanks from Western Reserve. The fuel tanks woulc be  to replace the ones the township uses now to refuel equipment. The current ones are not compliant with the new codes and the cost to upgrade the old ones is out of reach for the township right now. The agreement with Western Reserve would include tank maintenance, changing filters and nozzles. They decided to postpone any decision on this matter until next month, due to a very tight budget. Speaking of money, Trustee Leonard said he is looking into refinancing the mortgage or trying to prepay the loan on the township garage. After further investigation he discovered that there is a possibility of refinancing or paying down the current mortgage without penalties.  Currently, the township loan is structured so that out of the $21,626 paid annually  $8,000 is applied to the principal and while also paying $13,626 in interest. Leonard was sure he could find a method that would save the township money. Trustee Turos stated that they didn’t have extra money to pay down the loan and when they looked at this issue before, the local banks would only go 15 years, they would need 30 years like the current loan. Turos also stated there was a concern that doing this would bring the township funds too low. The fiscal officer stated that they have $1000 in the debt reduction fund that could be used toward prepaying the mortgage. Trustee Leonard said he will keep looking into the issue to see if he can find a way to save the township money. In other cost-cutting measures, Trustee Wilson has elected to take Medicare Part B rather than the township’s medical insurance. The township will pay Wilson $150 per month to cover his $150 reduction in Social Security benefits each month. This is expected to save the township approximately $12,000 a year. Since there was no other business to discuss the trustees closed out the 2010 year. They opened the 2011 organizational meeting and on the agenda was choosing a chairman of the board, establishing a meeting date, employee evaluations and making  temporary appropriations.  The board voted Joe Leonard to serve as chairman of the board. They also set the meeting dates as the first and third Wednesday of each month at 7:30 pm at the maintenance building. The trustees went into executive session to discuss employee evaluations, salaries and benefit packages.  The trustees returned from executive session and, there being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.

On  December 8, the Literary Musical Club held their monthly meeting, Betty Hamilton and Sally Kittle were hostesses. The food was good and tasty. Snowmen and shiny red apples decorated the tables.
The only business was the report on the cookie sales. We sold coffee and cookies on the Christmas walk.
Margaret Lappert is a new member for us. We are pleased she has decided to join our membership.
The weather was bad but we had the usual turn-out. Ann Spolarich had homemade nut rolls for everyone. Cathy Spolarich had gifts for the 80-year-olds. We had a fun gift exchange and two birthdays, Billy English and Alma Jones. We had Christmas carols with Pat Amor. We look forward to her music each year.
Everyone left in a holiday mood and looking forward to seeing all the members next year.

Garrettsville – Club members have had two months of single meetings each in November & December.
Joan Kropp hosted our meeting in November with Jan Chalker as her co-hostess. Lucy Galayde had charge of the program for the night and did a wonderful job of taking us back  to Pearl Harbor on one of the most shocking days of our history. Refreshments & time spent with friends were great. Thank you ladies.
Our December host was Iva Walker with Karen Ziarko co-hosting. The newly remodeled home had been showcased at the Christmas walk earlier in November & a treat to revisit.
Maxine Nimtz read the Cratchit’s Christmas beautifully. Roy Pancost and Dale Lucan played Christmas music while members enjoyed refreshments. Truly appreciated by all.
Our next meeting host has been changed to Bonnie Oliver on January 6th.

Garrettsville – James A. Garfield Schools will be sponsoring the Mobile Dentist again this year.  They will arrive at the Elementary, Intermediate, Middle, and High Schools on January 26.  We have invited the Smile Programs to bring their on-site preventative dental care services to our schools because we know how important good oral health is to a child’s overall health.  The program can provide services to families who need financial assistance, accepts insurance and/or can subsidize fees for persons who can partially cover the cost of an exam and services.
The dentist will arrive at the Elementary, Intermediate, Middle, and High Schools on January 26.  A mini clinic will be set up in the buildings and the dentist and team will provide preventative services for students who return the registration forms that were sent home.  If you would like to register, you may also contact your child’s school.

Girl Scout Troop 632 of Garrettsville took a moment out of their Christmas break to spread some holiday cheer at The Woodlands in Ravenna. The girls brought smiles to the residents by singing some holiday favorites throughout the building. This is the third year that the Troop has gone to The Woodlands to carol. The residents and the staff are very welcoming and enjoy the chance to listen to the girls. This opportunity also helps the girls to understand that something as simple as singing can bring joy to others.

Garrettsville – Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary is in full Santa-delivery mode.  To schedule your visitation and your donation to the People Tree for December 23,  make some quick snow bunny hops over to McCumbers-Brady Realty or The Business Works ASAP.

Family Week planning is gearing up as well.  The big event is set for February but things begin now to fall into place to make it all work.   Sponsors and donations are being sought at this time, as are contest entries–essays, family-of-the-year nominations, longest-married couple nominations, etc.–and volunteers. Contact any Rotarian…better yet, attend a meeting at the Main Street Grille and Brewing Company on a Monday evening at 6:00.  You could be part of the big event.

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A number of bowlers in the 9:00 Trio League shot well on Saturday.  High series for the day was Ashleigh Quiggle, with games of 117, 152, and 91 for a 360 series.  Ashleigh’s 152 game was 53 pins over average.   Right behind her was Drew Tushar with a 357 series.  Drew’s games were 105, 115, and 137, all over his 102 average.  Nathan Phillips beat his high game score with 142.  Nathan’s series score was 350, 80 pins over average for the day.  Kassie Fedor’s 157 game was 64 pins over her 93 average.  Other nice games were shot by Austin Wise, 115 (47 pins over average), Floria Gerardino, 106 (35 pins over), Adam Norris, 118 (28 pins over), Ryleigh Gough, 86 (26 pins over), and Courtney Lytle, 108 (23 pins over).  Cassie Painley had 70 each game for a triplicate.

Jessica Potteiger had both high game and high series for the day in the 11:00 Trio League, with a 187 game and 495 series.  Kim Wampler had second high series for the day with 461; Kim’s high game was 170.  Ethan Dubasik was 98 pins over average for the day, with games of 145, 135 and 124, for a 404 series.  Cameron King’s last game of 171 was 59 pins over his average of 112.  Cameron also rolled a nice 431 series, 95 pins over for the day.  Nick Toke had a 421 series, which put him 79 pins over his series average.  Other nice games were rolled by Billy Potteiger, 121 (44 pins over), Zachary Capron, 120 (44 pins over), Austin Sledz, 95 (37 pins over), Belladonna Titschinger, 114 (36 pins over), Taylor Mick, 138 (33 pins over), Jameson Huebner, 75 (32 pins over), Andrew Morrissey, 122 (22 pins over), and Lucas Titschinger, 105 (21 pins over).

High games for the 9:00 Pee Wee League were Alex Gage, 100, Mackenzie Zembower, 99, and three bowlers with games of 94 – Madisyn Zembower, Eric Schaefer, and Zach Seebacher.

In the 11:00 PeeWee League, Katie Fazi had an excellent 109 game.  Rian Yeatts was second high for the day with 92.

Next Saturday is our Christmas Party; we hope all the youth bowlers can attend.

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Windham – Windham Joint Fire District Board met for their regularly-scheduled meeting recently with all members of the board present.

Chief Clair Simpson reported that Warren Fire Equipment was out to conduct bench tests on the Scot Air Paks.  They determined that several of the current air paks are out-dated and the cost to replace them would be  $4,442 for fiberglass tanks and $4,184 for aluminum tanks. After some discussion, the board approved the purchase of four Scot Air Paks with fiberglass tanks. They plan to evaluate how many more they will need to purchase next year.

The chief reported that we do not have to have the narrow band updated until 2012/ 2013. He had been originally told it must be done by 2011. The chief requested permission to send Justin Martin to take a 36-hour fire-fighters course at Maplewood; the cost of this class is $700 and much of it will be reimbursed under the fire grant from the state, providing he completes the course. The board approved this expenditure.

Once again there was a  discussion of purchasing blood and air-born pathogen jackets for the EMS crew. The coats cost $289 each. After a long discussion, the board approved purchasing  coats for those who have over volunteered over 1000 hours/ year to the department. Currently there are six EMS personnel who qualify for the jackets. The board stated that the jackets are property of the fire district and if one decides to leave the district the jackets are to remain with the district.

The fire board thanked Chief Clair Simpson for his 32 years of service to the department. During his 32 years of service Simpson had worked his way up thru the ranks from cadet to chief.  Simpson has been chief for over 8 years and is retiring from the department at the end of this year.

In other news, the board approved a maintenance agreement for the life packs. The life packs will be inspected and have new batteries installed each year. The contract is a two-year agreement. The board appointed two firemen, Mike Iwanyckyj and Gary Barnard, along with two board members, George Bengtson, Don Altiere, and the fiscal officer Jayme Neikirk to serve on the Volunteer Fire Fighters Dependent Fund Board.

The fire board meets on the second Thursday of each month at 7pm at the fire station. The board has scheduled an emergency end of the year meeting on December 14, 2010 at 7 pm. The purpose of this meeting is to give the oath of office to the new Chief Mike Iwanyckyj and to award a snow plowing contract for the station.

You see it in the movies… someone is having an emotional meltdown, babbling away about their seemingly insurmountable troubles… then a good friend gives them an alarming slap in the face. Suddenly, the babbling idiot looks up, refreshed and ready to move forward with new energy and a fresh perspective. “Thanks! I needed that,” they say.

Traveling to Nicaragua last week was my proverbial slap in the face. This was no classic resort vacation, where I was pampered and restored with VIP accommodations, R&R and therapeutic spa treatments. In fact, under any other circumstances, I would have considered it a disaster: Only a dribble of cold water in the sink and shower (and don’t you dare drink the untreated tap water!); sparse dormitory-style accommodations in simple bunk beds with hard pillows; toilets that can’t handle toilet paper; up before 6 a.m. each morning; simple mid-day meals of turkey-and-cheese sandwiches made by the side of the dirt road each day; sudden, unexplained blackouts… You get the picture.

And yet, this was luxurious compared to the plight of the people outside the high walls of the Land of Judah orphanage in central Nicaragua, where my Living Waters mission team stayed for the week. Along the roads from Managua to Masaya and Granada, and in the small towns and villages like Masatepe, San Marcos, Santa Teresa, Casares and Los Medranos, I witnessed crushing poverty among the people. They weren’t hidden away in contained slums; they were everywhere, walking along the road, riding a bicycle or motorbike, sometimes heaped along with dozens more in the bed of a pickup truck or crammed into a rickety bus.

They were walking for hours to get to work at the big chicken processing center or picking coffee beans for our special shade-grown blend of gourmet brew. They were gathering firewood along the side of the road; or grazing their scrawny cows or horses along the berm of the highway; or burning their heaping trash wherever it happened to pile up (because there is no trash-pick-up program in Nicaragua)… or begging for a handout at the airport and tourist attractions.

The homes we passed by ranged from miserable to inconceivable. The best ones were made of adobe-type material with either clay or thatched roofs. Others were made simply of sapling pole frames with sheets of cardboard and plastic stretched across. Most North Americans wouldn’t find these shelters fit for a stray animal.

Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America (about the size of the state of New York); one of the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean to the east. North of it is Honduras; Costa Rica lies to the south.

This tropical nation has been pretty much out-of-sight-out-of-mind since the Iran-Contra affair blew onto the scene during the Reagan era. But this country appears to be suffering from a deep, pernicious neglect. Consider these statistics from Global Exchange, Britannica and the Central Intelligence Agency:

The five major causes of death in Nicaragua are: 1) circulatory system diseases; 2) infectious and parasitic diseases; 3) accidents and violence; 4) respiratory diseases; 5) cancer.

Nicaragua’s health care crisis is pretty simple: There’s only one physician per 1,882 patients and one hospital bed per 804 persons. The life expectancy of the average Nicaraguan is 71 years.

Beyond that, 16 percent of the working-age population is unemployed; 36 percent is under-employed. Those fortunate enough to secure a minimum-wage job rake in cordobas equivalent to $4 a day. (Per day; not per hour.) Nearly 50 percent of the population exists below the poverty line.

The nation of Nicaragua relies on international economic assistance to meet internal- and external-debt financing obligations. The country cannot sustain itself.

These statistics are overwhelming. Immersing ourselves into this reality was nearly unbearable at times. It seemed that our efforts here would prove fruitless at best. As an extension of the indigenous Christian missionary organization, Messiah Project Nicaragua, our mission was “to reflect God’s love by bringing relief to physical suffering along with spiritual truth and direction through Jesus Christ to those without hope.” All we had to offer were songs of praise and encouragement, a funny puppet show, an encouraging message, practical Christmas gifts for the children, our prayers and hugs.

All of these small measures were warmly and graciously received by the throngs of people who met us at the intersection of a rural dirt road, in an empty urban warehouse, in the back yard of someone’s home, in a church recently built by the faithful community once ruled by gangs… even by a community subsisting across the road from the local dump. The former gang leaders now are indigenous street preachers who deliver the Good News as well as a food program, medicine, vitamins, reading glasses, radio programming and even a public lending library. These efforts are nothing less than revolutionary. The effect is miraculous.

So, Nicaragua has been my slap in the face this Christmas season. I’m not sweating the small stuff any more. I realize – despite my troubles – I am richly blessed. My New Year’s resolution is to hold on to this Nicaragua state of mind.

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Burton – Are you looking for unique a baby gift or necessity item? If so, you will want to try Fezziwig’s located at 13868 Kirtland Street in Burton on the northeast corner of Burton Square.  They have just what you are looking for since 2007.  Many of their items are eco-friendly and/or organic which is great for baby and great for the Earth; Bill and Jody Grzywinski see to it that the items they offer are perfect.
You will not find the average run-of-the-mill baby items here, but what you will find are items that are beautiful, soft, fun and functional.  Right now the major focus is on newborns and up to 4 year old children. Bill and Jody are hoping to expand to older children in the near future.
Many new customers tell Jody that they thought the store was a consignment or used items store.  That is a misconception because all the items are brand new.  Some of the items they offer include diaper bags, bumGenius cloth diapers, bibs, burp cloths, bottles, sippy cups, Burt’s Bees Baby Line, blankets, mobiles, night lights, growth charts, rugs, lamps, unique clothing, gift sets, keepsake items, stuffed animals, books, activity toys, wooden toys, music for baby and so much more.  New items will be coming soon.  You can also view and order items online at www.Fezziwig’s.us.  Prices range from very affordable to high end and promises that there will be something to fit every budget.
Jody told me that one of the most used services they offer is their baby registry.  She said that many moms-to-be register at the big box baby stores as well as at Fezziwig’s.  That way Mom is sure to get all the supplies she needs to take care of the baby and those unique gifts you cannot find elsewhere.  The registry can be accessed through their website which makes using it  very convenient.
Their store hours are Tuesday through Friday from 11 am until 5 pm and on Saturday from 10 am until 4 pm.  The website is always open.  Parking is available right in front of the store, or if you prefer to park in front of the shops north of Burton Square, you will find a walkway that connects those stores to Fezziwig’s.
Jody is an extremely warm and welcoming person ready to help you find just the right gift or necessity item.  The store is so adorable inside, you will want to be sure to spend some quality time looking at all the different items available.  It is an absolutely delightful store and one worth stopping by.  If you have a baby on the way or know of someone who does, be sure to stop by Fezziwig’s for that just-right gift.
You may be wondering what the name Fezziwig’s stands for.  Jody told me that the name comes from Charles Dickens’s “The Christmas Carol.”  In the story, Scrooge used to work for Fezziwig, who was a kind man who cared for his employees which is the exact opposite of Scrooge’s management style.  Fezziwig’s is a perfect name for this store because Bill and Jody care about their customers, the Earth and their fellow man.  You can feel good about shopping there and know that they donate 10% of their profits to St. Jude’s hospital.  Great people, great gifts, and great for baby!

The stage at W.D. Packard Music Hall hosted several notable characters over the last few months.
In September Dr. Elliot Engel, a PMH fixture, entertained loyal fans and newcomers alike as the opener for this year’s Trumbull Town Hall Lecture Series. Dr. Engel, a professor, scholar, and literary performer, graciously stepped in when the planned speaker, actor Jamie Farr (or Corporal Klinger to M*A*S*H fans) had a scheduling conflict. Recounting the origins of the American fairytale, The Wizard of Oz, Dr. Engel explained, in his own special way, just how this fantastical tale came to exist. Mixing true history with a bit of believable legend, he led those in attendance on a special journey of L. Frank Baum’s life and the creation of this classic story, adding the bit of flair and humor that his fans have come to expect, and which will keep newcomers keeping an eye out for his next visit.
October stirred up quite a crowd as visitors were treated to the Taste of Home Cooking Show. With a practically sold-out attendance of 1300 tickets, audience members watched as six delectable dishes were whipped up just for them, with a suspended video camera projecting the step-by-step action on a big screen behind the capable instructor. Sponsored locally by the Tribune Chronicle, the event offered menu items ranging from a simple soup to gooey dessert and the ingredients featured in the various recipes were included in goodie bags given to each spectator. Dozens of themed door prizes donated by area businesses were given away, adding to the excitement, and local vendors answered questions about products, passed out samples, and offered merchandise specials should anyone be adventurous enough to put their newly-learned kitchen skills to good use.
November saw an Emmy and Oscar winner from the small and silver screens grace the small stage. As the next speaker in the four-part Town Hall Lecture Series, actress/comedienne/musician Cloris Leachman entertained, amused and bemused guests with her stories of working alongside celebrities, coming into her own on Broadway, and even of riding the streetcar in the small Iowa town where she grew up. The spry 84-year-old discussed her determination at a young age not to become one of those “gray people” (the dreary 9-5ers surrounding her on that streetcar), shared her wisdom on growing old and preparing for the looming end (“Cremation sounds like you’re going to wind up as a non-dairy coffee additive.”) and confessed her distaste of dying: “I hate death, I hate the thought of dying. Whoever thought up that rotten idea…?” In true Cloris style, the lighter moments reigned as she took time to tickle the ivories, sang a few bars of “I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy” and recited ad lib “As You Like It.” She also shamelessly plugged her recent endeavor, “Raising Hope,” a comedy on Fox (after Glee!) in which she plays the not-quite-all-there great-grandmother Maw Maw of the infant title character.
The highlight of the morning presentation was the opportunity after her speech to buy her autobiography, co-written by her former husband George Englund, along with personalized autograph and photo op. (For those who may have missed the fall speakers, the Town Hall Series will resume in March with an appearance by Tom Gjelten, a national security correspondent. Damaris Peters Pike, a local Women of Note impersonator, will wrap up the season in April as Dolores Hope, the wife of the legendary Bob Hope.)
And now in December, though the weather is growing cold, the stage very much remains hot ringing-in the holiday season with the Big Band sounds of Packard backing up the soaring vocals of England-born, Ohio-transplant singer Helen Welch. This past Friday, the Hall held a free concert Jingle Bell Swing performance inviting the audience to get into the spirit of the season. Among the usual Christmas favorites, Welch led into intermission with a medley from the musical  “Chicago”, starting with “All That Jazz” and blending it with the equally jazzy “Razzle Dazzle ‘em.” It is safe to say that whatever their favorite part of the show, the spectators very much enjoyed the razzle and the dazzle of the evening.
Though some of the events require ticket purchases (The Town Hall Lectures are $5 with a student ID) Packard Music Hall offers many family-friendly experiences for free. The next free W.D. Packard Concert Band performance is scheduled for January 17th at 3pm. Check out http://www.packardmusichall.com for more details and a current listing of all upcoming events.

Pictured above (front L-R) Marilyn Paul, Jessica Bittence, M.D., Dave Vaughn, Commissioner Maureen Frederick, Stephen Colecchi, Eric Hummel, (back L-R) Jack Monda, Commissioner Chris Smeiles, Ty Barksdale, Rick Coe, Mayor Craig L. Moser

Garrettsville – The cold and snow did not deter folks from attending the ground breaking ceremony for the new Robinson Health Center in Garrettsville. On December 9, 2010 about 20 people gathered at the intersection of Liberty Street and South Street, the future site of the Robinson Health Center to observe and or take part in the ceremony. After the ceremonial ground breaking the group was treated to coffee and donuts.

The 1,644 square foot facility is expected to open this summer (2011) and will be home to Garrettsville Family Medicine.  Dr. Jessica Bittence from Hiram will be the primary physician at the center.
Stephen Colecchi FACHE, President and Chief Executive Officer stated that “Garrettsville has always been a key part of the hospitals service area. The addition of the health center will further support our mission of continually improving and extending our care to the communities that we serve.”
The center will be an affiliate of Robinson Memorial Hospital, which is a progressive hospital serving Portage County and the surrounding communities. The facility is the second-largest employer in Portage County including an urgent care facility, a free-standing comprehensive imaging facility, a network of physician practices, and off-site health centers and medical facilities throughout Portage County.  Robinson’s staff includes 350 physicians  representing over 30 medical specialties.
Robinson Memorial Hospital is recognized as one of the best places to work in Northeast Ohio by the Employer’s Resource Council and has been designated as a Magnet Hospital by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. The hospital is an affiliate member of Summa Health System.

Freedom Township – At the December 2 meeting many of those present were hoping for a very short meeting in anticipation of the Cavaliers’ game that evening.
The main topics of interest were:
A request from township resident Ginny Adams to use the township sign to advertise job skills workshops for people looking for work. They will use the Congregational Church and she will have a number of people to be presenters. She will be advertising the first session, which is to be held January 15 from 12pm to 4pm. Trustees agreed to her request.
On Zoning Mr. Derthick reported one permit issued for a single family home on Nichols Road. The zoning computer has been repaired; two viruses were found. He also said OTA (Ohio Twp. Assn.) is forming a zoning inspectors group, which he is planning to attend.
Mr. VanSteenberg reported they had salted the roads that morning and there was a burial yesterday. They purchased oil and filters for the trucks.
Mr. Hammar is proceeding to search for grants for the Community Park.
Regional Planning dues for 2011 in the amount of $2,156.28 were approved for payment.
Trustees reviewed appointments to the Zoning Commission and Board of Appeals. Terms to expire in 2010: Mike Mikulski, Zoning Commission; Mike Kryz, Mike Baker (Alternate) and Randy Pochedly (Alternate) Board of Appeals. It was decided to advertise for letters of interest for residents interested in serving on both of these boards.
Mr. Hammar said he had an offer from Dominion East Ohio to lock in  a rate of 6.29. According to the recent bill, our current rate is 6.89. There is a $100 termination fee (per location) if you want to change after you lock in. Locking in at 6.29 was approved.
Mr. Zizka had the final plans for the front porch remodeling and will be taking them to the Building Department. The contractor wants to do all the work at the same time. It was agreed to accept the plans as presented. Mr. Zizka was authorized to apply for a Building Permit.
Regarding the desire for high speed internet for the township, Mr. Hammar said he got a call from Frontier. They will be expanding their service area to the 527 area code and announcing it sometime in December.
Meeting adjourned at 8:40pm.

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Among the longest-running programs Geauga Park District hosts, in its 22nd year, the Winter Solstice Candlelight Walk has become a tradition for families countywide.
The  Winter Solstice Candlelight Walk will take place on Tuesday, December 21 from  7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the West Woods Nature Preserve located at  9465 Kinsman Road, Russell Township.
This year guests will begin the year’s longest evening indoors with hot cider and cookies homemade by volunteers, ready for sing-along opportunities with the accomplished Pilgrim Brass Choir, which has contributed traditional holiday music all 22 years of the program.
Then they’ll head outdoors in volunteer-led groups of 40 to 50 to explore the roots of our modern holiday celebrations, derived from ancient civilizations that saw the winter solstice differently than we do.
Cultures featured during the walk’s seven luminary-lit stations include the Druids and the origins of mistletoe and holly; the Egyptians and their story of the rebirth of the sun god, Horus; the Northern Barbarians and how they saw the solstice as a threat from the sun gods; and the origins of traditional items like the Yule log and the Christmas tree.
Some stations will be interactive, others will be informational. At the new “Science of the Solstice” station, we’ll also explore astronomical events that bring about the solstice – a moment when all walkers will finally be asked to bring the longest night some light by lighting to their individual candles.
This program, held at Swine Creek Reservation for 14 years and The Rookery for the past seven, makes its debut at The West Woods this year. Roughly 15 staff members and 40 volunteers make it  happen annually, and with good reason – it regularly attracts about 400 people, said Teresa Runion, the Park District’s special events coordinator.
“What’s so great about this program is that many guests have told me it becomes a tradition for their families, gets them in the spirit and really kicks off that whole holiday week for them in a positive way,” she said. “We usually throw in little bits here and there to keep it fresh, but it’s really going to be fresh this year at the new location; even though some of the stations are the same, in a new location they will seem different.”
She added that next year’s December 21 will be especially different, consisting only of a self-guided candlelight walk on luminary-lit trails and an open house of the Snowbelted: Winter’s a Blast! exhibit at The West Woods, opening in November 2011.
Due to limited parking, carpooling is highly recommended for this year’s program, which is free and family-friendly but only wheelchair / stroller accessible indoors. Registration is not required. This program takes place primarily outside, so participants are encouraged to dress warmly.
Call 440-286-9516 with questions or visit the Park District online at http://geaugaparkdistrict.org or on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Garrettsville – Owners of The Garden Bistro  decided late Sunday night  that December 12th would be their  last official day of business. Co-owner Tawny Criblez stated via e-mail that “we have exhausted many possibilities, but the decision was made late tonight to no longer operate.”
The Garden Bistro opened in the spring and provided diners with affordable meals and delicious desserts. Owners will be meeting again to tie up any loose ends. No additional information was available at the time of publication deadline.

Newton Falls – Not too many people use maps these days, instead they find their location or destination using cell phones and GPS equipment, not so with the 5th and 6th grade class of SS. Mary & Joseph School in Newton Falls. The class worked together as a team to create an elevation map of the United States.  The Social Studies class worked together drawing patterns, molding, coloring and arranging the pieces like a giant puzzle to form the 4×8  likeness of the United States. After the lesson was complete the students were able to identify a state by its shape, name of its capital and they could also give historical facts pertinent to each state. If you think the lesson ends here you would be mistaken. The classroom teacher Ms. Folan says, “next comes the Math lesson”. The students will calculate, compare and contrast the areas and populations of the 50 states.

Garrettsville – Christmas is a magical time for youngsters, and adults, as the season holds many twinkling, colorful decorations. I remember driving around the streets of town after Thanksgiving so my children could see all outdoor displays. Even today as I drive I point out the different lighting displays. Each year I am amazed to see the changes in decorations that people place in the yard and on their house.
Lights have gone through a big change. The tradition of using lights on the Christmas tree reaches far back into history to the middle of the 17th century. The invention of electricity made it possible for Edward Johnson to create the first small Christmas tree bulbs in 1882. Remember when the bulbs were large and got hot very fast? Today you can find small LED bulbs that remain cool. The lights moved from the tree inside to outdoors.
Today’s decorations include more than just lights. Many people go to great lengths creating huge outdoor holiday displays, and oftentimes huge electric bills too! Imaginations run wild as people try to out-do last year’s display or their neighbors. The goal is to create a display that will get people talking, and pictured above is just such a display. The yard is not full of air-filled holiday characters, there isn’t a sleigh and reindeer on the roof, no this display is simple and understated. The residents of this Center Street home in Garrettsville (across from Carlson’s Funeral Home) have created a display so simple and realistic it has many people looking twice.
“He’s Okay” – yes the man hanging from the gutter is not actually a man at all! But the realistic possibility of a man losing his ladder and getting left hanging on the gutter has had many people rushing to his aid. Many of the double takes have had local towing company, Village Motors, busy pulling people out of the ditch. The residents have now added a sign to their holiday display – “He’s Okay, Merry Christmas”.
This display is definitely something you have got to see, just keep your car on the road as laughter sets in.

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Kim Wampler had come close to bowling a 200 game before but never quite made it.  When she did hit the 200 mark, however, she hit it with force. A 234 game.   Kim called her grandfather right after the game; any readers who follow area bowling know her grandfather, Nick Butcher, a legend in the local bowling arena.  Kim’s teammate Jessica Potteiger had a 210 game on the day, and had by far the highest series of the day with 552.  Kim and Jess are both eighth-graders at Garfield.

Noah Shannon proved that his new bowling ball was a good investment – Noah had games of 145, 158, and 169, for a 472 series, 94 pins over his series average.  Other good games in the 11:00 Trio League were Kurt Bokesch, 169 (57 pins over average), Austin Sledz, 101 (45 pins over), and Belladonna Titschinger, 117 (41 pins over), Jaret Doraski, 164 (31 pins over), and Shannon Kerr, 124 (30 pins over).

In the 9:00 Trio League, Alex Evans shot 126 her first game, 56 pins over her average.  She continued with games of 74 and 97 for a 297 series, which put her 87 pins over for the day.  Eric Lawless also bowled over average all three games with 90, 98, and 124 for a nice 312 series.   Ashleigh Quiggle’s 138 game was 39 pins over average, and Cassie Painley was 30 pins over her 83 average with a 113 game.

High game for the 9:00 Pee Wee League was Travis Horner with 103.  Paige Collins hit the 100 mark again this week with a 100 game.  Mackenzie Zembower shot 98, Isaac Trickett had 96, and Kalen Caris had 95.

In the 11:00 PeeWee League, high games was Lucas Muncy with a nice 104 game.  Other good games were Katie Fazi, 95 and Kenny Mangan with 91.

Next Saturday is the last day to qualify for the Pepsi tournament.   Bowlers must be present in order to qualify; no pre-bowl scores count toward Pepsi qualifying.

Meadville, Pa. – Tight end Rob Carlisle capped a marvelous senior campaign with one of the most prestigious honors in collegiate sports. On Wednesday, Carlisle was named ESPN First Team Academic All-America in recognition for his rare combination of outstanding academic achievement and athletic ability.

Carlisle, who holds a 3.95 cumulative grade point average, majors in Biochemistry with a minor in Economics. In addition to his outstanding credentials in the classroom, he is a three-year starter for the Blue and Gold having appeared in 29 consecutive games. Carlisle was easily one of the league’s biggest break-out stars this season and closed the year as the top tight end in the North Coast Athletic Conference. He garnered First Team All-Conference accolades after finishing the slate with 41 catches and 461 yards, both tops in the circuit at his position. His presence as a blocker and a receiver enabled Allegheny to finish third in the NCAC in total offense while ranking second in red-zone scoring and third in rushing.

Carlisle becomes the 30th student-athlete in the history of Allegheny College to elicit Academic All-America honors, and his selection is the fifth for the Gators’ storied grid program. The last Allegheny student-athlete to cop a First Team Academic All-America selection was swimmer Jennifer Erdos in 1998. Kevin Baird is the only other football player to claim the coveted postseason award following the 1981 season.

The ESPN Academic All-America program covers all NCAA divisions and selections are made by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). To be eligible, a student-athlete must be a varsity starter or key reserve, maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.30 on a scale of 4.00, have reached sophomore athletic and academic standings at his/her current institution and be nominated by his/her sports information director. Since the program’s inception in 1952, CoSIDA has bestowed Academic All-America honors on more than 15,000 student-athletes in Divisions I, II, III and NAIA, covering all NCAA championship sports.

Berea –  Samantha M. Martin of Garrettsville was inducted into the Dayton C. Miller Honor Society at Baldwin-Wallace College during a ceremony on Friday, Nov. 12, 2010.

Martin is a junior.

Dayton C. Miller recognizes academic excellence and inductees are selected for consistently maintaining superior academic work. Only four percent of the undergraduate student body achieves membership.

Findlay – Alyssa Cain, a junior pharmacy major, recently performed in The University of Findlay’s student piano recital.  Cain performed “Autumn Breeze” by John Bastien.

Cain, a 2008 graduate of James A. Garfield High School, is the daughter of Garrettsville’s Lynette and Charlie Cain.

The University of Findlay is a comprehensive university with a hands-on approach to learning located in Findlay, Ohio, approximately 45 miles south of Toledo. With a total enrollment of approximately 3,900 full-time and part-time students, The University of Findlay is noted for its innovative, career-oriented programs in nearly 60 majors and nine graduate and professional degrees.

West Farmington – Fourteen members were in attendance as Hall Relief Corps #104 enjoyed an annual Birthday/Christmas buffet luncheon with Jackie Gore as hostess.  With excellent decorations around, a sumptuous meal was partaken of by all and then it was followed by a festive exchange of holiday gifts.  With time allotted, the Ways & Means for this quarter-year raffled off 3 Christmas packages—receivers were Peggy Lauth, Nancy Fomich, and Beverly Largen.

The business part of this session was opened with President Leona Fisher in charge:  Chaplain Carol Goddard read Psalm 100 from the Holy Bible and Patriotic Instructor Judy Richards followed with leading the corps in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.

Minutes were read informing all that dues will be increased to $10.00 a year starting in 2011.  The Relief Committee will get our adopted mother Peg Martin a Christmas gift.  Hostess to start the new year in January will be Nancy Fomich.  The Christmas meeting of past-presidents club will be on Friday, December 17 at Sorrento’s Restaurant in Warren, OH.  Time 1:00 p.m. and Anne Gerlt will be the hostess with a $5.00 gift exchange to be shared.

Department General Orders #2 were read to the corps by Secretary Margaret Lauth.  Official Christmas greetings to all were given from the Department officers.

Ways and Means Committee for January, February, and March of 2011 were named:  Jackie Gore, Leona Fisher, and Ruth Goddard will assume the obligation.  After the Good of the Order was completed the meeting was officially closed in ritualistic style.

Garrettsville - The James A. Garfield Elementary School music teacher Mr. Ken Fox and the third graders kicked off a celebration for the winter season on Wednesday, December 1st. As the first snow of the season fell softly outside, the children presented their audience with a wonderful mixture of music, poetry, chants and musical instruments.

Newton Falls – Enhancing the bridge by the waterfalls are the new stone planters donated to the Flower committee from the benefit held last year at the Riverview Inn.  The event, the D.J. Jagers Poker run, was organized by Debbie Sutherland and Sarah Corley.  Proceeds were donated to the Newton Falls Flower Committee to expand the beautification of the town.  The Newton Falls street department secured the planters with steel rods and bolted them to the supports.  The new planters as well as the other parts of the city were decorated for the Holidays on December 1st.

Lori Rankin who owns the Flower Shoppe arranged the centerpieces for each planter.  The live greens placed throughout town were donated by Jill Weekly and Terry Hardbarger who filled all of the large planters.  Much appreciation also goes to Scott Nussle of Nussle Florist for his continued assistance, City Manager Jack Haney, City Clerk Kathy King, City Councilwoman Nancy Hoffman, Ashley King Grunder, and Doris Lingo who joined the flower committee members Judy Babyak and Alma Griffith on a very cold morning to complete the Christmas decoration.  Thanks to everyone for a job well done.

Pictured are Debbie Sutherland who organized the benefit at the Riverview Inn that purchased the new bridge planters and Lori Rankin, owner of The Flower Shoppe, who arranged the décor for the planters.

Newton Falls – At the first council meeting of December, the snow-blanketed roads did not keep concerned citizens away.

All officials were present and, after opening the proceedings, Mayor Waddell started the meeting by announcing that, on the heels of the recent budget meeting, it was mutually agreed there will be no laying-off any officers in the police department.

Members of the public addressed the constant “infamous” 3-2 vote, pointing out that the new mayor will have little chance to make a difference if current council remains intact as is. Others chastised council for reportedly setting a bad example of a productive society and giving a negative reputation in representing the town to other communities, going even so far as to comment “This town is the laughingstock of the area right now.”

When it was time for individual reports, Mayor Waddell thanked everyone who came out to vote in the recent recall election. Acknowledging it was a close race, he also thanked those in particular who supported him. “We all need to move forward now,” he said. He mentioned his commitment to the oath of office that he took during his inauguration ceremony. “I take the oath of office very seriously,” he said, specifying a line in the oath which references NOT being influenced by any individual or group. He reassured that his loyalty lies with the betterment of the city and not with any particular individual or entity.

Then Mayor Waddell announced that he will be donating 25% of his salary to a town charity, starting with the next council meeting. For consideration, send a letter to the mayor’s office (19 N. Canal Street, Attn: Mayor) with information about your charitable organization. Each respective meeting’s beneficiary will be drawn at random from the submitted letters and will receive a $50 check from the mayor.

By way of individual reports from council members, Councilman Monteville thanked the officers who recently saved a local gentleman’s life, and intends to include a proclamation of appreciation on a future agenda. The City Manager mentioned the new holiday decorations in town, brightening the community for the Christmas season. Home 44444 the Holidays is Saturday and organizers, in conjunction with the NFPD, will be attempting to fill-a-school-bus with non-perishables from 10am-4pm at the high school. Also be sure and check out the Identi-kits available at the event, courtesy of the police department. Councilman Luonuansuu then made a motion to adjourn immediately into executive session. The motion passed by 3-2.

Closing public comments reiterated the same points made earlier, with most opinions expressed concerning the town’s financial situation and/or the unfavorable impressions residents of other towns have of Newton Falls by the regular bad press in recent history. Encouraging comments included support for the hardworking members of the police department, gratitude for the positive relationship between the PD and the fire department, and hope for constructive changes in the coming months.

Mayor Waddell closed the meeting by saying “This is an absolutely great community and I still believe that.”