I have written nearly 60 columns for the Weekly Villager since June, 2008.  The focus of my articles has always been patient centered. Equipping my readers with topical subjects makes them better patient/consumers and, by extension, happy, well-cared for patients. This time I am going to step out of my role as writer/educator and into company hiring manager in need of advice in finding “a few good employees”.

First of all let me say that I am extremely fortunate to work with a couple of very talented, hard working and dedicated colleagues. Dr. Tom Pesarchick, my business partner is an excellent and dedicated clinician and businessman. Kaytee Tudor, our dental assistant is one of the most conscientious, reliable and competent young ladies I have had the pleasure of working with in a very long time. So what’s the problem? As “they” say, what’s with the “long face”?  The issue is our dental practice is expanding and growing and as a result we need to add to our staff.

You would think that in today’s economy and tough job market that hiring another dental assistant to work for us would be a no-brainer. Unfortunately, I am getting a pretty rude awakening.

Oh my gosh, you can’t imagine what we have gone through in the last 6 months to find another employee. There are a number of dental assisting programs and schools that place externs in dental offices so that the students can acquire real world dental assisting experience. So, Dr. Tom and I thought this would be a terrific avenue to identify potential up and coming talent. Not the case.

One extern basically stood around and did nothing. Another extern who we had for 1 month called off sick no fewer than 5 times and then did not show up to work on St. Patrick’s Day. Another extern just stopped showing up and never called. The last extern went to lunch and never came back – no call, no courtesy.

One applicant came in for her interview in blue jeans and a tee shirt. Whatever happened to professionalism? Another applicant thought she was the official greeter for the practice and proceeded to carry on protracted conversations with patients during her working interview without bothering to assist. I asked one interviewee for a professional reference and she asked if she could use her father. Some made appointments for interviews and did not bother to show up.  Really? I could go on and on but you get the point.

A number of local businesses have been kind enough in the past to allow me to put up “help wanted signs” in their stores. I put up a sign on the front door of our practice. Several classified ads have been placed in the Weekly Villager (By the way, there is one in this week’s edition).  An ad is currently running in Monster.com. This is actually the second time I’ve done this. The first time I guess our ad was so desirable that a lady in the Philippines wrote and said she would relocate to Garrettsville for us. This time we had an applicant tell us she would move from Glendale California.

So, what is the take home message? Simply, we need help… an experienced, part-time dental assistant. See the ad in this week’s edition of the Weekly Villager and if you or someone you know fits the description of who we are looking for please contact us.


Dr. Richard Behrman and Dr. Thomas Pesarchick are co-founders of University Dental of Garrettsville, Inc. Please contact Dr. Behrman at 330-527-3368 with any suggestions for future column topics.


Garrettsville – If  you enjoy Saturday Night Live humor, you’ll enjoy James A. Garfield’s final drama production of the year titled “The Test” by Cliff McClelland. This play chronicles a series of scenes all devoted to the idea that we must face so many tests in our lives here in America.

While many of the scenes poke fun at these tests, some scenes are a bit more dramatic in nature, but all of them work together to create a unique night of entertainment for the whole family. What would you do if you had to take your driving test with a wacko instructor? Or in order to receive your Masters Degree you had to face a karate instructor and defeat him before you could move on to the next level?

Come and find out why Monty Python had so much fun doing their Spanish Inquisition skits, and what Adam and Eve might have thought about testing.

Show dates are May 20, 21 at 7:30PM both nights. Adults- $6.00  Students/Senior citizens $3.00. Pre-sale tickets will be sold a week before the show during lunches. These will enable you to get a better first- come first- served seat either night. Come and have a night of laughs on us! See you there!


Garrettsville –  First responders make a living out of helping others in their time of need. Now, a support group has been formed to show gratitude to local firefighters in appreciation for all they do.

Stacy Collins is a founding member of the newly formed Garfield Women’s Auxiliary associated with the Garrettsville-Freedom-Nelson Volunteer Fire Department at 8035 Elm Street. The support group was formed in March to provide support for the firemen in any capacity needed, such as rehab at fires, financial support, breakfasts, and family activities.

“The wives and family members of the firemen wanted to be more active in the community and the fire department,” Collins says. “We plan to provide breakfast for the firemen who attend the water shuttle when it is hosted by the fire department, to plan a summer picnic for the firemen and their families, and to host community fundraisers.”

The auxiliary will participate in the Community Yard Sale, and sell hot dogs, pop and bake sale items to raise funds.

The firemen — understandably — have responded very well to the auxiliary and voted unanimously to approve its formation.  There have been volunteer support efforts in the past on their behalf, but this is the fire department’s first formal auxiliary.

Garfield Women’s Auxiliary founding members are Kate Sponaugle, Stacy Collins and Lori Friess.


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Mantua – On Thursday, April 21, a luncheon was held at Mantua Hilltop Church to honor all those who volunteer at the Food cupboard. The Council Members provided a delicious luncheon of salads, desserts and croissants. 40 volunteers attended plus a few honored guests who had been active in the past.

Terri Wilde, president of council, presented a program about the history of 4 C’s. The program is 30 years old in October and has been serving the Crestwood Community all that time. Terri told of the beginnings of the program and related how some things have changed over the years, especially the numbers served and the location. She asked for memories from other members and several people shared stories of the past. Pat Sargent told of one person who donated a cow that he bought at the fair. Joan Siman has kept a scrapbook of pictures and newspaper articles and a picture of the cow was there for all to see.

Terri praised all the volunteers and thanked them for the work they have done over the years. She also thanked the community for the wonderful support the cupboard receives. Without the community support and the dedicated volunteers the food cupboard could not continue.  At the end of the program Terri Wilde announced that this would be her last year as president. All of the volunteers are sad to see her go. She has done such a great job during her presidency. A big THANKS  goes out to Terri for all her hard work.


Summerfest committee announces the “First Couple” for their First Annual SummerFest Wedding held at this year’s event in late June. Wedding Bells will  chime when Jennifer Brown walks down Main Street to meet her prince, Harry L. Cales Jr., at the main stage. The nuptials will take place on the Main Stage at  SummerFest on June 25, 2011 at 3pm before an audience of family, friends and  event visitors. The service will be officiated by the Reverend Dreama Adkins and  Garrettsville Mayor Craig Moser. After the ceremony the couple will be whisked away for a private reception held at a local venue.

Jennifer grew up In Garrettsville and Harry grew up in Windham and the couple  first met at the Old Mill in Garrettsville when they were just thirteen years  old. The relationship took a few years to blossom, but by the time they were freshman in high school they had become a couple and have been so ever since.

Their family became a threesome when Makenzie was born six years ago. The couple said winning this contest is making their wedding dream a reality. They both  claim finances have prevented them from tying the knot, so with the help of the  area’s businesses they will now be able to have a wedding they have been dreaming  about for some time.

The couple will receive flowers for the bride and groom, invitations, wedding cake, photography, small cake and punch reception, a night’s stay at the Hiram Inn, wine from the local wineries and they will ride in Sunday’s Grand Parade as part of the wedding package. They may also choose to upgrade any item in the package for a nominal cost.

The wedding isn’t the only nuptial ceremony taking place at SummerFest. Prior to the wedding Bill and Noreen Siegner will renew their wedding vows at SummerFest as well. This couple thought SummerFest would be the perfect venue to renew their vows before family, friends and other guests of the event, since it is only a few days prior to their 30th wedding anniversary.

Noreen was raised in the Garrettsville area and Bill grew up in Twinsburg. The two met at a church service in Hudson and it was love at first sight. Sixteen months later they said “I do.”  The couple makes their home in Windham and are the proud parents of  Noah and Josiah. They also have one grandson, Isaac, who is almost a year old, who also lives in Windham. When the couple is not spending time with their family they can be found at Covenant Bible Church, where Bill serves as Minister of Music and Noreen runs the sound system. The Siegners credit their longevity as a couple to their commitment to Christ. They said without Him at the center of their lives they would have not made it this far.

The renewal couple will receive a gift basket from local merchants, including a dinner for two at Main Street Grille and Brewing Company in Garrettsville. They also will ride in Sunday’s Grand Parade. Congratulations to both couples!

The following businesses contributing to the wedding package are: Art n Flowers, Bay Window, Sky Drive Thru, Cellar Winery, Hiram Inn, Candlelight Winery, Miller’s Family Restaurant, Carolyn’s Cakes, Main Street Grille & Brewing Company, Villager Printing, and Ronda Brady Photography.

This year’s SummerFest is sponsored by Charles Chevrolet-Buick, Garrettsville Chamber of Commerce, Carlson Funeral Homes and Cremation Services and the Weekly Villager. The festival is traditionally held the last weekend in June at the  corners of S.R.82 and S.R. 88 in downtown Garrettsville. More information can be found at www.garrettsvillesummerfest.com


Nelson Twp – Spring has returned. We made it through another winter. As you drive around Nelson Township, you can once again see the green grass and flowers blooming everywhere. To keep Nelson looking great, remember to start collecting all the things in your yard that you no longer want. The Community Clean-Up is April 30the and May 1st this year. Let’s keep Nelson beautiful.

To keep your yard beautiful, The Nelson Grassroots Garden Club will be holding their annual Plant Sale May 13th and 14th at the Community House. As always, there will be a wide variety of perennials for sale.

Now for the house. As you begin your spring-cleaning, please keep in mind that the Pixley Park Development Committee is looking for donations of any items you no longer use or need. You can drop off any items at L&P Machine, 8488 Route 305 or at the Salvage Pantry, 11462 Nicholson Rd. Their annual Yard Sale will be held Memorial Day Weekend, May 27-30th at the home of Linda and Terry Allen, 8488 Route 305. All proceeds benefit the park. The ball diamond is now complete, with bleachers coming soon. The committee is hoping this years’s yard sale will help fund the building of a pavilion at the park. Please be generous and help out if you can.

Ok, your  yard is now a showplace, your flowers are blooming and your house is in order. After all that work, you deserve a break. Mark October 1st on your calendar for the Harvest Moon Pot Luck and Pig Roast. This popular event will be held, as always, at the Community House. The food is out of this world and the fun never stops when the Chinese Auction gets started. While you are there, check out the new windows at the Community House, they look fantastic. The new doors will be coming soon.

Nelson Township offers a plethora of activities for its citizens. Come out for any and all of these events and support the greatest community around.


Pictured from left to right are Rosalie Novotny, clarinet; Maia Pancost, flute; Bryanna Herbold, french horn; Chelsea Evans, oboe; and Alex Bigler, bassoon. These 8th grade band students played together as a Wind Quintet, receiving a Superior (I) rating for their performance at Solo and Ensemble Contest.

Mantua – Eighty CMS Band students participated in the annual Solo and Ensemble Contest April 9, 2011 held at Crestwood Middle School. Students in grades seven and eight performed 47 solos and in 22 ensembles. CMS Middle School band students received 57 Superior and 13 Excellent ratings.

Each performance was evaluated by an adjudicator on rhythm and pitch accuracy, intonation, tone quality, and interpretation. They were then awarded a rating ranging from I to V. Adjudicators for the day’s performances were Jim Murphy, retired, Kent City Schools; Diane McMaster-Perry, retired, Field Local Schools; Jennifer Culver, teacher, Cuyahoga Falls; and Cheryl Graham, teacher, New Philadelphia Schools. The adjudicators were all very complimentary of the students for their behavior as well as their preparation for this event.

Mrs. Debbie Wiandt, Mrs. Judith Guegold, and Ms. Courtney Lambert prepared CMS band students for this event. Mrs. Kate Ferguson and Mr. Craig Rice, KSU student teacher, also assisted students in their preparations. Mrs. Virginia Goodell and Mrs. Becky Oliphant volunteered to accompany the soloists. Ms. Krystal Friend and Dr. William Guegold helped students warm-up and tune before each performance.

Several sixth grade band members served as judges’ assistants and door guards. They were Haley Brady, Olivia Brady, Karli Bigler, Megan Cymanski, Catherine Hoover, Rachel Hutchison, and Madeline Turner.

Two sixth graders who have been studying privately also performed solos. Michael Snodgrass earned a Superior Rating for his mallet solo and Olivia Brady earned a Superior for her flute solo.


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Hiram – Brush pick-up for 2011 will be the last full week of April, May, June, July, August and September.  The amount of brush should be no more than two men can load in 15 minutes. Tree branches and brush should be no longer than 8 foot. Leaves and small twigs must be bagged in bio-degradable bags and sealed with bio-degradable tape, or twine. Please place brush and leaf bags far enough back from the street to avoid interfering with pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

On Saturday, May 21  Hiram will be holding their Spring Clean-up day which will also include a tire and computer drop-off. Please drop off these items at the south Village Hall parking lot from 8 am to noon.

The Planning and Zoning Commission met on Tuesday, April 5th.  A motion to approve T-Mobile’s zoning application to co-locate their equipment on the existing Cell Tower next to the college’s service center was approved, provided T-Mobile seeks and obtains approval of Fire, Police and VA and posts the appropriate bond approved by the Village Solicitor.

As reported last December, the Village received approval for a $50,000 NOPEC energy- efficiency grant. The grant is being utilized to make energy saving permanent improvements in village structures. [This grant is made in four (4) quarterly payments of $12,500 each.]

As reported earlier, demolition of the old Hiram School is almost completed for contract price of $66,900 to Ace – Zuver,  LLC. However there is a little more that $40,000 remaining in the CBG block grant. It has been suggested that the Village can utilize those funds for permanent improvements, parking, etc. Ferdinand Fogas, M.D. has recently responded to the informal offer e-mailed to him January past, he has offered to sell the 5.1 acres for $160k with a credit of $30k.

There are two grant applications pending before the Ohio Development of Natural Resources totaling just more that $90k. ODNR regulations prohibit a Purchase/Sales Agreement signing before the grant application is approved. ODNR should decide the grant application sometime this June.

The OHIO PUBLIC WORKS COMMISSION grant was recently approved by Gov. Kasich. The amount of the grant is $177,500 this is a 50% grant for Hinsdale Rd. Extension with Hiram College bearing balance of the costs. (The total project cost is estimated at: $355k)

Fire and EMS have not yet agreed with the college for Council’s action to ink a new two (2) year (2011 -2012) fire and police service contract with Hiram College with a 5% increase in the first year to $69,930 and a 3% increase in the second year to $72,028. Council President Tom Wadkins and the two chiefs will work out any particular troublesome wording in the contract with the College.

Thanks goes out to Village Council for having a designated Council member attending at least one monthly Township Trustee meeting. Both governments believe this procedure and contact is important to our communities. Thank you, members of Council.

On Friday April 8th Memorandums for the Petitioners, Village and Township were filed with the Portage County Board of Commissioners regarding the proposed annexation. That decision must be made no later than 30 days, on or before May 8, 2011.

Hiram’s Memorial Day Services will be held on Monday, May 30th. The parade steps off when the Crestwood HS Scarlet Guard arrives in town at approximately 11a.m.  This year’s keynote speaker is Lieutenant Colonel Donal Hazelwood of the US Army.



Garrettsville – News flash! It is still raining  )–; So take advantage of the Boardwalk and you can see Mother Nature do her over-the-Falls thing… It is spectacular (—;

Meanwhile, we have a private investor, buyer, for Paul’s Lumber property all 14.8 acres of the complex.  I firmly believe this is a cause for celebration for the Village and the J.A Garfield Schools.

The private investor has plans for the property and the financial wherewithal to renovate and repair the building(s). When this is done and the business is up and running the village will welcome a new business we can all patronize and we will have some added revenue for our income tax.

The J. A. Garfield Schools will benefit because the privately- held property will continue to pay local property taxes, largely to the JAG schools, which is a better thing than the Village becoming the owner and so making the property tax exempt.

More updates on Liberty Street Bridges from the Portage County Engineer:

The Liberty Street Bridge between Center Street and Park Avenue is closed for vehicle and the sidewalk bridge is closed to pedestrians, but they can walk on the road/vehicle part of the bridge. Repairs are for the bridge to have its stringers (horizontal main supports) repaired and/or replaced.

The PC Engineer is planning on doing this work themselves and to create/ pre-construct new stringers to rehabilitate the bridge. To do this work they need to access the underside of the bridge, so, they need low water flows and this means the repair is likely to be in August.

The Liberty Street Bridge near Water Street has a closed sidewalk bridge that is totally unsafe for pedestrians… So don’t even think about it. The repair can be to either put a new pedestrian /sidewalk bridge on the old vehicle bridge for major money or build a stand alone pedestrian/sidewalk bridge for big money… The PC engineer is studying both options and is aware of the pedestrian walking in the street is a safety concern.

Last note– village meetings of Planning Commission on May 5th at 7 p.m. Council meets on Wednesday, May 11 at 7:30 p.m.   and chickens are on the table with other exciting votes to come… so come be a witness or participant… we can be entertaining.


Nelson Twp. –  Nelson Township Trustees met for their regularly-scheduled meeting at the community house with trustees Joe Leonard, Bill Wilson and Jim Turos and fiscal officer J. David Finney present. Fire Chief Dave Friess was in attendance to request permission to use the parking lot at Pixley Park for a vehicle extrication and burning practice. After some discussion the trustees said they would have to co-ordinate time and dates with the ball fields schedule, but as long as that is done then they saw no problem with the fire department using the parking lot. The chief said he would coordinate the dates and times once they receive the permit to burn.

Questions were raised about scheduling the use of the ball field at Pixley Park. After some discussion the trustees agreed to have Michelle Cmunt, who already does the scheduling for the Community House, do the ball fields as well and be compensated $25 extra a month from May thru October. Mrs. Cmunt will be responsible for keeping an updated schedule posted at the park as well.

Trustee Wilson presented estimates for the cemetery road paving. After further discussion they have decided to put the paving on hold for now due to budget constraints.

Mr. Turos brought up the water problem on the ball field at Pixley Park and demonstrated what is wrong with it and what should be done to fix it. Turos claim that the drain tile is too deep and they used the wrong type of tile. He stated that it would cost some where near $8,000 to repair. Mr. Terry Allen, a member of the Pixley Park Committee, disagrees with Mr. Turos’ findings, Allen said they followed the specs given to them by the Department of Water and Soil and claims the drainage problem is the sand. Allen claims the sand sold to them had too much clay in it, preventing the water from draining properly. Allen said he was told that if they added more sand to the mix the field would be fine. Turos and Allen disagreed on how to solve the problem and since neither party has the funds to redo the drainage system the park committee said they would try the sand additive first.

In other business Turos wants to make it clear that the trustees have to approve any improvements done at Pixley Park including design, specs etc. The park committee agreed with him and stated that they had turned in plans for the ball field which the trustees had approved prior to the installation of the field.

Joe Leonard stated that they started examining the items that have been stored upstairs of the Community House and believe much of it could be donated to the Pixley Park Annual Garage Sale held Memorial Day weekend. He said before they start giving the items to the committee they need to go through them to make sure they are not giving away part of Nelson’s history.

A discussion was held on the legality of having an all-boards meeting with the trustees. The all-boards meeting would be the zoning commission and the board of zoning appeals and the trustees.  Leonard will check with the prosecutor to see if it is permissible.

Leonard contacted Captain Ricky Neal from the sheriff’s office about using the prisoners to help clean-up the sides of the roads in the township. The township would be expected to provide drinks and lunch for the crew. The trustees agreed to the stipulation of providing lunch and beverages for the prisoners who do the work.

The food bank plan is moving forward. The township needs to find a sponsor who holds a 501C3 non-profit status before they can develop a business plan for the food bank. When the business plan is developed they will present it to the trustees.

Chairman Leonard said Cook Heating and Cooling had presented the revised drawings for the heating and cooling system for the Community House. The changes in the updated drawings are going from a two-unit heating and cooling system to one furnace and air conditioner rather than the (2) two unit systems. The local contractor says this would be sufficient for the townships needs. The new system is being paid for out of the NOPEC Grant the township received.

In other business, questions were brought to the board on how the clerk was to determine pay times for employees now that they have a time clock, does the township need an email address and who would be responsible for answering questions on the web site. After some discussion the board agreed to determine pay by the quarter hour rather than the tenth of an hour. The trustees will have Mr. Elias look into an email address for the township and responses to questions will be handled by Mr. Finney. Mr. Finney will confer with trustees before answering questions folks present when the email system is up and running.

The trustees meet on the first and third Wednesdays at 7:30 pm with meetings currently being held at the Community House until June.

More Nelson news, including minutes of their meetings, and government information can be found on their website www.nelsontownshipohio.org


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Hiram – On May 1st, at 3:00 in the afternoon, there will be a memorial service honoring the life and works of William “Bill” Hollinger, at Hiram College’s Price Gymnasium, on the eponymous Hollinger Court, where he spent not inconsiderable time and achieved more than sports victories.

Memorials are about the honored ones who have left us but they are for those who have been–and often continue to be–touched by that life of service to the living.

There was virtually no aspect of sport, at Hiram College and further abroad, that was not touched by Coach Hollinger.  His mark is on the basketball court, the Hiram College Athletic Hall of Fame, the Coaches’ Corner at Hiram College’s Coleman Athletic Center.  More importantly, it is on the many students, colleagues, institutions and organizations that were integral parts of his life, in sports and beyond.  The recognition which he received–from the Bronze Star awarded for leading a ravaged company through heavy fire to take an enemy position, to NCAA Division III selection  committee, to a Distinguished Service Award from the Ohio House of Representatives, to salutes from conference colleges–attest to the larger effects of a life well-lived.

Volunteering at Robinson Memorial Hospital, donating blood, working at Sea World, taking breakfast at Miller’s with friends of many years, loving lunches at Cal’s (His Christmas gift from that crew was a free meal, taken, no doubt, with great gusto) were illustrative parts of his wider world.  His family, friends, neighbors, care-givers, his dog, Holly, past teams and students and colleagues all feel his absence while acknowledging his continuing influence in their lives.  They issue an invitation to this celebration of his life:  May 1st, 3:00 p.m. in Price Gymnasium, on the Hollinger Court.

As the Coach himself might say (This was as vociferous as he ever got, in a profession peppered with much worse.), “Geezie Peezie!”  It’s a memorial; come remember.


Newton Falls – The Newton Falls High School Drama Department will complete the 2011 season by presenting the comedy “Soda Shop Angel” authored by Shirley McNichol.  The production will be presented on Friday and Saturday, May 6th & 7th at 7:00 p.m. in the high school auditorium.  The cost is $5.00 at the door.

The play takes place in Pa’s soda shop, owned by Pa Harding.  Pa’s daughter, Judy Harding’s life as a 16-year-old isn’t too sweet however. Her dad can’t find the money to fix up the family’s soda shop; her older brother is flunking out of school; and her younger brother has retreated into a fantasy world of comic book superheroes since their mom died. To add to the dilemma, Judy has a major crush on a new student who’s a mysterious loner.

Enter Angela, a bumbling angel-in-training who must earn her halo by helping the Hardings. But when the shop is hit first by a fire and then a flood, is it divine providence or disaster? Salvation or catastrophe? A TV quiz show and hula hooping are all part of the miracle that helps save Judy and her family. Come enjoy all the fun and nostalgia of the ‘50s in this charming play and find out if Angela manages to earn her halo or simply adds to the disaster of Pa’s Soda Shop.

The cast includes:  Donald Slater, Katie Davis, Devon Beckinger, Brad Dubos, Brooke Rogers, Blaire Thompson, Danny Moore, Taylor Phelps, Rachael Rendessy, Chelsea Beaty, Samantha Mitchell, A.J. Naulta, Chelsey Cochran, Andrew Ferguson, Stephanie Baringer, Michelle Miller, Jordan Riffle and Breanna McCrystal.  Stage manager for the production will be Jen Pugh.

Come and join us for an evening of fun and entertainment.


Spring has come to Portage County, and gardeners across the county are getting together plans and plants for another year.  The Portage County Master Gardeners are also making preparations for their annual event, Celebrate Spring.  The event, which includes a plant sale, silent auction, and expert gardening advice, will provide valuable information to area gardeners as well as help fund community service events throughout the county.

“We hope that people can come out and join us for a day of plants, great gardening advice, and fun,” said Dee Burdette one of the event coordinators. “This event has become an annual tradition for many area gardeners, and this year promises to be a special treat, with a more casual question and answer format and an expanded plant sale. “

This year’s format will feature three tables staffed by Portage County Master Gardeners with each station addressing specific gardening challenges.  Barbara Murphy and John Gwinn, both certified Ohio Master Gardener Weed Specialists,    will host a “weed” table.  And who would be interested in learning about weeds? National gardening polls consistently rank weeding as the gardening practice that consumes the majority of gardeners’ time.  So we fully expect that gardeners attending this event will find information gained from conversations with our weed specialists immediately useful.  Keith Barton, local insect specialist will also host a table. Weeds are not the only challenge Portage County gardeners face. Insects that feed on plants and insects that transmit disease causing plant pathogens can seriously thwart a gardener’s best efforts. But many garden insects are more helpful than harmful and a little time spent talking with Keith just may help participants better understand the need to distinguish between our gardening friends and foes.  We encourage attendees to bring samples, photos, etc., of weeds or insects they may need help identifying or suppressing. We also think our patrons will appreciate the expert advice they receive from Barb Oare and Lynda Costilla at our edible plant table.  Many Portage County gardeners have attended Barb’s herb workshops and presentations and should be delighted to find that she is able to address tomatoes, apples, etc. with the same level of expertise.  Lynda has also shared her gardening experience during Master Gardener public education workshops in recent years. Lynda is our resident expert on small space gardening techniques.  Even if space isn’t an issue in your garden, many limited space gardening practices are also energy efficient, both in terms of gardener and product (fertilizers, growing media, etc.) input. Our goal in adding the edible plant table is to assist area gardeners in their efforts to increase food production.  And what would an edible plant information table be without recipes and cookbooks?  We encourage you to take a minute to peruse our free recipe selection. Additionally, Master Gardeners at each table as well as those working the plant sale will be eager to assist you by providing advice about selecting the “best plants for their own gardens.”

Our plant sale has been expanded to include a larger variety of herbs and vegetables along with many sun and shade perennials.  Celebrate Spring will also feature some very desirable silent auction items, from essential gardening gear, reference books, some unique finds and unusual plants.  Proceeds from our fundraiser will help support Master Gardener projects throughout the county for the coming year.

These events include planting projects with the Coleman Adult Day Services, Bryn Mawr Glen, our Garden Pot Recycling program, as well as local school gardens and youth environmental education programs.  The Portage County Master Gardeners annually host a number of community education workshops at no cost to participants.   Historically, Master Gardeners have been available from April to October, to assist area residents with questions about their lawns and gardens at the OSU Extension Office in Ravenna. According to Lynn Vogel, former Master Gardener Coordinator for Portage County, “Volunteers have been available to answer literally thousands of questions via our “horticultural hotline” as well as through direct contact with area residents.  Our Master Gardener Volunteers contributed over 2000 hours of community volunteer service last year.”  Recent state and county budget cuts will make it very challenging for Portage County Master Gardeners to continue these services.  Your support of our plant sale silent auction would be greatly appreciated during this difficult time of transition.

Celebrate Spring will be held Saturday, May 14th  at Maplewood Career Center.  The Plant Sale will run from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. Silent auction bidding will begin at 10:00 AM and close at 11:00 am. Our staffed information tables will be available from 10:00 AM to noon.  Our 2011 Celebrate Spring fundraiser is a “no charge” event.


“Mid pleasures and palaces,
Wherever we roam,
Be it ever so humble,
There’s no place like home.”

Does this apply when it’s the home itself that is roaming?

What a way to spend a day!  The Schultz family homestead–now owned by Don Wolff–was scheduled to hit the road at about 9:15 on the morning of April 21 but the rubber actually hit the road about an hour later than that–speculate all you want on the particulars of why things got backed up, just about any thing you could come up with , short of alien invasion, would probably be at least partly right.  Wires were raised, mud pitfalls covered, trees trimmed, official measurements were taken, traffic was directed; the wind blew steadily; the sun shone intermittently (no rain!); it was, at least early in the day, cold as a banker’s heart(Sorry, Gretchen).

Finally, about 11:00, both parts of the structure–house and addition–made it to the tarmac and the procession began.  Past the Just For Kids Child Care and Learning Center(Where the tykes got  ringside seats)…past the James A. Garfield High School(Do you think that there were many eyeballs trained–with or without permission–out those windows?)…CTS Telecommunications, two crews from Ohio Edison, SuddenLink.com, Eckman Tree Service were all in evidence…there were plenty of flashers and fluorescent vests and hats….  The star turn, of course, was by the Wolfe Moving Company (For all your structural moving needs) which furnished the expertise …and the big wheels…to make it all happen.  Seventy thousand pounds–give or take–begins the migration.

Around 12:55 there was a glitch around Anderson Rd., apparently a wire problem, which brought traffic–there was quite a bit of it– to a standstill on Rte. 88.  Truckers dismounted from their cabs to try and figure out what the hold up was (The hills there interrupt the line-of-sight).  They seemed skeptical when told that it was a house in the road that was the hold up.  The language during this interlude was not suitable for a family publication and lots of vehicles turned around in lots of driveways to attempt a getaway.  At about 1:15 the problem was resolved ; the whole troop moved across the private right-of-way (Northeast Ohio Oil Field Services) to Nichols Rd. and hung a right to turn north for the final two legs of the journey.

The tight left turn from Nichols onto Hankee Rd. came up at about 2:30–it was amazing how fast things went, really–and required more trimming , as well as having the individually-controlled power wheels underneath the heavy-duty house carriage turn on their own to swing the tail end of the whole apparatus into the roadway, not the ditch. This could make parallel parking a snap!

The ministrations of Zuver Construction were making the end-location site presentable when the whole entourage arrived at about 3:00…after changing the traffic pattern in Freedom/Hiram Townships for much of the afternoon.  Local gawkers–present company included–were out in force.  Every dog on Hankee Rd was on alert; a truck full of pineapple went by…your usual afternoon in the country.  Everything pulled into the driveway, off the road, and the maneuvering to get the house over the hole dug there for the foundation began.  It went on for quite a while.   Watching guys go under the structure to turn cranks and on the porch roof to raise wires is kind of scary…reminiscentof the scene in “The Wizard of Oz where the house lands on the Wicked Witch of the West.

The house is perched on steel beams waiting for its foundation to be built under it; the addition waits to be re-added.  Everything waits for the rain to stop so that building the foundation will not involve flippers and wetsuits.  It’s in a nice spot, lots of landscaping rocks available, wildflowers abound, plenty of shade.  Upwards of $80,000 rests in place, ready to become a home

It’s not too often we see an old house get a new home. But that’s exactly what happened on April 21 with a rental house in Garrettsville on South Street (SR 88). The 1920s-era house — next to Just for Kids preschool — was scheduled to be torn down in order to make way for the new Garrettsville Family Medicine office to be built on that site. Instead, it got a new lease on life from Don Wolff, in a new location… a wooded lot along Hankee Road in Freedom Township, across from Wolff’s Blueberry Patch. As these photos demonstrate, it’s complicated to maneuver an old house (in sections) onto a new foundation on a cool, muddy day… but it certainly is memorable! – Photo series by Estelle R. Brown

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Mantua – The Portage County Soap Box Derby is hosting a Derby Clinic on April 17th from noon to 2 pm. The clinic will be located at the Shalersville Town Hall on the corners of SR 303 and SR 44.

The clinic is for people interested in finding out more about derby racing and those persons currently racing who would like to learn ways to tune a derby car to make it run faster.

There will be at least two derby technicians present at the clinic. One of the technicians will discuss and show the construction of a derby car kit.

The second technician will demonstrate details to improve car speed.

Those new people attending will also be given a ticket that will allow them to ride down the hill at Derby Downs on May 14th and 15th in Akron to see if they enjoy derby racing.

The goal of the Portage County Derby this year is to have at least one driver from each township in Portage County. Some townships have never had a racer in the last 10 years of Portage County racing.

The Portage County Derby has a limited number of corporate cars available for racers to use at our local race. These cars are on a first-come basis. They are free to use. They may be used at rally races around the northeast U.S. area. These races are held year round, indoor and outdoor.

Derby racing is a truly family affair, and gravity does not discrimiate because of sex, size, or  physical limitations of a child.

In order to race, a child must  be 8 years old and not over the age of 17.

For more information, contact Dean Olson at 330-351-3035 or Kelly Heritage at 330-541-1075.


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Hiram – In March, the Hiram Fire Department took delivery of a new Scott Thermal Imager Camera as part of a NOPEC grant, written by Hiram Township Trustee Chairman Steve Pancost.  The camera’s cost was $9,600 and was given to the Fire Department by the Township to carry on-board our newest engine.  This life-saving device can be used to assist firefighters in fire attack, locating victims, and hidden fires. We have already used the camera on two fires and it has worked out great.

The camera’s color screen can also locate heat loss and potentially save residents money by identifying where they would benefit from additional insulation.  The Fire Department is available to come out with the camera and assist Hiram residents with locating heat loss and point out any dangerous fire conditions.  To arrange this free service please email or call the station between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.


Garrettsville – Anyone fortunate enough to snag a golden ticket to James A. Garfield High School’s musical theatre production of  “Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” had a simply nutterrific time. The four-day run of the show was virtually sold out before opening night on April 7, and only a few lucky latecomers managed to get a ticket the day of the show.

Playbills, concessions and fresh-cut flowers also ran low as audience members couldn’t get enough of anything Wonka-related. The cast and crew were enormous, and worked together effectively to construct a fast-paced, nearly flawless and entertaining show.

Although the starring leads were obviously Willie Wonka (played by senior David Soukenik) and Charlie Bucket (played by sophomore Shiloh Van Oss), the production also showcased strong and funny supporting roles of Bucket family members, TV reporters, naughty children and their parents played by 18 fellow student actors…and an ensemble of two dozen additional cast members (mostly from the Intermediate School) to play the parts of Oompa-Loompas, village children, cooks, squirrels, a computer technician, a psychiatrist and a patient.

This gave seven graduating seniors the opportunity to enjoy one last shining moment in the JAG spotlight before graduating. In addition to David Soukenik, they included Petra Brown (Veruca Salt), Nick Butto (Mr. Bucket), Brooke Heavner (Mrs. Beauregarde), Sam Roubic (Mr. Salt), Laura Sanicky (Mrs. Bucket,) and Lizzie Van Oss (Violet Beauregarde).

The production also showcased the talents of the JAG crew, which devised and built several creative sets that cleverly allowed for effective special effects  on a tight budget. Children in the audience gasped when the curtain opened on the initial scene of the chocolate factory, where candy could be plucked from the colorful set and eaten by the lucky actors.

Then, when Augustus Gloop falls headlong into the lake of chocolate and gets sucked up through a drain pipe and overtaken by liquid chocolate, it makes for one of the funniest scenes… or was it when Violet turns into a blueberry for chewing the off-limits Everlasting Gobstopper gum?… or maybe it was when Veruca throws a tantrum atop the Good Nut/Bad Nut platform and falls through to the incinerator below?… No, it must have been when Mike Teavee got disembodied into millions of tiny little pieces, only to be reconstituted inside a TV to the size of a Ken Doll and stuffed into his mother’s purse before being stretched back to size in the Taffy Pulling Room. The jury’s still out on that, but all agree the sets and special effects were top notch.

Senior crew members included Curtis Cosner, Matt Curry, Jeremy DeWitt, Adam Gilmer, Jon Hecky, Sam Russell, and David Spencer. Working alongside the crew were artistic director Mrs. Kristine Gilmer and her student artists; head carpenters, Mr. Scott and Mrs. Becky Russell and their student carpenters; hair and make-up artists; costume designers; props coordinator and manager; lighting and sound operators; the pit orchestra directed by Mr. Theo Cebulla; and, of course, director/choreographer Mr. Nathan Peters and producer/technical director Mr. Joe Gaither.

According to Gaither’s closing words after the final show on April 10, the show cost $8,000 to produce. But thanks to combined fundraising efforts headed up by Mrs. Carol Slaughter, show ticket sales, candy bar sales, flower and concession sales, and ticket sales to Breakfast with the Cast at the elementary school all worked together to actually allow the production to make more money than it spent.

After 12 weeks of planning, preparing, rehearsing and producing, the curtain has closed on the 2011 Spring Musical at James A. Garfield High School and its 14 graduating seniors. But a new curtain will rise next year on yet another stage of pure imagination that’s sure to please audiences in 2012.


The NFJFD Firefighters’ Auxiliary presents a check in the amount of $4,343.43 to Station 43. The department’s largest fundraiser of the year, the Chili Cook-Off, is held annually in the Fall.

Newton Falls – Last Saturday evening the parking lot at Roby Lee’s Restaurant and Banquet Center was filled with dozens of vehicles driven by firefighters and policemen. Don’t worry, there was no emergency. Rather, firefighters, EMTs, friends and family members from the Newton Falls Joint Fire District gathered at the hometown eatery to commemorate another year serving Newton Falls, Newton Township, and neighboring villages.

After a moment of silence for fallen firefighters, Jamie Zigler, President of the Firefighters’ Association, offered a prayer of gratitude for the meal and for the company present. Traditions at this annual event continued strong with a 50/50 raffle, door prize and centerpiece drawings, and a brief awards ceremony honoring squad members reaching various service milestones, from fairly new recruits achieving five years of service all the way to the recently retired stalwarts  who marked over twenty, thirty, and even nearly fifty years with the fire department force. The ladies of the Firefighters’ Auxiliary presented the proceeds from last fall’s twenty-first annual Chili Cook-Off, proudly handing over a check in the appropriate amount of $4,343.43 to the men of Station 43. The money from the station’s largest fundraiser of the year will be put toward necessary fire department upgrades such as protective gear and equipment to help them continue their lifesaving work. Last year’s check purchased an inflatable rescue lifeboat which was on display at October’s Cook-Off and will be vital in river emergencies.

Guest speaker NFPD Chief John Kuivila kept his remarks “short and sweet” and referenced the train crash that shook the center of the small town only two weeks ago. He applauded the efforts of the local emergency forces – including the fire and police departments, the auxiliaries, the hazmat crews and the CSX workers – mentioning that “clean-up went as smoothly as it could go” because of how the community and neighbors across the county pulled together. “It’s great to see the relationship that’s been built and how it all works together.”

Almost proving his point of small-town togetherness, Newton Falls wasn’t the only community represented at the restaurant that night: in the banquet area across the hall, Lordstown’s police officers were enjoying a similar event for their department, and members from Station 16 in Braceville had dinner to-go so that they could cover the NFJFD station in case of emergency.

A sweet end to the evening which everyone could literally take away with them came in the form of customized candy bars, courtesy of the Auxiliary, which suggested that if one were to look up the word “heroism” in a dictionary, one would find next to it a rather familiar photograph: one featuring the men of Station 43.

“Heroism: n. fortitude, valor, bravery, courage, strength. See also: Newton Falls Firefighters.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.


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Windham Twp. – Windham Township Trustees met for this April meeting with all trustees and the fiscal officer present. The first item on the agenda was guest recognition. Fire Chief Mike Iwanyckyj asked to address the trustees. The chief stated that the fire department had received a notice that their fuel tanks were in violation of the new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations. The chief stated that they currently have single walled tanks that are too close to the building and are not fenced in with the proper fencing. The chief said he was forewarning the township that they may be hearing from the EPA because they have been out investigating several local municipalities and schools in the area after receiving complaints from someone. After some discussion the trustees will look at possible options to the dilemma. One option was to seek out purchasing fuel locally and foregoing the township tanks. No decision was made and the trustees thanked the chief for the information.

Another guest addressed the board and wanted to know why the minutes were not available on the web site, nor could she get a copy of the minutes emailed to her. She stated that she has asked for them repeatedly and has yet to see any of them. She also wanted to know why they were not printed and available for everyone at each meeting. After some discussion, it was learned that the web site now has the minutes that have been approved by the trustees posted. Anyone wanting them may print them or read them off the web site. The first NOPEC Grant Project was started and hit a snag; apparently the electric bill for The Green is in involved in a joint venture utility discount with the village with the bill in the village’s name. Ohio Edison will not allow the township to do anything because in the utility company’s eyes they are not the owner. The township wants to update the lighting on The Township Green before the Bicentennial. Timmons said they will  get it all sorted out and hopefully will be able to proceed with the project so it will be done by the Bicentennial Celebration slated for the end of July. Speaking of the Bicentennial Celebration, the trustee approved the payment of $2500 to the Bicentennial Committee to be used for the birthday bash.

Trustee Dann Timmons, the township’s representative to the fire board reported that they met with Lieutenant Colonel Ed Meade of Camp Ravenna and updated the Fire and EMS Contract. The original contract was signed before the fire board was established. LT. Col. Meade also requested that Windham handle their calls on the Braceville side of the camp as well. The fire board will discuss this issue at their regular meeting next week. Mr. Timmons said they did not want to infringe on the township of Braceville and cause an issue between the two entities.

Zoning inspector Rich Gano stated that the tires that were starting to re- appear at the Horner’s property were removed but the shingles were still there. It has been almost two years since the township took legal action against the homeowner and assisted them with the clean-up and removal of over 8000 tires from the premises. The trustees will keep an eye on the situation and reopen the case if they have to do so.  Gano also reported that there were zoning violations at 8536 Gotham Road, he had issued a letter and stopped by the premises and they have not responded so he will be turning it over to the prosecutor.

The trustees meet on the first Thursday of each month at the town hall at 7pm.


Chardon – We are fascinated by medieval times.  The Middle Ages remain a time of mystery and revelation.  There are groups today that continue to investigate that period and share it with others.  One of those groups is the Society For Creative Anachronism.  It is an international non-profit organization that celebrates pre-17th century history.  It has members who study every aspect of medieval life and share it with others.

Festivals were an important part of medieval life so it is very proper to have members of SCA share medieval life with Geauga County Maple Festival visitors.  Saturday, April 30, 10 a.m. by the Entertainment Stage, members of the local Eastwatch Canton will be returning to medieval life with assorted demonstrations and activities.

Medieval times fascinate kids.  They were  a time of Knights, Lords and Ladies, castles and mythical beasts.  Jousts and tournaments showed off battle skills that could save lives in battles.  The women wore amazing and intricate clothing while enjoying music and chants that continue to have an influence on today’s music.  The imagination can kick into high gear and let young ones explore a very different way of life. Adults also can get into the proper medieval feel.

Medieval events across Ohio and beyond attract thousands each year, many coming in proper medieval clothing.  They participate in medieval dancing and other activities.

Eastwatch, a Canton of the Barony of Cleftlands, is within the Middle Kingdom, which covers Geauga, Lake and Ashtabula Counties.  Their goal is to learn what life was like during this period then share it with others through demonstrations and other activities.  They will share acts of warfare and dancing at the Maple Festival   Take time to talk to them and it is amazing the depth of knowledge they have on medieval times.

This is an event for everyone in the family.  Be sure to attend and get back into another era at the Geauga County Maple Festival.


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Burton – On May 4, from 6 – 8  p.m. come in and learn successful high school-to-college transition strategies for young people with disabilities.  Find out the five key transition skills that you need to have, know the differences between high school and college, eligibility requirements and accommodation descriptions.  Plus, much more!

Graduating high school seniors and recent graduates with disabilities are encouraged to attend.  Parents, guardians and counselors are also welcome.  This event is open to the public and will be held in the Quiet Lounge, Kent State University at Geauga, 14111 Claridon-Troy Road, Burton, Ohio 44021.  The event is sponsored by KSU Geauga’s Student Accessibility Services.


The QuizMasters/Academic Challenge Team of James A. Garfield High School is again sponsoring this activity in conjunction with the Garrettsville Chamber of Commerce Community-Wide Garage/Yard Sale. Sunday, May 22 from 10:00 to 2:00 in the Garfield Elementary School parking lot there will be wheeled vehicles of all sorts–ambulances and emergency vehicles, fire trucks, jeeps and motorcycles, construction monsters, high-rise buckets, eighteen-wheelers–any or all of them could be there, along with local favorite, the dragster, TIME BANDIT.  Not to mention our National CSX Safe Driving Exhibit finisher, Deral White.

Kids of all ages are welcome.  Whistles, bells and sirens are included.  Admission is $3.00 for kids under 12, $5.00 for kids of more advanced ages.


See you there.


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The Ohio House of Representatives approved legislation co-sponsored by State Representative Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) to change the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine (NEOUCOM) to the Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED).  This change will reflect the university’s updated curriculum and will come at no additional cost to the state.

“NEOUCOM has grown from a single college of medicine to a health sciences university with three colleges: medicine, pharmacy, and graduate studies,” said Rep. Clyde in a speech on the House floor in support of the bill.  “The name NEOUCOM no longer reflects the growth and transformation of the institution and its position as one of the 14 independent state universities in Ohio.”

An emergency clause was added to House Bill 139 in hopes that the inaugural class of pharmacy students will be able to graduate with degrees from the Northeast Ohio Medical University.  The legislation was approved 92-1 by the House, and now goes to the Ohio Senate for deliberation.

Rep. Clyde represents the 68th Ohio House District in Portage County, serving Northern and Southeastern Portage County, including Aurora, Garrettsville, Hiram, Kent, Mantua, Ravenna, Streetsboro, and Windham.


Garrettsville – It’s time to start cleaning out your closets, garages and attics! The Garrettsville Community-Wide Garage Sale will be held on May 21st and 22nd this year. This Chamber sponsored event always draws a crowd from surrounding communities – you know what they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure! Here’s your chance to rake in some spending money right before summer.

For only $10 you will receive a lawn sign number and be included on the map that is passed out to many communities before the sale. You can’t get better advertising than that! Forms may be picked up at Jerry Kehoe’s or fill out the ad on page 4.

No Yard? Don’t worry, you can set up at the Freedom Park for $10 or Sky Lanes for $15 (choices are on the registration form).

If you are planning on going to the garage sales there are a few simple rules that will help you avoid getting a ticket. Many cul-de-sac streets will be set up as one way streets. You may not park on either side of SR 82 or 88. And you also need to pay attention to the “No Parking” signs. Don’t forget simple common sense while you are out. There will be many people (and children) walking those days – please look twice before turning into driveways or onto streets. If you are passing parked cars, remember to slow it down and watch for a car door to swing open.

If you have items left over after the garage sales that you would rather not drag back into your house and cram into the closet, why not donate them to a great cause? The James A. Garfield PTO will accept your donations at the Event door at the Intermediate School on Sunday, May 22nd from 3-7pm, May 24th from 3-6pm, May 26th from 3-6pm and May 27th from 3-9pm. If you have any questions you may contact Heather at (440) 548-5930. You may also donate your items to the Pixley Park Committee in Nelson Township by contacting a committee member ~ they will be happy to pick up your items.

So what are you waiting for? Roll up those sleeves and get digging!


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Ravenna – My LifePlan®, an emerging provider of emergency services,   announced  the release of its Intelligent Survival InitiativesTM (ISI).  A first in disaster response, ISI is designed to provide proactive intelligent information services for emergency and large-scale disasters.

My LifePlan’s® Intelligent Survival Initiatives provides solutions for:

• Gathering and updating life-critical information about the individual prior to disaster or when called to the aid of the disaster scene.

• Making that information instantly available to authorized personnel in an emergency event under all disaster conditions.

• Developing programs with emergency service organizations to comply with its doctrine and operational scenario.

• Providing disaster reduction and management information solutions in a variety of ways

• Deploying the critical information that can help re-unite dislocated persons

• Collecting vital statistics for public health and disaster management analytics and for key government learning

• Integrating the latest biometric identification technology, mobility, Web services, and adaptable communication solutions

Ruth Skocic, a former nursing home social services practitioner founded My LifePlan® to anticipate, meet, and manage the information needs of the disaster-stricken, emergency personnel, and their communities. My LifePlan® (MLP) provides person-centric emergency management services that can help save lives when every second counts. Whether responding to a mass-casualty school shooting, or a wide-scale natural disaster like the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan, MLP’s Intelligent Survival Initiatives can help make the difference between life and death, as well as reduce suffering.

“The disaster in Japan once again reminds us of the devastation that can hit without notice,” said Ruith Skocic, CEO, My LifePlan®. “The dire circumstances that the world is now dealing with highlight the urgent need for companies, communities, and countries to be prepared to deal with the unimaginable.  At My LifePlan®, the services we provide can help close the emergency information gap here and now.”


Garrettsville – James A. Garfield senior baseball standout Brandon Baumgardner’s favorite song is “Lights Out” by P.O.D. It is no wonder the first game of the season Brandon was exactly that… LIGHTS OUT.

When the lefty took the mound last Thursday at Waterloo little did Brandon know he was on the cusp of greatness… Perfection to be exact. Brandon struck out 13 of the 18 batters he faced on his way to the first perfect game in Garfield history.

Baumgardner used just 70 pitches to eliminate the Vikings and also made a sliding play down the third base line to throw out another would be base runner.

Brandon also helped his own cause offensively with two doubles, two runs scored and two runs batted in. This year Brandon is 1-0 with one save. His 14 strikeouts in three games is just one shy of his freshman total (15), and he gave up just one hit Saturday versus Kent.

Baumgardner career stats: 11-5 overall, six saves and 111 strikeouts, First team PTC his junior season and second team the year before.


Pictured standing in front of one of Portage Counties Emergency Response vehicles are Shane & Gage Michael, Mattie Marsilio, Gaige McIntyre and Alex Banks

Ravenna – On April 12, the Portage County Commissioners hosted an Open House followed by an evening meeting.  The event was held to commemorate National County Government Month.  Several county offices and departments participated.  The Woodlands at Robinson (county nursing home) offered free blood pressure  checks.  The Dog Warden brought  dogs to be adpoted at a discounted fee.  Portage County Emergency Management brought state of the art equipment to show the public how the county responsds to various emergencies.  Other departments participated by providing information about their services, including Job and Family Services which assists families and children with various needs.  Information was also available from Auditor, Janet Esposito.  County Recorder, Bonnie Howe said, “ this is a great opportunity to meet the people that we serve.  It is important to bring the government to the people.”

This event is the first of its kind.  The goal was to highlight county  services and make elected officials available during the evening for those who may not be available during the day.  The Board of Commissioners typically meets twice per week from 9:30 am until 3:00.  The 6:30 pm meeting drew a much bigger crowd than usual.  Residents from throughout the county attended.


Garrettsville – OPENING NIGHT for J.A. Garfield’s performance of “Willy Wonka” is Thursday, April 7 at 7:30 p.m.  Tickets are $7.00 for adults and $5.00 for students and senior citizens.  House doors will open 30 minutes prior to show start time.

Pictured above are the cast and crew of “Willy Wonka” who invite you to attend their performance. Performance dates are: Thursday through Saturday, April 7- 9 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 10 at 2:00 p.m.

Pre-sale tickets have been wonderful and we expect another year of SOLD OUT shows.  There will be concessions available during intermission and flowers for sale to present to actors following the performance.

There will also be a Wonka Basket raffle each performance night.  This is a great comic show for the whole family to enjoy!  Senior David Soukenik (Wonka) and Sophomore Shiloh Van Oss (Charlie) do an excellent job as the two main characters. It’s almost as if Gene Wilder was in our show!


The 2011 James A. Garfield Hall of Fame slate is completed by two young men a decade apart who displayed their talent and teamwork in several venues and at several levels.

Matt Paul, class of ‘85, earned letters in golf (3), basketball (3) and baseball (4);football only got one year of his time, golf took precedence for time avilable.

Baseball was where he really got a chance to shine. Garfield baseball teams took the PCL championship in his junior and senior years (‘84, ‘85)with Matt on the mound in his share of hotly-contested games.  He was named to the all-county first team in each of those years and player of the conference in ‘85.

Basketball followed the same sort of script, as Matt was named to the PCL all-county first team in both ’83-‘84 and ‘84-‘85

Moving on down the road at Hiram College, Matt spent one year on the varsity basketball squad then chose to focus on baseball.  Good choice!!  He received the conference Cy Young Award (for pitchers) in his junior and senior years and the Donald M. Campbell Award for best male athlete in his senior year.  He was elected to the Hiram College Hall of Fame in 2002; his picture’s on the wall.

Matt then chose to enter the field of education and is currently a principal in the Kirtland Schools.

He was chosen for the Garfield Hall of Fame earlier but had school duties required of him.  Now is his day of recognition.  A homer for sure!

The Garfield class of ‘95–and every crowd member there to watch–was frequently electrified by the performances of our sixth honoree, Barron Chambers. The numbers may have faded by now, but he at one time held the all-time Garfield rushing and TD scoring record as well as the most yards rushing in a season; at broken field running he was a whiz.  He was twice named to the All State Team in football and was three times a PCL All Star in that sport.  He was part of the PCL Championship teams of 1993 and1995, garnering letters in football, basketball and track during that time. Football didn’t take up all of his time; he made it to the honor roll too and served as a camp counselor for the annual trip to Camp Fitch.

Of course that wasn’t the end.  Barron moved on to Tri State University at Angola, IN where his talents in football led to his being named MVP of the Quarter-final and Semi-final conference championship games and election to the Tri State Hall of Fame.  He also acquired, through dint of considerable hard work, a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.  Can’t keep a good G-Man down


CHAMPION, Ohio – The Champion High School Relays have become an annual event for the J. A. Garfield G-Men high school track & field team.  Last week, the Berkshire High School track & field team joined the fun on a blustery, yet sunny afternoon.

Garfield and Berkshire hold a lot of promise in this early show of the season.  The Badgers finished the evening with eight first-place finishes including the boys’ 1600-meter relay & 4 x 400-meter relay, and both the boys’ and girls’ distance medley & 4 x 800 meter relay races.

Garfield earned three first-place finishes with the boys’ 4 x 200-meter relay and 4 x 100 meter iron man relay and the girls’ 4 x 1600-meter relay.  Garfield also had seven impressive second-place finishes.

The Badgers’ boys’ team won the meet with a score of 91 points while the Garfield G-Men followed close behind into a second place finish with 85 points.  The Berkshire girls’ team also had an notable finish, earning second place while Garfield girls’ team finished in fifth place overall.

Season schedules for both schools can be found at www.highschoolsports.net.


In the 9:00 Trio League, Ashleigh Quiggle had high series for the day with 378.  Ashley rolled two games of 138.  High game for the week was rolled by Adam Norris, a 156, beating his career high game score that was set only two weeks ago.  Joey Ewell was second in both the high game and high series categories this week.  Joey rolled games of 102, 106, and 143, giving him a 351 series for the day, 81 pins over his average.  Ryleigh Gough just missed the 100 score mark with a 99 game, 34 pins over her average.   Dan Painley was 33 pins over average with his 131.

Noah Shannon rolled a 200 game for the high in the 11:00 Trio League.  High series belonged to Ryan Ambler with 504.  Shannon Kerr was most over average for the day.  Shannon rolled 129, 134, and 115 for a 378 series, 90 pins over her series average.  A number of good games were rolled this week, including:  David Durst, 146 (45 pins over), Destiny Durst, 140 (42 pins over), Austin Sledz, 106 (36 pins over), Shayne Carter, 115 (32 pins over), Zach Capron, 121 (30 pins over), and Jake Yeatts, 148 (30 pins over).

High game and high series in the Teen Texas Shoot-Out belonged to Brent Jones with 236-615.  Other games over 200 were rolled by Ashly Bernatowicz, 234, Howie Moore, 220, Clarke Kolmorgan, 214, and Kyle Brigham, 210.  Dean Flint had a good day.  Dean, who averages 158, rolled games of 170, 187, and 208 for a nice 565 series, putting him at 91 pins over average for the day.  Other nice games for the week:  Ryan Ambler, 197, Anna Brigham, 195, and Patrick Myers, 192.

In the 9:00 Pee Wee League, Madison Durosko was on a roll with games of 115 and 100 for a very nice 215 series, her best scores to date.  Travis Horner rolled 93.  In the 11:00 Pee Wee League, the high score was bowled by Thane Sidwell with 107.  Other nice games:  David Ittel with 97 and Darrion Sidwell with 90.


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Windham – For its final meeting before the summer break, the Windham Historical Society presents a free talk from local historian George Belden, who will speak on “Windham in the Civil War” on Monday, April 18, at the Windham American Legion, Post 674.

Using the 1866 monument on the village green as his starting point, Belden compiled a list of every Windham boy who gave his life for the Union cause. He then began researching each of them, following him from the day he enlisted until he made the ultimate sacrifice.

Windham soldiers fought at Shiloh, had a heated battle with Morgan’s Raiders, collided with Indians in Kansas, helped Sherman burn Atlanta, marched with James A Garfield, and endured the horrors of Andersonville Prison.

Belden will also tell the story of Major Laurin Woodworth, the only Civil War commander to come from Windham, who later went on to serve several terms in the United States House of Representatives.

Rare pictures of actual artifacts associated with the Windham soldiers will make this talk a visual and oral treat.

Belden’s talk marks a starting point for the Windham Bicentennial, which will culminate with an epic four-day festival on the Township green in the village the last weekend of July.

This meeting is co-sponsored and hosted by the Windham American Legion, Post 674, located at the eastern village limits on Route 303.

Doors open at 6:30, with the talk commencing at 7 PM. The free talk is open to the public of all ages.

For further information, please contact Society president Lynnea St John at 330-326-6061, or lynnya45@yahoo.com .


Newton Township – Last week a train going through Newton Falls at about 7:00 in the early morning went off its track as it passed through the heart of the town. Approximately twelve hours later, half past 7:00pm, emergency responders had the wreckage under control and the town attempted to bring back what sense of normalcy it could to the day. The Newton Township Trustees held their monthly meeting in their usual building within a stone’s throw of where the back dozen or so train cars sat in unmoving silence, waiting for their fallen counterparts to be cleared from the center of the town.

All trustees were present for the meeting, with Kathy King filling in for Ella Johnson. No guests were on the agenda for the evening so business moved on to the usual reports: sheriff, zoning, financial, and cemetery. Highlights mentioned: the budget needs to be tightened as much as possible; a parcel of land may be  donated to the township; and they are looking into the potential for life and disability insurance.

From the trustee reports, Mr. Nemet announced that the April 16th Spring Clean-up will be combining with the NFJFD who is organizing a professional shredding company to come to the event. This will cost the sponsors about $250 for the service, but it will be free for the public to come and have their paperwork shredded. In order to have your documents shredded, it is requested that you bring a canned good or other non-perishable item that will be sorted into Easter baskets for needy families. The fire department is contributing Easter hams for the baskets and will be putting it all together on Monday the 18th, just in time to be distributed for the holiday.

In other news, a deed dating back to 1918 has been located and transferred for the property at 55 E. Broad Street.

Mr. Augusta noted that Friday, April 8th is the deadline for ordering seedling trees. Contact the township ASAP if you are interested in placing an order. Liberty Township is presenting “Gasland,” a Sundance Film Festival movie on March 31st. Since that event is now over at press time, if anyone is interested in learning about oil drilling and the effects of fracking, stay tuned for other local showings. He also mentioned that the short term and long-term insurance will be putting a cap on how many “sick days” an employee can accrue at a given time.

The trustees are planning a work session for April 9th during which they will discuss cemetery regulations, the long- and short- term insurance, and the employee handbook.

Mr. Page relayed the results in regards to the questions he posed to Atty. Finamore in response to public concerns discussed at last month’s meeting. The first question asked was “Do we have the opportunity to get out of the (comprehensive) plan if we decide it is not right for us?” The answer from Atty. Finamore was “Absolutely.” The second question was “Are we obligated in whole or in part to accept everything in the Plan?”  The answer was “No.” The third question was “Does the plan set any law?” Once again, the answer was “No.” Mr. Page compared it, in layman’s terms, to going to a library where many options are offered and picking and choosing which books you want to read. Just because the books are there doesn’t mean you are forced to read every one of them, they are merely presented as suggestions. In the end, it is up to the reader to choose the content they want to be involved in. He continued to explain that the purpose of the township’s consideration of being involved in the plan is to strive to bring business into the community. The conservation/ wetlands aspect of the Plan itself consists of merely suggestions for areas best suited to be conservation land. Reassuring property owners that the township will not confiscate their land based on the suggestions of the Plan, Mr. Page went on to say that involvement in the Plan does not mean the township will automatically turn the suggested properties into such designated areas. Further discussion about this issue will continue at a future regular meeting.

In other business, a motion was made for a resolution to vacate Erie Avenue, the strip of road between Newton Falls-Bailey Road and Arch Street, which currently divides two parcels of township-owned property. This resolution would dissolve the existing road designation and meld the two parcels into one lot. The motion passed unanimously.

New business included discussion about having homeowners pay for slag and gravel when filling in ditches with ditch-pipe and dirt. The past practice years ago was to give the homeowners the first load free, but then the homeowner would pay for any additional desired fill. This topic will also be discussed further in the future. A motion to buy a new power washer not to exceed $400 passed as well.

In closing remarks, Mr. Nemet requested of the Trustees to split the cost of the Easter hams with the fire department. Also, the township is considering ideas for “In Memory Of” landscaping ornamentation that residents can purchase for placement around town similar to the benches throughout the main village, but something that would instead be maintenance-free.

The next regular meeting will be April 25th.


Garrettsville – Anna Brigham is a freshman at James A. Garfield Schools who is not a typical teenager. She is active in her church, on the Garfield bowling team, bowls youth bowling, merit roll student, a contestant in Garrettsville Idol and collects pop and beer can tabs.  She loves kids and would do anything to help a child. Anna was about 13 years old when she first learned that just by saving pop tabs she could help kids. When Anna first started saving the tabs, she wasn’t exactly sure how they helped kids but started saving them anyways. She started taking tabs off every pop/ beer can she saw and  before long had enlisted the help of family members. Friends who hung around her started helping her as well and in two years, she was able to collect over 30,000 tabs.

Anna had learned about The Ronald McDonald House (RMH) at Akron and decided that was where she would donate her tabs. Last week Anna turned in approximately 30,000 tabs to RMH in Akron. The tabs were recycled, with the proceeds going to RMH.

Ironically, the two years she had been collecting she never figured that her collection would have such an impact on her family. This past February Anna’s parents, Kenny and Carrie Brigham, spent some time at the Ronald Mc Donald house when their baby was born and required surgery. The Brigham Family experienced firsthand how the Ronald McDonald house works and what it was.

RMH was established January 13, 1985 with the help of Akron Children’s Hospital. RMH has very few paid staff and is run mostly by a staff of volunteers. The 125 volunteers in 2010 have logged in 11,500 hours. The volunteers–with the help of their largest corporate sponsor, McDonalds’–are what make RMH work and helps keep costs low. The facility gives families with ill children a place to stay to be near their loved one while receiving treatment at Akron Children’s Hospital. RMH can house a family of four for $10 a night. The house offers meals for the family, showers and a place to sleep and rest during the time their child is seeking treatment, all for $10 a night. If a family is unable to pay, they can mail in the fee later or stay for free.

Many volunteers staff the house, from cleaning the facility to maintenance and laundry. They also have civic groups or families who sign-up take care of dinner each night for those who are using the facility. The Akron house has room for 20 families and the rooms can be reserved if you know your child is having a procedure.  The house is opened 365 days a years and all the food is included in your $10 a day per family. Families who are unable to pay can stay there for free.

How is this possible? There are several ways that this can happen. The pop tab collection is one way; many volunteers and their largest corporate sponsor, McDonalds, are other ways they can operate as they do.  The McDonalds Corporation has raised over 150 million dollars worldwide for RMHs around the world. Volunteers keep the house running smoothly.  Visit www.rmhakron.org for more information on how one can help.

RMH, Akron started the pop tab collection program in 2009 and since that time they have collected over 5200 lbs of tabs. Pop/ beer tabs are pure aluminum and generally they receive about $.45 – $.60 a lb. The tabs are recycled locally and the generated funds go toward house improvements. Recently RMH purchased a computer for the residents to use and a Bose Wave radio for the dining room, all from recycling the tabs.

Anna is committed to the cause and is placing containers around town for those who would like to start saving them. Right now there is one at Skylanes Bowling Alley and the Renaissance Family Center in Windham. Soon there will be one at the Eagles Club too. If one would like a container to start saving them or have some saved you’d like to donate to their cause, you can contact the Brigham Family for more information 330 235-4542.


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Mantua – The Ides of March were very kind to Crestwood Local Schools and its taxpayers. Looking for ways to save money, Crestwood Local Schools refinanced their bonds on March 15 for their two elementary schools and will see a $550,000 savings over the remaining life of the bonds.

“We’ve been keeping an eye on the rates for quite some time and struck when we’d benefit with the most savings,” said Carol Corbett, Crestwood treasurer/CFO.

The district is currently about half way through their 23-year bond issue, which was approved by voters in 2000. Collectively, taxpayers in the district will save about $40,000 a year and see a slight adjustment in their 2012 taxes.

“It may not be that noticeable to our community on their tax bill, but the savings are there,” Corbett said. “We continue to do everything we can to spend responsibly and keep taxes low.”

The advantage to refinancing was allowed because the district made it a stipulation of the bond issue when it was initially drafted in 2000.  Corbett stated that the district started the second official statement process last summer, but the market wasn’t favorable until now.

“Just like in business, you need to create flexibility and options,” said Gregg Reink, director of administrative services. “If the opportunity comes up, you can be prepared to take advantage of it. The district did that and we’ll save significant dollars as a result.”


Garrettsville – Did you enjoy 2010 SummerFest in Garrettsville last year? Well, if you did, did you know that the SummerFest committee has two fundraisers that help pay for the event? The committee will once again hold a car raffle along with T-shirt and hoodie sales to fund the event.

This year’s car is locally donated by Charles Chevrolet and is made right here in Ohio at Lordstown. The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ is a fully loaded white sedan which can be viewed at Charles Chevrolet in Garrettsville. Tickets for the car are $20 each or the early bird special of six tickets for $100 until June 23, 2011. After June 23, 2011 the price for tickets will be $20 each. Tickets can be purchased at Skylanes Bowling Alley, Middlefield Bank, Huntington Bank, Weekly Villager, Charles Chevrolet and other local businesses in Garrettsville.

The drawing will be held at the close of the festival on June 26, 2011 following Garrettsville Idol. The winner can choose between the car and $15,000 in cash. Second prize is a 42” flat screen T.V. and third prize is a trip to Las Vegas.

Hoodies and T-shirts are also on sale, featuring this year’s theme “The Biggest Game in Town” and are available in red, black and athletic gray. Shirts are $10 each and hoodies are special order only and are $18 each, both are available in youth and adult sizes. Extended sizes are available for an additional $2 charge per shirt or hoodie. Shirts are available at Skylanes Bowling, Middlefield Bank, Huntington Bank, Weekly Villager, and Millers Restaurant.

This year’s SummerFest is sponsored by Charles Chevrolet, Garrettsville Chamber of Commerce  and the Weekly Villager. The festival is traditionally held the last weekend in June at the corners of S.R.82 and S.R. 88 in downtown Garrettsville. More information can be found at www.garrettsvillesummerfest.com


Burton – UN declarations and Presidential proclamations have made April 2 World Autism Awareness Day. According to President Obama’s proclamation, autism spectrum disorders or ASDs currently affect nearly one percent of children in the US; the statistics vary, but some numbers say that 1 in 110 children are affected. This effect can be felt rippling through families, schools and societies worldwide. This day is an opportunity to create awareness about these disorders, to continue research into the understanding of them and to look for a cause, in hopes of preventing them in the future.
One such awareness event took place at Century Village in Burton on Saturday, April 2. This grassroots event started with a little boy, Jason, who has autism and his family, which supports and adores him. Balloons are one of Jason’s favorite things, and he thought it would be fun to have a balloon launch to raise awareness of autism. Jason’s parents, Rachael and Tom, thought it was a great idea and started planning the event at the school Jason attends, as well as on Facebook.
Armed with a location which was donated by the Geauga County Historical Society’s Century Village, ribbons donated by another family affected by autism, ballons from a local autism chapter — blown up for free by Northeastern Party Outlet located in Harrington Square in Middlefield– and a lot of heart, this event took shape.
The weather was perfect for a balloon launch, the sun was out and the wind was brisk. It may have been a bit chilly for some tastes, but what can you expect in Northeast Ohio in April? The cold temperatures did not seem to deter anyone from coming out though. I counted over 110 people and many four-legged friends in attendance. Smiles and hugs were as prevalent as the blue and white balloons. Each child in Jason’s class had a balloon dedicated to them as did other children who wanted to participate.
The children were playing with balls and the grown-ups were talking and laughing. I stood there as an outsider to this world. Looking in, all I could see was love and support for each other… a world where the children mattered and we were all there for them. No monies were raised, no huge strides came from this event, just the knowledge that these children are not being forgotten and that the families have each other to lean on. I thought, if only more of the world was like this, think of what strides we could make.
As the time drew nearer to do the release, the children were given their balloons, a few got set off early, but it was no matter. Precision was not the desired outcome of this event. Jason’s dad started the countdown and then all the remaining balloons were released. The wind took most of them on their way to Middlefield and points east, some got tangled up in the trees and a few even popped before being set free. It was an exciting event that was over in no time, but the moments shared there and the sounds of the laughter will have a lasting effect.
The concept that a little boy can come up with an idea and that so many people can come together to make that come to fruition is a testament to the human spirit.
Thank you to Jason for coming up with the idea, and thank you to everyone who participated in this event. If you happen to see a blue or white balloon in a tree, be sure to pick it up and read the card. Awareness is knowledge and knowledge truly is power.

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Portage County – Recently, residents in the Hiram-Garrettsville-Nelson  area received an automated phone call from the Portage County Sheriff’s Department. The pre-recorded message alerted residents to be on the lookout for a 12-year-old boy who had been reported missing earlier in the day, and to call the Sheriff’s Department if anyone had information about the child’s whereabouts.

This was an example of Reverse 911, an emergency alert system that has been in place throughout Portage County for nearly two years, according to Sheriff David Doak. This Reverse 911 system is used effectively in thousands of U.S. communities to improve the lines of communication to the general population and targeted groups of citizens. The system provides immediate notification of critical information in times of crisis and emergencies, such as natural disasters, missing children and crime alerts.

The system was launched locally because the 12-year-old runaway was still missing, the sun was going to set soon, it was a cold, wintry day, and the child’s parents were “getting frantic.” Search teams – aided by search dogs – had not yet been successful in locating the boy. It was time to get additional eyes and ears into the search, to increase the boy’s odds of returning home before sundown.

Ultimately, it was a friend of the boy’s who suggested that he might be hiding out at another friend’s home. And there he was, tired, hungry, upset and cold… but otherwise fine. He was safe at home before dark.

Reverse 911 is different from an Amber Alert, which is signaled over radio waves and television news outlets when a juvenile has been abducted. Reverse 911 — provided through the Emergency Management Agency and the Office of Homeland Security — is more flexible. It can be put in place as soon as a report is filed that a child is missing or there is some other emergency at hand.

For instance, The Portage County Sheriff’s Department issued a Reverse 911 in October 2010, when a fugitive from Geauga County, considered to be armed and dangerous, led police on a chase through Portage County, then jumped out of his pickup truck along Pioneer Trail and evaded officers in a wooded area of Hiram Township. Reverse 911 calls were made to warn residents in the area about the fugitive and to request reporting of  any sightings to authorities.

“Our policy is ASAP,” Doak says. “Some agencies don’t even allow filing a report until after 24 hours has passed since someone has gone missing or another incident has occurred. But we want people to file a report as soon as possible. Once we get a report in here, we want other agencies and residents in the area to have the information on hand.”

“If my child ran away or came up missing, I’d want police acting on it right away,” Doak says. “We do not wait to put the information in the system. We don’t want kids out there on the county roads.”

Even better, Doak has a few suggestions for parents of potential runaways or for family and friends of anyone who goes missing: Know who their friends are, because people typically run toward someone they are close to.

But when trouble strikes, Reverse 911 is a powerful problem-solving tool. The program spreads emergency messages using a combination of database and Geographic Information System computer mapping technologies. The system is ideal for use in small towns and villages, as well as small to mid-sized municipalities, school campuses, federal agencies and military bases, giving organizations a regionalized approach to shared emergency notification.

The system can quickly target a precise geographic area and saturate it with thousands of calls. Designed for rapid distribution of messages, it creates calling zones which can be based on immediate emergency circumstances or selected in advance based on anticipated scenarios.

In addition to missing person alerts, other uses of the Reverse 911 system include:

Emergency Evacuations

Natural Disaster Alerts

Hazardous Material Leaks

Search and Rescue Operations

Crime Prevention

Wanted Person Alerts

Neighborhood Emergency Incidents

Special Community Notifications


Reverse 911 configures a recorded message and provides residents with critical information or detailed instructions. It also provides first responders with a state-of-the-art public safety communication solution that meets needs in Portage County at any given time.

Windham – RIF (Reduction in Force) has become the buzzword of the community and throughout the school district as the administration of Windham School looks to reduce staff as they wait on the impending governor’s proposed budget. The anticipated cuts are expected to be deep and in the small district, the cuts are also being felt at the heart level.  Superintendent Gregg Isler stated that he feels like the teachers, administrators, and community are pawns in the politician’s hands as they waited for Governor Kasich’s proposed budget to be announced. The budget was announced late last week which left school treasurers all over the state sending a flurry of emails and calls to the state office. Windham Schools were among the flurry as school treasurer Dawn Altman tried to decipher the figures and determine how it would affect the district.

The first hint the public had that there would be some deep cuts in the district came about three weeks ago after Superintendent Isler informed union president Wendy Bennett that there would be a RIF made at the end of the school year. Once Isler notified the union he began personally notifying each staff member that their position could possibly be eliminated at the end of the year. Like in any small town, it didn’t take long before the news had hit the streets and the town was all-a-buzz about the impending reductions. Rumors, all  unfounded, began to circulate and folks began to speculate on the future of the district, with some claiming the school might close. I reiterate, the school is not closing. Although the community was taken aback by the news, many knew that with a new state administration that change was a-coming, but no one anticipated that it would be this drastic.

The administration looked long and hard trying to find away to survive and the only way was to make a reduction in staff.  Isler said it was one of the hardest decisions he has had to make, however in order for the district to thrive, cuts have to be made. He cited declining enrollment, reduction in tax revenue and state funding being reduced as the primary reasons for the RIF.

The proposed reductions they anticipate having to make were announced March 23, 2011 at the regular board meeting after two executive sessions. The proposed position reductions as of March 23, 2011 are as follows: four educational aides, three general aides, one custodial/maintenance position, one bus driver, one secretary, 1?2 mechanic/maintenance position, two JR./Sr. High computer science/business department,  two Jr./Sr. High consumer science, homemaking consumer education, home economics, one music position (7-12) choir, one music position, (K-12) Band, one art position,(K-12), four elementary teaching positions, one industrial arts, three special education positions, and one school psychologist. Note these are positions being eliminated,  not necessarily the staff member that holds the position. Isler stated that depending on retirements and the flexibility of the state budget some of these positions maybe reinstated or partially reinstated. Two of the proposed position cuts were funded by the stimulus money the school received from the federal level two years ago. The stimulus money was only for two years and after this year that money is gone and will not be returning. Those two positions are figured in the list of RIFs.

When asked about whether they intended to cut athletic programs or go to “pay to play”    he stated they had discussed it but, since the sports programs are self-supporting,  they didn’t need to change them at this time. Isler also stated that if they went to “pay to play” or eliminated some athletic programs students would open enroll elsewhere so they could continue their sports career which would take more tax dollars away from the district. So for now they were not making any changes to athletics. He was also asked about whether they would be making any cuts in transportation he said they would be adjusting their transportation routes because they will reduce their drivers by one.

The specific staff members affected by the RIF are yet to be determined. Seniority, credentials, etc. will play a role in who will be kept and who will be laid off.  Isler stated, “Reducing the staff by 26 1?2 is a big hit for a small district and it is more than just numbers, we are like a family and this really hurts. It has been very difficult, the last few weeks, we are a tight community and many of the staff members not only reside in the district, but are graduates from Windham and have or had kids in the school system. No one wants to see anyone lose their job but sometimes there aren’t any other options.”

Isler said he is proud of the staff because even with all the uncertainty, the staff has continued to remain professional as they carry on with their daily responsibilities throughout the ordeal. Everything has continued as it had in the past and he expects that to be the case as the situation plays out.


Geauga County – Maple Max has had one exciting year! He was officially “born” last March after an extensive contest had local elementary school students submitting possible names for the new Geauga County Tourism ambassador. Madison Wilson, from Newbury Elementary School submitted the name Maple Max and it was the top scoring vote with Geauga County Tourism Members.

In his first year Maple Max has really traveled the county. He has visited over 80 area businesses, and attended many special events. He has been on the radio, rode in the Maple Festival Parade, met visitors from many states & countries, and has written a monthly column called “Maple Max on the Move”. Max is featured in a monthly contest, “Where in the County is Maple Max?” in the Tourism Newsletter and has been featured in the 2011 Geauga County Visitor Guide with a contest to see how many times he can be found  throughout the Guide.

March is his favorite month! So far this month he has enjoyed a variety of Maple Sugaring events, and taken part in a video shot in the county. He has enjoyed pancakes at the Geauga County Historical Society and participated in rehearsals for “Into the Woods” at the Geauga Lyric Theater. Should you run into Maple Max at an event, please feel free to snap a picture and post it to the Geauga County Tourism Facebook page!

Keep up with the adventures of Maple Max by “liking” Geauga County Tourism on Facebook or following MsGeauga on Twitter. You can also visit www.TourGeauga.com  to sign up for a monthly newsletter or for ongoing information on upcoming events. Call 440-632-1548 or 800-775-TOUR for your Visitor Guide.


“Consider the ladies”…as First Lady Abigail Adams wrote to her destined-to-be-second-U.S.-President John Adams when he was one of the patriots, politicos and visionaries laboring to write a constitution for the new nation, the United States of America.

Mrs. Adams didn’t have a whole lot of luck at influencing the direction that took but the James A. Garfield School District has been well-served by the ladies, as witnessed by this year’s Hall of Fame honorees, Jami Bray Mirka, ’83 and Sarah Thompson, ’98.  Consider them :

Nineteen eighty, eighty-one, eighty-two and eighty-three saw the Lady G-Men riding high in both volleyball and basketball, securing regional qualifier status twice in volleyball (‘80&’81), sectional championships in volleyball (’80 & ’81) and basketball (’82-’83), district championships in volleyball in’80 and ’81, district qualification in basketball in ‘82-’83, county championships in volleyball in ’80, ’81 and ’82.  Whew!

And one of the kingpins–er, queenpins?–of these teams (two other members have already been named to the HOF) was Jami Bray Mirka…who did not go unrecognized at the time.  She was chosen for the all-county VB first team in ’81 and ’82, received honorable mention on the all-county BB team in’81-’82 as well as first team selection for ’82-’83.  The Lady G-Men had 37 straight league victories in VB over a three-year period.  Some ladies, huh?  Jami earned three varsity letters in volleyball, four in basketball as a starter all four years.  While all of this was going on, she was also serving as scorekeeper/statistician for boys’ sports–basketball, track, football.

She then shifted gears, so to speak, and attended the Ohio State University to take a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and a master’s degree in Economics; basketball and volleyball became intramurals pursuits.  She has had work published (The title is looooong, as is anything in econ .or international relations.) and has served as a lecturer at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Campbell University.  A stint  at a Nature center in N.C might be considered another shift, a fun one.  A husband and two daughters who are also avid volleyball players and fans have been part of the trip…a grand ride for a grand athlete!

Sarah Thompson saw the same kind of scenery on her athletic journey, dotted with varsity letters in volleyball(3), basketball(3) and softball(4), coach’s awards(3) an umpire’s award, a leadership award, first team selection for Div. III volleyball (’97) three PCL league championships(’95,’96,’97), one district championship (’95)one regional runner-up, one district runner-up spot, two sectional championships.  Strong teamwork and outstanding talent across the board made the Lady G-Men a power to be reckoned with in the area; one of the sparkplugs and powerhouse players was Sarah.  It didn’t hurt that she also played on the Ohio Bandits of the National Fastpitch Association.  That team placed as national runners-up in  1995; Sarah took the Most Improved Player Award in 1997, the Player Appreciation Award in 1998.  In 1999 she was named to the Ohio Bandits Hall of Fame.  Then it was on to Lakeland Community College and more of the same.

Sarah was named NJCAA LCC Female Athlete of the Year in 1998-99, Most Valuable Player and NJCAA Region XII All-Tournament Team ,achieved a Region XII Division I Championship and was named Defensive Player of the Year in 1999-00.  This resume’ probably had something to do with her serving as assistant varsity softball coach at Ravenna H.S. in 2003.

Having received  her associate’s degree from Lakeland in 2000, Sarah persevered in her academic track at Kent State University, securing a Bachelor of Arts in Communications Studies.  She’s currently working as a neuro tech  with Neurology & Neuroscience Associates…and a shortstop at the Main Street Grille and Brewing Company.  Still a great team player.


Garrettsville – The James A. Garfield Historical Society looked ahead  to:  possible future programs, attendance at the Portage County Historical Society local history societies forum on March 26, a committee to  make costume selections for the vintage pix opportunity to be offered at the SummerFest, a backdrop for said photos, checking out available Jaguar yearbooks at Garfield H.S., the purchase of a stereopticon slide on e-Bay, welcoming a new member, Debbie Smith, new donations…and   the PROJECT–Antique Roadshow, Garfield style/Appraisal Fair set for August 20.

Julie Frederickson outlined the status of the paperwork and promotion entailed in the activity, gave names of local experts who will be assisting (More on that later), asked for discussion on pricing for participation–one item, $5, three items, $10–indicated that the  Garfield Middle School facilities were available.  This is sure to be an interesting and entertaining day, as folks far and wide trot out Aunt Elsie’s bone china or Uncle Dorrel’s coin collection, or that funny old picture that was in Grandma’s parlor.  Everyone should start their spring cleaning with this event in mind.

One of their very own antiques, Helen Danku, had developed a crack when she fell and broke her arm.  She is being missed but will, undoubtedly, be up and about sooner rather than later.  Good material, good workmanship…priceless.

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Mantua – On Thursday, March 3, lifetime St. Joseph, Mantua, parishioner, Br. James Peter Trares visited the Parish School of Religion students and thanked them for the statue of St. Joseph and the cards which were recently sent to him. He also spoke about his novitiate year experience in Denver, CO, with the Dominican Central Province and answered questions from the classes. To learn more about the Dominican Central Province, go to www.domcentral.org.


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Burton – The senior nursing students in Community Health Nursing at Kent State University at Geauga planned and implemented a community health and wellness fair on Wednesday, March 16th at the Geauga Campus in Burton. Several community agencies participated, including:  the Department on Aging with a balance screening, Visiting Angels, River of Life, WIC, MRC, Briar Hill, Mental Health Association, Lake Geauga Recovery, Geauga Medical Center Orthopedics, Parkside Care Corps, and Middlefield Library. Four KSU departments had tables: the library, student services, Geauga Student Nurse Association, and the School of Public Health.

Six majors or disciplines were represented by student poster presentations: psychology, sociology, nutrition, microbiology, geology, and nursing. The students researched health-related topics and designed posters bringing theory to practice, sharing this information with the public visitors at the fair. The senior nursing students researched topics related to the health of the people in our Geauga Community, presented information on health promotion and disease prevention, and did health screenings such as blood pressures, pulse oximetry readings, height and weight measurements, and body mass index calculations. With these screenings they offered possible interventions to improve the participant’s health such as increasing activity, follow up with health care providers, and improving health through better food choices. During the month of April, the students will take their poster presentations to area senior centers to share their research.

Windham – Windham Library is proud to announce the winner of our “Guess the Number of Tootsie Rolls” contest.  Jonathan Clark is our lucky winner and, along with the tootsie rolls, he gets a big Irish mug to fill with whatever he wants. Congratulations Jonathan Clark.

For more information, call the Windham Library at 330-326-3145.  The library, located at 9005 Wilverne Drive, is open Monday and Friday, 10:00 am-4:00 pm; Tuesday and Thursday, 12:00 pm-6:30 pm; and closed on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. For additional information about library programs and services, please visit Portage County District Library online at www.portagelibrary.org.

Garrettsville – Zoe Swenson and Adam Norris won their respective divisions for the 4th grade PTO chess tournament.  Congratulations to them both!  The tournament was held over their lunch break for several weeks, and they recently competed in the finals.

For the boys, Chad Angermeier came in second while Nathanael Dech came in third.  For the girls, Trinity Syvertson came in second and Erica Musgrove took third.

The tournament was sponsored by the Garfield PTO and the elementary school.  Students were invited to come during their lunch once a week and play chess, checkers, cards, or even just read a book.  Over sixty-five different students participated in the program.  Special thanks to the PTO and principal Keri Dornack for providing the prizes to the winners.


Hiram – Hiram College’s Theatre Department opened the doors of its new Renner Black Box Theatre on campus last weekend with sold-out performances of the 1967 hippie-rock musical, HAIR.

The new theatre, built in a space formerly occupied by three art studios in Frohring Art Building, was just recently completed. The cast of 22 diverse student performers with varying levels of stage experience had nine weeks to rehearse before performing to sold-out crowds on March 24-26.

Directed by Theatre Department Chair Betsy Bauman, the anti-Vietnam War production was staged as part of the college’s investigation into the theme of war. (Bauman also served as costume designer for the show. The Musical Director was Dawn Sonntag.)

The new theatre offers more flexibility than a traditional set, featuring a rounded, movable stage with large terraced steps encircling it. The smaller, more intimate space seats 50-100 people on risers, allowing Hiram theatre students to interact more with the audience. This proved to be effective and sometimes unnerving to HAIR audiences, who were subject to close encounters with actors and actresses disrobing to various degrees, gyrating and shouting obscenities, according to the script. It also brought the audience uncomfortably close to the bitterness, tortured idealism and confusion expressed by the young characters as they faced the prospect of being drafted into a war they were opposed to.

Audience members were carried along in the wave of rebellion that hippies waged – not only against the war – but against The Establishment and the strict conformities imposed by governmental, educational and religious institutions, as well as parents. As they faced the very real threat of trading in a carefree youth for the horrors of war, the ‘tribe’ of hippies in HAIR sang and danced their way into a communal last hurrah punctuated by a certain sweetness, free love, sex, drugs, rock-n-roll, long hair, wild clothes, transcendental meditation, political protests, hero worship, flower power, and whatever methods of escapism they could devise.

When the defiant HAIR first burst onto the stage 44 years ago in New York, it was unrelentingly offensive to The Establishment, which condemned it for its blatant use of profanity, partial nudity, promiscuity, rebellion, irreverence, illegal drug use, anti-patriotism, draft-dodging, sarcasm, etc. But to hippies and non-violent sympathizers since, the daring production captured the tarnished hopes and lost innocence of a conflicted generation. It catapulted onto Broadway and ran for 1,750 performances before being staged throughout the world in later years, and becoming a feature film in 1979.

HAIR also birthed a rich soundtrack of enduring rock classics like “The Age of Aquarius”, “Hair”, “Easy to be Hard”, “Good Morning Starshine”, “Let the Sunshine In” and more. The cast sang a total of 32 numbers and kept up a dizzying pace of choreography and costume changes as they spread out onstage, up on catwalks and down the aisles of Hiram College’s black-walled theatre.

The band, barely visible in the pit behind the stage, brought the soundtrack to life under the guidance of Associate Musical Director Kurt Sauer with   keyboard, guitars, drums and percussion. The use of gunshots, strobe lights, and the sound of choppers overhead completed the Vietnam-era trippy effect of the show.

While larger productions are still put on at Hayden Auditorium, Hiram College’s new black box theatre has introduced additional opportunities for study in theatrical performance, technical theatre and design, and theatre history and dramatic literature. The art department, which previously used the space for student work and displays, has relocated to Gelbke Hall.

The $2 million project is being carried out over two phases. The just-completed construction phase cost $850,000 and includes the black box theatre, asbestos removal, plus heating and air conditioning. The second phase will involve a complete renovation of the Frohring building.

Windham – Windham Village met for their regulary scheduled meeting recently with all council members present. Fiscal Officer Lloyd Billman presented the expenditures for the month of February. They were $155,492.52 with a bank reconciliation of $524,008.46 with all funds reconciled.
Council President Linda Rininger reminded council member that every meeting was a public forum and even their comments are public record.
Other items on the agenda were the approval of a contract with the Portage County District Library for a branch of the library to be located in the village of Windham. Council approved the purchase of two Crown Victoria Police cruisers, ratifying the action of the police chief taken to purchase cruisers. In zoning, chairman Phil Snyder stated that they were still working on obtaining the rights to remove the two hazardous mobile homes in the village that have been abandoned and allegedly been foreclosed on. Snyder hopes they can get them removed soon.
In the mayor’s report, Rob Donham reported that they would be breaking ground at Camp Ravenna for the new water and sewer project. The ground breaking was scheduled for March 23, 2011. He also reported that they will be opening the North Gate (gate in Windham) for a few hours each evening in April so the soldiers can have access to Windham’s restaurant, laundromat, barber etc. Also in the mayor’s report was that they plan on taking down another six buildings in the projects this summer and possible even more. Lastly, he praised the chief of police on the increase of citations and warnings issued. In previous months the police department had only issued a few citations; this month they had issued over 40 tickets and 30 warnings.
A resident asked about changing the village’s policy on 6” house numbers. The resident wanted to know if 3” house numbers would suffice. The resident brought a sample of how large 3” numbers are. The village solicitor looked up the ordinance that addresses the issue and said they would have to research the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) on house numbers. He said if the ORC says it has to be 6” they can not override the ORC, however if it is an ordinance than that could be changed if council wanted to do it.
Another question was raised about on-street parking in the new homes area and if they were planning on posting more signs within the development. The mayor stated, along with several council members, that there is no parking on any street in the area because of the narrow streets. He also stated “That folks who have a driver’s license should know the laws and know that it is illegal for one to block a traffic lane.” He went onto say that more signage would be a waste of money since people do not obey the signs anyways. The mayor did say that parking permits for special occaions are offered; one would need to contact the police department to obtain one. There being no other business the meeting was adjourned.
Windham Council meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 7:30 pm in council chambers.

Hiram – Hiram College will be holding its first annual Relay For Life, student-run event located at Charles A. Henry Field on April 1, 2011, starting at 6 p.m. until April 2, 2011, at 12 p.m. Hiram College’s official Relay For Life website has been running since late October and within just five months, teams have formed and have raised over $11,000 for The American Cancer Society.
Hiram College’s Relay For Life will be 18 hours in length, filled not only with people walking on the track, but fun and excitement to be had by all. There will be games and entertainment, featuring hot air balloon rides, five bands and the traditional luminaria ceremony. As the day turns to night, Henry Field will be lit by the glow of illuminated bags called luminaria, each bearing the name of someone who has battled cancer. The press and media are invited to attend these two days of celebration and remembrance.
Hiram prides itself in being a close-knit, diverse community where people support each other. Since the majority of the campus has been touched by cancer in some way, Relay For Life is when the Hiram campus can come together to share stories, honor loved ones and fight back against this horrible disease.
The American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life is a life-changing event that gives everyone in communities across the globe a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost and fight back against the disease. At Relay For Life of Hiram College, teams will camp out at Henry Field and will take turns walking or running around the outdoor track. Each team is asked to have a representative on the track at all times during the event. Because cancer never sleeps, Relays are overnight events.
For more information, you can visit Hiram’s Relay For Life’s website http://www.relayforlife.org/hiramcollege. Once on the website, you can learn about this great cause, make a donation or register as a participant for April 1-2. As a participant, it is recommended that each person raise at least $100.
Every dollar raised helps The American Cancer Society save lives and create a world with more birthdays. Its goal is to help people stay well, get well, find cures and fight back at community events, such as Relay For Life of Hiram College.

Windham – The weather was pure northeast Ohio in springtime–damp, cold, windy, gray–but the mood was upbeat as a dozen-plus Ohio Army National Guard personnel and a near-equal number of interested civilians gathered at Camp Ravenna (known to most of the locals as “The Arsenal”) for a ceremonial ground-breaking and dedication of the first phase of the Tactical Training Base sanitary sewer, water and gas infrastructure project.
The Village of Windham, whose hometown infrastructure is key to the operation of the project, was represented by Mayor Robert Donham and council president Linda Rininger, as well as councilpersons Rachel Barrett and Mike Iwanyckyj. Lynnea St. John, of the Windham Historical Society, was present to record the latest stitch in the colorful tapestry of the community’s story. Maureen T. Frederick, president of the Portage County Board of Commissioners and Timothy Ryan of Ohio’s 17th Congressional District headed the slate of civilian dignitaries present. Military brass in attendance included LTC Gregory W. Rogers of the ONG Military Construction Branch, COL. John C. Harris, Jr., Assistant Adjutant General for the Army ONG and COL Wm. H. Graham , District Engineer of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District. Representatives of WKBN 27 and WFMJ 21 of Youngstown captured it all for the 6:00 news.
The project, funded by the Ohio Army National Guard, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Portage County, will put $3,152,511 into the area economy. It will start at the intersection of S. Main St. and Center St.(St. Rte 303) in the Village of Windham, extending through the North Gate of Camp Ravenna south along the former Paris-Windham Rd. It will include the design and construction of water mains, sanitary sewers and gas mains to serve training facilities at Camp Ravenna. There are big plans afoot for the camp, including a “shoot house”, a bath house (presumably not too close to each other), a dining hall and other possibilities falling under the rubric of “neighborhood development”
Representative Ryan pointed out the benefits of using current assets to further economic developments and Commissioner Frederick alluded to the continuing prominence of “the Arsenal” for Portage County residents. The importance of Portage County water resources also figured in the remarks. Camp Ravenna covers over 21,000 A….pretty big. Bigger things are coming.