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Ravenna  – First Book – Portage County announced today it is accepting book grant applications from community groups and nonprofits.  This spring, First Book – Portage County plans to grant out approximately 1500 new books to programs in Portage County.  Teachers and directors of local preschools, day care, after-school, tutoring and mentoring programs are encouraged to apply on behalf of their programs. To be eligible to receive a First Book grant, organizations are required to: incorporate reading as part of their program activities, serve children and families from low-income households, provide distribution to each child in the program, and support the child’s ongoing education outside of the school classroom setting.  Applications are due by March 15.


Ravenna – Some people started preparing for the Christmas holidays as early as Halloween. Others got a start on their shopping by Thanksgiving or Black Friday. But even these early birds were put to shame by a group of young kids known as the Chesty Pullers Young Marines. Back on October 1, they started collecting 4,000 toys for 360 local families, so 900 Portage County kids could experience a Merry Christmas through Toys for Tots. Seventy-five local businesses and nearly 50 Young Marines, staff and parents did their part to make this happen.


Ravenna – The local Home Instead Senior Care® office is offering a unique approach to help Portage County area families manage the challenges of Alzheimer’s and other dementias, diseases that eventually rob seniors of their memories and independence. Free training for families caring for these older adults is now available through a Family Education Workshop to be held on Thursday, November 15 at 6:00 p.m. at 705 Oakwood St., in Ravenna.


Ravenna – The Chesty Puller Young Marines unit recently moved back to Ravenna from Cuyahoga Falls, and the organization is spreading the word they’ve returned ‘home’ and are re-engaged with the local community.
The Young Marines is a youth education and service program for boys and girls, ages 8 through completion of high school. A national organization, the Young Marines promotes the mental, moral, and physical development of its members. The program focuses on character-building and leadership, and promotes a healthy, drug-free lifestyle. The Young Marines is the focal point for the U.S. Marine Corps’ Youth Drug Demand Reduction efforts.
The Chesty Puller Young Marines has been a unit for 21 years, previously called the Ravenna Young Marines. The unit was founded in  October 1990. The 44th Recruit Platoon is currently completing their training. The local unit is named after Lieutenant General Lewis Burwell (Chesty) Puller, the most decorated Marine in the history of the Marine Corps, who saw combat in the years between the World Wars, World War II, and the Korean War.
The Chesty Pullers meet regularly on Tuesday nights, 6:30-9 p.m. at the Ravenna VFW post (just south of TSC), under the command of Ronald L. Pownall. Unit staff member Jamie Hilverding says there are currently 45 youth enrolled in the unit with four members in the Crestwood school system and four in the Streetsboro school system.
The unit recently marched in the Mantua Potato Festival and Ravenna Balloon-A-Fair parades. Several of the local Young Marines help the American Legion Post in Mantua with the flag duties at Crestwood’s home football games.

Upcoming events at various locations include:
October 13: 8th Annual Young Marine Ball
November 11:    Western Reserve Veteran’s Ceremony
December 19-22: Toys For Tots (distributing the toys collected over the next three months)
November 3:    Night at the Races Fundraiser
November 11:    Western Reserve Veteran’s Ceremony

In observance of September 11, the unit participated in the Summit County Stand Down, collecting enough items to create 500 packages for veterans this year.  “Each year, the number of veterans we serve at the Stand Down increases by approximately 10-15 percent,” Hilverding said. “ Last year, we provided supplies for 400 veterans.”
Other unit activities throughout the year include CPR training, campouts, historical encampments, flag-folding and flag retirement ceremonies, watercraft safety courses, clean-up days, Memorial Day and Flag Day ceremonies.
For more information, see www.chestypulleryoungmarines.com or  youngmarines.com. Or contact Recruiting Officer Katie Haring at 330-322-7275 (email: cpympaymaster@neo.rr.com).

Ravenna –  The 34th Annual Balloon A-Fair was deemed a success. The event offered two parades, a fireworks display, vendors, live entertainment, food, rides and, of course, two spectacular balloon launches.
Saturday’s balloon launch drew near record numbers to Sunbeau Valley Farms to watch the sky become a kaleidoscope of colors as 22 balloons took flight.
The crowd started forming around 4pm to watch the 6pm launch. Following the launch, folks visited the vendors, rode rides, and listened to live music as they waited for the anticipated fireworks display that was set off at dusk.
Sunday morning activities started off early with a car/tractor show at Sunbeau Valley Farms and ended with the second balloon launch of the weekend, once again turning the blue skies into a kaleidoscope.


Ravenna – Stop by Portage APL on September 22, 2012 from 10-3 for a rummage sale and help homeless animals.  From small appliances and books to dog and cat supplies and household items, there’s something for everyone.  

Ravenna – The Portage County Historical Society will begin new hours of operation starting September 1, 2012.  The Society is located at 6549-51 North Chestnut Street, Ravenna OH and will be open on Thursdays and Saturdays from 2:00 p.m. To 6:00 p.m. The museum and library will no longer be open on Sundays for tours or research.

Photo: Heather Braddock

Ravenna – The Coleman Adult Day Services in Ravenna provides care and services for the elderly; services such nursing, personal care assistance, meals,  therapeutic and recreational activities. Four years ago, they faced budget cuts. These cuts would have limited the services they could provide for their patients. For the family members of one Coleman client, this budget cut was a call to action. With the help of their mothers and aunts, the teenage grandchildren of Steve and Rosemarie Mandalari decided they would create a charity for Coleman in their grandparents’ honor, and Kids 4 Coleman began.


Ravenna – The Adult Basic and Literacy Education Program at Maplewood Career Center recognized GED graduates on Thursday, June 7th at 7 p.m.   The adult GED graduates held their heads high with smiles as they entered the room and the ceremony in their honor began.   Doris Schoning, the Adult Basic and Literacy Education Coordinator and Portage County Literacy Coalition Director, took center stage by welcoming the GED graduates, their families, and friends to the ceremony.   She mentioned thanks to all of her staff, volunteers, and those that partner with the Adult Basic and Literacy Education Program.  Doris Schoning then presented the Outstanding Community Partner Award to the Community Action Council.  David Shea, the Executive Director of the organization, accepted the award.    She then continued introducing special guests in the audience, which included:  Kathleen Chandler, Former State Representative; Kathleen Clyde, State Representative; and Michelle Seckman, the Treasurer of Maplewood Career Center.   


The Ravenna United Fund, Inc. is sponsoring SummerFest 2012 from 10:00am – 6:00pm on Saturday, June 16 downtown Ravenna.

Opening ceremony by Mayor Joe Bica and the singing of the National Anthem by Linda Pierson will be held at 10:00am. Main Street in downtown Ravenna will be turned into a street filled with entertainment on Saturday. Be sure to bring your lawn chairs, sit awhile as you enjoy a fun filled day. Food and treats will be available throughout the day. An information table will be set up on the courthouse lawn where visitors can pick up fliers with details regarding the Ravenna SummerFest events of the day.

Joe Mazzola is organizing the Ravenna SummerFest Car Show, that will be displayed on Main Street, which will be closed to through traffic. Ravenna Guido’s and Ravenna Hometown Bank are sponsoring this event. The cost to participate in the car show is $5 per car. Registration begins at 9am. Drivers will be awarded trophies including Best of Show Stock and Best of Show Modified.

Participating merchants will hold sidewalk sales or hang signs in their windows to participate. Many of the merchants will set on the streets while others will have tables in front of their stores. Throughout the day there will be food vendors, merchant sales, sidewalk sales, D.J. and karaoke, as well as a Marshal Arts demonstration. There will also be face painting by Working Grass Loom from Historical Society.

There will be a Marlene Watt Memorial Event on June 16 as well. Participants will meet at Ravenna High School Campus, 6589 North Chestnut Street. Registration will be at 7:00am. The 2-mile run/walk will start at 8:00am, the 5-mile walk/run starts at 8:30am, and the 1-mile Paw- #4 kids starts at 9:30am.

We hope to see you, as well as your family at this fun filled day of events!

Hiram College held a Relay for Life event on Saturday, May 5th  thanks to the work of committee members (pictured  at left)  Jamie Zychowski, Zach Fincham and Rose Zychowski. Along with the help of participating teams, they raised more than $16,000 leading up to and during the event. They will continue to raise money through August 1st.

On the same night Ravenna Stadium held a Relay for Life event, with 40 participating teams, 600 participants and about 300 cancer survivors in  attendence. Relay for Life events are very touching and emotional for all who participate.


Ravenna – On April 19, Robinson Memorial Hospital, in conjunction with the Northeast Central Ohio Regional Disaster Planning Consortium (NECO) and a number of emergency management agencies, held a mock disaster exercise to test the hospital’s abilities to respond to a devastating tornado which swept through the region resulting in numerous simulated casualties and fatalities.


Ravenna  – There’s something fresh and new on Main Street this summer. The Downtown Ravenna Farmers Market opens under the green and white tent starting Thursday, May 17 in the City Parking Lot at the corner of Cedar and Meridian streets. The farmers market will be open every Thursday from 2 to 6 p.m. through summer and fall until November 1.
All of the produce made available at the Downtown Ravenna Farmers Market will be grown by local farmers, traveling less than 100 miles to get from farm to table. In addition to just-harvested greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, zucchini, radishes, peas, carrots, corn and other vegetables, there will be fresh berries, apples, peaches and other fruits as they ripen in season. In addition, you will find maple syrup and maple candy, just-baked bread and from-the-oven pastries, as well as other home-made treats.
There is space for 15 fresh food vendors altogether. So far, Bittnerbees, D&A Maple Syrup, Deluxe Pastry, Breakneck Farms, Brugmans, Shari’s Berries, Bonnie’s Breads, Baked in the Village Cafe, Emily’s Soaps, Mike May’s Farm, Nitty Gritty Farms and Chaykowski Farms are already committed, said Market Manager Sally Kelly, a consultant who is developing the program for Ravenna.
Vendors interested in the few remaining spaces should contact Kelly at (330) 687-9501. Booth fees are $150 for the entire season (25 weeks) or $10 per week. There is also a half-season rate available. Vendors must agree to certain rules and regulations, including GAP and Cottage food sanitation guidelines.
Throughout the course of the summer, watch for a schedule of educational sessions, community service information and entertainment to be offered along with fresh food selections. Every other Thursday, the OSU extension service will provide educational sessions to help individuals understand how to prepare the fresh fruits and vegetables that are available that week. On alternate weeks, health clinics or live entertainment will be available.
The city received a two-year grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to establish the market. Kerry Macomber, Ravenna’s’ Economic Development Director, wrote the grant and now serves in a supervisory role for the program. The grant became available as part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s health initiative to improve American diets, especially among young people and low income families. The Downtown Ravenna Farmers Market is located in a neighborhood identified by the U.S. Census where there is a 20% poverty-level income.
The neighborhood is also considered a Food Desert, a term that describes geographic areas where mainstream grocery stores are either absent or inaccessible to low-income shoppers. Though the grocery stores may be located in the vicinity, they remain unavailable to low-income residents because of high prices on healthy, fresh foods. Food deserts create significant negative health impacts from a lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, meat and fish… most notably, obesity, which is linked to serious illnesses like diabetes, heart disease and cancer. While healthy food may be hard to afford in food deserts, fast food restaurants and convenience stores specializing in junk food are within easy reach.
“Unfortunately, people have become so reliant on the dollar menu, they don’t cook from scratch much any more,” said Macomber. “It’s convenient to eat fast food, but the nutritional content isn’t there.”
The Downtown Ravenna Farmers Market will now be within easy reach too. Hopefully, its convenience will appeal to people unaccustomed to the availability of fresh food. The farm market will be equipped with an EBT machine, so Direction cards from the Food Stamp Program will be accepted.
“This opens the market up to many more folks,”Kelly said.
The new farmers market will help to reverse the Food Desert trend, bringing nutritious fresh fruits and vegetables to the entire community. In the process, it is designed to help small farmers and vendors gain greater visibility, increase their markets and boost their incomes. As an added bonus, the market is expected to draw more traffic to downtown Ravenna, helping to revitalize the business district.
To learn more about The Downtown Ravenna Farmers Market and to keep current with its special events, log onto www.downtownravennafarmersmarket.com or follow on Facebook.

Ravenna –   On April 19, 2012, Robinson Memorial Hospital will participate in a disaster exercise conducted by the Northeast Central Ohio Regional Disaster Planning Consortium (NECO). Disaster exercises or mock drills are held annually to test the plans and response times of participating hospitals and emergency management agencies. This year’s exercise will stage a tornado sweeping through 13 surrounding counties with 53 agencies participating.


Ravenna – FOX 8’s own Dick Goddard will be the guest speaker at the Seniors Spring Into Knowledge event at the  Reed Memorial Library. The event, co-sponsored by the Library and Crossroads Hospice, will be Friday, April 20 from 9:30 am – 1 p.m.
From 9:30 to 11 meet with representatives from several local agencies with information aimed at keeping you active and in your home.   At 11 watch a Silver Sneakers demonstration. This exercise program is specifically for senior citizens to improve your health.

Ravenna – Sometime after the invention of the mirror, but no later than 1,000 B.C., ancient Greeks began using base metals and cat gut in a determined effort to take the smile provided by nature and make it better. Today, gifted orthodontic specialists shape dazzling smiles while creating optimal form and function. Orthodontics has come a long way in just a few thousand years. Children, teenagers, young adults, middle-aged men and women, seniors – all are taking advantage of the simplicity that distinguishes today’s orthodontics.

In August 2011, Violet Orthodontics opened its second location in Ravenna. While speaking about the progress of the new location, Dr. Violet said, “I am very pleased with welcome we have received from the community and our patients. My team and I are committed to bringing high caliber, orthodontic care to an area known for its medical facilities. Our special brand of orthodontics combines form and function for beautiful and healthy smiles. We strive to make orthodontics fun for our younger patients, with stylish color bands. And we offer clear braces to the growing number of our adult patients. Both children and adults love the contests, special events and educational opportunities our practice is well known for. Patricia Aaron was 55 years old when she decided to have orthodontic treatment. When reflecting on her experience before, during and after treatment, this is what she said, “When my periodontist told me I needed braces, I was very unhappy. I had just completed a series of bone grafts and thought that I was finished. When I met with Dr. Violet she explained that my treatment would be complicated due to my age and the condition of my bone. However, it was doable – so we began. Dr. Violet explained every step simply, making sure that I understoood each step. I was educated and engaged throughout the process. Today, I’ve got my smile back and it’s a killer. I would encourage anyone interested to do the following – get informed, get involved in your care and get going!. I can’t stop smiling.” Your orthodontist can improve most tooth and jaw alignment problems at any age. Straight teeth function better, are easier to clean, and are more likely to last your lifetime. Nicole Shriver was 11 years old when she started orthodontic treatment. This is what she had to say about her treatment experience, “I thought my teeth were ugly. I had less self confidence and I was embarrassed. During treatment, I was excited because my teeth were felt like they were fixing themselves. I was surprised how quickly they started straightening out and was anxious for it to be done. Now, I can’t stop touching my teeth. I’m obsessed with them and pleased with the results. I can’t believe how good they look. I love my retainer – it’s so cool. And honestly, it’s boosted my self-confidence.” David Tanner whose son Adam had orthodontic treatment had this to say when asked why he had selected Violet Orthodontics, “We interviewed a few different orthodontists and when we met Dr. Violet we instantly knew that we had found the right orthodontist for our son. The pre-braces appointments were very informative and gave us a new understanding of the art of orthodontics.” It is important for parents to know that Orthodontists receive more formal education than dentists to specialize in straightening teeth. Like dentists, orthodontists graduate from dental school. Then, to be an orthodontist, it takes an additional two to three academic years of education in an accredited orthodontic residency program. A COMMON MYTH:  “My family dentist says he can straighten my teeth.” Orthodontists are dentistry’s specialists in straightening teeth and aligning jaws to create optimal function and form. Orthodontists only practice orthodontics. They treat hundreds of patients a year, drawing on tried-and-true and new orthodontic appliance technologies to get patients to the best results. Orthodontists have knowledge of the full range of orthodontic appliance “tools”—including braces, clear aligners and other orthodontic devices. They know what to use and when because they work with these tools every day. Orthodontists build on their knowledge of orthodontics through on-going continuing education in orthodontic technology and practice. About Dr. Violet Barbosa Dr. Violet Barbosa is a specialist in Orthodontics for children, teenagers and adults. She is a board member of the Cleveland Society of Orthodontists (CSO) and an active member of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) She earned her DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) degree from New York University College of Dentistry. She then went on to the accredited orthodontic residency program at Montefiore Hospital, Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York to become an orthodontist. Dr. Violet also holds the following degrees from prestigious universities in India, namely: BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery) and MDS (Master of Dental Surgery) in Orthodontics. She is a former Lecturer-Consultant at Goa Dental College and Hospital. She built a successful orthodontic practice in Goa before moving to the U.S. Dr. Violet lives in Twinsburg with her husband Peter and their daughter, Annasha. Her interests include music, animals and nature. She likes being involved in community activities and is passionate about preserving the environment for future generations. For more information, visit www.violetorthodontics.com

Ravenna – Portage County government has seen a significant savings in its Workers Compensation premiums with the semi-annual premium changes released recently by the state. The Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation issued premium updates that resulted in a decrease in premiums for Portage County of $291,012, with the new premium being $753,006, Commissioners announced.

Ravenna – Kelly Engelhart, Service Director, traveled to Columbus last week to request financing through the energy bonds administered through the OAQDA, making the City of Ravenna the third Ohio city to take advantage of energy conservation financing through the OAQDA for the overhaul of equipment and systems at six municipal buildings and the majority of the city’s traffic signals. OAQDA authorized financing up to $6 million for the project at its February meeting. 

Ravenna – Vale Edge Hallmark and Florist have to be one of Ravenna’s best- kept secrets, well, at least until now. The store,  located at 247 S. Chestnut Street just southeast of the court house, offers Hallmark items and flowers plus a whole lot more.

Owners, Betty and Charlie Lim meticulously keep the storefront appealing to the shopper by showcasing seasonal items. Right now the store has several Christmas trees with different themes welcoming shoppers as they enter the store.

Vale Edge carries Hallmark greeting cards, and ornaments but they  have a wide variety of other gift items as well. For the fashionista, look no further. They have all the accessories one would need. Miche hand bags, boots, and all kinds of jewelry, including Trollbeads, Annaleece and Covenant jewelry. These companies create bracelets, necklaces, and rings, using Swarokovski crystal pieces. A must-have for the fashionista on your list.

For those of you planning a wedding, this is a one-stop shop for that as well. Order your flowers, pick up some wine, select the bridesmaids’ gifts,  wedding photo albums, invitations, guest registry book, party favors and even order tuxedos right there in the store.  That’s right, I said order your wedding tuxedos right there. They carry two different popular lines of tuxedos, so one has more of a selection to choose from for the big day.

Do you like collectibles?  This store carries every collectible imaginable as well. Charlie stated that although collectibles generally have their peaks and plateaus, the Hallmark ornaments appear to be the exception. Hallmark ornament sales still remain strong and appeal to all ages.  He said because the ornaments are dated on the bottom and they commemorate an activity, a place visited or some event in the life of someone that year, this is why most folks like them so much.

Family traditions keep many folks coming back searching for the right ornament that reflects on their experiences that year. Junior got his driver’s license this year; one might choose a car ornament. Just moved to a farm? Then the tractor ornament is what one might want on the tree. The list of ornaments goes on, as they have an ornament that depicts just about any activity or experience one might have done or had during the year.  Right now, because of the holidays, this is one of the most popular items in the store and draws shoppers from all over seeking out the perfect ornament that commemorates the year they had. Definitely a memory maker.

Another service they offer is gift baskets. They will make a gift basket with just about anything you desire. They carry wine and chocolates for their baskets along with the other items in the store. One of the more popular baskets is the junk food baskets. These baskets are loaded with all types of junk food and are typically sent to kids at college.

This is just a short list of what the store offers. They carry the traditional candles, books, figurines, greeting cards, Webkinz, Willow Tree, gourmet chocolates, Heartwood Creek, Precious Moments, Tracksters, and many more gifts and collectibles. They also are a Trollbeads Gold Level retailer, along with a full service floral department that will meet all a customers’ needs, including Telefloral and FTD services.

Vale Edge Hallmark and Florist is open Monday- Friday 9am – 7pm. Sat 9-5 and Sunday 11-4pm. They are  on the web at www.vale-edge.com and have a facebook page as well. Checkout this unique one-stop shop. You will be impressed at what they have to offer.

Ravenna –  House of Holiday Ornaments (HO HO) is a long-standing business in Ravenna and has been for more than 14 years, riding out the economic rollercoaster. Owner Barbara Burns said when she originally planned for the shop she was looking for ornaments, hand -carved Santas and Pipka Santas. She chose the name House of Holiday Ornaments because she could make the acronym HO HO and use it as a logo.  Although HO HO is still sometimes used, do not mistake it for just a Christmas store. This store has a lot more to offer than just Christmas items.

Over the years the shop has developed into so much more and now carries a variety of gift items including Willow Tree, Possible Dreams, Figurines, Jim Shore items and Crabtree & Evelyn Beauty products as well. They also carry a few religious items, candles, home décor and more. They are located at 224 West Main Street in downtown Ravenna and their hours of operation are Tuesday thru Friday 10 am – 5 pm and Saturday 10 am-2 pm.

When you walk in the door you will see their famous upside down tree decorated for season. When I was there they had a fall Halloween motif on the tree with jack-o-lantern ornaments. Mrs. Burns said she changes it to a Thanksgiving motif after Halloween by removing the Jack-O-lantern ornaments. The Friday after Thanksgiving is Ravenna’s Midnight Madness where the area businesses stay open late and kick off the Christmas season. That is when the tree will take on a Christmas motif.

Right now the shop is showcasing their fall collections along with their regular items.  The orange, browns, black and yellows are prominantly displayed as one enters the door, and will soon be exchanged for reds and greens as they change over to their Christmas displays for the Midnight Madness scheduled for the day after Thanksgiving.

New items this season are the wickless scented candles shaped like bowls that have various items molded into the wax giving them texture and visual appeal. These candles are scented and just need a little scuffing to revive their scent.

The store has many home décor items for a variety of seasons and holidays and is not just a Christmas store. Stop in and check them out you will be surprised at the items they carry.

Ravenna – Ravenna Balloon A-Fair’s Annual Lighted Christmas Parade will take place 7:00 p.m. Saturday, December 3, 2011.

Downtown Ravenna closes its streets and opens its doors for everyone to see our hometown all lit up, from the twinkling decorations to the hundreds of lights decorating the nighttime parade.

Leading off the parade will be the Ravenna High School Band, which also will perform on the courthouse lawn following the parade. Children of all ages, parents, and Ravenna residents will line the street in anticipation of the arrival Santa Claus & Mrs. Claus as they enter into in a horse-drawn sleigh.

Santa will be available to hear the kids’ wish lists and hand out candy canes to all the children in attendance at the Buckeye Mini Mall, located at 250 E. Main St.

Parade line up begins at 6:00 p.m. at the old Ravenna High School located on Clinton Street. The Christmas Parade steps-off at 7:00 p.m.

For information call the Mark Short at 330-297-1586 or Ravenna Balloon A-Fair Hot-line at 330-296-3247.

Steris representative Ben Gomex demonstrates the benefits of the high-tech surgical lights in one of the new operating rooms.

Ravenna – Robinson Memorial Hospital is positioning itself as a forward-thinking, 21st-century countywide health care provider. During the open house of its new state-of-the-art surgical services department on October 25, the hospital also showcased its plan to phase out its antiquated management structure.

Renovated Surgical Services

The $20 million renovation project nearly doubled the old surgical department from 19,000 to 38,000 square feet. The open house highlighted eight new operating room suites, larger and private preoperative and postoperative bays with skylights, an endoscopy procedure room, lockers for patients’ belongings, private consultation rooms, a larger (triple the size) waiting area for friends and family, and a private patient pick-up area at the rear of the hospital. New technological advances include real-time digital imaging, boom-arm technology to float equipment overhead rather than on the floor, high-definition overhead monitors, and air-handling units with ultraviolet emitters to reduce microorganisms.

The project also includes new office space for Surgical Services employees, locker rooms for staff and surgeons, physician and staff lounges, a dictation area for surgeons, a meeting room and three on-call rooms. Renovation began in 2009.

Robinson Memorial Hospital has 47 board-certified physicians and surgeons in the Surgery Department and conducts approximately 10,000 surgeries per year. Surgical specialties include podiatry, urology, gynecology, orthopaedics, ENT, gastroenterology, spine, oral maxillofacial, general, plastic, pain medicine, thoracic and vascular.

Opting Out of the County Plan

During a pre-open house meeting with media representatives, RMH President and CEO Stephen Colecchi, FACHE, shared a proposal he has made to Portage County Commissioners to transition the hospital from being county-run to being operated as a not-for-profit independent organization, governed by a local board of trustees by 2013. (Although it’s an entity of Portage County government, the hospital has not drawn from county tax revenues since the 1980s, and has been self-sufficient ever since, Colecchi said.)

Combatting a pervasive stigma from being a county-owned hospital, Colecchi called RMH “our most important community asset.” He reminded media that RMH is the county’s second-largest employer (after Kent State University), generating 16,000 local jobs and  $500 million annually, underscoring the hospital’s “significant economic impact.”

He went on to say that there are only nine county-run hospitals left in Ohio, and RMH is the second largest in the state (after Metro Hospital in Cleveland). Reportedly, 80 percent of hospitals in Ohio are now run as not-for-profit entities. RMH administrators would like to opt out of county requirements and restrictions that mandate government retirement benefits and prevent the hospital from attracting top physicians and surgeons.

RMH Achievements

Five years ago, RMH became affiliated with SUMMA Health System, which allows the hospital to retain local management while offering health care services from “one of the best regional health care providers” available, according to Colecchi. In August, RMH was reinstated as a Magnet Hospital, joining only 391 hospitals worldwide to achieve that gold standard in nursing excellence. RMH is the first adult hospital in the tri-county area to achieve this distinction, and the first to ever be reinstated as such, Colecchi added.

Also this year, RMH was named among the 65 Best Community Hospitals in the U.S., according to Becker’s Ranking, based on patient outcome measurements.

“We’re one of only a handful of community hospitals that can claim the Big Three: Best Overall Clinical Care; Best Nursing; and Best Place to Work in the region for the ninth year,” Colecchi said.

In the Beginning

RMH originated in 1917 as privately-owned White Hospital (at the current location of the Ravenna Post Office). Then, in 1932, the county passed a $50,000 bond issue to re-establish the hospital on South Meridian Street at the current location of the Portage County administration building, named for judge George F. Robinson and his wife, Mary. The county hospital expanded at that location until the mid-1970s, when it became landlocked.

A $4 mill property tax bond was passed in 1973, to purchase two farms covering 100 acres on North Chestnut Street. Construction of the new hospital began there in 1977. The completion of the hospital’s new surgical services wing last week marked the last area of needed renovation since the hospital was built according to 1970s-era styles and technologies.

The next step for Robinson’s techno-transformation is to transition to paperless electronic medical records with online portals so patients can access their own records from their personal computers. The $39 million project should be completed in four to five years.


Bettina’s Antiques and Miniatures Company, located at 264 West Main Street, recently opened its  doors for business. Owner Sue Sheppard said owning a Victorian tea room was her heart’s desire but Ravenna already had one of those so she decided to go with her other love, antiques and miniatures. The store is named after her late mother Bettina Sheppard, and  carries antiques, a variety of miniature items for dollhouses and supplies for fairy gardens. Sue stated that Bettina means tiny which her mother was and so are the items she sells in her store.

When one walks in the store they will see a portrait of the store’s namesake on the wall along with some antique pictures. She also has numerous doll houses, fairy gardens as well as any miniature item one would need to accessorize a dollhouse. The world of doll houses and miniatures is not just child’s play; it is  for the grown up as well.

Bettina’s has just about anything one would find in a furniture gallery only a lot smaller. She carries furniture, appliances, and accessories in a variety of scales so she is sure of have the correct size for the doll house one is trying to decorate. The store has all the accent pieces one would look for as well. Expect to find miniature dishes, towels, bed coverings, table cloths, pottery, wallpaper, etc. Anything needed to set and  decorate a full size room, she carries for a miniature room. So, your doll house needs a sewing room? Well, don’t worry, she has all the accessories for that, right down to the pattern pieces, iron and ironing board.

The miniature world is actually like living in fantasy land. Design your house or room (Yes, she sells just rooms if you do not have the space for an entire doll house.) as you would like. Are you into Victorian but not sure you want your life-size home all decked out in it? Then consider doing a room or a doll house in Victorian style. The store has just about everything one would need and Sue will help you select items for your house or room if you desire help.

Your old house needs some TLC? No problem, she can help with that too. Sue also repairs doll houses and can  help find  replacement parts for one as well. A one stop shop for those who love miniatures.

The store hasn’t forgotten about the kids either. It also carries the Melissa and Doug line of houses created for children. So bring in the kids. In fact she even has a play area for kids when they come in the store with mom. They can play with the store  doll house while mom works on decorating her own house/room.

The future plans for the store are: to open her shop up for meetings, group workshops and classes on fairy gardens which have become extremely popular as of late.  She also plans to have adult “play days” where adults can bring their houses or rooms in and work on them while exchanging ideas with others.

Check out this unique store and you too may fall in love with the miniature world.

Bettina’s is open from Wednesday thru Saturday 11 am – 3 pm.

Ravenna – McDonald’s at 418 West Main Street in Ravenna held their grand opening last Friday as they débuted their new state-of-the- art eco-friendly facility. Owners Chuck and Mary Galloway eagerly showed us the new facility and highlighted some of its amenities such as the new dual drive thru, low-energy LED recessed lighting in the dining room, new energy star-rated equipment will use 20-30% less electric and gas than the previous equipment  and the earth tone décor that is relaxing and has a comfortable, homey feel to it. “I’m so proud of this beautiful new building. When I made the commitment to rebuild, I had my staff members, regular and new customers alike, as well as the entire community in mind.  I knew that it had to be special and something that everyone was proud to call ‘his or her’ McDonald’s,” said Chuck Galloway, McDonald’s owner and operator.

Local and county government officials, city and township representatives along with chamber members and members from the business community were on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.  Mayor Joseph Bica Jr., along with owner Chuck Galloway, did the honors of cutting the ribbon officially announcing that they were open for business. After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the community leaders were served cake and coffee to celebrate the event.

The previous McDonalds building was demolished in late May to make way for the new eco-friendly store. During the construction phase of the facility the employees were shifted to Galloway’s other stores and remained employed thru the entire construction period. The existing employees of the store are now training 35 new team members to complete the staffing of the new store. The store currently has 71 team members meeting  customer needs.

Hours of operation at 418 West Main Street McDonalds are Mon –Thurs 5:30 am -11 pm, Fri. 5:30 am – midnight, Sat. 5:30 am -11pm and Sundays 6am -11pm.

Ravenna - The 33rd Annual Balloon-A-Fair kicked off last week with the Children’s Parade on Thursday. The annual event ran through the weekend which included parades, food, live music, 10 Mile race, car and antique tractor show along with craft show and fire works.  The highlight of the weekend was when the cloudy skies parted just as 20 hot air balloons took to the heavens, fulfilling their theme “Patchwork Skies”

Saturday morning the grand parade stepped off at 9am just as the 10 mile race got under way. Floats, bands, and fire trucks paraded through town as eager children stood along the sides waiting on the candy each unit tossed out to them. Main Street was turned into a carnival as food vendors, crafters, entrepreneurs and political booths, lined the streets all vying for ones attention.  The crowds of people flooded the streets looking for their favorite carnie food while listening to a variety of music at both ends of town.

The gates at Sunbeau Valley Farms opened at 4 p m with folks abandoning downtown at record speeds to stake out a claim on the farm to watch the balloon launch. By the 5:30 launch time the farm was jam-packed with spectators  of all ages anticipating the beauty of the balloon ascension.

Twenty balloonists prepared their balloons for launch under the watchful eye of a large crowd. All were  rewarded as the balloons took to the skies one by one. The sky was turned into a patchwork canvas as the balloons started to ascend. Within an hour of the scheduled launch, 20 balloons had taken to the skies to the delight of the crowd.  Following the launch, folks mellowed out  to some great music and the evening was capped off with fireworks.

Sunday the Sunbeau Valley opened its gates at 9 am with a car and antique tractor show, along with a craft displays.  The day proved conducive to the second balloon launch of the weekend while folks kicked back and listened to the sounds of Melanie May, anticipating the ascension of the balloons.  At 5:30 the second balloon launch of the weekend was a smashing success, as once again the balloons turned the partly cloudy skies into a colorful canvas of patchwork, resembling one of grandma’s quilts. This launch was the highlight of the event as the crowd cheered as each balloon was sent aloft, capping off the weekends events.
The Balloon-A-Fair was originally conceived 34-plus years ago by a group of folks who wanted to see Ravenna celebrate one of the city’s earliest industries – toy balloons manufactured by the Oak Rubber Company,  located in the city. The annual celebration is traditionally held on the third week of September, highlighted by  balloon launches and fireworks if  the weather permits.


Ravenna – Robinson Memorial Hospital has officially renamed the Med Center One in Streetsboro to the Robinson Urgent Care Center at Streetsboro. The newly named Robinson Urgent Care Center is located at 9318 State Route 14, at the Robinson Health Center at Streetsboro. The Robinson Urgent Care Center will continue to provide uninterrupted services with the name change.
The Robinson Urgent Care Center is open seven days a week and provides services for minor accidents and illnesses such as sprains, simple fractures, ear infections, skin infections and more.
Robinson Memorial Hospital would like to remind the public that in the case of an emergency such as chest pains, shortness of breath, severe abdominal pain, severe headaches or signs of a stroke, go to the nearest emergency room.
Robinson Memorial has been providing urgent care services to the residents of Streetsboro since 1984.

Ravenna – The Ravenna Balloon A-Fair Children’s Parade, sponsored by Ravenna McDonalds, will take to the streets on Thursday, September 15, 2011. Registration will be from 5:30 – 6 p.m. at the downtown Ravenna corner of S. Prospect & Spruce Street. Entry judging will be from 6 to 6:30 p.m. with the parade stepping off at 6:30.
The theme of this year’s parade is “Ravenna’s Children Color Our Dreams of Tomorrow” and is open to all children pre-school age through 5th grade.
Ronald McDonald & Magic Show will be on hand to perform after the parade.
In addition, the Ravenna Balloon-A-Fair committee would like to thank this year’s balloon sponsors: Allen Aircraft Products, Inc; Ameri Gas Propane; Bennett Land Title; Fred Berry; First Place Bank; Haasz Auto Mall; Klaben Auto Stores ; Jack Kohl Agency; Judge Kevin Poland; Middlefield Bank; Portage Community Bank; Portage County Sheriff’s Association; Ravenna Giant Eagle; Ravenna Walgreens; Record Courier; Robinson Memorial Hospital/Summa; Trexler Rubber Company and Woodruff Electric.

Ravenna – This weekend the southwest side of Ravenna will be a happening place as the Quarter Scale Auto Club (QSAC) racers from all over the country will converge on Freddie’s Hobbies to race their quarter scale vehicles on his track. (Quarter scale race cars are approximately 1?4 the size of a standard car hence the name quarter scale) Quarter scale radio controlled vehicles will race on an asphalt oval and compete for points to qualify for the national championships. This race in Ravenna is one of six qualifying races held throughout the country each year where racers compete for points.
The race will attract approximately 60 racers from around the country with folks coming from as far west as California and Arizona, and from as far south as Florida and Alabama, along with the states in between. The racers are expected to start arriving as early as Monday for the weekend event.  Qualifying races will begin Friday and the finals will be held on Saturday. The race follows all QSAC rules and regulations set for the 2011 racing year.

Quarter scale enthusiasts say they are just “boys with their toys” and after watching them one would have to agree. Their toys are a bit bigger than their childhood ones and somewhat more expensive but it is all about the playing. One told me that they just love to compete; they are a friendly bunch of folks who love the sport and who are more than willing to help the newcomer learn to love the sport as well. Don’t get me wrong, they are serious but not so much that they won’t help out a newbie.
Freddie’s Hobbies holds races every Saturday but not point races. This week’s races are a big national event that is considered a point race while their traditional weekend race is usually just friendly competition.  The weekly races usually start at 1pm.
What do these guys get for all that racing?  Big Bucks, right?  Well, not exactly. They get bragging rights and a trophy. These guys are in it for the love of the sport, not the prize money, especially since there isn’t any.

Freddie’s Hobbies is located at 100 Romito Street Unit A Ravenna, where owner Freddie Miavitz manufactures and sells quarter scale vehicles. He also sells radio-controlled planes, helicopters, and small rockets, along with puzzles and just recently obtained a permit to sell guns. He also has parts, fuel and many accessories.  Questions about the race schedule and times or about Freddie’s Hobbies can be directed to Freddie at (330) 296-4354 or visit him on line at www.freddieshobbies.com.

Ravenna – There’s a dilapidated old house on Crown Avenue that’s been through fire and abandonment. It was all but forgotten, if not for becoming a more noticeable eyesore. But thanks to the generosity of Ravenna attorney Tom Bird, the vision of Councilwoman Amy Michael, the social service support of Family & Community Services CEO Mark Frisone, and many others…this house is not only undergoing complete restoration, but it’s offering the same opportunity to the homeless women veterans who will eventually live there.

Homelessness among veterans is a growing problem nationwide, with women veterans especially vulnerable to the unanticipated fate. The fastest growing segment of the homeless veteran population is women with children. Women veterans are four times more likely than their male counterparts to wind up homeless, and their numbers are growing, according to a joint report by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Veterans Affairs released in February. There are an estimated 6,500 homeless female veterans on America’s streets… double the number of a decade ago.

As is the case with male veterans, combat trauma, substance abuse and a difficult economy are the most common reasons female veterans become homeless. Add to that the likelihood of post traumatic stress, sleeplessness and battle injuries. Military sexual trauma and violent abusive relationships also are risk factors for female veterans, according to the government report.

Historically, most homeless shelters for veterans do not accept women, much less women with children, so female veterans who are single parents have been falling through the cracks when it comes to social services.

Women veterans now represent 6 percent of the total homeless population, according to Frisone. That represents 100 percent growth in just three years. Without any housing programs for them, homeless women veterans wind up in shelters for abused women or other homeless people. Unfortunately, these shelters don’t typically offer programs that address the specific needs of veterans.

F&CS operates the White House and the larger Freedom House transitional housing program in Kent for male veterans. Now the Miss Liberty House on Crown Street — donated to F&CS by Bird —  is being renovated to meet the needs of local homeless female vets.

The house, which can accommodate up to three women veterans (or one female vet with children), will be the first facility dedicated solely to female veterans in the region. There’s nothing like this in Summit, Cuyahoga or elsewhere nearby, says Michael, who is credited with coming up with the idea to provide housing for homeless local female vets.

Work began this spring to gut the house and prepare it for complete renovation. Landscaping is under way, as well, as a community service project by the new Leadership Portage County class. A deck, shed and driveway will go in later this month.

About $30,000 has been provided by Community Development Block Grant funds through the Portage County Commissioners toward the $60,000 it is expected to take to rehabilitate the house. The balance of the funding must come from individual donations and public fundraisers. The hope is to get the home fully furnished by throwing a house-warming shower attended by women’s auxiliaries, Girl Scouts and other civic groups. The goal is for a female vet and her family (or three female veterans) to come home to Liberty House this Christmas, says Michael.

A Reverse Raffle featuring a $3,000 prize will be held July 16 at the VFW in Ravenna, co-sponsored by the VFW and American Legion. Meanwhile, supporters may send checks to F&CS, and write ‘Miss Liberty’ in the memo line.

“This is just a start,” Michael says of the effort to curb homelessness among local female vets. “It’s sad that this need is growing. But we’re doing what we can to change that.”

From start to finish, Michael says that Miss Liberty House is a community effort, with countless people giving of their time and resources to make the house a haven for women who have honorably served their country and fought for our freedoms. Now we can fight for them.


Ravenna – Habitat for Humanity of Portage County’s work to provide affordable housing has helped Habitat for Humanity International rank as the sixth largest homebuilder on Builder magazine’s top 100 list.  With 6,032 closings in 2010, this is the second time Habitat for Humanity has placed in the top ten.  “Our placement on the Builder 100 list is a testament to what can be accomplished when people work together,” said Larry Gluth, senior vice president of U.S. and Canada for Habitat for Humanity International. “So many families in the United States and around the world face an incredible need for affordable housing, and this need only increases during challenging economic times. Habitat works every day to help these families, and we are grateful for the generosity of our donors, volunteers and advocates who have joined our efforts to help families obtain safe, decent and affordable homes and to strengthen communities.”  In 2010, Habitat of Portage helped more than 3 families obtain affordable housing and plans to continue working with volunteers, local businesses and churches to provide affordable housing in Atwater and Ravenna by the end of this year. Since 1988, the affiliate has built or renovated more than 56 homes. “We are thrilled that our work to provide affordable housing has contributed to Habitat’s ranking as the sixth largest builder in the United States,” said Brian Reitz, Executive Director at Habitat of Portage County.  “We are proud to help families obtain affordable housing, and we thank our supporters for their commitment to helping families in need.”  The Builder 100 list is an annual compilation of the largest homebuilders in the country. In 2009, Habitat for Humanity ranked eighth on the list with 5,294 closings, marking the first time the organization made it to the top 10.    Habitat for Humanity of Portage County is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian ministry serving Portage County by working with qualified persons with housing needs to help them create a better community in which to live and work. Habitat welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing.  For more information, or to donate or volunteer, call 330.296.2880. www.habitatofportage.org


Ravenna - The Buckeye Trail is a hiking trail that circles the whole state of Ohio and is 1,444 miles long. It is built and maintained by the Buckeye Trail Association (BTA) and numerous volunteers.As a non-profit organization, they strive to provide outdoor recreation through hiking and backpacking to all four corners of Ohio. Now the BTA wants to expand the backpacking opportunities in the northeastern part of the state. Through co-operation with the Army Corps of Engineers and West Branch State Park they have started construction on a backpacking trail that will extend the Buckeye Trail around the Michael J.Kirwan reservoir and will be 25 plus miles long when completed. There will also  be two overnight shelters for camping along the trail.Matthew Funk,the Mogadore section supervisor, says that right now there is  nowhere in this corner of the state to actually backpack and he’s out to change this. “Right now if a person wants an overnight experience while hiking, they either have to go across the state line into Pennsylvania or down into southern Ohio to find backpacking opportunities. We are hoping to give hikers in this area something right in their back yards.”What is needed is to get as much community support for this project as possible. It will take multiple years to complete this project and we need all the help we can get. Volunteer opportunities abound, from actually building the trail to having people adopt small segments of it, to maintaining it  once it’s in place.We have work parties planned for different weekends through the spring,summer and fall seasons.So if anyone wants to come out and help us build trail,it would be greatly appreciated.All tools will be provided,so all someone needs is a lunch, drinks,gloves,and a good attitude.People with carpentry skills are also a plus for there  will be numerous bridges that need to be built. Boaters can also help by ferrying people and tools to the spot where we’re working to save long walks by the volunteers.If you are a hiker living in the surrounding area, come out and help us make this dream a reality. To volunteer please contact Matthew Funk at trailblazermatt@yahoo.com or call (330)310 9022 to get on the list.When the next trail building event comes up you will be notified.

Camp Ravenna – Early Saturday morning almost 200 people sacrificed sleep when they arrived at 7:30 a.m. at the Renaissance Family Center for a tour of Camp Ravenna.  The excited folks enjoyed coffee and donuts while they waited on the buses to take them to see first hand what really lays behind the gate at Camp Ravenna Military Training Facility aka the Ravenna Arsenal. The four hour tour was set up by the Windham Historical Society as a fundraiser for the Bicentennial to be held later this summer. The group traveled by school buses that were paid for by the historical society to see what goes on and to get a little history lesson on the camp. Everyone was greeted by the Garrison Commander Lieutenant Colonial Ed Meade. Meade addressed everyone and told a little bit about what we would see and he introduced each bus to their tour guide.  The tour took us to the old stone arch bridge that spans Sand Creek which fascinated everyone. Our guide Major Richard Saphore explained that the bridge was constructed in the late 1800 and the military recently spent $250,000 on restoration of the bridge. A large percentage of the restoration money was spent on scientific research to determine the type of mortar they would need to use to replicate the original mortar of the bridge. At the bridge one could see the dam the Boy Scouts built years ago and see a small water fall. Everyone was thrilled with the sight, took advantage of the photo opportunity and asked many questions about the camp. The second stop took a detour around a broken culvert to see a bunker. The bunkers are virtually invisible from an aerial view and even had trees growing on top of them. They built the bunkers in staggered rows 1500 feet apart to prevent a chain reaction of explosions if one was filled with ordinances was hit. Currently they do not store any ordinances in the bunkers but occasionally they store weapons from drug raids there until the case goes to trial, then the weapons are destroyed. The cost of removing the bunkers is staggering so for now they are used for storage for a variety of items. The camp has 693 bunkers.  The next stop on the tour took one to what used to be the officers housing and a tour of one of the houses. The officers’ housing is set up in a circle simulating an old pioneer village. The colonial houses built in the early 1940’s had beautiful hardwood floors, three- four bedrooms, two baths and a fireplace; although the houses are not in livable condition and are now used for training purposes, one could see that they were once a place of splendor. The former officer’s houses will be torn down in the future, but for now they use them to train drug dogs and train military personnel.  The Readiness Center and the newly built barracks were the next stop. There one saw new recruits learning how to properly wear fatigues, get ready for basic training, and glimpses of the small mess hall. The barracks that were recently finished gave one a snapshot of a soldiers’ life at the camp. There are three barracks that can house up 2500 soldiers and the last one was recently finished and is waiting on furniture.  The last stop of the tour took the group to the simulated training area. The humvee rollover simulator was interesting to see. The simulator is computer programmed to simulate any type of situation the soldiers may find themselves in when using the humvee. The humvee simulator is an actual humvee set on a mechanical arm that is computer controlled. The mechanical arm rotates the humvee to various degrees including the ability to do a 360. The simulator rotates the vehicle at various degrees imitating a rollover, which the soldiers learn how to escape from different angles and scenarios. The driving simulators are programmed to simulate any vehicle the military has to offer and have the feel of actual driving. If you are driving on a rough road the seat will bounce you around as if you’re actually traveling on a road. Each simulator computer stores data and allows one to see how they did and what one needs to do to improve their skills. The artillery simulator was real interesting too. Tourists had the opportunity to see how a computer can control the scene that the shooter sees and how the laser weapons are used to improve marksmanship. The computerized laser guns tell you if you’re jerking when shooting, hesitating or improperly holding the gun and even give one the feel of a real gun when they feel the recourse of every shot fired.  It also records how many shots were fired, how many hits, and how many kills. The simulator shooting scene can be changed from a clear day, to fog, rain, night time, cloudy etc. giving a soldier a chance to prepare for all types of adverse conditions. The tour lasted four hours and just showed snippets of what all happens behind the intriguing gates of Camp Ravenna. To see the entire facility in action one would need to be a soldier, however the portions we did see, really gives one an idea of what happens behind the gates and the role Camp Ravenna plays in our nation’s security and the freedoms we all experience everyday.

Ravenna – Ravenna Stadium was the site of this year’s Relay for Life event to benefit the American Cancer Society…which is to say, benefits us all.Groups from all over Portage County were in evidence : the BOMB (Bunch O’ Mighty Believers) of the Garrettsville UMC, Suffield UCC, Ravenna GE Lamp Plant, Destiny’s Fighters, Cousins for a Cure, Fortis College Honor Society, Streetsboro BSA, many more, all determined to do as the Society urges–Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back.This year’s theme connected with Disney productions which allowed for lots of imagination in group displays.  Aladdin appeared, as did Pirates of  the Caribbean, the Beast…you get the idea.  Among the most poignant sights…symbolizing very personal interest… were Team Lori, the numerous purple shirts with “I am living proof” emblazoned on the back, and a lone young man running in a white T-shirt which said, “Runnin’ 4 Dad”.  Survivors?  One must hope so.One might also be admonished by the various Society signs all around the track urging smokers to quit, couch potatoes to get moving, reminders of the new drugs available, note to everyone to get health check-ups, personal  responsibility for combatting the cancer enemy on all fronts.  The purpose was serious but there was fun to be had in getting bailed out of the Cancer County Jail or taking the Survivors Lap or wearing pink-and-white camo shirts or cerise fishnet hose or figuring out the “Nose picker” which was a green papier-mache plaque that looked like…,well, what do you think it looked like? Activities went on all day and all night, as each team kept at least one walker on the track at all times…through the music…as Orbit (Akron Aeros mascot) visited…during the lumenaria ceremony…the dancing…good times to propel us all through the hard times …to the cure.Mark it on your calendar for next year.  More participation, more promise, more hope.


Ravenna – There’s a new administrator at Portage County’s nursing home, The Woodlands at Robinson in Ravenna. When Christa Mayes took the position on April 1, The Woodlands was home to 65 residents. As of April 29th, there were 80. The Woodlands is on the grow, so anyone considering short- or long-term nursing home care should visit before the 99-bed facility is at capacity, Mayes says.The Woodlands is in the process of taking admissions because one of Mayes’ primary objectives as new administrator is to increase the census. The other main objective is to get systems in place which will increase the nursing home’s efficiency and effectiveness. This includes increasing revenue, educating the staff, and increasing public awareness.Mayes — a Hiram Township resident — serves on the Ethics Committee at Robinson Memorial Hospital   and comes to the Woodlands after 15 years in administration at Aurora Manor. While there, Portage County Commissioner Maureen Frederick had visited the Manor and noted how pleasant and clean the facility was. So when it came time for The Woodlands to hire a new administrator, Mayes was approached to help meet that need. The  county  nursing home has been located at 6831 North Chestnut St. in Ravenna for about 10 years. Portage County Commissioners oversee its operation, helping to set policies and guidelines. The facility features activity rooms, resident lounges, physical and occupational therapy suites, speech therapy, a central courtyard and an exterior activities terrace. Additional amenities include a full-service kitchen, beauty salon, dental office, two stories of resident rooms and a full basement for medical service and support for its occupants. Residents benefit also from a close relationship with Robinson Memorial Hospital and its medical services.“It’s a beautiful facility,” says Mayes. “It’s open, spacious, has lots of light, and the staff takes pride in being nurturing and caring, cheerful and friendly. Our focus is on care. We also have 100 volunteers that work here, which shows how supportive the community is.”According to The Woodlands website, “It is our primary goal to restore and  maintain the health of our residents in a spirit of compassion and concern.  The health care team strives to meet the holistic needs of our residents, including the physical, psychosocial, and spiritual aspects of their care. We promote resident and family education to allow each individual the opportunity to prevent illness and achieve optimal health.”The Portage County nursing home offers short- and long- term medical care.  This also includes skilled care for patients who need an individualized plan of progressive treatments and therapies while recuperating from a hospital stay. Typical circumstances for short-term rehabilitation services include recovering from knee or hip replacement, stroke, or broken bones; or needing intravenous antibiotics. The only requirement for consideration is that the patient requires around-the-clock skilled nursing care. The facility accepts Medicare, Medicaid, private insurances and private party payments.According to www.ucomparehealthcare.com, The Woodlands has an above-average rate of registered nurses per resident per day of 49 minutes compared to the Ohio state nursing home average of 36 minutes. The facility had 22 deficiencies in previous two state inspections (in 2006-2009) compared to the Ohio average of 11 and six complaints compared to the state average of three. The Woodlands had five fire safety deficiencies in the previous two state inspections, which is better than the Ohio state nursing home average of 11. Mayes says  that  The Woodlands just had “a great state survey” that demonstrates improvements over the previous two inspections. “Stop in for a tour and see the changes,” she encourages. The Woodlands will be reaching out to the community during National Nursing Home Week, May 8-14, with the theme, “Fulfilling the Promise.” Watch for event details in coming weeks.To schedule a tour or to learn more about what specific services are offered at The Woodlands, call (330) 297-4564 or (330) 298-4530 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.


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.”


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.



The 13th Annual Portage Environmental Conservation Awards Dinner will take place Saturday April 9 and will feature a reception with music by Mitch Reed, hors d’oeuvres featuring local foods, a buffet dinner, a silent auction and more.
The Portage Park Foundation is seeking nominations for potential awardees to be honored at the event. Nominations for this year’s awards will be considered based on their contributions to Portage County’s environment through education, land preservation, green business and community involvement.
Nominations should include the nominee’s name and contact information along with a paragraph describing their contribution to Portage County’s environmental conservation. Send nominations to Portage Park District Foundation, 705 Oakwood St., Suite G-04, Ravenna, OH 44266 or email ccraycroft@portageparkdistrict.com.
Fundraising proceeds will benefit the Portage Park District Foundation, whose mission is to support the Park District’s critical work of conserving Portage County’s natural and cultural heritage.
The dinner will be held April 9th at the Kent American Legion, 1945 Mogadore Road from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Call the Park District Foundation at (330) 297-7728 for more information.

Ravenna – On Thursday, February 10, 2011 Maplewood Career Center will hold its annual Open House and Spaghetti Dinner between the hours of 4:30 and 8:30 p.m.  A spaghetti dinner featuring salad, pasta with choice of sauces, bread, dessert and drink, will be served from 4:30 – 7:30 p.m. and self-guided tours will be permitted until 8:30 p.m.  The public is welcome.

Cost for dinners is just $3.50 for adults and $3.00 for senior citizens and students.  Children under six are free.

The event is held in conjunction with sophomore visitation day when area school sophomores are encouraged to visit career technical programs.  Parents and sophomores attending the Open House will receive free dinners and have the opportunity to visit labs, meet instructors, and discuss career opportunities with working professionals in the career fields.

Maplewood provides career technical education to high school students from ten area school districts, offering a wide range of career choices.  Maplewood also features an extensive Adult Education catalog which includes recreational classes, computer and technical skills, and job training programs.

Maplewood is located at 7075 State Route 88, Ravenna, Ohio 44266.  For more information call 330-296-2892.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Ravenna – The Portage County Historical Society in Ravenna will host a Christmas Open House & Holiday Fund-Raising Sale on Saturday, December 11, 2010 from 1:00 to 5:00 P.M.

The Lowrie-Beatty Museum, Carter house, Strickland house, Log Cabin, Campbell Land Office, Ford Seed Store, Mahan Barn and Indian Village will all be open for tours.

The “Unique Gift” Fund Raising Sale will feature items donated just for this sale.  Tables will be set up throughout the facility and a special table will be Just for Kids, with all items under $1.00.  The society needs good quality items donated for the fundraising sale and will be accepting donations until Thursday, December 9, 2010. Things such as older Christmas decorations, glassware, china, tools, old toys, games and books are the type of items the society needs for the fund raising sale. A 50-50-Raffle, Door Prizes and refreshments will be located in the Library area of the Museum building.  The Historical Society is located at 6549 North Chestnut Street, Ravenna Ohio. For more information call 330-296-3523 or visit http://history.portage.oh.us

Ravenna – Shopping on the day after Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be stressful. After more than 29 years as a family celebration in downtown Ravenna, Midnight Madness has proven it.  It’s that time of year when local merchants stay open until midnight to welcome shoppers and diners. Some merchants will be serving light refreshments and be decorated for the holiday season. Enjoy this spirit of the holidays with decorative greens and holiday lights in downtown Ravenna.

Sponsored by the Ravenna Merchant Association and the Ravenna Area Chamber of Commerce, the late night shopping spree is intended to initiate holiday gift-hunting and seasonal cheer.

“It’s the single best sales night of the year” said to Jack Ferguson, executive director at the Chamber of Commerce. “Many downtown merchants do more than 25 percent of their Christmas business on this night.” Plus the Ravenna Balloon A-Fair annual Christmas Parade “Christmas Through the Eyes of a Child”, will step off at 7PM.

As is the case with the entire holiday season, however, Midnight Madness isn’t just about shopping.

The M & M Railroad train and Fire Engine will parade through the streets between 6 and 8 p.m., offering free rides to anyone and everyone Friday night.

Bring your lawn chairs and join in the singing of Christmas Carols as The Ravenna High School performs on the courthouse lawn.

In addition, Santa & Mrs. Claus will meet with children of all ages immediately after the Christmas parade to learn what they wish for during the holiday season. Santa will be  at the Buckeye Mini Mall, located at 250 Main Street.

The evening has become a tradition in the community. Over the years, some of the participating merchants, all of which will be open until midnight, have developed traditions of their own.

For more details call the Ravenna Chamber of Commerce at (330) 296-3886 Monday – Friday 9 am to 1 pm.

Area residents who have lost someone to suicide will gather Nov. 20 to find support and to honor their loved ones at the 12th Annual National Survivors of Suicide Day sponsored by the Portage County Suicide Prevention Coalition.
“What we know is that every 16 minutes someone in the United States dies by suicide and every 17 minutes someone is left to understand the loss. There have been more than 20 suicides this year in Portage County which, sadly, is close to a new record. Our mission is to continue to educate our community about the causes and to provide support,” said Paul Dages, coalition coordinator and emergency services coordinator at Townhall II.
The free event runs from 12:45 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Sue Hetrick Building of Coleman Professional Services, 3922 Lovers Lane, Ravenna. Other sponsors are Coleman Access, located in the Hetrick Building, and the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County.
Coleman Access will be one of 260 simultaneous conferences for survivors of suicide loss taking place throughout the U.S. and around the world. At each site participants will watch a special 90-minute broadcast by the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. AFSP is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy and to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide.
In the U.S., conference locations will show the broadcast from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. At the Portage County site, the group will follow up with a discussion about the broadcast. The discussion will be led by psychologist Dr. Joel Mowrey, associate director of the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County; Becky Dempster, chief officer of Coleman Access and a suicide survivor; and survivor and advocate Iris Angle of Aurora.
“We have a very low key approach. Survivors can share what they are able or just listen. For some it is the first time they are able to tap into a support system of others who have experienced the same devastating loss,” said Mowrey.
Walk-ins are welcome but pre-registering is recommended. To sign up, call Mowrey at 330-673-1756, ext. 203, or email him at joelm@mental-health-recovery.org.
Persons who cannot attend the Ravenna event that day can watch the free live webcast from 1-2:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time and participate in a live online chat immediately following. The site address is www.afsp.org. Registration is required from your home computer. The webcast will be saved on the AFSP site so that survivors can watch it again throughout the year at anytime. Past webcasts are also available for viewing.
The Portage County Suicide Prevention Coalition was established in 2005 by local human services agencies to provide education about preventing suicide, eliminating the stigma surrounding suicide and supporting survivors, those persons who have someone close to them who completes suicide. Any interested person is welcome to join the coalition which meets at 3 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month at the MHRB, 155 E. Main St., Kent. Call Dages at 330-678-3006 for more information.
Go to the MRHB Web site at www.mental-health-recovery.org to find information on local resources for persons seeking help to prevent a suicide.

Area residents who have lost someone to suicide will gather Nov. 20 to find support and to honor their loved ones at the 12th Annual National Survivors of Suicide Day sponsored by the Portage County Suicide Prevention Coalition.“What we know is that every 16 minutes someone in the United States dies by suicide and every 17 minutes someone is left to understand the loss. There have been more than 20 suicides this year in Portage County which, sadly, is close to a new record. Our mission is to continue to educate our community about the causes and to provide support,” said Paul Dages, coalition coordinator and emergency services coordinator at Townhall II.The free event runs from 12:45 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Sue Hetrick Building of Coleman Professional Services, 3922 Lovers Lane, Ravenna. Other sponsors are Coleman Access, located in the Hetrick Building, and the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County.Coleman Access will be one of 260 simultaneous conferences for survivors of suicide loss taking place throughout the U.S. and around the world. At each site participants will watch a special 90-minute broadcast by the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. AFSP is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy and to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide.In the U.S., conference locations will show the broadcast from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. At the Portage County site, the group will follow up with a discussion about the broadcast. The discussion will be led by psychologist Dr. Joel Mowrey, associate director of the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County; Becky Dempster, chief officer of Coleman Access and a suicide survivor; and survivor and advocate Iris Angle of Aurora.“We have a very low key approach. Survivors can share what they are able or just listen. For some it is the first time they are able to tap into a support system of others who have experienced the same devastating loss,” said Mowrey.Walk-ins are welcome but pre-registering is recommended. To sign up, call Mowrey at 330-673-1756, ext. 203, or email him at joelm@mental-health-recovery.org.Persons who cannot attend the Ravenna event that day can watch the free live webcast from 1-2:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time and participate in a live online chat immediately following. The site address is www.afsp.org. Registration is required from your home computer. The webcast will be saved on the AFSP site so that survivors can watch it again throughout the year at anytime. Past webcasts are also available for viewing.The Portage County Suicide Prevention Coalition was established in 2005 by local human services agencies to provide education about preventing suicide, eliminating the stigma surrounding suicide and supporting survivors, those persons who have someone close to them who completes suicide. Any interested person is welcome to join the coalition which meets at 3 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month at the MHRB, 155 E. Main St., Kent. Call Dages at 330-678-3006 for more information.Go to the MRHB Web site at www.mental-health-recovery.org to find information on local resources for persons seeking help to prevent a suicide.