Garrettsville – Take THAT, Creepy Karpis! A northeast Ohio tornado watch didn’t stop interested folks from turning up at the Iva Walker Auditorium on Wednesday, May 15, 2014 to get the low-down on “Two Grants, and Three Giant Leaps” for the James A. Garfield Schools and the Garrettsville Communities. Perhaps they were reassured by the tommy-gun toting G-Man at the door. Persons of note from across the county and a gubernatorial representative from Columbus were on hand, as was Mayor Rick Patrick and a spokesman from the Ohio Historical Preservation Office. Hiram College’s departing president, Thomas Chema bade the district farewell and acknowledged the coming of the college’s first woman president, Dr. Lori Varlotta, and the willingness of the institution to participate in the rebuilding after the “Buckeye Block Fire”.
It had all begun with a welcome from Julie Thompson, historian and recent Hiram College graduate, who had organized the evening, and the playing of the National Anthem by the James A. Garfield Band(It was at least partly about a national event, after all).Superintendent Ted Lysiak gave opening remarks and thanks to the participants and the custodial staff which always finishes up the parade. Rick Patrick acknowledged the outstanding services provided by the First Responders, from GFNVFD and mutual assistance communities, on the occasion of the fire and recognized the members who were in attendance. Congressman Dave Joyce was introduced by JAG student Mark Butto and gave remarks of encouragement and support. Kit Semplak, president of the James A. Garfield Historical Society, greeted the crowd and offered a glimpse of the history of the lost Buckeye Block; the youngest member of the historical society, Grace Edwards, presented a summary of the Last Great Train Heist and its national effects. Then came the re-enactment of the event itself as narrated by Julie Thompson, based on the book by Alvin “Creepy” Karpis, gang leader. The Garfield drama students in period attire brought the event to life and even hustled some celebrity hold-up victims across the stage. These were none other than the current county commissioners—Kathleen Chandler, Maureen Frederick and Sabrina Christian-Bennett. These worthies, at the conclusion of the re-enactment, unveiled the fact that the Village of Garrettsville had been awarded a CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) to the tune of $75,000 to aid in the re-development—streetscape, lighting, parking, etc.—of the business district.
The wrap-up of the event came after brief remarks by Jonathan Vimr of the Ohio Historical Society when the new state historical marker(which had been draped in a Garrettsville bicentennial throw) was revealed with a flourish by Kit Semplak and Portage County Auditor, Janet Esposito. Ta-Daaah!
The JAG band played the Garfield Alma Mater.
The great variety of tasty and timely refreshments after the ceremony were graciously provided by the Nelson United Methodist Church.
Thanks to all.