Monday, March 30, 2009

Tonight's the Night

It’s hard to know what to expect at tonight’s Laketran public hearing, the first of four regarding the agency’s fare increases and service cuts. Picket signs and protest or crickets?

It’s been two weeks since the agency announced a plethora of changes, including a $1 increase in Commuter Express rides, a bump from $6 to $13 for Dial-a-Ride, and the complete elimination of Saturday services. With that type of proposal on the table, in addition to more increases next year, complaints have piled. Will they be repeated tonight at the Perry Public Library?

You would think so. After all, some believe Laketran should have consoled voters before its board of trustees approved the “financial recovery plan,” while others have even alleged that it’s about greed instead of a dwindling economy. This story has more than 50 comments, many of them angry over the proposal that will hurt wallets and alter schedules.

That surely sounds like a recipe for dozens of furious riders showing up tonight to voice displeasure. But consider last year when Laketran announced a 50 cent increase for Commuter Express and a $2 rise for Dial-a-Ride. I could count on one hand the amount of people who attended the meeting I went to at the Willoughby Public Library.

I didn’t make it to the others, and transcripts revealed more attendees, but they in no way approached the number of calls, e-mails and story comments I viewed prior to the hearings. Simply put, if you’re angry, step up. Otherwise, what can you really say?

It’s true that Board President J. Terrell Dillard said deviation from the original proposal isn’t likely (the board will vote on it in May), but what will Laketran do if riders come out in record numbers? I really doubt they would disregard that and move on as planned. A compromise could be reached.

However, some won’t find out if they’re just content writing comments on News-Herald stories after the fact.

--Brandon C. Baker

Photo: Maribeth Joeright

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Shocking revelation

On Saturday, I went to the Citizen’s Police Academy, sponsored by the Painesville Police Department.

I went to the event just for fun, but also to learn more about the department since my job primarily involves working with police and fire.

Throughout the seminar-style event, I learned about different police procedures and tactics. But the most exciting part of the day was also the most painful for me.

The police officers asked for a volunteer to be shocked by their taser. Admittedly, I raised my hand.

Having written about plenty of instances where police use tasers, I thought I knew what to expect. Boy, was I wrong.

With a thumbs up to the officer behind me, I was struck in the back by two metal prods that exited from a gun-style taser weapon.

The next five seconds were probably the most painful experience in recent memory.

The best way I can explain it is that electricity coursed through my body and also paralyzed me at the same time, making me helpless.

Once the five seconds elapsed, I was lowered to the ground by two officers standing by.

In talking to the officers on-hand, I began to understand the effectiveness of this new tool of law enforcement.

Although pepper spray is an alternative to taser weapons, the officers I spoke with explained that it can enrage instead of subdue some suspects.

One might ask, “Why don’t police officers take down combative criminals with just physical force?”

Good question; however, I saw five of my other classmates try, emphasis on try, to take down one Painesville police officer. After 10 minutes, they could not cuff him. And he wasn’t even struggling.

Although painful, it is effective in bringing down a combative criminal, who could injure himself or police officers.

If used properly, I believe it can be a good tool for law enforcement.

After getting tased once, I can assure you that it’s something I would not want to go through twice nor would any criminal.

- Jacob Lammers

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

St. Patrick’s Day Parade exceeds expectations

When I was told that I was going to be covering the 142nd Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade I was a bit skeptical.

I’m not a big fan of crowded places filled with people who had been drinking for hours upon hours when I’m stone sober.

I’m also not a big fan of walking, which I figured I’d have to do plenty of due to how many cars were going to be downtown.

What had me worried most upon hearing of my assignment was “Am I really going to have to stand in Cleveland of all places for three hours in freezing cold weather?”

What did I do to deserve this boss?

Well, it looks like I had the luck of the Irish with me on Tuesday.

I left for Cleveland around 10:45 a.m. to hopefully find a decent parking spot so I wouldn’t be cursing everything about my job and my life while walking miles to the parade.

Lucky for me, I got some pretty prime parking in a lot at E. 24th St and Superior, six blocks away from step-off.

On top of that, the weather was absolutely perfect, almost too hot for what I was wearing.

As for the drunk people, well, that wasn’t one of the highlights.

Don’t get me wrong, I like being followed by people down the street for blocks who had obviously been drinking since Saturday morning asking who I work for or a few woman asking to flash their unmentionables to the camera (we aren’t that type of publication, sorry ladies) but I never really GOT the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, and I’m Irish.

Actually, I never really GOT any day that involves getting up before the crack of dawn (I should stop that sentence right there) just to drink all day.

I get celebrating your heritage, but when did that turn into waking up at 5 a.m. to get rock buried and act like a fool?

Not to say I’ve never acted like a fool when I was drunk, because I do that probably every time I drink, but I don’t excuse myself by saying “It’s my heritage.”

Even in the height of my party days in college, I never participated in any St. Patrick’s Day celebration before noon, and that was tough.

Same goes for Tailgating, I don’t get it.

Sleep in, where’s the fire?

Maybe I was just jealous because I was walking around with a camera all day working while everyone around me was having the time of their life.

Enough ranting, the weather was perfect and the actual parade was exciting.

All in all, a good days work.

-Nick Carrabine

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Smile surgery: Domo heads home

The 9-year-old girl who can’t smile because of Moebius syndrome – but now has the means to learn – has said her good-byes to the good people at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

Dominque Piotrowski and family are now en route to continue her long recovery process in the comforts of Fairport Harbor, with a likely overnight stop to give Domo and her 2-year-old sister Aleena their first glimpse at Niagara Falls.

Papa Piotrowski updated his Facebook page Monday with details of the family’s weekend: a visit to nearby open markets, an Irish Day Parade that went right past their hotel, and some purse shopping at a three-story mall.

Dr. Ronald Zuker granted Domo permission to leave the city with flying colors Monday as long as she avoids caffeine and chocolate. Following the rules, her dad said she has temporarily switched to decaffeinated coffee –- which she prefers mostly black.

Needless to say, despite some lingering pain, Domo is back in the building.

"She’s been a pied piper. It’s just like nonstop, soon as they brought her off the morphine and told her she could do things – she’s just blah blah blah blah blah blah blah," Quentin said. "Dr. Zuker told her she was good and she wouldn’t have to stay here much longer, and she was just yacking at the mouth."

"As our last promise we ate lunch at Tokyo Sushi, where our chef would treat us like Gods and make us our last meal in town," he wrote on Facebook. "We had our times with her when she could not go to the pool with a slide, eat chocolate, drink soda or have one of her favorites, coffee with cream. Too funny: my sushi, coffee, sardines and smoked oyster girl. What a pallet."

Hospital staff removed the drainage tube from behind her ear; Quentin will snip the plastic hook’s sutures in about 10 days. Rehabilitation won’t start until healing is sound under the watchful eye of a Zuker associate in Beachwood.

The next time Domo sees Toronto will be a month or two from now, during an all-expenses-paid trip so Zuker can study her progress and potential. Until then, she’ll have to remember her favorite surgeon by a pig Webkinz stuffed animal from his couch, a surprise, which she promised would be his namesake.

Quentin said his chatterbox daughter talks a mile a minute to the doctor who pioneered and conducted her "smile surgery" – nothing short of amazing, considering her tough recovery, but certainly a sign of maturity.

"Her aspirations of becoming a doctor, I just hope they stay with her," Quentin said. "She’s very in tune to what the doctors do when they’re messing around with her. She studies it, watches, and she’s very intent on trying to figure out what they’re doing, even if she doesn’t like it."

McKinley Elementary, expect your pint-sized hero back to class Monday.

-- Sandra M. Klepach,

Above, Domo goofs with hospital staff; plays pool with her mother, Trinity; leads her family around the hospital; and still finds time for Dr. Zuker. Pictures provided by the Piotrowski family.

Anyone unfamiliar with Domo's case can catch up online:
02/15 Looking forward to her smile (featuring video)
03/11 Family all smiles following surgery
03/12 Doctor: 'Smile surgery' looking good for FH girl
03/12 Smile surgery: Domo on Day 3
03/14 Smile surgery: Domo on Day 5
Quentin welcomes News-Herald readers to use Facebook to befriend him or Join the Cause for more updates and pictures.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Smile surgery: Domo on Day 5

Dominque Piotrowski underwent traumatic facial surgery Tuesday.

Last night the 9-year-old was back to messaging me on Facebook.
this is Dominque iam okay.

I am going to be out of the hospital tomorrow.

the docter said i am doing well.p.s. the docters name is dr. zucker he is aswome.
Something else.

The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto released Domo, who suffers from Moebius syndrome, this afternoon. Dad Quentin said she walked all the way to the hotel, sore thigh (also from surgery) and all, and won't see Dr. Ronald Zuker again until Monday.

Now the family's just on infection watch, giving their brave little daughter four oral medicines and two creams every day. The good news is she's off the heavy narcotics, and only supposed to take Codeine and Tylenol as needed.

Domo still wears the plastic hook and drainage tube, rinses with mouthwash after every drink or meal, and will walk with a hobble for a while. But at this rate they could receive permission to return to Fairport Harbor as early as Monday, Quentin said.

"So far they like what they've seen, and her recovery has been pretty much on her own. She's just blah, just lying around. We got into a couple of the Canadian TV shows but we know they won't be there when we get home."

The Piotrowski clan hasn't gone shopping yet -- "parents are indecisive and don't think the kids care right now," Quentin said -- but hopes to attend a St. Patty's Day parade down the block Tuesday.

As Domo heals, the question will soon become whether she realizes the new potential of her face. Does she realize how close she is to smiling?

"I'm eager to find out," Quentin said. "I've asked her a couple times if she can feel something and she says no, it's basically just numb. I think she'll do quite well with the rehab. She's ahead of schedule, so that is showing it is her will that's getting her better a lot quicker than what they allotted. She's just living in the moment right now and possibly things haven't really set in."

-- Sandra M. Klepach,

Anyone unfamiliar with Domo's case can catch up online:
02/15 Looking forward to her smile (featuring video)
03/11 Family all smiles following surgery
03/12 Doctor: 'Smile surgery' looking good for FH girl
03/12 Smile surgery: Domo on Day 3
Quentin welcomes News-Herald readers to use Facebook to befriend him or Join the Cause for more updates and pictures.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Couple Stories from BackTrack

With about 700 client companies across the country and 200 background checks run on employee prospects each day, staff members at Mentor-based BackTrack Inc. feel like they have seen it all.

Co-owner Bob Gandee says the firm only “states the facts” when reporting back to clients, and that workers at BackTrack don’t even know whether the potential hires they screen actually get the jobs they apply for. If that’s the case, what do they do with all of the ridiculous and sometimes sad stories they discover?

I can’t answer that question as it relates to a daily basis, but on Thursday they shared a few with me. In a word, it was awesome.
Their whole point was that job applicants are more likely to be dishonest in desperate times. In this article, Criminal Records Manager Scott Doran told the story about the guy who tried to outsmart an airline by concealing a murder conviction in his past. That was asinine in its own right, but here are a couple other stories told by the folks at Backtrack:

-- Lying about educational background

“(BackTrack) had its genesis with a situation with a guy we recruited for one of our clients for Director of Engineering. I mean, the guy spent six years at (a large Cleveland company),” Gandee said. “This guy ran the engineering department for six years. They fired him, but then he created his résumé, sent it to us, and it indicated to us that he had a mechanical engineering undergraduate degree and an MBA, and he was managing their department. We verified that he was managing their department, but we uncovered that he did not attend either of those universities. He did not have his degree either. He talked his way into that job, and held it for six years. You would think a big company like (his previous employer) would have checked into this guy’s credentials.”

-- Living a lie
“(An area auto dealership) sent an application over to us, and we did a background check on a guy that indicated that he lived and worked here in Northern Ohio his entire life. We did a credit report on him, and it showed that he lived in Harris County, Houston, Texas for a period of time,” Gandee said. “So, we called them and said we should really do a criminal record check in Harris County to make sure. It’s really suspicious that he didn’t point out that he lived there for some time. So they said, ‘go ahead, since it’s only going to cost another $12.’

“The clerk of courts said, ‘oh! You’re wanting to do a record check on THIS guy, huh? We’ve got a warrant out for his arrest for bank robbery. Where is he?’ I said, ‘he’s up here in Mentor and he’s applying for a job.’ They got in touch with the Lake County Sheriff’s Department, and of course we called (the dealership), and they said ‘oh my God, what are we going to do?’ We said for them to call the Sheriff’s Department, and they’ll tell you what to do. So, they called him in for a second interview, and the Sheriff’s Department came and arrested him.”

I could have listened to Bob and the crew talk about these lies all day. It was that entertaining.

-- Brandon C. Baker

Photo by: Maribeth Joeright

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Thank God for spell check

I have to admit, I’m not much of a speller.

In this age of technology, I usually let the spell check clean up after my sloppiness.

That is why I was a bit envious of the three participants in the Area V Tri-County Spelling Bee Thursday morning at Kirtland Public Library.

The three students, Carly Nelson, Michael Girbino and Nick Hiltz, probably never typed on a computer WITHOUT spell check, which makes their spelling capabilities all that more impressive.

It’s not just spelling they are good at, but connecting the origin of the word to comprehend the spelling of the word was admirable.

Out of 93 words in the competition, only two words were mispelled.

Nick misspelled “caustic” in round 30 and Michael, a three-time Tri-County Spelling Bee winner, misspelled “defalcator” in round 31.

Hey, I didn’t even know what defalcator meant, much less know how to spell it and I’m about nine years older than Michael. (He probably edges me in the maturity category however).

Speaking of Michael, he is a class-act.

He could have walked in that spelling bee with a huge ego after competing in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C. for three straight years but he took the loss like a true professional.

He was the first one out of his seat to congratulate Carly and told her if she needed any advice for the national competition he was a phone call away.

All three competitors should be commended for putting on such a show.

I think everyone at the News-Herald who were involved with the competition expected it to last no more than 30 minutes.

It was more than 90.

All three lasted until at least the 30th round.

My head almost fell off after the ninth round thinking to myself, I would have been long gone by now.

-Nick Carrabine

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Smile surgery: Domo on Day 3

The day I met 9-year-old Dominque Piotrowski, she approached me first.

I'd been standing awkwardly in the shadows for the last half of her music class, a failed attempt to minimize distraction to her classmates.

"Are you the reporter who's going to write the story?" she chirped. We immediately struck up conversation, looking each other right in the eyes.

I hardly even noticed she couldn't smile. She has a great laugh.

Covering education, I know all about interviewing kids, and it's usually tough. Dominque (pronounced "Dom-en-EEK," and hereafter Domo, said "Dahm-o") is noticeably old for her age. Not knowing her family well, it's hard to tell why, but I'm inclined to believe that having Moebius syndrome, a rare neurological condition -- and her family's frankness -- has a lot to do with it.

Anyone unfamiliar with Domo's case can catch up online:
02/15 Looking forward to her smile (featuring video)
03/11 Family all smiles following surgery
03/12 Doctor: 'Smile surgery' looking good for FH girl
Clearly Domo's father, Quentin, has been instrumental in my coverage. He's told me his ultimate goal is to start a foundation for Moebius syndrome research. This blog will help me relay his daughter's progress even when there's no room in the paper.

Today Quentin called me sounding tired but calm. "She's starting to eat -- pizza and doughnuts that she wasn't supposed to have, but that was all she was wanting to eat. We snuck in a piece of pizza and some doughnuts."

At the Piotrowski home a month ago, Domo filled much of our first interview with opinions. When she's animated -- which is often -- hand gestures and body movements compensate for her lack of facial expression. Hearing that she overcame immobilizing pain to reject potatoes, broth, apple sauce, Jello and ice cream didn't surprise me.

"She didn't want anything about that. She wanted some solids," he continued. I asked if she's able to chew. "She's able to chew but she has to be careful."

Earlier Dr. Ronald Zuker, who visits her room three times a day, switched her IV from morphine to codeine with Tylenol. She still feels significant pain in her thigh, where part of her gracilis muscle was removed for implantation in her face, but similar pain could last as long as six months, he said.

"It's going to be a long healing process for both areas," her father stressed. "She knows it and I'm very straight-forward with her and I'm not going to sugarcoat it, because if she finds out we're sugarcoating it we're in trouble."

"Dr. Zuker told her today, 'Guess what, come down off the drugs, get up, walk around, go to the bathroom, get walking and go shopping.' She's allowed to shop 'til she drops, they told her. We can take her out in a wheelchair. The end part, the shopping, was the selling point for my daughter. All of a sudden she was all perky and ready to cooperate with everybody instead of sluggish. She's ready to go."

Unfortunately Toronto's snow-cover kept the Piotrowski family in today. Instead they planned to check out a play room within The Hospital for Sick Children, geared entirely for children, that features crafts, video games and -- Domo's favorite -- Internet access.

Stay tuned...

-- Sandra M. Klepach,

Above, Domo smiles at the biennial Moebius Syndrome Foundation Conference, recovers in Toronto with 2-year-old sister Aleena, and meets with Dr. Ronald Zuker before her 10 1/2-hour surgery Tuesday. Pictures provided by the Piotrowski family.

Quentin welcomes News-Herald readers to use Facebook to befriend him or Join the Cause for more updates and pictures.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Forgiveness and grief

I can’t stop thinking about the Tony Haynes case.

No matter how you feel about the sentence, you have to admire the way little Tony’s family forgives.

I’ve been covering courts for The News-Herald for more than five years, and never have I seen anything like what I saw yesterday in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.

Michelle Lindsey, a 43-year-old Euclid woman with two prior drunk driving convictions, was being sentenced for driving drunk a third time and killing 8-year-old Tony Haynes.

Tony had been riding his Huffy bicycle in Cleveland the night of June 27 when he was struck by Lindsey’s car.

He died in front of his 9-year-old cousin.

Lindsey, who previously admitted she caused Tony’s death, faced up to 16 years in prison.

But Judge Daniel Gaul ended up giving her just three years behind bars after the victim’s family members repeatedly told Lindsey she was forgiven.

Tony’s uncle, Jerry Daniels, told Lindsey a part of him died when the boy was buried.
Yet Daniels said the maximum sentence would not help his family’s pain.

“I know you didn’t do it on purpose,” Daniels told Lindsey. “God bless you and good luck in the future.”

He said he is a recovering addict himself and understands the disease of alcoholism.

“Sentencing her to 16 years?” Daniels remarked after the sentencing. “What good is that gonna do?”

Lindsey repeatedly apologized to Tony’s mother, grandmother and Daniels while noting that “Sorry means nothing in this situation.”

Tony’s grandmother then comforted the woman who is responsible for Tony’s death.

“It’s OK, Michelle, it’s OK, Michelle, Lillian Daniels reassured Lindsey.

Gaul did not say whether the family’s understanding comments led him to hand out the relatively light sentence.

But he did say that their extent of forgiveness for a woman they don’t even know was rare.

“Most of the time people tell me to give (the defendant) three life sentences or execute them,” Gaul noted. “I’m very impressed with the victim’s family. They can forgive. But we can’t forget.”

After the hearing was over and Lindsey was led off in handcuffs, the judge showed his human side by inviting the cousin who continues to suffer nightmares after witnessing the horrific death of Tony to come talk to him in his chambers.

At that point, I had to fight back sobs as the angelic-looking boy with tears streaming down his face looked shocked that someone of the judge’s caliber was taking the time to treat him with such respect.

As far as the controversial prison sentence goes, Grace, one of the commenters on our web version of the story, put it much better than I can:

“I am amazed at the grace and forgiveness that was shown to the driver by the victim’s family,” Grace wrote. “...One more year in prison isn’t going to bring their beloved little boy back while the driver’s family will suffer her loss as long as she is locked up. Hate does not serve anyone well — especially those who grieve.
“The family’s example of forgiveness is an example worth following. I hope to God I never have to emulate it.”

--Tracey Read

Friday, March 6, 2009

Reporter Gives 'Thanks'

The overall aptitude of sources and their willingness to help should never go unnoticed by a reporter.

If they are experts in their own field, sources should be able to realize the major difference they could make in helping a reporter express the point of his or her story. At that point, it’s up to them whether they want to actually do that or give monotone and short-sighted answers. They could also just blow a reporter off altogether.

Thankfully, Tammy O’Neil-Gayer, of the Kevin P. Clinton Wildlife Center at Lake Metroparks’ Penitentiary Glen Reservation, and veterinarian Dr. David Hammond chose to take a few moments out of their day to provide me with some key comments that really helped me create my article about exotic animals this week.

Hope Brustein, executive director of the Geauga Humane Society’s Rescue Village, can’t be forgotten either. Even though her story about Wilbur the potbellied pig didn’t make the final copy, it helped drive home the point that some people enjoy the novelty of making pets out of animals that shouldn’t be domesticated, only to see that joy quickly turn into panic, fear and frustration.

Nancy Niehus of the Lake County General Health District and Ken Fitz at the state’s Department of Natural Resource’s Division of Wildlife also helped me understand the laws surrounding chimps, venomous snakes and other wild animals who make desirable pets for a select few of us. Scott Heasley and Heather Phillips of the Cleveland Clinic’s public relations department kept me updated on the unfortunate condition of Charla Nash, the Stamford, Conn. women who got mauled by Travis the chimp.

This post isn’t about name-dropping, despite what you might be thinking to this point. It’s just a way to thank everyone who played a part in helping me do my job. Their aid was needed for a topic that I knew only the basics about. It’s not unlike the times when others brought me up to speed at hair salons, dental offices and machine shops. Back then, of course, there was no “Behind The News-Herald” blog available for me to thank those individuals.

It’s also not solely about information sharing. It’s about being the true professionals these people were when I approached them. They seemed genuinely glad that someone respected their opinions enough to publish them. I think most readers would be surprised at the amount of potential sources who don’t do this, and instead make reporters feel like they’re a burden, who should have never called, e-mailed or visited.

That brings me to the ridiculous behavior of one potential source that COULD HAVE added a lot to this story and received some free publicity in the process. I’m talking about a pet shop within The News-Herald’s coverage area that’s known to have a few exotic pets, including small sharks and snakes.

I suppose I shouldn’t mention the shop by name since they “probably wouldn’t want to be involved in that kind of thing.”


In this economy, you don’t want me to mention you in an article as my sole pet-shop source? You don’t want people seeing your name at no cost?

Surprisingly, that’s what the shop manager told me. I wonder if the owner found that declination as ludicrous as I did. Probably not, since he didn’t return the calls I made to him for about a week prior to the story’s run date. I guess business is just THAT good for them.

But hey, everyone’s not always going to be willing to help. That said, the best thing to do is appreciate the ones who are. They certainly constitute the majority of sources my colleagues and I attempt to contact.

Thanks again.

-- Brandon C. Baker

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Reporter "grapples'' with wrestling coverage

My first writing assignment for The News-Herald took me to a bar on Route 6 in Willoughby Hills. I'm pretty sure it was in 1981 and absolutely sure the story was about "ladies night'' and how the female customers interacted with the male strippers who provided the entertainment.

I'd call that a heckuva way to start a career in the newspaper business.

The joint on Route 6 is long gone, but I'm still banging away at a wide variety of topics for The News-Herald. Until last weekend, that wide variety of topics did not include coverage of high-school wrestling.

Now, it does.

Sports Editor Mark Podolski was in a pinch and needed someone to cover the Division I district wrestling tournament at Mentor High School. He asked me to do it and I said, "Sure, why not.''

Having covered baseball, football, basketball and golf for many years, I'd like to think I'm conversant with those sports and comfortable writing about them. Wrestling was another matter entirely. I'd never been at a wrestling match as a spectator in my nearly 57 years, let alone covered one.

My experience at the Mentor district, often called "The Meatgrinder'' for the traditionally high level of competition there, was all positive.

The young men who wrestled in as many as five matches over two days are outstanding athletes and fierce competitors. With matches going on constantly on four mats, and no more than 30 seconds separating the end of one match from the start of another, I can't imagine a more fan-friendly format.

Ah yes, the fans.

When I walked in the gym at 5 p.m. Friday, the place was packed to the rafters. It stayed that way through Saturday's morning-afternoon and evening sessions. There was an energy in that gym I've seen (and heard) matched at few sporting events, professional or otherwise. Wrestling fans know their sport, love it and totally support the wrestlers.

With plenty of help from the staff of Mentor's athletic department, and from fellow newspaper reporters who are veterans of wrestling coverage, I got through the weekend in good shape. Mentor wrestling coach Ken Skilton and his assistant coaches were godsends, too.

When the state tournament begins Thursday in Columbus, I'll be following the exploits of Mentor's Jordan Victor, Mike Skilton (Ken's son), Dylan Zivcic, Damien Perry and Manny McLaughlin as well as the other wrestlers who qualified for state out of the Meatgrinder.

I'll never be an expert on high-school wrestling. But after last weekend, I'll always be a fan.

David S. Glasier