Monday, January 31, 2011

Getting ready for spring at garden show

It was was pleasure to spend a few hours with City Editor John Bertosa enjoying a bit of spring at the Cleveland Home & Garden Show.

The Great Lakes Expo Center in Euclid was a welcome respite from the blowing snow and chilly temps outside. Indoors, gardens were in bloom and we could almost remember what it was like to see the lawns out our front doors.

That time will be here before you know it, though. John and I had the chance to talk to some readers and hear their ideas for stories we could cover and other improvements we could be making. It's always nice to hear from folks who are passionate about their news.

We also got some gardening tips from Justin Houk. His Houk Landscaping in Mentor designed The News-Herald's Celebrity Garden at the show. (Not that anyone would mistake John or me for celebrities!)
The garden was stunning. Check out the video clip to get a sense.

To reach Houk Landscaping, call 440-346-1951, e-mail or write P.O. Box 73, Mentor OH 44061.

Only 48 days till spring.

- Tricia Ambrose

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My night as a Lake County All-Star (aka, the Washington Generals)

By Kevin Kleps

We were billed as the Lake County All-Stars.

None of us, however, could compare to “Memphis” Michael Douglas, who puts the show in the Harlem Legends and keeps smiles on the faces of all who attend events at which his team plays.

I was asked to represent The News-Herald in Saturday’s game at Mentor High School, an event that raised funds for the Society of Rehabilitation.

There were 19 of us on the All-Stars, a group that was headlined by state Sen. Tim Grendell, R-Chester Township. There were notable area businessmen, a well-known prep football coach (Mentor’s Steve Trivisonno) and guys like me — someone who was all too happy for play for a good cause, knowing full well no one would be paying to see me shoot a basketball (which I used to think I could do quite well, though if you saw me Saturday, you will beg to differ).

We were matched up with the Legends, whose website says is a club consisting of former Harlem Globetrotters, NBA and NFL players, along with past Olympians and pro athletes.

The Legends were there to provide the show.

The Lake County All-Stars were there to play the role of the Washington Generals — the team that always assumed the role of the Los Angeles Clippers (pre-Blake Griffin) to the Globetrotters’ Lakers.

There were four 10-minute quarters, officiated by “referees” who were part of the Legends’ traveling band of characters.

We found out early on that we weren’t exactly expected to play defense — a point that was driven home to me when I “ruined” a fast-break attempt by talented Legends guard Brandon McDonald. I tried to strip McDonald on a drive to the basket, and it worked, though I probably fouled him in the process (good thing the fake official didn’t see it).

The next time down the floor, McDonald waited for me to be matched up with him, then blew by me on his way to the basket.

At that point, we had received the memo.

No one was there to watch a group who had never played together and couldn’t block a dunk attempt with a stepladder clumsily foul a team that is paid to throw alley-oops, no-look passes and buckets of confetti on unexpecting parents and children.

Douglas, who played for the Harlem Globetrotters from 1986 to ’93, was the MC, the comedian, the actor and the person the packed house at Mentor likely will remember for years to come.

As much as us All-Stars might have objected, they kept score, and the Legends didn’t try to keep it close.

We struggled to hit shots, despite an early 3-pointer from Trivisonno, but never struggled to laugh at our role in the event.

The United Way of Lake County, Mentor Schools, the city’s recreation department and the Society for Rehabilitation did an excellent job putting the event together.
There weren’t many empty seats.

And there weren’t many who came away from the game unimpressed.
It was for a good cause.

Thanks to the Legends, it was a great show.

Thanks to the All-Stars, there was a team present to get dunked on and have passes thrown between our legs by one former Globetrotter to another.

Click here for The News-Herald’s story and videos from Saturday night.

— For more information on “Memphis” Michael Douglas and the Harlem Legends, click here.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Adrenaline pumped covering ski lift rescue

When I heard that more than 80 people were stuck on a ski lift Saturday afternoon at Alpine Valley Ski Area in Munson Township, I knew right away this was pretty big news.

I quickly called photographer Maribeth Joeright, who was finishing up another assignment, to let her know I was heading down to the scene. She would meet me there as quickly as possible.

When I got to the Mayfield Road entrance for the facility, there was a long line of cars with drivers unsure of what was happening as police authorities told motorists that Alpine Valley was closed.

I mentioned to the sheriff deputy my affiliation and soon found a place to park and grabbed my smart phone, Flip camera, digital voice recorder and shuffled along the snow as quickly as I could.

As soon as I got close enough to see what was happening, I was amazed. Dozens of skiers stranded on a chair lift.

I snapped a few cell phone pictures and immediately e-mailed them to Business Editor Brandon Baker, who was on duty.

He posted them to our website and I was soon shooting videos of people getting rescued. I found out later the Associated Press picked up my cell phone images and websites across the county began to post them with a short story synopsis, even

While at the scene, I was simultaneously sending live Tweets from my personal Twitter account and from The News-Herald’s account.

Although it was cold, my blood was pumped full of adrenaline. It was hard to type on my phone’s keyboard with no gloves and the cold made it hard, and at times, painful to move my fingers.

I sought out interviews with people who were rescued, in between the Tweets and videos.

Soon Maribeth arrived and began to snap photos with better equipment than what I had. She got some really amazing and compelling shots.

We were running around all over the place trying to get the best photos, videos of actual rescues, and interviews we could.

I stopped for a moment to watch three young boys finally get their turn to be rescued. I thought about how nervous and scared I would be if it was my son stuck up there about 40 to 50 feet in the air with his feet dangling for hours.

Most of the people who were rescued were quickly whisked back down the hall to get warm and make sure they were OK.

But I was able to speak with a few people moments after they were rescued to see what it was like to be stuck for so long.

Each skier had a common theme, that it was no big deal and that this incident wouldn’t stop them from enjoying their passion again or even coming back to Alpine Valley.

I’m not so sure I would have been this optimistic.

One lady I spoke with was bound to get in her ski run. After we finished talking, she and the two children with her, grabbed their skis and poles and made it back down the mountain.

After a few hours, it was over, everyone was safe and sound, and I was back at The News-Herald’s office doing what I could to get the news out to people as quickly as possible.

It was exciting and fun to be a part of such breaking news. It’s what being a journalist is all about.

-- John Arthur Hutchison

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Not quite keeping up with the teenagers

It’s no easy feat chasing teenagers through snowdrifts and blowing snow, trying to capture video of their phys ed lesson without dropping equipment, while you yourself are on snowshoes for the first time.

That’s the rather comical situation I found myself in this morning.

I’d heard West Geauga Middle had organized snowshoe lessons for seventh-graders this week, so I corralled a photographer and a Flip camera and headed out, with no real clue what to expect.

I got there just as fourth-period students had finished strapping their feet into snowshoes and explained myself to the phys ed teacher, who promptly maneuvered me into her own pair of snowshoes. She watched from afar, thinking (I’m totally guessing here) amused thoughts as I struggled after her students and two Lake Metroparks employees through the field behind the school.

I only fell twice. But I wobbled several times, repeatedly stood on the tips of the snowshoes as I attempted to make a tight turn, and got thoroughly snow-covered in the process.

The teenagers, on the other hand, were in their second day of practice on Metroparks’ equipment and sped on ahead of me, leaving a trail of churned snowdrifts in their wake. They raced up and down hills, sprinted to a snowpile, and fell many times themselves – all in the space of a single class period. It was clear they were enjoying themselves, and so was I. I may have failed in my goal of staying ahead of them to capture video of their approach (I had to cheat once and take a shortcut across the field), but I got the video without dropping the camera into a snowdrift.

I’ll feel it tomorrow, though.

- Rachel Jackson

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Best wishes for a happy retirement

Co-workers gathered in the cafeteria to share good wishes with pressman Howard Wheelock. Wheelock is retiring from The NH after 35 years of service. He's seen a lot of changes here since he started June 9, 1975. And we wish him nothing but the best in this new chapter of his life!