Thursday, March 31, 2011

Judging VGC Idol a privilege

I had a fabulous afternoon. There's nothing like a break in your routine to leave you feeling refreshed and ready to dive back into things. And today's break was an extra special one.
I was privileged to be asked to judge the VGC Idol competition today at Lake County Board of Developmental Disabilities in Mentor.
Superintendent Elfie Roman was kind enough to invite me, and believe me, the pleasure was all mine.
Actually I shared that pleasure with fellow judges Marlene Castilyn, president of the Western Reserve Junior Service League, Dave Noble, retired executive director of Lake Metroparks, and Brint Learned, executive director of Rabbit Run Theater.
And judging was no easy task. You think JLo, Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson have it tough ...
Marlene, me, Dave and Brint attempt to join the performance of "YMCA"
How could I not love the performance of "I Got You Babe" delivered by Jean Gillispie and Todd Reider? I don't think I've enjoyed that song as much since I had my first dance with my husband at our wedding. But I'm a Barry Manilow fan, so the versions of "Can't Smile Without You" by Susan Murphy and "Copacabana" by Susan Taylor were special favorites. No one could help but get their grooves on to Richard Dawson's "Jump," Jonathon Wright's "Can't Touch This" or Canesia King's "Forget You." Anna Rodgers showered us with petals during "Rose Garden," and Christopher Dabson had us all swaying to "Just the Way You Are." Julie Underwood's rendition of "You Give Love a Bad Name" came complete with all the right guitar moves, and Nicole Memory worked the stage like a pro for "If I Could Turn Back Time." And I'm planning on trying out some of the jokes delivered by comedian Shelley Braden on my co-workers; though  I doubt my delivery will be as good.
All too soon the performances were over and the scores tallied.
The contestants were mobbed with congratulations from family members, friends and folks from the VGC.
My hands stung from clapping so hard.
Every break from work should leave me so full of smiles.

Check out the fab photos, video and news story from Duncan Scott and Angela Gartner.

And, as if that wasn't enough, I was given this gorgeous work of art created by Roberta Ray to remember the day. Ray, who works with colored pencils and markers, was the first-prize winner of the Lake County Board of MR/DD Art Contest in 2008 and had a piece selected to be part of the Accessible Expressions Ohio 2009  visual arts exhibition.

- Tricia Ambrose

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Opening Day? Snow-pening Day?

        Mother Nature threw a curve ball Wednesday night to Progressive Field head groundskeeper Brandon Koehnke and his staff.
        The curve ball came in the form of an early spring snow shower that left about four inches of wet, white stuff on the playing surfaces at Progressive Field with Friday's home opener against the Chicago White Sox in the offing.
       That would be a problem anytime, but in the circumstances under which Koehnke and crew are operating this spring, it qualifies as a major annoyance bordering on crisis.
      Over the last three weeks, Koehnke has overseen the replacement of sod over the entire outfield and the rebuilding of the dirt part of the infield. The major reconstruction was necessitated by damage done by the huge sets built for "Snow Days,'' the winter sledding-and-skating attraction that was up set up on the field from late November to early January.
       Check out the story about the rebuilding project in The News-Herald.

- David S. Glasier

Monday, March 28, 2011

Autism Speaks, Panera Listens

While I could easily write several blog entries on why I love Panera, I want to call attention to something very special they are doing. (Credit to fellow copy editor Cheryl Sadler for cluing me in to this.)

Starting at the end of this week, Panera will be selling shortbread cookies in the shape of puzzle pieces. The proceeds from these cookies will benefit Autism Speaks, an organization that seeks to bring awareness to Autism and help to fund scientific research into causes, treatments and potential cures of the disorder that is reaching epidemic proportions.

This was at my brother's graduation from Mentor High
School last June. He is shown with me and my dad.
(See the family resemblance?)
My younger brother Carmen has Autism, so this cause is very near and dear to my heart. I know many people who have family members or friends with the disorder, and I'm sure most who will read this do as well. The disorder affects many individuals in many different ways, and according to Autism Speaks, an estimated 1.5 million individuals in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide are affected by the disorder.

Since just about everything Panera bakes is absolutely delicious, I have no doubt these cookies will be wonderful. They are a bit pricey, at $2 per cookie, and can be preordered here at $12 for a box of 6, or $24 for a box of 12. I've already preordered 2 dozen to pick up on Friday to share with coworkers here.

I urge you all to visit Panera for a cookie next week, and maybe a cup of delicious coffee or espresso. (I'm a big fan of the caramel latte--with skim milk and no whipped cream, though.)

--Danielle Capriato

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Death of Millie Waterman

Long-time Mentor community activist and Mentor School supporter Millie Waterman died late Thursday following a lengthy illness.

Waterman was a strong advocate for the Mentor Schools and often appeared in Columbus, testifying on various related legislation.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Chardon leaders on snow patrol

Chardon City officials are watching the weather closely. They report that the city is close to breaking its all-time snowfall record - set in the winter of 1959-60 - and more snow is possible overnight.

After the last big blast, the city was officially up to 148.1 inches, just about 13 inches under the 161.4 record.

"That's one good snowstorm away," said City Manager Dave Lelko, as he pored over statistics on the city's website at: (This season's numbers have yet to be updated).

While this week's precipitation isn't expected to drop heavy amounts of the white stuff, the records - kept since 1952 - show that average snowfall for March is nearly 16 inches, and two feet of it has been dropped on the city in April twice within the last six years (three times since 1952).

Should no more snow drop this spring, the snow total would still rank fifth in recorded history. The closest the tally has come before is 157.6 inches during the 2004-2005 season.

"It's been a long winter, and I know everyone's tired of it," Lelko said.

-- Betsy Scott,

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tales from my inbox

Recently, the powers that be at the Journal Register Company, The N-H’s parent company, installed new spam filters on our email accounts. Funny enough, I’ve gotten way more spam than ever in my inbox since the filter was put in place. Most of the spam messages are news releases saying “hey, you should write about this really interesting product/book/website/TV show/topic!” I have been ignoring the majority of them, but some of them have some pretty interesting subject lines that make me chuckle. I thought I’d share a few of my favorites.

“Sammy Hagar on being abducted by aliens: ‘It was real. [Aliens] were plugged into me’ ” 
  • Well, that’s an eye-catching subject line if I ever saw one. Fellow copy editor Robin Palmer said she actually heard that interview. She said she thinks Sammy’s OK. Whew. What a load off.

“Want to be a better manager at work? Get a dog!” 
  • This one is regarding a book titled All I Know About Management I Learned from my Dog. Right. Because telling your staff to “sit” and rewarding them with cookies will totally work. Actually, on second thought… Yeah. That would totally work here.

“Author: ‘You can't fire everyone!’ ” 
  • But you can make them lie down and roll over, if you read that other book!

“Win a Trip to New York, But First Tell Us What You Would Give Up To Find True Love?” 
  • Is that a question? They’re not sure I can win a trip to New York?

“tip: Most Unique Dog Urine Spots in America? – Darren” 
  • This one is apparently for a cleaning product. They were looking for photos of dog urine spots for an ad campaign.That's an interesting campaign you got yourself there, Darren.

“2 Advices to be a rich!” 
  • This is the typical I’m-a-Nigerian-delegate-and-I-need-your-name-and-social-security-number-for-this-important-bank-transaction spam. But still... They’re offering not one, but TWO advices. How can I pass that one up?

“Hi editor! Mann! Don’t you know where to find a wife?” 
  • No. No I don’t. Probably because I’m a heterosexual female.

“Do the Dead Stay Dead?” 
  • Good question. I sure hope so. I’ve been operating under that assumption for years. (This was actually PR for a novel about death and dying, which could be interesting if you weren’t spamming me)

So there you have some of my favorite junk emails that are arriving unfiltered into my inbox. If anybody is interested in reviewing a "Psychological Suspense Novel from Academy Award Winner and screenwriter of 9 and ½ Weeks" or wants "Flooring tips for Pet Loving Homes," I'm sure I can get you the hook-up.

--Danielle Capriato


Monday, March 21, 2011

The cost and politics of invasive species

Sounding the clarion call for more action to protect the Great Lakes, the environmental group Great Lakes United is urging more progress in keeping out invasive species for the basin.

The group says that 2011 is a pivotal year in the battle to protect the Great Lakes and other waters from the onslaught of invasive species."

Its warning comes on the eve of the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, an important wterways for the movement of goods but also the chief venue for the introruction of such invasive species as the zebra mussel and the round goby. Critters like these cost the Great Lakes citzenry upwards of $200 million in damages and control costs, the environmentalists say.

To combat the spread and further introduction of more invasive species the environmentalists are calling for more rigorous action and stiffer laws to prevent invasive species introduction through the ballast water of ocean-going vessels that also move through the Great Lakes.

-Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fix a faucet, save a few

This week, Public Utilities Commission of Ohio is promoting “Fix a Leak Week.”
Sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense® program, it is meant as an annual reminder to check household plumbing fixtures and irrigation systems for leaks.
If you're not doing so, you may want to start.
Across the country, household leaks are wasting more than 1 trillion gallons of water per year, the PUCO says.
“Many households can have leaks without the homeowner even realizing leaks exist,” said PUCO Chairman Todd A. Snitchler.
 To help consumers save water, the PUCO, EPA and WaterSense are promoting ways to identify and repair dripping faucets, running toilets and leaky showerheads. In most cases, fixture replacement parts pay for themselves quickly, they say.
Introduced in 2006, WaterSense is a partnership program sponsored by EPA that identifies water-efficient products, services and soon, new homes. The WaterSense label can be found on toilets and bathroom faucets. Products that have earned the WaterSense label have been independently tested to meet water-efficiency specifications set by EPA.
 Below are a few water-saving tips:
•    Reduce faucet leaks by checking faucet and showerhead washers and gaskets for wear and, if necessary, replace the faucet with a WaterSense-labeled model.
•    Silent toilet leaks can be found by placing a few drops of food coloring in the tank and checking the bowl for color after a few minutes or before flushing. Replacing a worn rubber flapper is a quick, affordable fix.
•    For a leaky garden hose, replace the nylon or rubber hose washer and ensure a tight connection to the spigot using pipe tape and a wrench.
For more information, visit
-- Betsy Scott,

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Digging in to Hal Lebovitz's books

Hal Lebovitz had a lot of books. And I mean a LOT of books.

In addition to my regular web, editing and layout duties here at The News-Herald, right now I'm working on a project to organize Hal's books. Last month Jim Ingraham wrote a column about the collection, which I would recommend reading to get an idea of the type of books I'm dealing with. In addition to the rare and old books Jim discussed in his column, Hal had a LOT of books published in the last 40 years, seemingly about every sport, athlete and writer that has existed.

The collection will be auctioned off, and all proceeds from the sale will go to a foundation in the Lebovitz family name at Lakeland Community College. (The date of the sale, along with other details, will be announced at a later date.) Lebovitz — a former News-Herald and Lorain Morning Journal columnist, and longtime sports editor of The Plain Dealer — was inducted into the writer's wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000. He died in 2005.

So far, I've just been sorting the books by sport. Further divisions will be team, year and athlete, as well as media guides. There are also several general books on sports, the science of sports, records, trivia, dictionaries, encyclopedias and more.

One neat item I came across in my first day of sorting was a copy of the paper detailing what each of the 1948 World Champion Cleveland Indians earned for winning the World Series. Most of the players got about $6,700. I'm not sure how that page will fit into the final collection, but it is probably my neatest find so far.

Once the collection is a little more in order, I'll take pictures of all the boxes to show the expansiveness of the collection. For now, here are a few books I came across last week that made me chuckle.

An Ohio favorite, and someone who ain't no bum (any ideas who that is?).

For the aspiring football players: how to handle the ball or how to kick the ball.

If "The Thinker" played hockey, and a good hit.

Love the illustration and the short shorts on this one.

Bobby Knight coaching at Indiana University. Check out that jacket!

I'll continue to post updates of my progress on this blog. Stay tuned!

-- Cheryl Sadler | | @nhcheryl


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Unforgettable Prom

Last night I attended a fundraiser at the Branding Iron Cookhouse in Mentor.
I could easily write a whole food post about why I love the BIC, but that's not the point today.

I was tipped off to the event from a blurb in Janet Podolak's food column and knew that this was something I had to attend.

The event was to raise funds and support for Unforgettable Prom, an organization that seeks to give teens with cancer a chance at their own prom. I didn't know much about the organization before I attended the fundraiser, but I thought it sounded like a great cause and would be a fun opportunity to get dressed up and enjoy a meal at one of my favorite close-to-home restaurants. I was wrong. Kind of.

Not only did I enjoy a delicious appetizer, great meal and drinks with friends, I had the opportunity to speak with Jane Knausz, the chair of the event here in Northern Ohio. She told us about how the group collected donated prom dresses and distributed them free to girls in a donated storefront at Tower City. The girls were also treated to mini-manicures while they looked through dresses, and the same organization will be doing all their hair, nails and make-up before the event. She was talking about a red carpet set up for the attendees before the event (April 1 at the Cleveland Ritz-Carlton) with a reporter to interview each guest, the limos donated to transport all the teens, the free tuxes the boys get to wear, and so many other details about the dance. Hearing about all the great things the teens were going to enjoy was enough to make my eyes--and my friends' eyes!--water.

And it wasn't just that the event was shaping up to be so special. Jane told us that this would be the first time the event was hosted in Cleveland, and the second time it would be hosted anywhere in the country. I had no idea Unforgettable Prom was such a new thing. Jane's daughter was involved with the first event last year in Florida. After hearing about the cause, Jane wanted to get involved... and now the event is going to be here.

I was really moved by the number of people who had donated services to make the event a success, especially considering this is such a new event. The people involved seem so caring, so enthusiastic about giving these kids a special night to remember, it's hard not to want to participate more.

For more on Unforgettable Prom, including finding ways to donate your time or money, visit the website here.

--Danielle Capriato

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Disaster averted?

On Feb. 18, Mentor City Plumbing Inspector Dan Hummel was performing a final HVAC inspection at 7878 Munson Road. While the inspection was being done, Dan detected a gas leak and determined that there was a loose union on the hot water tank. 

He was able to turn off the gas and have the homeowner tighten the union to stop the leak. The house was not occupied at the time and, had this leak not been detected, there is a good chance the house could have exploded, according to city officials.

"We appreciate the fine job being done by our Building Inspectors," City Manager Ken Filipiak reported in his weekly memo to City Council.

Kudos to Dan!

-- Betsy Scott,

Local civilian labor force estimates on the move again

The unemployment rate for Mentor increased 0.8 percent to 7.6 percent in January and increased 0.9 percent in Lake County to 9.1 percent. The unemployment rate in Mentor increased 1.1 percent in the months of December and January.

Mentor has the second-lowest unemployment rate for any community in Ohio over 50,000 in population, behind Cleveland Heights. The unemployment rate in Ohio increased to 10.1 percent for the comparable period, a 0.9 percent increase.

-- Betsy Scott,

New Coffee Shop Hits Eastlake

If you’re a coffee connoisseur like myself, then you probably enjoy the little coffee shops more than the Starbucks and Arabicas of corporate America.

Don’t get me wrong, I still get coffee at both of those places – though I do prefer Arabica over Starbucks – but when it comes down to the coffee drinking “experience,” nothing seems to beat mom and pop places.

They not only often have signature drinks and creative concoctions you won’t find at the chain stores, but the atmosphere can be just as magnetic to the customer as the product itself.

My recent business story,, on the opening of Blue Planet Coffee Co. in Eastlake, brought that feeling right back to the forefront of my mind.

It’s been awhile since I’ve been to a family-owned coffee shop. The last one I went inside was Enchanted Grove in downtown Willoughby (they have an excellent chai tea selection there, in my opinion).

What struck me about Blue Planet was not only the welcoming feel of the warm colored walls and artwork, but the owners, Gary and Alison Petric, and their crew’s enthusiasm for the job.

Gary, who was a pallet manufacturer for 28 years, decided to completely switch gears, open this shop and truly, it’s inspiring.

Not many people actually make that choice, take that leap and live a longtime dream like he has. I haven’t tried their food yet, but their fresh panini sandwiches and their ice cream selection definitely looks worthy of a sampling ... or two.

I did, however, try their Masala chai tea and it was very rich with flavor and went down smoothly.

In addition, they are featuring the pour-over coffee method, which basically makes individualized cups of coffee almost instantaneously after the beans have been grounded.

It’s a pretty entertaining process to watch and our photographer, Michael Blair, approved his sampling of the coffee.

Personally, I look forward to revisiting them and trying some myself. And this time not as a reporter, but as a customer.

If you're interested in doing the same, they're located at 35400 Vine St. in the shopping strip next to Classic Park.

-- Cassandra Shofar

Monday, March 7, 2011

Willowick flooding to be addressed at Tuesday's meeting

Well, as winter thaws out, let the flooding begin.

While Willowick is only one of many cities struggling with flooding issues in the recent weeks, it’s residents continue to ask the city for clearer answers.

“I have lived here over twenty years and have been flooded with raw sewage three times in the last five years,” said Nick Paradise, who lives on Willowick Drive, via e-mail. “This has become a most serious problem, both financially as well as the health issues involved with dealing with other peoples sewage pumped into your basement.”

He added, “We are at the end of our rope and don’t know where to turn, with the high taxes we pay in this city, we should not have to live in constant fear. Perhaps Willowick needs to examine it priorities and put the health and safety of its citizens first, ahead of sports, recreation and other non-essential expenditures until they solve this serious problem.”

Last week, after 54 reported flooded basements, Mayor Richard Bonde asked Willowick City Council, the city’s street, sidewalk and sewers committee, and sewer and stormwater task force to work with the city’s engineer and service department in looking at the flooding problems on a case-by-case basis.

Following that examination, the group would formulate a list of residences that experience chronic and severe flooding and those homes would then be eligible for work to alleviate the problem at the cost of the city.

But Bonde did emphasize only the worst affected basements would be considered.

“I believe if your basement has a little bit of water by your basin, that’s not severe,” he had said. “If you’ve got water in the corner of your basement, that’s not severe. But if you have raw sewage in your basement, you’ll go to the top of the list. It’s a health issue.”

Tuesday, the city’s Streets, Sidewalks & Sewers Committee and Sewer & Stormwater Task Force of Willowick City Council is holding a meeting at 7 p.m. to discuss basement flooding.

Perhaps as a team, both residents and the city can find a solution ... only time will tell. Check the News Herald on Wednesday or for a follow up article on Tuesday’s meeting.

-- Cassandra Shofar

Friday, March 4, 2011

Keep up with the Bushnells, their surgeries and recoveries

     The stories published today (March 4) about Mike and Denise Bushnell are just a beginning. In weeks to come, The News-Herald will follow up with stories about their surgeries at Cleveland Clinic. Mike will receive a kidney donated by Denise. We'll also tell you about their recoveries from those procedures.
     As you've probably surmised from today's stories, Mike and Denise are salt-of-the-earth people who derive great strength from family and faith. It's been my pleasure to visit their home and spend time with them.
     I've also savored the chance to meet Cleveland Clinic surgeons Dr. Jihad Kaouk and Dr. Stuart Flechner, who will perform the transplant and donor procedures.
     Kidney transplant surgeries are routine only in the sense that thousands of them are performed every year in the U.S. at major medical centers like Cleveland Clinic. Thanks to advances in surgical techniques and post-surgical regimens for recipients, success rates are exceedingly high.
     From speaking to the Drs. Kaouk and Flechner, I've gained some level of appreciation for the complexities of donor and recipient surgeries. These procedures are intricately choreographed, with surgical teams in two different theaters working on precise timetables.
     Mike and Denise Bushnell have been married for 41 years and sweethearts since high school. These surgeries offer them the promise of many more years to enjoy each other and their family.
     David S. Glasier

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Road closures coming to Route 615 under bridge tonight, tomorrow night

Today and Thursday crews will perform lane closures and intermittent complete closures of Route 615 under Route 2 in Mentor from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., in order to erect steel beams. Flaggers will assist.

It is part of ongoing work on the Route 2 bridge. Intermittent lane closures along Route 2 east and westbound are expected and will not impact rush-hour traffic, according to information released today by the Ohio Department of Transportation District 12.

Major work will resume this month on Route 2 between Route 306 and Route 44. Ramp closures will occur and details will be forthcoming.

The entire project rehabilitates Route 2, adds a lane between Route 306 and Route 44 and constructs noise barriers. Tentative completion date is Oct. 15, 2012.

-- Betsy Scott,