Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mentor online registration option gets busy

Mentor Recreation Program Manager Jill Korsok reports that, since the beginning of this year, the Recreation Department has seen a dramatic increase in the use of the online registration option.

"Compared to last year, we have seen a 43 percent increase in online registration," she says. "This can be directly attributed to our response to our customers by offering free online registration."

This year, the department also began permitting residents to renew swim passes online, to save them the time and effort of coming to the Recreation office in person. So far this year, 25 percent of the renewals have taken place online.

In other Mentor recreation news, the Just Kids Garage Sale is Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon at Garfield Park. This annual event draws hundreds of bargain hunters to the park. For the best deals arrive early and be ready to barter, recreation officials say.

-- Betsy Scott, BScott@News-Herald.com

Mentor makes progress in union negotiations

The Mentor City administration has reached a tentative agreement with the Mentor Police Patrolmen’s Union on a three-year collective bargaining agreement.

Specific language is still being worked out between the parties, and a vote of the union membership will be scheduled.

"I will share terms of the tentative agreement with Council as soon as a final version is ready," City Manager Ken Filipiak said in a Friday memo to City Council.

The city also is scheduled to engage in mediation with the Firefighter’s Union June 8, he said.

-- Betsy Scott, BScott@News-Herald.com

Mentor reaching out to retailers for mall and beyond

Mentor Economic Development Director Ron Traub continues to wheel and deal for more improvements at the Great Lakes Mall.

He recently attended the International Council of Shopping Centers in Las Vegas and met with Simon Property Group’s leasing agent for Great Lakes Mall. They discussed both Mentor's strategies for attracting retail as well as Simon’s plan. Traub also met with several developers with centers in the city, as well as retailers.

Traub said Simon representatives have been bringing prospective tenants to the mall for several months and expect to continue to do so.

"While they didn’t share any specific names, we did discuss a strategy to overcome the negative perception of the Northeast Ohio marketplace," Traub said.

Negotiations are ongoing with existing mall tenants whose prime locations are sought by stores mall officials hope to bag.

Might we see an H&M? Forever21? Or personal favorites Banana Republic and J.Crew? Announcements are expected in 2012.

-- Betsy Scott, BScott@News-Herald.com

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

April's stormy weather hard on Ohio insurance companies

The Ohio Insurance Institute reports that dual April storm events cause over $123 million in Ohio insured losses

April will likely be known as one of the most active and destructive months for severe weather in US history. What may come as a surprise is that Ohio sustained a sizeable share of insured losses from two separate April storm events.

Preliminary losses in Ohio from the pair of storms are estimated at over $123 million from 23,600 claims. April 19-20 high winds, tornadoes and hail in Ohio caused at least $43 million in insured losses, according to the Ohio Insurance Institute (OII) with over 8,100 claims filed to-date.

Just two days later, the April 22-28 outbreak affecting Ohio along with a dozen other states caused at least $80 million in insured losses with 15,500 claims statewide, according to preliminary estimates from Property Claim Services.

Storm loss estimates don’t include flood insurance-related losses.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Kids take on bullying with stage performance

The Geauga Lyric Theater Guild, in cooperation with Chardon area elementary schools, will present a program addressing the problem of bullying via a mini-musical, Bullies Anonymous.

The show will feature a cast of youth from Chardon, Mentor, NDCL, St. Mary’s, Willoughby, and homeschoolers, all of whom are volunteering their time and energies.

Special performances will be held for the general public at the Theater at 7:30 p.m., June 3; 2 and 7:30 p.m., June 4; and 2 p.m., June 5. The public performances are $5 per person. The Theater is at 101 Water St. Chardon.

On June 4, doors will open at the theater at 11 a.m. with a wide range of activities for the children, including a Karate for Kids demonstration, a local Polka band, a kid’s auction, face painting, refreshments and prizes. At 12:30, a special symposium will be held on the problem of bullying, featuring specialists from Cleveland Clinic, Ravenwood Mental Health Center and Crossroads. Sheriff Dan McClelland and Midge, the petite crime-fighting pup, are scheduled to appear. Admission to the programs on Saturday is $5, including the 2 p.m. performance.

Donations for the program have come from the Chardon Schools Foundation, area PTOs, WalMart, Home Savings Bank,the Chardon Eagles and the Chardon Community Action Team.

For more information, contact: Kelly Miloro Geauga Lyric Theater: 440-285-7701.

-- Betsy Scott, BScott@News-Herald.com

Friday, May 20, 2011

Chardon's snow fall total ranks third in record books

It's official: This past winter was the third snowiest on record in Chardon with 151.30 inches of the white stuff falling.

This figure followed as Number Three with the Number Two snowfall total of 157.58 inches during the winter of 2004-2005.

The greatest total snowfall was the 161.45 inches that arrived during he winter of 1959-1960.

Chardon's least amount of total snowfall was the 46.40 inches that came during the winter of 1979-1980.

The city's average snowfall total is 107.88 inches.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Congratulations, Janet!

It was a real treat today to be on hand as the Lake County Council on Aging honored my colleague Janet Podolak with its first-ever Hall of Fame Active Living Award.
In the 20-plus years I have worked with Janet she has always demonstrated a strong sense of curiosity about the world around here whether here or abroad.
She is an inspiration to those of us who have not yet achieved senior status.
Congratulations, Janet.

- Tricia Ambrose

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Offering a helping hand to homeowners in need

Two organizations have requested promotional assistance from the city of Mentor to locate homeowners who require help in maintaining their home.

Rebuilding Together-Lake County operates a program that coordinates volunteers and homeowners requiring assistance. Their primary mission is to assist low-income elderly and veteran homeowners.

Mentor Baptist Church operates a program using church volunteers to provide homeowners with home maintenance assistance. They have adult and teen volunteers ready to assist anyone in the community needing home maintenance assistance. The city assumes no responsibility for work undertaken by Mentor Baptist Church, City Manager Ken Filipiak noted

Both organizations are seeking the names of homeowners who may need assistance. The homeowner, or anyone on their behalf, should contact Tom O’Hara in Mentor's Community Development Department at 440-974-5740 ext. 2454, Greta Pate at Rebuilding Together, 440-944-9964, or Pastor Brian Landrum, Mentor Baptist Church, 440-942-8278.

-- Betsy Scott, BScott@News-Herald.com

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ask Hal

I found several Easter eggs when I was going through Hal's books today -- so many, in fact, that I was disappointed when I opened a book that appeared to have no markings or papers tucked inside.

Many of the loose items I found in between the pages of Hal's books today were submissions for "Ask Hal the Referee," such as this one from a major in the Marine Corps about payment for NBA playoff games:

On these notes, Hal often scribbled (and I mean scribbled) his response on the letters and notecards, and I presume he turned them into his "Ask Hal" column.

One of the letters I found gave a detailed explanation of how a basketball team was fouled, and through a series of strange calls, the fouled player ended up getting a foul shot later in the game. The fouled team won by one point, and the coach was wondering if that was the right call. Hal's scribbled answer: "Good call."

Some other Easter eggs today:
The cover of this basketball guide from 1921-22 has the signature "F.J. Powers" across the top. A little bit of Googling later, I found out F.J. Powers was Francis J. Powers, a sports journalist who worked in Dayton then Cleveland then Chicago. I found an auction for a photo of Powers and other sports journalists, and the three of them had signed it; the photo was listed at $6,999. I'm not sure what that says about this particular book, but it sure showed me that Powers was an important person. Click here to read more about Powers.

This "news flash" was tucked in "The Official National Collegiate Athletic Association Basketball Guide" from 1969, and notes changes of rules. I'm unclear as to whether these are rules for college basketball, but I would assume so because of where it was found.

The "National Basketball Association Official Guide for 1966-67" was in really good condition, other than some minimal wear on the cover -- except for two of the pages inside that had yellowed because of some acidic paper stuck inside. That acidic paper was a Western Union Press Message on the Cincinnati Royals trading George Wilson to the Chicago Bulls for Lenney [sic] Chappell, as well as a notecard with heights and weights for those on the Royals roster.

Some of the fun finds (though not exactly Easter eggs) from today:
Do Books Help?
In the early days when we began to publish books on sports, games, physical education, etc., we would trot down to one of our large wholesale booksellers to secure advance orders.
The first few years were rather discouraging, but gradually the buyer became convinced by sales records that people brought books to help them understand and enjoy sports. He told us one time that he would take the quantity we suggested (it was an ambitious suggestion), but he still didn't know why anybody bought the books. He knows now and is one of our enthusiastic supporters.
Books on sports do help, just as books on reading, writing and 'rithmetic. But practice is necessary, and also guidance by a trained teacher is essential. We have books covering practically every sport and will welcome your inquiry. If we do not publish the book you want, we will tell you where to obtain it.
That text was on the back cover of "The Official National Basketball Committee Basketball Guide" from 1941-1942.

Who wears short shorts?

The Hal Lebovitz 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. Learn more about the collection here, here, here and here.

-- Cheryl Sadler | CSadler@News-Herald.com | @nhcheryl


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Osama bin Laden death photo debate

It's a situation right out of my ethics class in journalism school.

The White House, as I write this, is still debating on whether or not to release photos that allowed them to identify the body of slain terrorist Osama bin Laden. The conversation started here at The News-Herald yesterday as to whether or not we should print them if they do.

The ethics class debates I recall so easily (they weren't really that long ago) focused mainly on photos from Sept. 11. The iconic shot of the man jumping from one of the towers was a hot topic of discussion. Was it OK to print a photo that clearly showed a man about to die? What if we could identify him? Even if it's incredibly traumatic, doesn't the photo best capture and describe the situation?

Since my career in journalism has started, I haven't had to deal with too many similar situations. The situation I relate to most here is from the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. We saw photos chronicling death, destruction and lots and lots of blood. Bodies crushed by rubble. Individuals with trapped limbs and looks of horror. The general consensus was not to print photos denoted as graphic by the Associated Press. There would be plenty of photos that told the horrible story of the destruction in Haiti that were less graphic. There was really no question in what to do.

Yesterday fellow copy editor Robin Palmer posed the question to copy editor Cheryl Sadler and me. Did we think we should publish the photo of bin Laden if it was released? We both agreed that we shouldn't print it. Robin and others said it should be printed. I was immediately intrigued.

I posted the dilemma on Twitter and got a few responses. After a day, they were pretty much split down the middle, which I suppose is to be expected. Opinions on the issue are going to be very diverse, especially among those not in the journalism business.

The issues in this situation are many and varied. There are individuals who don't believe bin Laden is really dead, and demand to see evidence. Some do believe he is dead, but want to see the evidence anyway. Others would never want to see something so gruesome and graphic. Some might want to see it, but wouldn't want to see it in their morning paper--or wouldn't want their kids to grab the paper and see it. (It definitely would not pass "The Breakfast Test.")

So, what do we do?

As a news organization, it is our task to deliver information to the public. As it says every day at the top of our editorial page:
“Search for truth is the noblest occupation of man; its publication is a duty.”
In the case of the death of one of the world's most dangerous terrorist leaders, we would be failing in our duty to deliver that information if we didn't somehow, in some form, publish such important photos from a critical moment in our nation's war on terror--and in our nation's history.

The News-Herald has a plan for if and when the photos are released. But whatever we do, I don't see an end to this debate. Should such graphic imagery be published in print? Should it be on the front page of www.News-Herald.com? Or should it be withheld entirely?

What do you think?

Let us know here in the comments, on www.News-Herald.com, on Facebook or on Twitter.

--Danielle Capriato

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Of fish and computers

Mentor Senior Center has some new offerings these days. New Recreation Programmer Nick Standering has formed a Fishing Club at the Center, for one.

He surveyed the seniors and noted a desire for the activity, and he will be overseeing the first meeting of the club soon. If you know anyone who would be interested, contact Nick at the Senior Center at 440-974-5725.

The Center also recently began a series of computer classes in conjunction with the Lake County Council on Aging. The four-part classes are designed to progressively bold the skills of the users to give the students a sense of confidence and ease in working with the computers.

The first class filled quickly and the city is working with the Council on Aging to provide another series.

-- Betsy Scott, BScott@News-Herald.com

Monday, May 2, 2011

What a difference a decade makes

There's been a lot of talk today about learning the news of Osama bin Laden's demise being one of those you'll always-remember-where-you-were-when-you-heard events, much like the terror attacks of Sept. 11.
In my case, it'll be easy.
I was in the same place.Well, not exactly. I was sitting at a different desk. But on both occasions I was here at work.
Those are the kind of events that get the deadline juices flowing. When you become consumed with the need to learn more and to share what you've learned.
Much has changed for us in the news business between these two occasions.
I can recall the quick decision on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, to produce an extra edition (something that was once fairly common decades earlier, but a first in my career). We raced to gather material from wire services and phone interviews to get an eight-page section on newsstands by early afternoon.
That left time for a break; then it was back at it to produce the following day's complete edition. People read the news and shared their thoughts in letters they mailed or even faxed in.
What a difference an (almost) decade makes.
Last night when we learned that President Obama was scheduled to make an unscheduled late night speech on an issue of national security, we were able to immediately let people know and enable them to watch the livestream from the White House on our site.
Speculation began swirling immediately, and it only intensified each time the speech was moved back. The tweets were fast and furious.
Long before Obama stepped up to the microphone we had Facebook'ed and Tweeted and sent an email blast and text messaged and posted the news to our Web site.
This time there was no break to gather more information before publishing. It was a constant updating.
And those readers instantly shared their comments with us. (And we published them in the day's print edition .)
There was the same sense of exhilaration; the same spirit of working together in the newsroom to share historic events with our neighbors. Only this time we didn't have to wait for presses to start rolling and a lot of our neighbors don't live anywhere nearby.

- Tricia Ambrose