What a Blessing Owney Turned Out to Be

By Wendi Warren

One year ago today, Bobby and I made the decision to adopt a 3–year-old terrier/beagle mix from the Wayne County Humane Society. He had been in our home for 4 days before we actually adopted him. That was so we could see if he got along with our cats, and the dogs of my sister and parent. He past the test and we made him ours on August 17, 2013.

Wendi and Owney

I remember how when we first got him, I was less than enthused to be entering the world of dog guardianship once again. Madison, our 14 year old husky/chow/shepherd mix had passed away only 5 months before. She was a perfect dog for us. A quiet, laid back sort of pet who was perfectly content to sit out in the snow on cold winter days.

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So here comes into our lives this terrier mix who was anything but quiet and laid back–although to be fair, he hoodwinked us at the beginning making us think that he was quiet. In fact, he was the only dog at the Humane Society who didn’t bark when we went into the room. He just jumped enthusiastically in his X-pen. He kept the secret of his tendency to bark for almost 6 months. I guess he was waiting for us to be so in love with him that we could put up with his little quirk of barking … loudly … often … especially when we are trying to nap.

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In the year since we have gotten Owney, our lives have changed dramatically. Before, during the summer months, Bobby and I would go bicycling on the rails to trails on the weekends. Since Owney, we haven’t been on our bikes once. You see, when you fall in love with someone, you want to do things he likes to do. Bikes are not something that Owney would like. However, walking is. So instead of go to bike trails, Bobby and I walk Owney on different paths. We especially enjoy the work out we get at Oak Hill Park.

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Bobby tells me that I spoil Owney. I often deny that, but honestly I do. The dog is just so darn cute, it is hard not to! He loves toys. He loves shopping for toys.

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If it has a squeaker, then it has his name on it. He loves to chew. I think maybe that he ended up in the Humane Society because of his ability to be destructive. But we have found if we give him things that he can chew, make it a game and allow the house to get messy, he is destructive in a controlled way.

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One of our favorite games is “Where’s your toy?” This is a game that I came up with one day when I was trying to clean and he was getting into everything. I found a shoe box, threw his toy in it, put the box on the floor and asked him, “Where’s your toy?” He figured out it was in the shoe box and got it out. Now, when he has more energy than we do (which is often). We get a box and throw a toy in it. We then watch how long it will take him to destroy the box. I guess this is kind of like kids at Christmas who are more interested in the box than in the toy.

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One of my most favorite things about being owned by Owney is the opportunity to just hang out on the couch and give belly rubs. At night, when I’m dog tired and so is he, we’ll sit on the couch, watch TV and he’ll snuggle up beside me and give me what we call in the Warren household, “full access”. That is where Owney lays on his back and lets me rub his belly. He’ll let me do this all night long. And I just love it -–  really.

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So after a year of being a “parent” to a terrier mix; walking two times a day for 30 minutes at least; coming up with creative ways to keep him entertained; spending more money on dog toys than Dave Ramsey should know about; I am utterly in love with the boy. He is such a blessing and I thank God for him often. I wouldn’t recommend a terrier to anyone who wants to live a sedentary life, but he is ours now and I wouldn’t change that for the world.

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Only One Thing Left for McComas To Do: Pray

At the Wayne County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner, I ran into Jim McComas, former pastor of the Canaan Free Will Baptist Church, who is now director of Home Missions for the National Association of Free Will Baptists. McComas has served as the GOP’s chaplain.

McComas and Kasich

When I saw McComas, he joked about this blog, where my last post about him exploded with page views. In less than a day, the post about him transitioning into the new position became the fourth-most popular one on The Z Section. You can read that post (and watch my interview with him) here. It is amazing how many people have visited the site to see the post about McComas.

As chaplain of the Wayne County Republican Party, McComas was asked to open the event with a word of prayer and to close out the night by giving a benediction. In doing so, one of the people he was praying for was Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a deeply religious man who is not afraid to speak about his faith, as well as other elected officials and leaders.

I was not around for McComas’ opening prayer because I joined fellow journalists in an ante-room for a question-and-answer session with Kasich. I was there for McComas’ closing prayer, and it was powerful.

How powerful was it? See for yourself. Watch the video below:

Finally getting to meet one of Wayne County’s enigmatic figures

For more than a decade, I have been a reporter at The Daily Record. Up until a week or so ago, I had never had the chance to really speak to John Bowling, president of Rayco Manufacturing.

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Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Administrator Steve Buehrer (left) hears from Rayco Mfg. Plant Manager Jim Miller about a powder coating line.

Bowling is a quiet man who goes about his business, not desiring to call any attention to himself or his company, which manufactures stump grinders, brush chippers and forest mulchers. So, to say I was shocked when I received a call from Jim Pindell, the human resources/safety manager, asking me if I wanted to come on a tour of the plant is an understatement. I jumped at the opportunity.

What was the reason for the tour? Well, Gov. John Kasich was going to be in nearby Medina, Ohio, to deliver his state of the state address, so state officials canvassed Northeast Ohio. Steve Buehrer, administrator for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, wanted to visit Rayco and see how they were putting to use a couple of welding tables the company purchased with a safety grant. (Read The Daily Record story here.)

Plant Manager Jim Miller led Buehrer, his staff and me on a tour, which gave me a glimpse into who Bowling was. When Buehrer arrived, Bowling welcomed him, but deferred all comments to Miller and Pindell. Bowling rejoined the group as it was wrapping up the tour.

Bowling literally built the business from the ground up. Miller talked about how back in 1978 he had a tree service. He needed to rent a stump grinder, but he would not have access to one for a year. He couldn’t wait that long, so he built one. A friend liked it, so he sold it to him, and he built another. Thus began what became Rayco, named for Bowling’s father, the Rev. Ray Bowling (now deceased).

In the journalism business, reporters get to meet a wide-range of people. Some desire attention, a lot of attention. They call up the newsroom informing us of their every activity, asking (before insisting) we send out a reporter and a photographer. In the grand scheme of things, these people do very little, but they crave the spotlight.

Then you have people like John Bowling, who are successful, hire a lot of people, support a lot of families and enhance the local economy my exporting manufactured products and importing sales dollars, and they seek to avoid the limelight, letting their actions speak for themselves.

Stan Welty Jr., former president of Wooster Brush Co., was another one of those who preferred to work behind the scenes. I tried for years to write a story about him, but he never wanted to. The only story I ever had the opportunity to write about him was when he died (you can read that story here).

It was nice to get a chance to spend a little, and by little I mean little, time with Bowling and learn more about him. Buehrer was impressed with what he saw and what he heard, saying Bowling and Rayco are true Ohio success stories.

Here is video from Buehrer’s visit to Rayco:

Norwayne Students Hit All The Right Notes With ‘Music Man’

My wife, Wendi, and I had the opportunity to see Norwayne High School drama and music students perform Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man” on opening night Friday. We were joined by her parents, Bud and Dolores Breese, and her sister, Randi Breese. What a treat it was.

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Katie Moore, one of the girls with whom we go to Parkview Christian Church with (you can see her on the left side in the blue dress), was in the production. It featured Alex Miller as Prof. Harold Hill, a spellbinding con man looking to swindle the people of River City, Iowa, out of their money by selling the hopes and dreams of putting together a band (which means buying instruments, instruction manuals and uniforms), and Katie Rickey as Marian Paroo, the librarian and music teacher in town who Prof. Hill has to convince the band thing is legitimate.

My wife and I own the movie version with Robert Preston and Shirley Jones; we have seen the Matthew Broderick remake; we have seen the Broadway Series touring show; we have seen community theater productions; and my wife was in a dinner theater production of the musical.

One of the problems with putting on “The Music Man” is that Robert Preston owns the part. Everyone who takes on the challenge of bringing Prof. Harold Hill to live yet again will always be compared, unfairly, to what Preston did with the part. He played the role on Broadway and in the movie. It is tough to follow in his steps.

However, Miller did an admirable job with his performance, and he’s only in high school. I thoroughly enjoyed the performance and gave the Norwayne Players and stood to applaud their efforts at the end of the performance.

“It was entertaining,” Wendi said. “I enjoyed all the students’ acting. The time and effort they put in practicing showed; they kept the audience engaged.”

There are still two performances, but I am not sure if there are tickets left. There is a 7:30 p.m. performance tonight and a 2 p.m. matinee Sunday. Tickets are $5 for children and students and $7 for adults.

If you cannot see the show, then have a look at the opening number:

What Would You Do Differently if You Knew Today Was Your Last on Earth?

Guest blog by Wendi Warren

Maybe because I’m growing older or because I’m hearing about people my age who have died suddenly, the thought of cherishing each day has become something that I have been thinking about lately, a lot.

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Wendi and Bobby

After hearing of the sudden stroke of Aldo Colombini, a magician friend of Bobby’s, and then his death four short days later, it struck me again about how we never really know how much time we have. I talked with Bobby about what we would do differently if we knew when our last day on earth would be. He said, “That’s your next song: ‘If We Knew.’”

I am by no means a lyricist. I have written lyrics before and asked my sister, Randi, to put them to music. One in particular was for my dad a couple of Christmases ago called “Sharp Stick in the Eye” (the video appears at the bottom of this post). But I’m sure I’ll never win a grammy.

However, I do enjoy writing and haven’t done that much of it lately, so I thought I’d give it a shot. What came out was not lyrics to a song, but more of poem. I tried to capture that what we think is so important may not really be the case, if we knew — really knew — that today was the last day that we had. The poem appears below.

If We Knew
If we knew there’d be no tomorrow,
If today was all we had,
Would we allow bitterness and sorrow
To grow and make us feel so bad?

Would we leave things left unsaid
That show people that we care?
Wouldn’t we rather bear our hearts
Letting them know we’re glad they’re near?

Would the important seem more urgent;
And the urgent seem less so;
Would we do the things that matter
And let the things that don’t just go?

Would the dishes and the laundry
Consume our precious time,
Or would spending it with those we love
Become more vital in our mind?

Would criticism and complaining
Matter more to us
Than forgiveness and maintaining
A level of healthy trust?

Wouldn’t it make more sense for us
To spend the time that we’ve been given
Cherishing the ones we love so much
And make our lives worth living?

Yes, if we knew that today was
The last day on this earth,
The present would seem more like a gift
Than gold and all it’s worth.

So even if we have more years
To spend upon this globe,
It makes sense to enjoy life now,
Because we never really know.

Wendi Warren, February 2014

Jim McComas leaving “Thrill on the Hill” for national position with Free Will Baptists

Pastor Jim McComas, who has been part of the Canaan Free Will Baptist Church (aka the Thrill on the Hill) for the past 25 years, will step down as senior minister at the end of February as he transitions into his new role as director of church revitalization for the National Association of Free Will Baptists in Nashville.

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I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with him for a story that appeared on The Daily Record’s Religion page Feb. 21, 2014 (read the story here). I shot video of our conversation and much of what McComas had to say appears in the story.

Some of the things that did not make it into the story concern his calling to the ministry and his favorite themes on which to preach.

McComas accepted the Lord as his savior when he was six years old during Vacation Bible School at Grace Brethren Church. By the time he was in third grade, he knew God was calling him into the ministry. He said he would preach into a tape recorder because “who wanted to hear a nine-year-old preach.”

When I asked McComas about what themes he liked to preach on, he said he could come up with a list of a hundred sins and start preaching on them. However, “If I can get them to fall in love with Jesus,” that will take care of a lot of stuff, he said.

When Doug Hunter was doing his Wayne County 365 project, McComas was one of his subjects. In Hunter’s piece, which you can read here, McComas talked about how he wanted to be known as more than just a guy in a suit to the students in the Norwayne school district. McComas touches upon that and more in our video conversation.

Check it out:

What Did You Do at 8 a.m. on Valentine’s Day? This Couple Got Married

Shortly before 8 a.m. Valentine’s Day, Jose Arriaga, Tami Maxwell and Donna Pritchett arrive at the steps of the Wayne County Courthouse in downtown Wooster. The doors do not open until 8 a.m., and I stand with the trio as we wait in sub-freezing temperatures until we can get inside the courthouse.

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I ask if anyone in the group is getting married, and Jose said he was. Wayne County Probate Court Judge Latecia Wiles offered to perform Valentine’s Day weddings for those who wanted to wed on that day, and Jose did.

As I looked at Jose, he looked vaguely familiar, but I did not recognize him. I asked if I knew him, and he said, “I am Jose.” I knew immediately who he was, the former owner of the Three Amigos Mexican Restaurant.

I first met Jose not too long after I came to town. His restaurant was then located across from The Daily Record’s offices inside the Best Western Hotel. He would later move it. I’ve done stories with Jose over the years related to his business. And, on Valentine’s Day, we joined together for another story.

Jose and Tami kindly allowed me to interview them and shoot video of their wedding. I attended a second wedding later that day with Jason Mowrer and Melanie Hartman. They, too, were gracious and talked to me for my story and let me shoot video.

Another interesting twist was that I knew Jason’s father, Dave. I met him years ago when I performed a magic show for his Sunday School class at Orrville Christian Church. Then, earlier this year, I took a photo of him while I was at the Wayne County Engineer’s Office as he was mixing salt and magnesium chloride, which helps the salt work better on the roads in the winter.

As I worked on the story (you can read it here), my mind could not help but wander to another wedding story I did back in 2010. It was my turn to work the weekend shift, and my editor, Jeanine Kendle, learned about a couple who were going to get married in the diner in Marshallville where they went on their first date.

It was one of those situations where if I had the time I could go cover the story, and if not, then it was not a big deal.

I decided to go. I wrote a story … and I shot video. Our newspaper is a member of the Associated Press, and the AP decided to pick up the story, though without my byline. The story spread like wildfire with newspapers and websites across the country and globe picking it up.

One night I was in Wal-Mart picking up some groceries, and the story scrolled along the bottom of the screens by the cashier. You can read my original story here. To get a sense of where the story has appeared, do a search for Marshallvile diner wedding.

After I wrote the Valentine’s Day story, I wondered what happened to the couple. I sent an email to the groom, but I have not heard back. My suspicion is the couple is no longer together. What a shame.

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Aldo Colombini, Magic’s Funny Man, Faces Serious Situation, Can You Do These 3 Things?

My friend, Leland Pennington, introduced me to the magic of Aldo Colombini decades ago, and a couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to introduce myself to Aldo and his lovely wife, Rachel.

Rachel and Aldo

The occasion was the “farewell” lecture tour for Aldo and Rachel, and it was organized by the Akron Magical Arts Society, Ring 161 of the International Brotherhood of Magicians. I lived about an hour away, and I so desperately wanted to make the trip.

I had written about Rachel’s health issues, in which she was dealing with major heart issues, and I had the opportunity to speak with both of them. Rachel, who faced an uncertain future back in 2010, was very matter-of-fact about her diagnosis, prognosis … and mortality.

So, it came as a complete shock Monday morning when word spread quickly about Aldo’s health. On Sunday, he had suffered a severe stroke. Maria Ibanez emailed the magic community with the news she had received from Simone Marron.

Rachel would later write:

I am writing to let you know that the love of my life, my beloved husband, best friend and partner Aldo has suffered a catastrophic stroke. Sunday afternoon paramedics rushed him to Munro Regional Hospital in Ocala. Today they performed another CAT Scan and I am saddened to say that the news is not good. Aldo is completely paralyzed on his right side. He cannot speak and the doctors say there is nothing else that can be done. Aldo loved life and does not want to be on life support. I am heartbroken by the fact that I must now take him off life-support and move him to Hospice Care. Short of a miracle, the doctors say he has less than two weeks. Please pray for him.

What was so surreal was how life for the Colombinis practically stopped because of Rachel’s health, and now more than three years later, life is on hold for them again, this time due to Aldo’s stroke.

When Rachel was dealing with her heart troubles, money was an issue. If she went out of state for the surgery, her insurance would pay out less. Many reached out to help the couple back then, through a website set up for Rachel, through the generosity of other magicians donating money and through the sale of ebooks in a number of countries. In 2010, then-13–year-old Kyle MacNeill organized a bunch of magicians through The Magic Cafe and put together an ebook, “Wild at Heart.” The magicians donated effects to the book, which sells for $20 on Lybrary.com, and all of the proceeds went to the Colombinis.

So, as Rachel tries to figure out what’s in Aldo’s best interests, I think there are a few things we can do:

  1. Pray. Rachel said it will take a miracle. If you are not the praying kind, then think the most positive thoughts you can muster that Aldo will receive a miracle.
  2. Go shopping. That’s right, go shopping on WildColombini.com and buy whatever ebook, digital download, DVD, packet trick or magic effect by Aldo that you have been putting off. Also, please consider everything Rachel is going through right now, so be patient about when you will receive your purchase. There’s no telling when she will be able to fulfill the order, but your purchase will help them out. Also, you can buy the “Wild at Heart” ebook at Lybrary.com, which will help them, too.
  3. Spread the word about how people can help the Colombinis. They have provided us with much joy, laughter and magic over the years, so let’s see how we can help repay them in some small way. So, please share this post with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, via email or any other way you connect with them.
  4. Oh, there’s a fourth thing: Did I mention pray? Please do so. (Should add, I have not talked with Rachel, she has enough to worry about, but please do what you can to help. Thanks, again.)

Update: Sadly, Rachel has informed us her best friend and the love of her life, Aldo, died on Monday.

Here are a couple of videos shot when Aldo and Rachel lectured in the Akron area. The first is them talking about their “farewell” lecture tour, and in the second one, Aldo reminisces about he late Ken de Courcy.

Are Elections the Best Form of Term Limits?

State Sen. Frank LaRose, a Republican from Copley, Ohio, who represents the 27th District, recently visited The Daily Record to discuss some issues he has been working on. One of them is redistricting reform, which he wants to see passed. (You can read the story on The Daily Record website here.)

State Sen. Frank LaRose (left) talks with The Daily Record Publisher Andrew S. Dix

State Sen. Frank LaRose (left) talks with The Daily Record Publisher Andrew S. Dix

“The best term limit is a competitive election,” LaRose said. Some suggest term limits take away power from the voter, he added.

LaRose’s answer is to fix redistricting.

When there are term limits, there will be a lack of experience. “It takes awhile to get up to speed,” LaRose said.

With term limits, LaRose said he believes lobbyists, staff and bureaucrats will likely have increased power.

Also, term limits can give more power to the executive branch, LaRose said. Elected officials who have been around for awhile might be a little bolder in standing up to the governor, LaRose said.

Another thing LaRose would like to see is online voter registration.

“There’s no reason we can’t do it online,” he said.

Keep up to date with LaRose on his website, Facebook or Twitter.

Now ‘The Ex Factor,’ Fox cancels show that put @JoshKrajcik on map

To hear Fox has canceled its singing competition show, “The X Factor,” after its third season comes as no surprise. After the first season, the Simon Cowell-led show lost its mojo. Actually, after Season 1 there was no Josh Krajcik.

Josh Krajcik and band in Orrville

Krajcik’s gruff look, his years of struggling to make it and trying to support himself slinging burritos provided a gripping and compelling back story. When he auditioned and Cowell heard him blast out Etta James’ “At Last,” there was this interesting juxtapositioning of this guy who looked like he came from the wrong side of the tracks with an incredible voice.

The same thing happened with Susan Boyle. The exterior just did not seem to match the voice within.

Can you name anyone who performed in seasons 2 or 3? Can you name the winners of seasons 2 and 3?

There were also signs not everything was going as smoothly as it should be for the show. What’s Season 1 winner Melanie Amaro up to? Has she even released a record? What about Chris Rene? See what I mean.

Krajcik was ready to go into the studio soon after finishing as the runner-up on “The X Factor.” However, it took forever for him to sign a deal. Why, who knows. Whenever The Daily Record‘s Lydia Gehring interviewed him, he never wanted to complain about how slow things were going and would only say it was the business side of it.

Further indication things might not be going as well as they could be for the show was when Krajcik’s album was finally released, it was with BMG and not L.A. Reid’s Epic Records.

No use crying over spilled milk. Season 1 introduced Krajcik to the world, and it was his version of “At Last” that captured everyone’s attention. The show served its purpose.

Here is Josh Krajcik, along with Eric French (guitar), Mitch Pinkston (bass) and Corey Gillen (drums), performing “At Last” at the Orrville Rib & Music Fest this past August.