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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.

Rayco

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.

Music Man

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:

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.

JimMcComas

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.

Valentines wedding

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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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.

Oldie But Goodie: @JoshKrajcik Connects with Fan in Deeply Personal Way

Editor’s note: I was reviewing the Top 10 most popular posts on The Z Section, and this one is the No. 1 blog post of all-time here. When I looked at this again, I saw the photo of Josh with Ali and immediately knew I wanted to highlight this one again. Enjoy this blast from the past.

The photo below tells me everything I need to know about Josh Krajcik, a singer-songwriter originally from Wooster, Ohio, who gained national attention with his rendition of Etta James’ “At Last” at an audition for “The X Factor.”

Krajcik

Josh Krajcik speaking with Ali Booth at the Best Buy on the Strip in Canton.

I was in Canton on Wednesday, April 3, 2013, to shoot video for Krajcik’s performance and CD signing at the Best Buy on the Strip in Canton. I was part of The Daily Record team there to cover the event. Living Editor Lydia Gehring was there to interview Krajcik and do a story; Dan Starcher was there taking photographs; and I was shooting video.

Krajcik had just finished his acoustic set and stepped outside for a little break before signing autographs for his fans. On his way back in, he stopped to talk to Ali Booth, who works as a cashier at the Best Buy. The two met earlier in the green room.

What impressed me, and why I wanted to take the photograph, was how Krajcik treated Booth with dignity. He got down on her level so the two would be eye-to-eye when they talked. He could have easily just stood there, towering above Booth, and made some idle chatter before excusing himself. But that is not what he did.

Jane Carmichael is a long-time friend of Krajcik’s mom, Lisa Pim. Earlier in the day, we spoke about Krajcik, the album and how he knows what he wants and is working toward that goal.

Despite the success on The X Factor (he was runner-up) and the record contract, Carmichael confidently proclaimed, “He will never change. Josh will never change.” The context was that fame is not going to change the humble Krajcik.

To see something as captured in the photo above, it makes you think Carmichael is onto something.

Updated info:

The videos below are from The Daily Record’s YouTube Channel, check out the 23 Krajcik videos there. You can check out Gehring’s story, along with photos from Starcher, here. To see another post on The Z Section regarding Krajcik, click here.

Here is a slideshow from the Canton event and videos follow.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Enjoy Krajcik performing “Lost at Sea”:

Gehring’s interview with Krajcik, along with him performing his new single, “Back Where We Belong.”

Or, listen to Krajcik’s album on Spotify:

The Good Ol’ Days of Just Walking into Someone’s House

Wayne County Commissioner Jim Carmichael has seen a lot in his life: He spent 30 years with a gas company, rising to management; 10 years as mayor of Shreve, Ohio; 25 years as chairman of the Wayne County (Ohio) Republican Party; eight years as an Ohio state representative; and eight years as a county commissioner.

Wayne County Commissioner Jim Carmichael talking about the good ol' days.

Wayne County Commissioner Jim Carmichael talking about the good ol’ days.

One time, when Carmichael was talking to a group of students about his work in government, one of them said, “You are old, you should write a book.”

Carmichael, along with fellow commissioners Ann Obrecht and Scott Wiggam, recently met with Chief Building Official Ray Zytowiecki about how the Building Department fared in the previous year.

Zytowiecki talked about how the expansion projects at the J.M. Smucker Co. in Orrville have benefited the county (see stories from The Daily Record’s Paul Locher about acquisitions, building projects, new child care facility and more, and new offices in a renovated building).

At that point, Carmichael started reminiscing about his days at the gas company. It was the first day he was reading gas meters on his own, and he was reading them in downtown Orrville, where Smucker’s headquarters are located.

This was in 1961. Back then, the neighborhood was still filled with a lot of streets and houses. When he would go to a house, he would knock and yell, “Gas company!” Most of the time, meter readers would knock and walk into the home.

On the cards the men carried were notes about where the meter was, whether it was through a trap door, on the side of the house and if there were any dogs to worry about it.

It’s always interesting to hear Carmichael talk about the good ol’ days. Maybe when he gets a little older, he might write a book.

 

Never-before-seen footage of Josh Krajcik from House of Blues

Before Josh Krajcik stepped onto the stage of the House of Blues Cleveland Aug. 1, 2012, he sat down with The Daily Record’s Lydia Gehring to talk about a variety of subjects: The concert, the then-upcoming record, the recording sessions in Los Angeles and his backing band.

Josh Krajcik sits down with The Daily Record's Lydia Gehring.

Josh Krajcik sits down with The Daily Record’s Lydia Gehring.

Much of the video footage shot that night has not seen the light of day. With today being Josh Krajcik’s birthday, what better time to give his fans a glimpse behind-the-scenes.

Most of the video footage has never been seen before. Some of it appeared with a video that accompanied Gehring’s original story, which you can read here. Here is how she opened her story:

CLEVELAND — Before walking onto the stage at the House of Blues on Wednesday, “The X Factor” runner-up, Josh Krajcik, was “feeling good,” staying cool, calm and collected.

Just before playing in front of a packed venue of his fans who came to see him in only his second local performance since the show wrapped up in late December, the Wooster native and Triway graduate was doing some pre-concert relaxing in his dressing room with close friends and family. He had just had some snacks and completed a sound check.

“I’m the same guy, the same performer, I’ve always been,” Krajcik said of his post-”The X Factor” profession. “I just have better opportunities and more open doors. There are so many more things I can do now that I wasn’t able to do before.”

Today might be Josh’s birthday, but his fans are receiving this gift. Listen to the interview and tell me what you think about what the singer had to say nearly a year-and-a-half ago.

Update: This blog post was revised to include the opening paragraphs to Lydia’s story to give you a flavor of that night.

Blast from Past: Grandmother treks cross-country for @JoshKrajcik

The first time Josh Krajcik performed at McGaw Chapel on the campus of the College of Wooster September 2012, Ida Mae Lasick was there. She traveled from California to Northeast Ohio to see her favorite singer.

Uvs140119-001 Lydia Gehring, editor of The Daily Record’s Living section, documented the 68–year-old grandmother’s cross-country trek in a story. She wrote at the time:

Ida Mae Lasick traveled more than 2,450 miles to hear Josh Krajcik sing live at McGaw Chapel on Friday. The 68-year-old Penryn, Calif., resident had a crush on Elvis, but never wrote him fan mail or flew across the country to meet him. Lasick did both of those for her favorite musician — and more.

Ida Mae had contacted the newspaper wanting to know if she could hire someone on staff to record video of her trip. As much as I would have liked to earn a little extra money, the newspaper was already paying me to be there. Ida Mae wrote me a letter, and we exchanged some messages on Facebook. I kept asking her to give some time, I would get to it and do something with the video. I never did. Until today. Cherish the memories, Ida Mae, and enjoy Josh Krajcik singing your favorite song. The video is done, at last.