The Former Gel-Pak Will Be…

…the new home for Lorain County Health and Dentistry.

In case you didn’t already know.

Back in 2008, I did my first article and I included a pic of the former Gel-Pak Building on Broadway from 2006. I was curious as to why the building had been permitted to sit, in the condition it’s in, without being cited by the City. Since then, Lorain County Health and Dentistry purchased it and the property for $280,000.

So, while it’s being renovated and refurbished, I though I’d provide the link to the two articles (above), and “before” and “now” pics of the building.



From the looks of it, it will be worth the wait for the services it provides.


Saving Downtown: Bardstown, Kentucky

As time passes, and we all get greyer, Lorain’s downtown misses out on more opportunities to do something with itself. More and more money gets wasted on surveys that will gather dust in a corner or on the shelf at the local library, rather than time and money being spent to resurrect this town from the grave it continues to dig itself into. While people argue whether downtown or infrastructure should come first, so that the other will follow, absolutely nothing gets done, making the entire argument moot. Our Design Review Board merely gums itself on the statutes they’ve lain out years ago, because none of the guidelines are really adhered to or, dare I say, even evident to anyone today.

This past weekend, I was in Bardstown, Kentucky for the wedding of my cousin Kris and his fiancee, Julia. The ceremony was in the evening, so we had Saturday afternoon to check out the downtown.  I was both thrilled and saddened because I could shoot another downtown, and only dream about what could be back home. According to a friend in the know, some of the stores downtown remain vacant because the owners are looking for $1500 per month rent. That’s JUST rent. A prospective businessperson would still need to shell out for utilities and insurance and everything else. And since there’s so many empty shops along Broadway, there’s less and less draw to the area. (Maybe the City could cut some of these store owners a break on their taxes IF they dropped rent to something that a prospective new business could afford so they could actually try to improve Downtown’s chances again?)

Dreaming aside, as you can see from the photos below, not only was Bardstown a beautiful area, it was also very busy, with numerous restaurants and even a soda counter in a drugstore!! Remember those? Sundaes and sodas and malts and shakes, sandwiches and snacks. Parking was a little scarce, but a drive or two through would find a space just recently vacated.  Very hospitable shopkeepers, friendly faces, and polite people were everywhere. If only…..







Lorain Lakefront Pride

Do you have pride in Lorain?

Do you want to see Lorain thrive and be counted?

We may have lost most of our thriving Steel and Auto industries, but we have the one resource that can provide many opportunities for Lorain, OH; the one thing that cannot be taken away from us. And that is our LAKEFRONT!

As citizens, we need to come together with our thoughts and ideas; we need to come up with a plan to make the LAKEFRONT into something we can all be proud of! If you agree….

…then please join us for this meeting on Monday August 8th @ the Main Branch of the Lorain Public Library, Conference RM A! Bring your thoughts, ideas, your desires. We need YOU! Most importantly, our city NEEDS US!

Any questions, please contact Jack Kirchner or Stefani Vancs (via Facebook). Hope to see you there!

Lorain Public Library Conf Rm A

351 Sixth Street

Lorain, Ohio


(Editor’s Note: Thanks to Ree for pointing out I didn’t copy the TIME the meeting was starting. Duh.)

PhotoPhun Challenge: New Year’s Resolutions

Lisa let me choose the first challenge of 2011, and I thought it’d be appropriate if we covered resolutions. Everyone makes’em come the New Year. The trick is keeping them well into the rest of it. Make sure to see what Lisa’s resolved. And Ree’s back!! Make sure to see what resolutions she’s made.

One of my resolutions, not the most important, is to read more. There’s a lot of books from authors I enjoy that I need to get caught up on, and reading definitely relaxes me and gives me the escape I need from the everyday BS that stresses us out. It’ll also keep me from wasting my time on stupid stuff on my laptop.

This MP3 player, when used with what’s in the following picture,

my sneakers, are going to spend a lot of time together on the treadmill this year. Doctor said my health is pretty dang good but, like lots of folks across America, I could stand to lose a little weight. I’ve been trying, but it’s like a yo-yo, it goes up, it comes down. It goes up…you get the picture. So, I started before the new year, and I plan to continue far into it.

This picture represents a couple resolutions. I’m going to be more patient this year. A little more patient with all those nuts on the road that think 7 ounces of cell phone is more important than the 2 tons of vehicle that they’re driving at 40+ MPH; that are too busy playing with the radio to see the light is green; the people that are too selfish to realize there are other people around them whose lives they are affecting. I’m going to do my dangedest to not bite their heads off this year, and set a better example for my kids.

I’m also going to give more time to people and entities that need help. I donated a bit of my time last year to a very worthy cause, and I started giving more time to my Church. I’ll continue to do more for both entities. My folks aren’t able to plant and take care of the vegetable garden in their backyard anymore, so my kids and I are going to do it, with my Dad’s supervision and instruction. We’ll learn from someone who’s been doing it since I was a young’un, and who’s garden rivals the lushness and fertility of the Garden of Eden (LOL).

I also hope to add another photographer to the ranks this year. My post for that will be forthcoming.

Those are my resolutions for 2011. We’ll see in 364 days how well I did.

May 2011 be a Prosperous and Peaceful Year for You and Yours.

The Herons Will Be Fine (And Then Some!)

Due to some bad info, and a failure to follow-up with other sources (on my part), some very erroneous information was put out last week, concerning what was thought to be the destruction of the better part of the heron rookery along the Black River. Phones were ringing fast and furious, at my home, and others, to put out a fire that I ignited. I am back to apologize for my failure to “do my homework” (though I did on the rest of the article), and shed some light on what is going on over there.


With Loraine Ritchey’s help and playing middle-man (person?), I was able to get a tour of the site and surrounding area with Utilities Director Corey Timko. Corey took me to the site that Mike Kennedy and I had visited to explain what was really happening. The area we saw was being leveled and graded, with new grass planted to restore the area to a natural state, hopefully as close as possible to what it was in its original prime. Over the years that US Steel has been there, the property there had become a dumping site, for metal trash, slag, and other byproducts of the steel making process. With the realization over recent years that we should be taking better care of Mother Nature, this is what prompted the land’s donation to the City. The City was then able to get federal funds to clean it up. Should the City ever renege on keeping the property in its pristine natural condition, it would be responsible for paying back the $6+ million it received for the clean-up.


Corey informed me that the City is doing a very thorough job bringing this property back from the condition it’s been in for a long time. The slag, lime, scrap metal, dead trees and wood and other ‘waste’ generated by the Mill is being consolidated into individual piles, for recycling, processing, and eventual removal from the area. The wood is being shredded and will eventually be used for compost and/or mulch. The lime can eventually be used to ‘sweeten’ ground, making it produce better vegetation, by increasing the pH of acidic soil, providing a source of calcium for plants, and improving water penetration for soil. 

Scrap metal

According to Corey and the Master Plan, the restoration actions laid out for rescuing the area include installing fish shelves to create fish habitat at feasible locations, slag pile remediation, wetland restoration/construction and stream bank stabilization. Great care is being taken with this entire project. Returning 80 to 100 acres of the land to a natural state is a source of pride to all involved. Eventually, the entire area could be an eco-tourism sightseeing venture, with boat rides up the river. Paths are being mapped out and constructed along the northern side, so people can walk or ride bikes to see what’s been done.


When I asked about the low level of the river banks, and the fear of the river overflowing and flooding the area, Corey told me that they hope that it will, and possibly create a small stream through the leveled area, allowing nature to take its own course through the area. Having the site be reconstructed naturally will make the land even more habitable to/for native species.

Approaching another area along the river, we came upon hundreds of planters with young bushes and plants. These were flora native to the area and the habitat. These would eventually be put in along the riverbank.

We drove down a steep hill, coming to a stop almost level to the river. To the left of us was a large stand of trees. Corey pointed up into the tops of the trees.

Here’s the start of the rookery. Just in this photo alone, there are 8, possibly 9 nests. According to Corey, the herons do migrate south, contrary to the report I cited in last weeks article. We didn’t see a single heron while we were down there.

Eventually, after the acreage is restored, and the scrap is removed, attention can be turned to the other part of the property the City owns there. There are hopes to relocate the treatment plant there, which would clean the river up even more, and a source of cooling water provided to the steel mill. There are other ventures being planned for the area, all of which would create jobs, and be environmentally friendly.

So, the herons are fine, their protection and habitat preservation was of utmost importance in the implementation of this restoration plan. As the preserve matures, it is hoped that the population continues to flourish here, with the river being cleaner, a thriving area conducive to more of the native species, and land that is much more natural.

Clicking on the map above will take you to the pdf file of the entire Master Plan for the ecological restoration of the Lower Black River. I encourage you to look it over.

10 Rules for Dating My Daughter

I’ve had this for quite a while, and now that my daughter is older, and will be dating soon, I thought it appropriate to dig it out.

Rule One: If you pull into my driveway and honk you’d better be delivering a package, because you’re sure not picking anything up.

Rule Two: You do not touch my daughter in front of me. You may glance at her, so long as you do not peer at anything below her neck. If you cannot keep your eyes or hands off of my daughter’s body, I will remove them. 

Rule Three: I am aware that it is considered fashionable for boys of your age to wear their trousers so loosely that they appear to be falling off their hips. Please don’t take this as an insult, but you and all of your friends are complete idiots. Still, I want to be fair and open minded about this issue, so I propose this compromise: You may come to the door with your underwear showing and your pants ten sizes too big, and I will not object. However, in order to ensure that your clothes do not, in fact, come off during the course of your date with my daughter, I will take my electric nail gun and fasten your trousers securely in place to your waist.

Rule Four: I’m sure you’ve been told that in today’s world, sex without utilizing a “barrier method” of some kind can kill you. Let me elaborate, when it comes to sex, I am the barrier, and I will kill you.

Rule Five: It is usually understood that in order for us to get to know each other, we should talk about sports, politics, and other issues of the day. Please do not do this. The only information I require from you is an indication of when you expect to have my daughter safely back at my house, and the only word I need from you on this subject is “early.”

Rule Six: I have no doubt you are a popular fellow, with many opportunities to date other girls. This is fine with me as long as it is okay with my daughter. Otherwise, once you have gone out with my little girl, you will continue to date no one but her until she is finished with you. If you make her cry, I will make you cry.

Rule Seven: As you stand in my front hallway, waiting for my daughter to appear, and more than an hour goes by, do not sigh and fidget. If you want to be on time for the movie, you should not be dating. My daughter is putting on her makeup, a process that can take longer than painting the Golden Gate Bridge. Instead of just standing there, why don’t you do something useful, like changing the oil in my car?

Rule Eight: The following places are not appropriate for a date with my daughter: Places where there are beds, sofas, or anything softer than a wooden stool. Places where there are no parents, policemen, or nuns within eyesight. Places where there is darkness. Places where there is dancing, holding hands, or happiness. Places where the ambient temperature is warm enough to induce my daughter to wear shorts, tank tops, midriff T-shirts, or anything other than overalls, a sweater, and a goose down parka – zipped up to her throat. Movies with a strong romantic or sexual theme are to be avoided; movies which features chain saws are okay. Hockey games are okay. Old folks homes are better.

Rule Nine:Do not lie to me. I may appear to be a slightly overweight, grey haired, middle-aged, has-been. But on issues relating to my daughter, I am the all-knowing, merciless god of your universe. If I ask you where you are going and with whom, you have one chance to tell me the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I have a shotgun, a shovel, and five acres behind the house. Do not trifle with me.  

Rule Ten:Be afraid. Be very afraid. It takes very little for me to mistake the sound of your car in the driveway for a chopper coming in over a rice paddy near Hanoi. When my Agent Orange starts acting up, the voices in my head frequently tell me to clean the guns as I wait for you to bring my daughter home. As soon as you pull into the driveway you should exit your car with both hands in plain sight. Speak the perimeter password, announce in a clear voice that you have brought my daughter home safely and early, then return to your car – there is no need for you to come inside. The camouflaged face at the window is mine.

To All Volunteer Baseball Coaches…

Baseball season is about to start for Lorain Youth Baseball. My kids were in the program for 8 and 7 years, respectively. They had their fair share of coaches over that time, some were fair, and some were not. There’s not a lot anyone can do, or that LYB is willing to do, because they are volunteers. So, based on what I’ve seen, and what my kids have experienced, this is for all those coaches to think about:

Treat all the kids the same. If one player screws up and you say something to him/her, make sure you do it to the next one that makes the same screw-up. Especially if it’s your child.

Establish the importance of coming to practice. Do not favor kids that have more experience playing and blow off practice. A team practices and plays TOGETHER. That includes your kids.

If you have a girl on your team, and she’s better than some of the boys, do not put her in the outfield because you don’t want to embarrass the boys. If she earns a spot in the infield, GIVE IT TO HER.

Do not talk about some of your players to other players IN FRONT OF THE PLAYERS YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT. One coach was as insensitive as anyone I’ve ever seen.  He told one player he was going in to catch, and then told him a little later he was going to put in the best catcher he had, which was another player. That player threw the ball into the outfield twice trying to throw to 2nd base, and allowed 2 passed balls, which let a few runs score, thus losing the game. This same coach then pulled 4 boys aside, and told them he wanted them in yet another All-Star game, and did this in front of six other boys. No tact whatsoever.

If you plan on playing your son/nephew/best friend’s kid regardless of his talent, then you should tell the other players on the team that up front. Don’t let these kids believe that they are all competing for positions when you plan on showcasing your kids regardless.  One coach that I’ll call ‘Ray’, had his two sons on the team. Neither of them played with any real passion or intensity, yet they got the bulk of the playing time. They couldn’t catch a ball hit right to them, and though the one ‘pitched’ quite often, he frequently walked the bases loaded MULTIPLE times per game. They often missed practice because they had other sports practice.  Way to be fair, ‘Ray.’ Ray also played the girl in the outfield, and the minimum 2 innings per game, even though she played harder and better than his kids.

Don’t yell and scream at the kids. Take them aside and explain to them what they did. If they don’t listen or they don’t play hard, then you sit them except for their two innings. If they want to play, they’ll try harder and they’ll pay attention.

Coach fair. One coach was very aggressive, trained his players well, and they performed well. However, he would rant and rave from the sidelines if the opposing team did something, and then have his kids do it just a few innings later. Don’t be a hypocrite.

There are other things that I’ll probably think of later, and I’ll add’em to the comments. But of all the coaches that I’ve seen that volunteered to coach for Lorain Youth Baseball, there were three that deserve recognition and mention. Eric Morgan, Carl Gray, and Tony Krasienko (yes, that Tony Krasienko) were patient, considerate and fair. The kids responded well to their guidance, and respected them for it. And they played like it, too. Eric and Tony’s teams went all the way to the championship. Carl’s team, the one year, was hampered by many of the players not making it to the games. However, in one game his 5 players out-hit, out-fielded and out-scored a 9-player team. And one of those 5 players was a girl who he showed no favors to. A tip of the ballcap to these three men.  Youth baseball needs more men like these.