Archives for November 2010

Farmers, Urbana Rotary Grow an End to Polio

When you sit down with family and friends Thursday, be sure to include farmers in your Thanksgiving prayer. For that matter, keep them in mind whenever you eat.

Karen and Bart Ward by their Acre of Corn.

And this year, keep in mind a group of about 35 farmers who have joined the Urbana, Ohio, Rotary Club in a project that’s using some of the fruits of their labor not only to nourish but also to save lives.

Through the club’s Acre of Corn project, each of the farmers is giving the gross income from one acre of their corn harvest to Rotary International’s End Polio Now campaign.

Their donations will go toward Rotary’s $200 million pledge to match a $355 million gift from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The money is funding a massive drive to produce, distribute and administer oral polio vaccine to children in the last four countries where polio continues to paralyze and threaten the lives of children — Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan.

Don Bauer of the Urbana Rotary Club developed the fund-raising concept. He’s happy to report that the international campaign has been highly successful since Rotary International became involved in 1985. Worldwide, incidence of polio has fallen 99 percent, from 350,000 cases a year in 125 countries to 1,600 cases a year in the four remaining polio-endemic countries.

And in just the last year the number of cases in India dropped from 498 to 39, as of October 26. In Nigeria, cases have declined from 382 to 8 in the last 12 months.

However, Don says, “As good as this news is, we can’t stop now. World health officials say that polio has to be eradicated completely or it will come back and could paralyze 10 million children over the next 40 years.”

Personal Interest

One of the 35 participating farmers, Bud Runyan of Urbana, has a personal interest in the campaign. The summer after graduating from Urbana Local High School, in 1953, he contracted polio.

Bud Runyan, left, honored as the 2010 Rotary Farmer of the Year Award by Rotarian Chuck Havens.

Today he’s thankful to live with no effects of the disease. After being diagnosed, he underwent three months of weekly electroshock treatments in Columbus, which left him nearly symptom free.

He credits his bout with polio for his 30-year career as a vocational agriculture teacher at West Liberty, West Liberty-Salem and Urbana high schools. He was on the fence about going to college, but since he couldn’t work while he was getting his treatments in Columbus, he decided he might as well take classes at The Ohio State University. He kept studying after the treatments were over and graduated in 1958.

“I’m thankful that I was lucky enough to come out of it without problems and that I can do something to prevent others from getting polio,” says Runyan, who was honored as the Urbana Rotary Club’s Farmer of the Year earlier this year.

For more  information on the Acre of Corn program, contact Don Bauer at 937-215-3100 or

Dreaming of the Good Ol’ Days of Publishing

For me, reading the Urbana Daily Citizen’s Saturday edition was a wistful experience.

The first thing that caught my attention on Page One was the color photo of the Urbana Twin Cinema’s marquee announcing the return of movies to Urbana. That’s good news: Urbana has not seen its “Last Picture Show.”

The wistfulness came when my eyes shifted right to the headline: “Urbana Daily Citizen will start 2011 in new location.”

It’s the Daily Citizen’s second metamorphosis in recent months. First, bankruptcy proceedings and a change of ownership. And now this—shedding its long-time home, 220 E. Court St. near downtown, for Suite 10 of the Scioto Square shopping center …  “conveniently located near Kroger,” as the article put it.

Granted, 220 E. Court St. is no architectural work of art. It’s as “artless” as the newsroom is windowless. Completely windowless, in fact. But really, a newsroom in a strip mall?

Of course, the move makes sense. Much of the current building is unused, wasting money to heat. The press room has been closed for many years since Brown Publishing consolidated printing operations of its papers. Desktop publishing put the composing room out of business. And thanks to digital photography, the darkroom is just a dark room—windowless like the newsroom.

But the place holds a lot of nostalgia. It’s the first place I ever wrote anything in Urbana, Ohio. I can’t remember what that first article was. But I slugged it out on a hulking manual typewriter, in my first job out of college, with the incessantly clattering Associated Press wire machine at my back, at a desk that abutted the desk of Managing Editor Phil Angelo—a desk and title that I eventually moved over to.

At the risk of sounding like some old guy, there really was a lot of charm to those good ol’ newspaper days.

But, come to think of it, what’s not to like about the ease of electronic publishing. Just a click of the “Publish” icon…. Now you’re reading this!

A tip of the fedora to Daily Citizen Managing Editor Brenda Burns for granting my request for one last nostalgic look around the confines of 220 E. Court St.–and, of course, a good deep breath of the lingering scent of printer’s ink.

Where It’s Veterans Day Every Day

Only one day is marked on the calendar to honor the men and women who have defended our country. But at the Champaign Aviation Museum in Urbana, Ohio, every day is Veterans Day.

Champaign Aviation Museum, Urbana, Ohio

Guests view planes during the Champaign Aviation Museum's open house on Saturday. The Champaign Lady B-17 can be seen in the background.

World War II B-17 vets often stop by to check progress of the museum’s project to rebuild a B-17 Flying Fortress—the Champaign Lady—to flying status. In its fifth year, the volunteer effort recently moved from Hangar 9 on the south end of Grimes Field to the museum, on the airport’s north end. It shares the space with other vintage aircraft.

When B-17 veterans arrive they get a hero’s welcome. Photos of the veterans decorate the work area. And work stops as the volunteers take in the veterans’ recounting of nighttime raids over Nazi Germany, of their riddled planes lumbering back to base.

The B-17 restoration and the museum are not just about antique flying machines. Urbana businessman and benefactor Jerry Shiffer started the project—and his family has continued it since his death—as a way to remember the sacrifices made for our freedoms.

Take a moment to visit the museum’s website—in particular a page that features bios of a couple of the many veterans who have visited the Champaign Lady. Stop by the museum, too. You might even get to meet a B-17 crew member, as I did on one visit.

And thank the veterans around you.

My nephew Wes, back from Iraq.

My nephew Mark, in Afghanistan.

I take this opportunity to honor the memory of my father-in-law, Kenneth Markley, who served in the Korean War, and my father, James Schenkel, who served in the Pacific Theater in World War II and at the beginning of the occupation of Japan at war’s end.

And a special salute to my nephews, Wes and Mark Poppel: Wes is back at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., after a tour in Iraq, and Mark, with the Ohio Air National Guard, is back from Afghanistan.

Click here to view a brochure that I and graphic designer Melinda Thackery created for the Champaign Aviation Museum.

‘Tis the Season to Shop Local

I’ll leave it to other bloggers to argue the implications of Tuesday’s elections on our local economy.

Instead, I’d like to present the merits of casting your dollars for local business. There’s no argument as to the stimulating effect shopping at independently-owned businesses has on communities like our own — Urbana, Ohio.

The 3/50 Project®,  a nationwide campaign to encourage consumers to support locally-owned businesses, offers this:

  • For every $100 spent at a locally-owned business, $68 comes back to the community
  • Only $43 recirculates from national chain stores

Now’s a good time—with the Christmas shopping season upon us—to try this out.

And, it just so happens, the Monument Square District, Urbana’s downtown business association, is offering the perfect, festive opportunity for us to discover the growing number of local shopping options we have. This opportunity is Historic Downtown Urbana’s Holiday Open House:

  • Friday, Nov. 5, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
  • Saturday, Nov. 6, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • Sunday, Nov. 7, 1-5 p.m.

Fourteen downtown retail businesses—some new and some well-established landmarks—will all be open during these hours. They’ve planned a fun, store-to-store celebration–a retail block party–that will help us discover and rediscover all the places we have to shop locally.

Here’s a listing of the stores and what they have planned:

ben and me – champagne and cupcakes

Carmazzi’s – drawing for a snack gift basket

Country Gentleman – free gift with $15 or more purchase, refreshments, door prizes

Courtney’s Cupboard – door prizes, refreshments

Everyday Organics – food product sampling, special discounts

Guild Galleries Interiors & Gifts – specials, door prizes, refreshments

Lily’s Garden – refreshments

Little Ones – 10% off children’s shoes, coats and winter apparel, bike giveaway, refreshments

My Old Ohio House Antiques – Victorian ornament exhibit

Scioto Street Gallery Antiques & Sweets – wine and hors d’oeuvres

Sweet Annie – free gift with $15 or more purchase, refreshments, door prizes

The Green Owl – holiday workshops, food & beverages, giveaway basket valued at $250, “meet the artist,” and live music

The Monkey Barrel – special pricing, refreshments

Wright’s Bikes – learn how to transform your bike into an exercise machine; learn how to fix a flat tire

See you downtown!

Democracy in Action in Champaign County, Ohio

It was my pleasure to work at the polls Tuesday in Urbana’s 4A Precinct with Scott Griswold, Stephanie Truelove and Loretta Vernon. A real joy to see so many people come out to the Champaign County Community Center to exercise their right to vote.

And thank you, Champaign County voters, for approving the Champaign County Library levy!