Welcome to Champaign Uncorked! 2013

In the beginning, with the best of intentions, I created a blog. Today I return to Champaign Uncorked! anew.

As in the original vintage of Champaign Uncorked!, I will celebrate the people, businesses, organizations, attractions and special events that make Champaign County, Ohio, a place I’ve been thankful to call home for the past 30+ years.

Occasionally Champaign Uncorked! will step across the county line. Nestled between the Dayton and Columbus metro areas, Champaign County offers the best of small town living with big city diversity just a quick jaunt down the road. Ramblin' Road Trip

I invite you to check out a recently launched marketing alliance of the visitors bureaus of Champaign, Logan and Union counties – Ohio’s Ramblin’ Road Trip – which capitalizes on combined strengths and tourist attractions.

And I invite you to join me as I open this newly re-vinted blog and toast the sights, tastes and experiences of Champaign County, Ohio, and the surrounding area.

What are your favorite features or memories of Champaign County?


The Return of Spring … You Can Almost Taste It!

The first crocus breaking through the earth is a beautiful sight. No doubt. But what spring-time “first” truly gets me excited?

That would have to be – and I’m certain I’m not alone – the first ice cream shop to reopen for the season.

Ahhhh ... a waffle cone in full bloom!

This year, in Champaign County, Ohio, that will be Dairy Corner, at 1472 E. U.S. 36, Urbana. The doors open at 11 a.m. this Saturday, February 18! Owners Bob and Robin Turner have added specialty hot dogs to the menu … and though maybe not Saturday, but by Monday, they’ll begin serving up a new variety of ice cream. (In addition, Dairy Corner is adding catering — a make your own sundae bar.)

Next to open will be the Urbana Dairy Queen at 1047 N. Main St. on the following Saturday,  February 25, and Climber Cone, at 801 Maimi St., Urbana, will open April 1.

If you know of other openings, please leave a comment.

Next up: Champaign Uncorked! will continue its recent food fixation, but will return to the subject of foods that are  locally grown.

A Lasting Memorial

This Tuesday, April 12, marks the 150th anniversary of the Confederates’ first shots on Fort Sumter, the start of the Civil War.

In God’s grand scheme 150 years is but a day (actually, a little more than three and a half hours, if you calculate by 2 Peter 3:8). Even from our limited perspective it’s less than twice the average American’s life span.

It’s difficult, at least for me, to believe that we’re quickly approaching the 10th anniversary of the tragic 9/11 terrorist attacks on American civilians. The memory of the moment I first heard the news is still fresh, as it probably is for you.

The Man on the Monument, downtown Urbana, Ohio.

But time marches on. Memory fades.

Even so, reminders of the War Between the States still stand among us. In Urbana, Ohio, every time we navigate the roundabout on Monument Square we see the iconic Man on the Monument. He’s an unnamed Union cavalryman preserved in bronze, head poignantly bowed for his fallen comrades—a testament to the 578 Champaign County men who gave their lives to preserve the Union and the principles and freedoms it was founded on.

Urbana firefighters and paramedics stand in front of the World Trade Center steel on Saturday.

In this same spirit, the Urbana Rotary Club stirred our memories and emotions on Saturday. The Rotarians coordinated a caravan of emergency vehicles and motorcycles, which escorted through the county a flatbed truck bearing a flag-draped, twisted and bent steel beam—a testament to the violence of 9/11 that brought down the World Trade Center and with it the lives of 3,000 innocent victims, including one of Champaign County’s own, Alicia Titus, a United Airlines flight attendant.

The caravan, witnessed by hundreds of Champaign County residents, came to a stop at Freedom Grove, where the twisted steel will become the centerpiece of a memorial to 9/11. To be designed by local artist Mike Major, the memorial will be dedicated this September 11, the 10th anniversary of 9/11, reminding future generations of the terrorist attacks, just as the Man on the Monument reminds us of the sacrifices that saved our country from destruction.

Fred Maine, who transported the WTC beam from New York, speaks Saturday at Freedom Grove.

Freedom Grove, at U.S. 68 and State Route 55 on the south end of Urbana, sits on land leased by the Rotary Club for a dollar a year from the Champaign County Board of Commissioners. The Rotary Club is developing the six-acre park through a countywide collaboration of organizations and citizens. It already includes:

  • Monuments dedicated to Americans who have sacrificed their lives for freedom, from the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror
  • A bell tower that houses Champaign County’s Bicentennial bell
  • A one and a half mile walking path

Click here to find out how you can support the development of Freedom Grove, the 9/11 memorial and pay tribute to loved ones.

Watch a WHIO-TV report on the 9/11 memorial.

Read an Urbana Daily Citizen article about the WTC steel procession.

New Year, New Website

Update: Since I posted this, the new GoChampaign has gone live on the Champaign County web portal. However, it may be a few days before it can be accessed on all computers.

Champaign Uncorked! wishes you a healthy, prosperous and fulfilling new year.

I’m thankful for the excellent writing and editing clients who gave me the opportunity to serve them in 2010 through Schenkel Communications, and I’m looking forward to helping them again in 2011 … and finding new opportunities.

Among the new opportunities of which I’m already aware: I will be providing record management services for the Community Improvement Corporation of Champaign County (CIC), and I’ll be serving as webmaster of the newly redesigned GoChampaign.com website, a project of the CIC, which will be debuting this New Year’s weekend.

New GoChampaign home page

Here's a sneak peak of the redesigned GoChampaign home page.

GoChampaign, originally launched in 2005 by the CIC, will continue to serve as an online discussion forum and outlet for Champaign County events, news and information.

Retooled to match the look of Champaign County’s web portal, the new GoChampaign should be accessible on all computers by Monday, January 3. You’ll be able to get to it by clicking on the “Live” tab at the top of the portal’s home page or by going directly to www.gochampaign.com. The portal also features the websites of the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau, the Champaign County Department of Economic Development and the City of Urbana.

I encourage you to register on the new GoChampaign. Registered users on the original GoChampaign site also will be asked to sign up, a process that takes less than a minute. After you receive an e-mail confirmation, you can participate in online discussions and submit news and events.

And even without registering, organizations can complete a simple electronic form—by clicking on “submit a listing”—to provide contact information and a description of what they do. I’ll take this information and post it on the site. As more and more organizations take advantage of this, we’ll build a valuable online directory.

My aim and that of the CIC is to make GoChampaign a go-to source for information about all things Champaign County – and complement the Chamber, Economic Development and City of Urbana websites.

I look forward to being a part of this and helping the CIC make GoChampaign one more thing to celebrate in Champaign County.

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!

Urbana, Ohio, Is on the Cover!

November 2010 Ohio Magazine cover features Urbana, Ohio, as Best Hometown for 2011.The November issue of Ohio Magazine is out, and Urbana is on the cover! Five versions of the magazine have been printed–each featuring one of the five regional Best Hometowns selected by the editors of the magazine.

Our cover features  Urbana University mascot Nitro the Knight and  Homecoming Queen Moriah Makarius.

Urbana, Best Hometown of the Southwest Ohio region, also will be featured in two issues next year.

A Toast to Life in Champaign County, Ohio

You’re just in time for the opening of my newest venture in writing. Welcome to Champaign Uncorked! Here I’ll share with you my appreciation for small town living—specifically in the place I call home … Urbana, Ohio, in verdant Champaign County.

It’s been home since 1979 when I turned from Hoosier to Buckeye upon graduation from Franklin College of Indiana. Answering an ad in Editor & Publisher, I ventured to a place I’d never heard of (though I grew up a short jaunt from Urbana, Indiana—a crossroads with a corny ring to it, and little else).

In Urbana, Ohio, I began my career as general assignment reporter and agriculture editor at the Urbana Daily Citizen—and eventually became managing editor (for more, see About Me). At 22 I saw Urbana as a launch pad.

Then I met a lovely young lady from Urbana, Kay Markley, and fell in love. Now, happily, she’s my wife of 27 years. Our older son, Andy, a senior field biology major at Ohio Northern University, is just a year from embarking on his own career in zoos or wildlife conservation. And our younger son, Alex, is a senior at Urbana High School. He plans to study graphic design in college (by the way, he created the header for this blog).

Back to Kay: she’s the one who nudged me with her usual loving, and relentless, encouragement to advance into the brave new world of social media. With this blog, I’m getting there.

Here, I’ll put my background as journalist to work to spotlight the people, places, businesses, organizations and events of this great community that’s become my landing.

And since this is my blog and I’ll self-promote if I want to, I’ll occasionally aim the spotlight on clients of my freelance marketing and public relations copywriting business, Schenkel Communicationswhen good writing matters.

Enough promotion. It’s time to celebrate!

Did you know? Champaign County and Urbana, Ohio, inspired the naming of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.