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Lorain’s Catholic Charities: Demand for food up 10 percent lately

August 15, 2011 in Front Page, Local News

LORAIN — An hour before Wednesday’s weekly dinner at the Catholic Charities Lorain Family Center, the waiting room is full. About 50 clients, including a few children and elderly people, sit at tables conversing while a young boy plays chess.

Alexander Fiason and Ramira Weeks, both of Lorain, talk with friends Aug. 10 at the Catholic Charities Family Center in Lorain. (CT photos by Steve Manheim.)

Alexander Fiason and Ramira Weeks, both of Lorain, talk with friends Aug. 10 at the Catholic Charities Family Center in Lorain. (CT photos by Steve Manheim.)

Lorain Schools, which serves meals to children, are out for most of the summer, making July and August the busiest months at the center, which serves poor people. And with the economy struggling, demand is up.

David Boyce said the center — which served about 28,000 meals last year to approximately 3,300 clients — has seen an approximately 10 percent increase in demand since the recession, which officially began in December 2007.

Click here to view more photos.

“Lorain does have a high poverty rate, a high unemployment rate, and that’s reflected in the number of people we feed every day as well as the number of people who come to our (food) pantry,” he said. “The need’s been increasing, (and) we try to anticipate that as we look toward the future.”

On Wednesdays, the food pantry provides baked goods and produce from area grocery stores whose shelf life has been exhausted but remain edible. Clients, who are called alphabetically, can choose eight items.

“If your name starts with an F or G, you can come in,” Karen Leadbetter, center food service coordinator, told clients. “There’s some really nice peaches over here if you want them.”

In addition to the weekly distribution, clients can pick up food once a month from a “choice pantry” with amounts based upon family size.

“It’s a very dignified way of giving them an opportunity to take those foods instead of just giving them a grocery bag,” Boyce said. “The choice pantry gives them a say in the food they get to bring home.”

The food is donated to the shelter through Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio, which helped feed 77,000 people in Crawford, Erie, Huron and Lorain counties last year, according to its website. That’s a 134 percent increase since 2006.

“They have a chance to get produce that maybe they normally wouldn’t go to a store and purchase,” Boyce said of clients, many of whose food stamps run out before the end of the month. “We get a variety. It just depends on what the stores turn in.”

Boyce said the majority of clients are between the ages of 20 and 45. Nearly all are Lorain County residents, and most are unemployed, although some work part time.

In addition to food, the center also provides anger management, job training and musical therapy classes, as well as free monthly medical exams and a free eyeglass program. The center — part of the Diocese of Cleveland — has an annual budget of about $290,000 and a staff of two full-time and two part-time employees. The staff includes a resources coordinator who connects clients with drug rehabilitation, heating assistance, housing or psychiatric programs.

“We want to make it kind of a one-stop place for individuals to come in and achieve a variety of different kinds of services,” Boyce said. “We really do a lot of other kinds of things that will help individuals meet some of their basic needs.”

Boyce said the center works closely with area providers such as the Neighborhood House Association, the Nord Center and the Salvation Army. The center also relies on about 700 volunteers including about 50 regulars.

Boyce, 58, worked in education publishing before becoming director in 2008. While a completely different environment, he said the transition has been smooth and he enjoys the work despite its challenging nature.

“Our mission is still to treat everybody with respect and dignity that walks through these doors and do our best to meet the needs they have,” he said. “We’re just going to keep plugging away and doing the best we can to serve these men and women.”

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or

Maintaining Your Form For 18 Holes

August 15, 2011 in Missing Links

[Editor’s Note: The following article was written by Todd Casabella, Director of Instruction at Grey Hawk Golf Club in Lagrange. Todd is a member of the Professional Golfers’ Association of America and a TPI Certified Golf Fitness Instructor.]

A round of golf traditionally takes about 4 to 4 ½ hours. During that time of the golf course, you’re actually only swinging the club and hitting the golf ball for about 2 minutes. That leaves a lot of down time and is one of the reasons it’s difficult to play your best golf for 18 holes. If you’re consistently having trouble finishing the last 4 to 6 holes of a good round, try these simple fixes to achieve your best performance.


It’s impossible to stay tuned in to your golf game the whole time your on the golf course. The best players have an ability to tune in to the shot they are going to hit, then after hitting it, tune out to something else. Jack Nicklaus used to hum the song “Rain Drops Keep Falling on My Head” to himself giving his mind a break. This is why it’s important to develop a pre-shot routine. It signals your mind for when it’s time to re-focus on the shot at hand. Tiger Woods begins his pre-shot routine by closing his eyes for a second when he opens them; he’s focused and ready to go.

Staying hydrated is extremely important to finishing a good round. When the body loses water it can cause a loss of focus and muscle fatigue. Obviously, this would make it difficult to play your best golf. To stop from getting dehydrated not only do you need to be drinking plenty of water while you play but before you go out to play as well. Nutritionists are now recommending that you drinking 25% of your daily water intake with breakfast. Your daily water intake should be half of your body weight in ounces. If you weigh 180lbs, that’s 90oz. of water for the day and 22oz. should be consumed at breakfast. Don’t wait until you get thirsty to start drinking either. You should be moderately sipping water through out the entire round. If you’re properly hydrating you should have to go to the restroom at least once during your round. Also, avoid alcohol until you settle your bets in the clubhouse. Alcohol increases the dehydration rate.

What you eat on the golf course will definitely affect your performance. Eating a hot dog at the turn can be a killer to your score. They are loaded with sodium and fat which can quickly change your mood on the golf course. Definitely avoid eating candy or anything that creates a spike in energy. The amount of food you eat at one time can be detrimental as well. Avoid eating your lunch at the turn. If you do have to eat your lunch on the golf course take your time and eat it over several holes. Energy bars should be consumed slowly over numerous holes as well. The most effective food on the golf course are nuts. Not packaged salty peanuts, stay away from those. Try a mix of almonds, walnuts and pecans. This will give you the sustained energy you need to finish your round strong.

Finally, to sustain a good round through the 18th hole, breathe. Focus on your breathing. Pay attention to the rhythm of your breaths. Take your time with deep breaths. As you exhale slowly, allow any tension in your body to be dismissed. Finish strong.

For more information about Todd, check out his website, You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

To schedule a lesson, give him a call at 440.225.5022.

Copley works on recovering from deadly shooting

August 15, 2011 in BREAKING

COPLEY — An Ohio town where eight people died in a shooting rampage this month is thanking everyone who offered help and prayers.

Copley Township trustees said in an open letter to residents over the weekend that the community near Akron in northeast Ohio has been shaken in ways no one could ever imagine. The letter said that if everyone stands strong together, the township will continue to be one of Ohio’s “safest and nicest communities.”

Police said a resident shot seven people to death on Aug. 7 before dying in a gunfight. The victims included an 11-year-old boy.

WJW-TV of Cleveland reported makeshift memorials of notes, flowers and crosses have taken root outside houses where people were killed. Ribbons honoring the dead have been tied to trees in the center of town.

Gas in Ohio drops a nickel from last week

August 15, 2011 in BREAKING

COLUMBUS — Ohio gas prices are down a nickel after a week that saw oil prices dip to their lowest levels this year.

Today’s survey from auto club AAA, the Oil Price Information Service and Wright Express shows regular-grade gasoline is averaging $3.56 a gallon statewide, compared to $3.61 a week ago.

Gas remains a good deal cheaper in Ohio than it was last year at this time, when the average for regular was $2.67.

In Medina, the most reasonable price for a gallon of regular-unleaded fuel was listed at $3.48 this morning at several stations in the city, some of which include the Clark station, 427 N. Court St., Valero, 245 Lafayette Road, and Speedway, 900 N. Court St., according to

The website lists a Sam’s Club station in west Columbus as having the cheapest gas statewide at $3.24 per gallon, while the most expensive is $3.85 at a Marathon station in Upper Arlington.

The cost of crude oil fell below $76 last week amid concerns about a slowing U.S. economy and worsening European debt crisis. Last month oil was trading around $100 a barrel.

Filming of ‘The Avengers’ begins today in Cleveland

August 15, 2011 in BREAKING

CLEVELAND — The cameras are about to start rolling in Cleveland for the Marvel Studios superhero movie “The Avengers.”

The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported movie crews have been turning a city street into what appeared to be a battleground, putting crushed cars and pieces of buildings in place ahead of the start of filming today. The newspaper says crews transformed nearby buildings to look like storefronts for a bagel shop, a bank and a car dealership.

The set has been drawing film and comic book fans who snapped photos as technicians prepared the scene.

Marvel Studios has been tight-lipped about the movie’s plot. It features the Marvel comics superheros, including Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury and Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow.

Longtime EC coach and supporter Lou Rotunda dies at age 85

August 15, 2011 in Front Page, Local News

ELYRIA — Lou Rotunda graduated from Elyria High School, worked 44 years at The Chronicle-Telegram, was a lifelong member of St. Mary Church, was heavily involved in CYO, belonged to the Knights of Columbus, the Elyria United Polish Club and the Elyria Senior Fellowship and was both a Moose and an Elk.

Lou Rotunda

Lou Rotunda

While he was certainly proud of each and every organization on that list, his one true love was obvious to anyone who knew him or even just met him: Elyria Catholic High School.

“His whole life was Elyria Catholic,” former EC basketball coach Bob Guinta said.

Rotunda, who served as freshman basketball coach, assistant athletic director, equipment manager, substitute teacher and supporter without peer at Elyria Catholic, died Sunday morning at The Abbewood. He was 85.

In a life of service and dedication to others, one thing is clear: They didn’t call Rotunda “Mr. Elyria Catholic” for nothing.

“His life was sewn into the very fabric that is the school’s mission,” said Elyria Catholic president and longtime friend Andrew Krakowiak. “I never knew anyone who loved Elyria Catholic as much as he did.”

Krakowiak first met Rotunda when Krakowiak was coaching basketball with his brother at Holy Name High School nearly 30 years ago.

“He came down and sat on the bench with me and introduced himself,” Krakowiak said. “He said, ‘I love the way you guys coach your teams.’ … He loved his basketball. He loved to talk basketball until the very end. … He was very sharp, very sharp until the end.”

Despite not being a basketball player himself, Rotunda became EC’s first freshman coach in 1954 and kept the job until 1993, compiling an impressive 419-223 record. He had just four losing seasons in all those years.

He grew in the job, too. Suzanne Camp, a teacher and former coach and assistant AD at EC, remembers when she was hired to coach girls basketball 37 years ago.

“I had no experience whatsoever,” Camp said. “Lou would diagram plays for me. Even though he was coaching the boys, he took time to come to our practices and work with the girls. He was just an outstanding help to me and always was a true friend to everyone. He genuinely cared for the students, and not just the athletes.

“His memory is going to live in the halls of EC forever. The loyalty he had for the school is amazing. He will truly be missed.”

It was also basketball that led former Chronicle sports editor Jerry Rombach to Rotunda when Rombach arrived in town in 1965.

“He was Mr. Basketball,” Rombach said. “One of our editors told me to call Lou Rotunda to get all the background on Elyria Catholic and the area sports.”

Rotunda filled Rombach in over lunch and the two became good friends as well as co-workers. Rotunda was city assistant circulation manager for 20 years at The Chronicle before moving to the composing room.

Rotunda accompanied Rombach and former Chronicle sportswriter Roger Negin to many EC games over the years.

“We had a lot of long talks,” Rombach said. “He’s an institution at Elyria Catholic. He really is. He’s almost a legend. He told me players he coached 30 years ago would send him cards and letters.”

Rotunda didn’t come from a big family and he never married. He is survived by his sister-in-law, Mrs. Sam Rotunda, a niece and a nephew, and several great-nieces.

“He’d send cards to kids when they graduated,” said Guinta, who, like Rotunda, was inducted into the Elyria Sports Hall of Fame. “It was his life.”

“I know the kids liked him,” Guinta added. “He took an interest in the kids. That was his whole life. You didn’t say anything about Elyria Catholic.”

When Rombach began the Pick-It-Line, a longtime Chronicle tradition in which members of the sports department pick the winners of the area high school football games, he included Rotunda. It became a good-natured running joke that Rotunda would never pick against the Panthers.

“EC could be playing Notre Dame or Ohio State and he’d still pick EC,” Guinta said with a laugh. “He didn’t want to bend and give up that loyalty to his school.”

Of course, that loyalty is what set Rotunda apart. Krakowiak said there’s a line in the EC alma mater that makes him think of Rotunda every time he hears it.

Loyalty that never dies.

“I really think he is the epitome of that line,” Krakowiak said. “He was a man of great integrity and loyalty. He was truly a man of God. He will be missed but his presence will always be there.”

Besides the Elyria Sports Hall of Fame (he is a member of the class of 1978), Rotunda was also inducted into the Lorain County Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Elyria High School Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame in 2000. In 1956 he received the Eagle of the Cross for Youth Work from the Cleveland Diocese and was awarded the Ohio High School Athletic Association State Award in 1999-2000 for exemplary contribution and services.

His contributions to EC are almost impossible to list, but include raising money for the school’s trophy cases and helping design them, helping to design the 3,000-seat Coliseum, making the victory bell and starting the Panther Club. He also attended almost every boys basketball and football game as well as numerous other sports and activities at the school over the years.

Perhaps the contribution he was most proud of was the Lou Rotunda Award he started, which has been given to the best all-around senior male athlete at EC since 1960. The award is based on athletics, academics and extra-curricular activities and is voted on by faculty, staff and students.

“He really did represent all the school stands for,” Krakowiak said.

And even when the first impression Rotunda made wasn’t a great one, it was difficult to stay angry at him. Just ask Mark Reichlin.

Reichlin, one of the owners of Reichlin Roberts Funeral Home and an EC graduate, has a distinct memory of Rotunda.

“He cut me as a freshman basketball player,” Reichlin said.

But that didn’t stop Reichlin and Rotunda from becoming friends. In the past few years, when Rotunda had trouble getting around, it was Reichlin who made sure he got to the events he wanted to attend.

“He’d always laugh, ‘Why are you so nice to me? I cut you.’ ”

Maybe it has something to do with loyalty.

Funeral arrangements were incomplete Sunday and were to be announced today by Reichlin Roberts Funeral Home.

Contact Kevin Aprile at 329-7135 or

Local golf: Medina’s Pete Skirpstas breaks through for biggest win

August 15, 2011 in Sports

BRECKSVILLE — Pete Skirpstas might just want to hold off on his plans to move to Florida.

At least that was the thought Sunday after the 2006 Medina graduate won the 19th annual Greater Cleveland Amateur at Sleepy Hollow Golf Course.

Medina’s Pete Skirpstas captured the Cleveland Open on Sunday. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY BRAD BOURNIVAL)

Medina’s Pete Skirpstas captured the Cleveland Open on Sunday. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY BRAD BOURNIVAL)

Winning in a one-hole playoff, the 23-year-old now has a Cleveland Am title to go with a qualifier win for the same tournament and fourth-place finish at the U.S. Amateur qualifier this summer.

Not a bad couple of weeks for someone who plans on joining a mini-circuit next summer in the Sunshine State.

“I’m thinking about turning pro,” Skirpstas said. “I want to get a feel for the lifestyle. I’ll stay up here until it gets cold and then I’m going down. That’s four months of getting better rather than packing it in and waiting for the weather.”

Actually, the weather is what turned a three-round tournament into a 36-hole event with a playoff on Sunday.

With the lead group playing 10 holes in the final round, thunderstorms washed out the last day of the tournament to force a playoff between Skirpstas and Cleveland State sophomore Andrew Bailey.

Skirpstas actually made the turn with the lead, so it wasn’t like going back to Saturday’s scores made a huge difference.

“I would have liked to have finished the round so I could say I fought my way through it,” Skirpstas said. “But you have to play the golf course. Whoever plays the best wins the tournament. When the golf course changes, you adjust.”

The golf course certainly changed for Skirpstas and Bailey, as 1¼ inches of rain during the two-hour delay slowed putts down almost two feet, according to the players.

With officials feverishly pushing water off the 386-yard, par-4 18th green, the stage was set for a dramatic finish.

Bailey striped his drive to 106 yards in the middle of the fairway. Skirpstas sent his tee shot left to 112 yards out.

That’s when Skirpstas ultimately won the tournament. With a tree blocking his approach shot, the Medina resident shaped a shot around the obstacle to 18 feet.

“I wasn’t that worried,” he said. “I had a glop of mud on the ball, but that’s the one shot I know I can hit.

“I almost made three or four shots from that distance this week. You just act like you’ve done it a million times.”

Bailey still looked like he had things in control when he sent his second shot to 12 feet above the hole.

But Mother Nature had other ideas on the soggy green.

Skirpstas sent his left-to-right birdie attempt to 18 inches. Hitting what Bailey termed “a lake,” the Rocky River resident’s third shot went just six feet.

He just missed his par putt to give Skirpstas the championship.

“It’s hard to explain, but playing in a playoff doesn’t bother me,” Skirpstas said. “I would have liked to have won with a birdie putt. I’m not a ruthless person, but it happens. That’s golf.”

It’s a game Skirpstas loves to play as he looks to continue a torrid summer with a couple more tournaments before turning his attention to Florida.

That’s still a few months away and Skirpstas has no plans on slowing down.

“It feels awesome,” Skirpstas said. “I just wanted to win. I know how to do it. It was great to do it in front of my family and friends.”

Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or

High school football: Healthy Grizzlies looking for redemption

August 15, 2011 in Sports

Editor’s note: This is the fifth of seven pieces that will focus on the schedules of each Medina County school as it prepares for the 2011 football season.

WADSWORTH — Being decimated by injuries is never fun.

But when the aches and pains of a 2010 high school football season lost translate into a successful 2011, the bumps and bruises are easily forgotten.

Wadsworth suffered its first losing season since going 3-7 in 1995, coach Greg Dennison’s first year on the job, but is looking forward to taking the next step toward success.

“That’s the motivation for us,” Dennison said. “Part of our problem last year was our injuries.

“But one of the positives is we have a lot of kids with experience back this year. There’s no substitute for game-time experience. The growing pains you usually go through at the start of the season, we won’t go through. Having all those starters back is important.”

That’s especially true considering the way the season will start for Wadsworth, as two out of its first three games involve playoff teams.

While Ashland (12-2) lost a ton, it has been to the postseason four of the last five seasons, making the Arrows an important game out of the chute. After that, it’s a home game with Wooster (7-3) before a trip to playoff qualifier Medina (9-3).

“Our non-league games usually are pretty good, but this is as tough a non-conference schedule as we have had,” Dennison said. “When we come to Suburban League play, we’ll know where we are and that’s a good thing.

“When you play those good non-league teams, it prepares you for the league and for the playoffs. If you play a non-conference schedule that’s not as tough, you kind of get a false sense of where you are.”

With Cloverleaf (4-6, 2-5), Revere (3-7, 2-5) and Green (5-5, 5-2) to follow, the chance to slip into a comfort zone might be easy. But Dennison isn’t looking for the Grizzlies to hit the snooze button before games against Copley (9-2, 6-1) and Tallmadge (11-1, 7-0) in Weeks 7 and 8.

In fact, the three-game stretch with the Colts, Minutemen and Bulldogs might just show the seasoned coach all he needs to know about his Grizzlies.

“I think our kids are well aware that you can’t look ahead,” he said. “There’s not a team you can look past. Cloverleaf always gives us their best game of the year. We need to keep it one week at a time. When you face good teams, you want to be playing at your best. You have to be at the top of your game, so getting off to a good start is going to be huge.”

Wadsworth closes out the season against Highland (4-6, 3-4) and conference newcomer Nordonia (2-8). Dennison was quick to point out the Hornets were hit by the injury bug as well last season and that the Knights played in the always-tough Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division in 2010.

“In our league, there’s no easy one anywhere, top to bottom,” he said. “If we are fortunate to make the playoffs coming off Highland and Nordonia, we’ll be ready. It will be good preparation for us.”

Contact Brad Bournival at

Youth wins 50th annual Frog Jump Festival in Liverpool Twp.

August 15, 2011 in News

LIVERPOOL TWP. — Ella Skvor may only be 3 years old, but she’s already a veteran frog jumper.

The Oberlin resident and her father, Bryon Skvor, braved the rain and were crowned grand champions of the 50th annual Liverpool Township Frog Jump Festival on Sunday, already Ella’s third time in the competition and second trip to the finals.

Ella Skvor, 3, of Oberlin, and her father, Bryon Skvor, celebrate their win with Mayor Ribbit at the 50th annual Frog Jump Festival in Liverpool Township on Sunday. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY JENNIFER PIGNOLET)

Ella Skvor, 3, of Oberlin, and her father, Bryon Skvor, celebrate their win with Mayor Ribbit at the 50th annual Frog Jump Festival in Liverpool Township on Sunday. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY JENNIFER PIGNOLET)

With about 30 family members in attendance from Lorain and Medina counties, Bryon Skvor said his mother made T-shirts for each jumper with the number of years each has been jumping written on the back of the shirt.

The jump competitors placed their frogs in the center of a parachute on the ground. Without touching the frogs, it was up to the competitors to yell or slap the ground to encourage their frogs to make three large jumps. Wherever the frog landed on its third jump marked its total distance from the center.

With “3rd year frog jumping” displayed on her shirt, Ella and her father took their frog, which they caught themselves and named Mumford, to the center of the parachute at Mill Stream Park and watched it jump to a winning distance of 15 feet, 8 inches during the final round. It was the longest jump of the day.

Ella’s technique? Laughing at her frog.

“Wahahaha!” Ella said after she won the competition, re-enacting her winning performance.

Each of Skvor’s three children, including Ella’s siblings Silas, 5, and Asher, 1, had frogs make it to the finals.

Ella started when she was 6 months old and three years later has taken home trophies for winning her division, having the longest jump of the day and being grand champion.

She said she will be displaying the trophies “on my dresser.”

About 525 people jumped a frog on Sunday, a number lower than most years, possibly a result of rainy weather, one of the event’s organizers, Barb Knight, said.

They started on time, but “a couple of times it really poured,” she said, and those who came despite the weather didn’t seem to mind.

“They just looked like they’d been in a swimming pool,” Knight said. “But they seemed to be enjoying it.”

Contact Jennifer Pignolet at (330) 721-4063 or

Residents get a taste of Affair on the Square

August 15, 2011 in News

From left, Medina residents Amy McPherson, Ben Flanagan and Ceili McPherson learn to make music with wooden frogs at Affair on the Square on Medina Public Square on Sunday. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY JENNIFER PIGNOLET)

From left, Medina residents Amy McPherson, Ben Flanagan and Ceili McPherson learn to make music with wooden frogs at Affair on the Square on Medina Public Square on Sunday. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY JENNIFER PIGNOLET)