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Medina teen on spring break killed in South Carolina

March 19, 2012 in News

A Medina teenager was killed Friday in a one-vehicle crash in South Carolina while on spring break.

Jakob Von Der Vellen, 19, of Medina, was a passenger in a 2005 Mazda sedan driven by Vincent A. Donofrio, 20, of Canfield, according to the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

Jakob Von Der Vellen

Trooper Billy Elder said Donofrio was northbound on I-77 near mile marker 73 when he drove off the right side of the road, striking several trees.

York County Coroner Sabrina Gast said Von Der Vellen died at the scene of the crash.

Elder said Donofrio was taken to the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C., but a hospital spokeswoman said there was no record of him in their system.

The crash is still under investigation and it is not yet known if the men were wearing seat belts, Elder said.

Von Der Vellen was a sophomore at Ohio Wesleyan University, where he was president of his fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon, and was an “active volunteer in numerous campus and charitable organizations,” according to his obituary.

The university’s Greek life community’s Facebook page said counselors and chaplains would be available for students and staff as they return from spring break today.

According to the post, Donofrio is also a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity.

Von Der Vellen was the son of Kent and Kimberly Von Der Vellen, of Medina.

Services are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Holy Martyrs Parish in Medina.

Contact Jennifer Pignolet at (330) 729-4063 or jpignolet@medina-gazette.com.

Official buzzard spotter flies off into sunset after Sunday’s sighting

March 19, 2012 in News

HINCKLEY TWP. — The buzzards — and thus the spring season — aren’t back until the official spotter says so.

For 16 years, that declaration has come from Robert Hinkle, chief naturalist for the Cleveland Metroparks. Hinkle retired in January after 30 years with the parks, and Sunday’s buzzard festival in Hinckley Reservation was his last as the official buzzard spotter.

A turkey vulture comes face-to-face with his stuffed counterpart atop Medina County Raptor Center volunteer Jamie Baker during Buzzard Day at Hinckley Reservation in Hinckley Township on Sunday. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY JENNIFER PIGNOLET)

Every year on March 15, Hinkle arrived at the Buzzard’s Roost well before dawn and often wasn’t the only one to beat the sunrise.

“That’s just part of the tradition of Northeast Ohio,” said Hinkle, a Solon resident. “You have to be in Hinckley on March 15th.”

At 7:44 a.m. on Thursday, Hinkle verified the first sighting of a buzzard. On Buzzard Sunday, Hinkle was on-hand at the Buzzard’s Roost to help count sightings.

Sunday’s total of 100 sightings shattered the previous record of 72 set last year.

“What a way to retire,” Hinkle said.

Sharon Hosko, manager of the Brecksville Nature Center, which puts on the Buzzard Sunday event every year, said there were upwards of 4,500 who came to the festival.

Buzzard watchers as well as passers-by from the park paths had the chance to see several birds of prey from the Medina County Raptor Center, including two turkey vultures, known as buzzards.

Robert Hinkle

In tandem with the event at Buzzard’s Roost was the 55th annual Hinckley Chamber of Commerce Buzzard Sunday pancake breakfast and craft show at Hinckley Elementary.

Hinkle said a replacement spotter for next year has not yet been named.

Although it was his last as official buzzard spotter, Hinkle said he won’t be missing out on the event any time soon.

“I’ll come, whether I’m buzzard spotter or not,” Hinkle said. “I have to come back, just to see the buzzards.”

Contact Jennifer Pignolet at (330) 729-4063 or jpignolet@medina-gazette.com.

Hundreds turn out for 4 For Friends event on St. Patrick’s Day

March 19, 2012 in News

YORK TWP. — Hundreds of runners and walkers took part in a St. Patrick’s Day morning race for a worthy cause.

The inaugural 4 For Friends run/walk — sponsored by the Medina County Road Runners club — drew about 400 participants Saturday to the Lester Rail Trail at the Medina County Career Center. Those taking part helped to raise more than $6,000 for Montville Township resident Rose Guta, who is battling leukemia.

From left, 4 For Friends runners Tracy Pittinger of Copley; Terri Schrader of Bath Township; and Fairlawn residents Terri Mazzotti and Justine Fiehn are all smiles after finishing Saturday’s four-mile run at the Medina County Career Center. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY STEVE GRAZIER)

“I’m in awe,” said Tom Guta, Rose’s husband. “Rose is at the Medina Hospital today (Saturday) wishing she could be here. … She’s doing her own run right now.”

Runners in Saturday’s event went 4 miles around the trail, while families and individuals who walked did 1 mile, according to Angie Kovacs, a run-club member and co-director of 4 For Friends.

Event officials exceeded expectations — they hoped to garner 100 participants and up to $2,000.

“This was way bigger than we expected,” Kovacs said. “What a nice place to live we all have.”

Rose Guta is a “very active soccer mom” for her two children and is involved locally as a Parent Teacher Association member for Medina Schools, Kovacs said.

“She’s a very active member of our community, which is evident of the number of people who came out to our event,” Kovacs said.

Participant Justine Fiehn, of Fairlawn, said Saturday’s run was her first race.

“This was for a great cause,” she said. “I’ve been training for this run by walking my dogs.”

The Road Runners are planning to schedule a 4 For Friends run/walk each year to help others who have a serious illness or injury, according to Marsha Clifford, another co-director of the event.

The top men for Saturday’s run were Verrelle Wyatt, first place; Pete Jendre, second place; and Mike Niegowski, third place. The top three women were Jeannine Nicholson, first place; Beth Bugner, second place, and Sydney Van Leeuwen, third place.

Tom Guta praised all who came out Saturday.

“The people of the run club are phenomenal people,” he said. “We want to thank them and everyone who came out to this event, and everyone who has prayed for us.”

Contact Steve Grazier at (330) 721-4012 or sgrazier@medina-gazette.com.

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 jpignolet@medina-gazette.com.

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)

Public meetings slated for Aug. 15, 2011

August 15, 2011 in News

Editor’s note: Public meeting notices should be emailed to copyed@medina-gazette.com or faxed to (440) 329-7282.

TODAY

Brunswick City Council, parks, recreation and historical committee, 6 p.m., municipal center, 4095 Center Road.
Brunswick Board of Education, 7 p.m., board office, 3643 Center Road.
Granger Township trustees, 7:30 p.m., administration building, 3717 Ridge Road.
Harrisville Township trustees, 8 p.m., township hall, 209 Railroad St., Lodi.
Highland Board of Education,
7 p.m., high school, 4150 Ridge Road, Granger Township.
Hinckley Township trustees, 7:30 p.m., administration building, 1410 Ridge Road.
Lafayette Township trustees,
7 p.m., township hall, 6776 Wedgewood Road.
Medina Board of Education,
6 p.m., high school distance learning lab, 777 E. Union St.
Medina County commissioners, 9:30 a.m., county administration building, 144 N. Broadway, Medina.
Medina County District Library board of trustees, 6 p.m., Medina Library, 210 S. Broadway.
Montville Township Board of Zoning Appeals, 7 p.m., township hall, 6665 Wadsworth Road.
Seville Board of Public Affairs, 6:45 p.m., municipal building, 120 Royal Crest Drive.
Seville Village Council finance committee, 6:50 p.m., municipal building, 120 Royal Crest Drive.
Wadsworth City Council, public safety committee, 5:30 p.m., city hall, 120 Maple St.
Wadsworth Township Board of Zoning Appeals, 7 p.m., township garage, 320 Chestnut St.
Westfield Township trustees,
7 p.m., municipal complex, 6699 Buffham Road.