Blogs > Laura Kessel's blog

Laura Kessel is managing editor of The News-Herald in Willoughby. She writes a weekly column and shares her thoughts here.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Allow me to make myself at home

It was basically written.

I was going to talk about the excitement. I was going to mention that I was able to boost our normal coverage.

And, I was going to talk about the money.

But, as I sit here now, I can’t write any of it.

I got stiffed again. But, so did most of you.

I’m not alone in my depression.

I have years and years of this emotion to call upon as I wallow in the knowledge that once again I didn’t win the Dream House.

Thanks a lot, Sheriff Dunlap.

I respect the fact that you go out of your way to ensure that the 20 finalists are blindly selected, even donning a blindfold as you pick the tickets out of the bin.

But, next year, could you somehow wiggle it to the side in order to find the a ticket with “Laura Kessel” scribbled on it?

I promise not to say a word.

I’m sure no one else will, either.

Right? Exaaaaactly!

But, here we sit, a day before the lucky few get their key to try to unlock the door to the house off Girdled Road in Concord Township and I’m left to try to jigger my finances to somehow afford all the stuff that $200,000 prize would be buying me.

I wasn’t asking for much.

-- An iPad.

-- A new upstairs bathroom.

-- A little vacation.

The way I see it, after taxes, all that stuff would have been easy to tackle.

Now, it could take a while.

Thanks, Sheriff Dunlap.

I suppose I should be happy for those 20 people who will show up today to try out their keys.

Since 14 of them are from our coverage area, that makes it a little easier.

Whoever wins it, I hope they enjoy my basement.

Oops. I meant the basement.

When we were seeing our house for the first time, I told my husband I’d probably spend all my time in the master bedroom closet or in the basement, because those were the most liveable rooms.

I enjoyed the basement’s nooks and little spaces where so much activity could take place.

The purple didn’t hurt, either.

That big closet was like a whole other world, though.

I stood in there a long time, figuring which of my shoes would go on my new shoe shelves, and which would be tucked under the shelves.

Oh, I did it again. They’re not my shelves.

No, they and the rest of the house will belong to someone else after 2 p.m. Sunday.

I hope they enjoy it.

If they want to invite me over in a few months when they’re settled in, they know how to reach me.

I’ll gladly check out how they filled my shelves and how they’re enjoying my basement.

Oops. There I go again.

Thanks, Sheriff Dunlap.

Twitter: @Lauranh

Monday, August 15, 2011

Uplifting moment in sea of sadness

If you're like me, you awoke Sunday to the horrifying pictures of chaos at the Indiana State Fair, where five people died and more than 40 were injured when a music stage collapsed.

The audience-shot video was attached to most stories I found on the incident, and you could see the speed in which the massive structure tumbled to the ground, trapping people underneath.

But as the dust cloud cleared, a bright light emerged.

If you watched the videos, I'm sure you saw it.

Hundreds of people surged forward, working to lift the steel frame off those trapped below.

Men stood shoulder to shoulder as more people huddled below, working to save those stuck below.

As the investigation continues, blame is starting to be tossed around as though it's the pieces of that stage.

But, I'll always remember that heartwarming scene of those caring souls darting forward, hoping to help those who were desperate and injured.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Ambrose holds court

If the Anthony Sowell multiple-murder trial has taught us nothing, it's that former Browns linebacker Dick Ambrose has excellent reading skills.

If you've been as fascinated by this case as I have, you no doubt have paid attention to Ambrose's reading of the verdicts in his Cuyahoga County Common Pleas courtroom.

When the jury returned its verdicts after the case was tried, he sat, for more than an hour, reading individual verdict forms while on camera.

Then, when the jury returned this week with its decision on sentencing, Ambrose again sat and read individual forms detailing the death-sentence recommendations.

This morning, there was more reading from Ambrose as he read the court's report and sentence handed down to the serial killer.

Ambrose has moved a long way from the days when he terrorized quarterbacks and running backs at the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium. He still looks, though, like he could head out onto the field tomorrow when the team plays its first exhibition game.

No doubt memories of his playing days with the Browns helped him first get elected to the bench, but voters now will have this trial to remember as he hits the ballot now.

The case has remained in control the entire way -- there were not outbursts and no outrageous events. The courtroom was calm in spite of the horrific evidence and discussion of events that led to the killings of 11 women.

Congratulations, Bam-Bam. We appreciate your hard work and strong judicial skills.

-- Laura Kessel
Twitter: @Lauranh

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

There's joy in watching MC Sign's act of giving

The suspense is the best part.

They know they are getting something, they just don’t know what.

That’s what makes it kind of fun.

Every year for the past four years, MC Sign in Mentor has awarded scholarships to graduates of Lake Catholic and Mentor High Schools.

It sounds like they’re handing out only a few bucks when I say it like that.

That’s hardly the case. But I’ll get to that later.

This story starts and ends with the kids. I call them that because they’re so much younger than me.

I know that they’re adults now, and about to head out for their own adventures and to start their own lives.
Some will be going far away, such as Liberty University in Virginia. Others will be much closer, such as one moving into a dorm 45 minutes from home in Berea.

They share big goals: Business. Political science. Nursing. Engineering.

They also share an amazing poise, standing up in front of the room to list their name, high school, college choice and the major they’ll pursue.

There’s a comfort level that, even after nearly 45 years of life, I’ve never quite had.

But that’s probably why they’re winning these scholarships from MC Sign.

This national company is all about Mentor. Just ask President Tim Eippert.

“We have a long-standing history of a tradition of philanthropy and giving back to the community,” Eippert said Monday to the award winners.

“We really are a national company. We only do about 3 or 4 percent of our business within about 100 miles of Cleveland. And so it really is important. We employ a lot of local people. We like to give back.

“Our philanthropy continues throughout the year. We’ll raise money every Friday for “jeans day.” We allow employees to submit through a selection process for a charity. And so with about 100 to 125 people, we’ll raise four, five or $600 a month and that will go to a different charity each month.”

Eippert, who celebrates his 17th anniversary with the company on Sunday, said the message to his employees is clear: Think about others.

“It’s important to us,” Eippert said. “It’s important to me personally. The culture of our company is to give back, and we like to show them, the employee, that it’s important. And I think a lot of them, as they continue on and move through life, will see how important it is.”

Their method of giving back is rather fascinating to see unfold. The invitation to their golf outing, called Drive for Knowledge, arrives in early spring. It’s a glossy book, with all the information you need to take part.

There are prices for individuals to golf, and to buy foursomes. There are sponsorship opportunities and other ways to take part.

Make no mistake — the outing is pricey. Golfers pay $250 for a round, and sponsorships start at $1,000.
But, when you head to the company headquarters on Tyler Boulevard the night the scholarships are handed out, you see what it all means.

“Through a traditional golf outing, we have the ability to harness vendors and great customers, we have a lot of support from friends and family to get a really diverse group to help us, which allows us to raise the most money we’ve ever raised in the history of the event,” Eippert said before he revealed the scholarship amounts.

$2,700 per student.

Parents in the audience gasped.

It’s a great sound.

And, that sound is the prize for Eippert’s hard work at the outing, which took place this year on June 21 at StoneWater Golf Club in Highland Heights.

There are the traditional golf outing games — hole in one, beat the pro, skins and closest to the pin. But there also are auctions in which Eippert works magic as he separates golfers from lots of cash.

“He’s got some guys who throw around a lot of money at that outing,” said Tom Tuttle, president of the Mentor School Board, who looked on from the audience as six Mentor High graduates received their awards. Four Lake Catholic students also were honored.

I said this story starts and ends with the students.

Now it’s their turn.

If Carli Dugan is any indication, we have a lot to look forward to.

The Mentor High grad is about to embark on a major in physical therapy.

“I’ve actually been in sports all my life,” she said Monday after receiving the news of her scholarship. “I’m a swimmer, and I’ll be swimming at Baldwin-Wallace. My mom is very into the fitness side of things, so I’ve just kind of grown up around it. I just love the body and healing and helping people as well, so I thought it would be a great place for me to be.”

MC Sign also was a great place for her to be, on Monday night with all those other winners.

Dugan’s mother is Laura Dugan, who writes about stretching for exercise as part of The News-Herald’s Community Media Lab. Her blog can be found at Laura Dugan also teaches class around Lake County, including at Lakeland Community College.

Twitter: @Lauranh

Friday, August 5, 2011

Cast "no" vote for voting sticker

I’m sorry I’m getting to this a little late.

But, thanks to the Internet, you still have time to cast your vote.

A whole day!

What are you voting for, you ask?

Your voting sticker, of course.

Yes, that little piece of information countless Ohioans slap on their shirt after doing their civic duty a few times a year is in your hands.

I didn’t know about this chance to pick the next Election Day "I Voted" sticker until I got my July 2011 Newsletter from state Sen. Nina Turner at home.

Turner represents the 25th District, which includes Euclid, Richmond Heights, South Euclid and other portions of eastern Cuyahoga County.

She was kind enough to send along updates on what she’s been doing in Columbus, what is happening with redistricting and also a note about some volunteer activities.

But, tucked on the third page in a grey box was a note that instructed those in her district to go online to vote on Ohio’s next Election Day sticker.

I read it and was surprised that there was a contest. First I knew of it.

Then I looked at the date. Not much time, I thought.

So I figured I’d hustle in a note to you, dear readers, so you can take part, too.

The method for voting is pretty easy.

You go to, enter your ZIP code and proceed to pick the design you like best.

There are six to choose from.

Because I knew I was going to write about it, I figured I’d cast my vote for my favorite.

A "thank you for voting" screen then popped up. Underneath were the percentages of votes already cast. My vote, for what it’s worth, didn’t help much, as my choice was in second-last place.

Then I got to thinking. "I wonder if it would let me stuff the ballot box?"

I logged back in, entered my ZIP code again and, boom, I was at the voting screen again.

The contest is being run by Jon Husted, Ohio’s secretary of state.

I don’t want to complain, Mr. Husted, but you could have rigged it so that each person could only vote once. Perhaps you could have used it as a test vehicle for online registration and online voting.

As they say on Twitter when something just doesn’t work, #fail.

Alas, you can vote as many times as you want for the sticker of your choice.

If you wanted, you could spend your entire Saturday and Sunday clicking away and rooting on your favorite symbol.

But, if you’re like me, you won’t find the one you really want to vote for — no sticker at all.

I just don’t see the point of having to hand someone a sticker so that they have proof they cast a ballot.

If it’s a requirement for them to return to work, or to verify why they’re late, then shame on their boss. Or, shame on them for getting in a position that their boss doesn’t believe they actually took time to vote.

The idea that you have to get something in return for doing your civic duty is a little silly, in my mind. It’s also too expensive.

Those stickers are paid for by the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office. Or, rather, by you and me.

Isn’t it about time, in an age when there’s so much worry about the state’s budget and how to pay for necessary services, that we cut out such frivolous things?

Then again, maybe I’m the only one who thinks the act of voting is enough of a gift.

Twitter: @Lauranh