Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Friday, January 25, 2013

You don't have to look far for your local news

It’s a line I’ve repeated so often that everyone I know has heard it a dozen times.

Phone sales person: “Do you get The Plain Dealer?”

Me: “I read it, but I don’t get it.”

I know, it’s funny, but in the interest of full disclosure, the original gag belonged to Steve Allen, the funniest guy who ever lived.

I first heard it when I took a group of 25 News-Herald carriers who had won a contest to New York City. One of their treats was to go to a live broadcast of the Steve Allen Show. It must have been around 1956.

The kids were all wearing News-Herald T-shirts. During the pre-show warm-up, Steve looked the kids over and asked: “What is The News-Herald?”

“It’s a newspaper in Ohio,” one of the kids shouted out. The kid then asked, “Steve, when you were a kid, did you deliver The News-Herald?”

“No,” the comic replied. “There was a Depression when I was a kid. I used to steal The News-Herald.”

Then one of the kids asked: “Do they get your show in Peoria?”

“They watch it,” he replied, “but they don’t get it.”

Thanks for a great line, Steve.

But I don’t mean to disparage The Plain Dealer. I read it, and The News-Herald, of course, every day. I love newspapers. If I had time I would also read The Wall Street Journal.

I will never be able to read a paper on the computer. I am far too impatient. When I want to see something, I want to see it now, not when the computer gets around to showing it.

But for local content, there is no comparing the two papers that I read. I basically read the PD for three columnists – Bill Livingston, Paul Hoynes and Ted Diadiun. Otherwise, the Cleveland paper has virtually no news about Lake County. The N-H is jam-packed with news of the area I was born in and choose to live in.

The other highlight of the PD is the continuing soap opera of the crooks who have been running Cuyahoga County, many of whom are now in jail.

There is a quadrillion times more interesting news about this area in The News-Herald, and I am saying it only because it is true: If you are interested in what is happening in Lake or Geauga county, you will get it only in The News-Herald.

I don’t have enough fingers and toes to enumerate all the regular N-H writers who brighten my day.

Whether in sports, entertainment, the features pages or the hard news columns, they are an absolute must for me — every day.

It saddens me to hear that the PD will — probably before very long — publish only three days a week. How simply awful! But the paper is headed in that direction, and there seems to be nothing anyone can to reverse it.

Now, some newspapers do stupid things. Take the Journal News in White Plains, N.Y. As Henny Youngman would say, please.

That is the paper run by a couple of left-wing women (let me interrupt myself. This is not a sexist statement, nor is it political. It just happens to be true.) who chose to publish the addresses of everyone in their circulation area who owned carry concealed weapons permits.

Did I say stupid? That decision was far beyond stupid. It was breathtakingly ignorant. Dumb, dumb, dumb. (The computer says I repeated myself. I know that.)

It was a mindless act of mental depravity.

Don’t give me the argument that they had the right to print the addresses. Of course they did. I have read the First Amendment more times that they have. The information is public, and they can print it if they please.

Do they print everything they have a right to print simply because it is public information? Do they print every divorce action that is filed? Do they list everyone in their area who receives food stamps?

Of course not. They printed the CCW addresses because they have a political agenda. Period.

There is much that is wrong with what is called today the Mainstream Media. (The term often refers to The New York Times and The Washington Post.)

They print the “news” very selectively – to abet their political agendas. They choose what to print and what not to print in many instances based on their political outlooks.

I will underscore my point by mentioning only two words – Watergate (a two-bit break-in) and Benghazi (four murders).

If you don’t get that message, stay away from trigonometry. You’ll never get that, either.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Busy Legion auxiliary well deserving of high honor

It was a week back, and we were discussing the attributes of Al Zehe, owner of Willo True Value Hardware, who will be honored Jan. 28 as the Distinguished Citizen for the Willoughby area.

Today let us turn our attention to the ladies of Palmer-Roberts American Post 214 Auxiliary, who will receive accolades as the area’s Distinguished Civic Organization.

The honors are bestowed each year by the Willoughby Rotary Club in traditions that date back to 1956.

Distinguished business leaders plus businesses of note are honored in separate ceremonies held by the Willoughby Chamber of Commerce — this year on Jan. 25.

Both honors luncheons will be held at Pine Ridge Country Club in Wickliffe.

Both luncheons are open to the public and are well-worth your attention. Our focus today, however, will be upon the American Legion auxiliary and the good deeds it performs throughout the year which have led to this year’s award.

While Al Zehe is a one-man dynamo, the ladies of the Legion post work as a highly efficient and dedicated machine to make life better for a number of people and groups throughout the area.

The lady who has been president of the unit for as long as I can remember is Martha Setlock, for whom the word “dedicated” was not only coined, but included in Webster’s so that others can look up its meaning.

I, for one, am awed by all the things the ladies do. The unit has more than 200 members, and as is the case with most such organizations, about two dozen are very active and go above and beyond the call of duty in the unit.

The Willoughby group is one of about 10,000 such units nationwide that have earned places of honor in their communities and have achieved reputations for selfless service.

The local unit, in fact, has been honored at a national convention with an award for the best overall community program.

Being No. 1 in the nation among Legion auxiliaries is no small achievement. Here are some of the things the ladies at the Willoughby post do:

They plan and carry out programs to benefit veterans, young people and the community at large.

They provide food baskets and Giant Eagle food cards for several families each year for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. They help deserving families with children in need of assistance, not only with food, but also with at least four wrapped gifts for each child, plus other special items.

They aided one small boy with several handicaps, including blindness and autism, providing him with special toys and gifts. Not only that, the ladies learned the boy needed school supplies. Funds were supplied to help, as was money for gas for trips to the Cleveland Clinic several times a week.

The ladies were able to obtain donations to help in the effort.

By way of acknowledging needs for education, the ladies each September “shower” local elementary schools with supplies and book bags. Over three years, about $1,500 in supplies and gift cards were provided for coats and shoes.

Books were donated to a school library, and teachers were recognized for their efforts. About 300 American flags were presented to children at a school assembly program on flag education. A young lady was also sent to Buckeye Girls State.

One of the Legion’s best known programs is the sale of poppies in May, especially at the Memorial Day parade. Contributions are used exclusively to assist veterans and their families. The poppies are worn proudly in memory of those who have died to preserve the freedoms we enjoy.

A book/bake sale raised funds to assist a cancer victim, and a potluck dinner was held at the post home to raise funds for the American Diabetes Association.

A rose bush at Point Park and Blue Star banners are among the unit’s other contributions.

That is just a sampling of the good deeds performed by the ladies of the auxiliary. You can join in paying tribute to them by attending the Jan. 28 luncheon, which will begin at 11:30 a.m. at Pine Ridge Country Club.

Tickets are $20 each, and reservations are necessary. You can reserve your place by calling Mike Tyler at the Merhar Nationwide Insurance Agency, 440-946-2040.

I hope to see you there.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Willoughby store owner perfect fit for annual awards

The arrival of January each new year also portends the arrival of a program very near and dear to my heart — the bestowing of accolades on a Distinguished Citizen and a Distinguished Civic Organization by the Willoughby Rotary Club.

These are traditions that go back to 1956 and once were handed out by the Willoughby Chamber of Commerce.

A few years ago, the chamber decided to concentrate its efforts on honoring members of the business community, so the Rotary Club assumed leadership on the two awards listed above.

The arrangement has worked out very well. The Rotary awards will be handed out at an 11:30 luncheon program Jan. 28 at Pine Ridge Country Club. The chamber, which has enjoyed dynamic new leadership under Marlene Cornacchio, will hold its program Jan. 25 at the same location. I wish both of them great success.

But let me tell you more about the Rotary program, because it is the one with which I am most familiar. I know about it because I happen to be chairman of the selection committee. And I am aided and abetted by a fine committee consisting of Bob Riggin, Dale Fellows, Rick Stenger and Jerry Merhar – all Rotarians.

Moreover, in the spirit of diversification and inclusiveness, we have added two excellent members representing other Willoughby service organizations – John Tigue of the Lions Club and Sue Roseum of the Kiwanis Club. Balance we have – in abundance. But I digress.

Let me get into the particulars of our Jan. 28 program. Most important, it is open to you and to everyone else who desires to attend.

The cost is $20 per person. You can make your reservation by calling Mike Tyler at Merhar’s Nationwide Insurance Agency at 946-2040 and arranging for payment.

This year’s honorees are:

Distinguished Citizen: Al Zehe. Distinguished Civic Organization: Palmer-Roberts American Legion Post 214 Auxiliary.

Today I will tell you a few things about Al Zehe. Next Sunday I will shed further light on the ladies’ auxiliary.

Al is the owner of Willo True Value Hardware. If you have ever been in the store, you have not only met Al, you have also stood alongside him as he has told you where to locate something you desperately need, mixed paint for you, sharpened your chain saw or in some other way provided a measure of help which you will find in few other stores.

He not only knows the business, he also exudes personality, provides a very pleasant line of chatter and makes you feel as if you are doing business with a member of the family.

He worked in the store on Robin Hood that preceded his current store when he was in high school.

He always wanted to come back to the store he “grew up in,” so to speak, so when he graduated from John Carroll with a degree in accounting, he not only came back, he bought the place.

To make a long story short, he then built the small shopping center on Euclid Avenue in which his store is now located, watched as large, powerful competitors moved into the neighborhood, and held his own in the business world simply by providing the kind of service and accommodation that the monoliths find hard to dispense.

My personal inclination is that I will always try to get what I need at Al’s. If he doesn’t have it, then I may try one of his competitors.

I probably shouldn’t say this, but Al is a soft touch for organizations that come into his store looking for contributions.

And the Lord only knows how much he spends on his water bill so that local school organizations can hold car washes at his location nearly every Saturday in the summertime.

As his nomination that came in from a friend said, “he is one of those rare individuals who is willing to help everyone but never seeks nor receives the recognition he deserves.”

Well said, indeed. So let us hope he receives a measure of that well-deserved recognition at the Jan. 28 luncheon at Pine Ridge.

I will be there, and I hope you will be there, too.

But of course, if you are not a member of the Rotary Club you will have to call Mike at 946-2040 to make your reservation.

Next week, I will tell you a little more about the wonderful ladies from American Legion Post 214, about the great things they do and how the post managed to survive my modest contributions to the post’s baseball team back around the time we had just begun hearing of the legendary battles of World War II.