ALONG THE WAY: DAVID DIX

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In the wake of the announcement by the Plain Dealer that it is going to be delivered only three days a week before the end of the year, we at the Record-Courier have no plans to follow that example at this time.

The digital revolution that has drained newspapers of their classified revenues has been a greater detriment to larger newspapers than smaller newspapers. We've been challenged by the digital revolution to be sure, but we've worked hard to rein in our costs, taking some painful steps to do so. We decided to combine much of our printing at one location, a high tech production center on the outskirts of Wooster.

Here, we have relocated all remaining operations including those of the Record-Courier and our eight weekly newspapers, six of them being in Summit County, into one building on the west side of Kent near the Portage-Summit County line.

The result has been a drop in our operating costs that is enabling us to keep advertising rates from rising quickly. The advertiser receives better value as a result.

Like nearly every newspaper company, we've invested in the Web and publish digital editions available as an added value to all subscribers. Non-subscribers can get most of the breaking news on our sites for free.

If you tally up digital readership along with print, we actually can show we have more readers than ever. People have not lost their thirst for news.

Top honor for Kent native

Peter Brown, the publisher and editorial director of Crain's Auto News, was recently given the J.D. Powers President's Award during the Automotive Forum at the Hyatt Hotel in New York.

It was given in recognition of his leadership of Crain's Auto News Group, which has 65 automotive reporters and editors around the world in Detroit, Paris, Brussels, Munich, Tokyo and Beijing and is considered the world's leading source of industry news, analysis and data for automotive executives.

A Kent native, Pete got his start at the Record-Courier in the late 1960s and early 1970s, having been hired by my father, the late Robert C. Dix, whom Pete generously credits for having "gotten this career started."

Pete worked in the R-C's Ravenna office where he came to admire the clean writing style of the late Ange Sicuro, the managing editor. "Clear as a bell," I remember him saying about copy and headlines Ange had written.

Pete continues to have ties to the area. He is the older brother of Steve Brown, a local businessman. His sister is Judy Rees, a retired Kent teacher and the wife of John Rees. His mother was the late Elizabeth Geldhof, who married the late Alex Geldhof, a business executive and wonderful man, several years after her first husband, Hugh, had died. A son of Pete's graduated not too many years ago from Hiram College.

A handsome, strapping young man when he started out at the Record-Courier 40 years ago, Pete had an Ernest Hemingway aura about him. He toured Europe with an acting group shortly after college. He had received his bachelor's degree in politics and government from Ohio Wesleyan University and later obtained a master's degree in theater from the University of Michigan.

After he left the Record-Courier, he worked in journalism in Michigan's Upper Penninsula. He then worked at the Detroit Free Press. In the early 1980s, he joined Crain's Detroit Business, serving as its editor. He moved over to the Detroit-based Automotive News as its editor in 1989. Under his direction, the Automotive News Group has grown into two print publications and four Web sites plus e-mail newsletters, breaking news alerts, Webinars, a daily newscast, and numerous conferences. He was elected vice president of Crain's Communications, the parent ownership group, in 1994.

His job has involved international travel, television appearances and speaking at conferences here and abroad.

Pete's sister, Judy, told me her brother is retiring this month. That made me feel old, but then I asked Pete about that. "People think I'm crazy giving up a great job like this, but it's time to start a new chapter," he wrote back.

Whatever he does he'll do it well and it'll be interesting.

Ravenna, Kent flagpoles shared link

Editor Roger Di Paolo, reading through older editions of this newspaper, has learned that the Van Dorn Iron Works Co. of Cleveland, which built the historic 150-foot Ravenna flagpole in 1893 also built a flagpole for Kent. Erected two years later, the Kent flagpole, commissioned by Kent's Village Council, Roger says, started out at 140 feet but was assigned additional height by council in successive sessions. The flagpole was teepee-like, with a wider base than Ravenna's. It stood near the center of town, close to the Erie Railroad depot. It was removed in the 1920s.

Apparently flagpoles of this nature were built in cities throughout the United States, and one survives in Palmyra, N.Y., that is almost the same as the one erected in Ravenna.

The Van Dorn Co. is still in business, but as a division of a German manufacturer, and has moved from steel into plastics. Now headquartered in Strongsville, Van Dorn had a manufacturing facility as late as the 1990s in downtown Cleveland and for decades was one of those specialty steel product manufacturers that made Cleveland's steel industry a worthy competitor of Pittsburgh's.

Messenger of hope and peace

It's impossible not to be impressed by the gentle manner and sense of humanity exhibited by Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, despite his having survived the brutal Nazi concentration camps, Auschwitz, Buno and Buchenwald, which his parents and a younger sister did not.

Wiesel Thursday evening filled the Kent State University MidAmerican Conference Center and spoke of hope in a concentration camp, where prisoners performed slave labor under appalling conditions to avoid being selected for the gas chambers and crematoriums. Hope, he said, was the fervent wish that tomorrow's soup would be thicker and the daily slice of bread a little larger.

I bought a copy of his best selling book, "Night," a shortened version of his "And the World Remained Silent." It is a gripping account of his personal horror in Nazi Germany's highly organized, extremely cruel, and utterly bizarre effort to exterminate the world's Jewish population.

The 85-year old Wiesel said he will continue to speak out to make the rest of us vicarious witnesses and help extend the memory of the Holocaust beyond his own life. He speaks out about other human rights atrocities, too, and the Norwegian Nobel Committee, bestowing its Nobel Prize on him in 1986, appropriately called Wiesel "a messenger to mankind."

I sometimes wonder what effect it might have had if Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose prestige in World War II was enormous and worldwide, had broadcast a warning to the Nazis and the German people that they would be held accountable for all such crimes.

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