ALONG THE WAY: David Dix

By DAVID E. DIX | PUBLISHER Published:

If you're looking for an interesting program for your favorite service club, Jack Schafer and Peggy DiPaola have a good one.

Jack, president of Trexler Rubber Co. in Ravenna, and Peggy, an attorney, are the founders of Friends of the Flagpole, a grass roots organization whose aim is to save the historic flagpole in front of the Portage County Courthouse. They have assembled a very informative PowerPoint presentation explaining the historical significance of the flagpole and are showing it to groups in Portage County, which they hope will rally to the cause with their donations.

In need of repair, the 119-year-old, derrick-like structure was being considered for demolition by the Ravenna Township trustees. Ravenna Township owns the flagpole and its trustees were fearful they did not have the wherewithal to maintain the structure and insure it sufficiently.

Enter Jack and Peggy. Jack has a degree in architecture, and prior to coming home to Ravenna was active in architectural preservation out west. Besides her work as an attorney, Peggy was involved in her family's successful effort to put the family home on South Prospect Street, known as Byers Castle, on the National Register of Historic Places.

Others who do not want to see the iconic flagpole demolished have rallied to the cause. Friends of the Flagpole has been formed to raise money for the flagpole's repair and to explain why it should be saved. The group has already raised nearly $80,000 of the anticipated $150,000 needed for the flagpole's repairs and reassembling so Ravenna Township trustees have postponed any decision regarding demolition or otherwise.

Friends of the Flagpole is working on obtaining status as a charitable organization. This means that donations will be tax-eductible. An account to receive donations has been set up at Portage Community Bank. Donations can be dropped off at either the Ravenna or Kent branches or mailed to Friends of the Flagpole, P.O. Box 444, Ravenna, Ohio 44266.

Similarities to Eiffel Tower

The group's PowerPoint presentation explains that the flagpole is a 50-foot tubular steel structure mounted atop a 100-foot steel lattice box shaped like a derrick. This construction technology, popular in the decades after the Civil War, was also used to build the Eiffel Tower in Paris in 1889, only four years before the Ravenna flagpole was built.

The Van Dorn Iron Works Co. of Cleveland, constructed the flagpole in front of the Portage County Courthouse for $800, the presentation explains.The company, according to the presentation, once made a wide variety of metal objects ranging from ornamental fencing to mail boxes, jail cells and urns. Other works of the company included the structural steel for the Williamson Building in Cleveland, the 150-foot-diameter steel intake crib for the Cleveland waterworks in Lake Erie, plus the cells for the Nebraska, Connecticut, Maryland and West Virginia penitentiaries. The company also fabricated metal furniture for a variety of companies including the famous steel chairs designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Larkin Company in Buffalo.

Apparently, steel lattice box flagpoles were erected in numerous communities throughout the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century, but Ravenna's is one of the few that has survived. Kent had one near the Erie Railroad depot that was eventually torn down in the 1920s.

Jack and Peggy spoke two weeks ago at Kent Rotary. Kent Historical Society Executive Director Tom Hatch, complimentary of the polish and sophistication of the presentation, said it shows how important education and outreach are when trying to rally the public to support of causes such as preservation.

Contact Jack or Peggy at Friends of the Flagpole if you are interested in hearing the presentation.

A new role for Laing Kennedy

Retired and venerated longtime Kent State University Athletic Director Laing Kennedy continues to teach sports ethics at the university, but he has also accepted on a part-time, project-by-project basis, the role of senior associate with Alden & Associates, an executive search and consulting firm for intercollegiate athletics.

In that capacity, he already has his first assignment, that of finding a new athletic director for Bowdoin College, a nationally known liberal arts college in Maine. The college was founded in 1794 and its graduates include Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Nathaniel Hawthorne, plus Admiral Robert Peary and Alfred Kinsey.

Laing has already visited the college and conferred with its president and staff to develop a description of what they are looking for in an athletic director. He will convey his findings to Alden & Associates, where the information will be re-worded and augmented with photos and other information.The job will then be posted and Laing will have a role in interviewing the candidates.

Alden & Associates, he said, was founded by Betsy Alden, a former athletic director, whom Laing became acquainted with in that context.

"I have tremendous respect for her," he said. "She does things the right way and has a great sense of ethics."

Laing said the Bowdoin campus is beautifully situated in the town of Brunswick, a short distance from the ocean.

For prospective athletic directors who like Division III programs and want to be in a classic liberal art college with a strong reputation, the job should be very appealing.

"I anticipate many will apply," he said.

The last time Laing was on the Bowdoin campus was as a student at Cornell University, where he became an All American hockey player. He had come to Bowdoin to play in an intercollegiate hockey match between the two schools.

"It was winter and I remember the weather was very cold," he said.

Kudos for Kasich's turnpike plan

Portage County Commissioner Tommie Jo Marsilio has praised Gov. John Kasich's plans to issue bonds for Ohio highway construction and repair to be paid off by revenues generated by Ohio Turnpike tolls. Portage County has two exits on the Ohio Turnpike, one in Streetsboro, the other in Shalersville Township.

"I'm happy that Turnpike employees will keep their jobs," she said. She added she believes the plan will provide much needed revenue for Ohio Department of Transportation projects, principally in northern Ohio if the governor keeps his word.

Thursday, the governor announced in press conferences in Cleveland, Youngstown and Toledo that he would not sell or lease the Ohio Turnpike to private interests, but instead leverage its tolls to raise $1.5 billion for road and bridge projects in Ohio.

Tolls for local trips inside the state would be frozen for 10 years for those using EZ Pass, but otherwise would rise at the rate of inflation in his plan. The governor said 90 percent of the money raised this way would be used for projects north of U.S. Route 30.

The projected $1.5 billion could be doubled with federal matching grants and provide 65,000 construction jobs in Ohio, he said.

Ametek's new site

Ametek's new offices in the Fairmount complex are on South Water Street in downtown Kent. I wrote North Water Street last Sunday and did not catch the mistake on a read-through. My apologies.

Want to leave your comments?

Sign in or Register to comment.