How many politicians can fit inside a medical university?
That calculation was tested recently when U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, a Cincinnati-area Republican, and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, a Niles-xarea Democrat, found themselves in the conference center of Northeast Ohio Medical University in Rootstown.
The two lawmakers, who had different reasons for being there on the same Friday night, engaged in a bit of bi-partisan glad-handing before heading off to their previously scheduled events.
Portman was on campus as part of a scheduled visit to Northeastern Ohio. Earlier that day, he had visited AlphaMicron in Kent and also made a stop in Mahoning County.
Ryan was there to attend the wedding rehearsal of one of his staffers, Andrew Kluge, who was set to marry Morgan Reaser the following day at the Ralph Regula Conference Center on the NEOMED campus. Kluge's uncle, U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania, was performing the ceremony for the Ravenna couple.
I ran into Morgan Reaser's aunt, Portage County Auditor Janet Esposito, at a reception for Portman.
"Your niece's wedding rehearsal is down the hall, and you're blowing it off for this?" I said jokingly, after Reaser's proud dad pointed out that Esposito was a relative.
"I wasn't invited to the rehearsal," she replied. "I was invited to this."
Motorists out in the cold
Bad news, Ravenna motorists. The city's police department no longer will unlock your car doors for free.
Councilwoman Amy Michael recently reported that a resident called her, surprised that the police no longer offer the service. The man had locked his keys inside the running car while warming it up on a recent cold morning.
Mayor Joseph Bica said the program was stopped because of liability issues. He said car doors are becoming more and more complex, and the likelihood that one would be broken is higher.
"Our police really aren't qualified to perform that service," he said. After a helpful officer accidentally broke a window trying to unlock a door, the city stopped the service.
I just wish I knew Ravenna offered that service when I locked my keys inside my non-running car. I had to call my own tow truck because my roadside assistance company told me I had run out of service calls.
But trust me, the local guys are great. They came out quickly and got me into my car and on my way.
I don't worry that there are people out there with the tools and skill set to pull this off, because honestly, what are they going to get besides some recycled cans, paperwork and my gym bag?
I don't claim to know everything, but I'd like to think that when I interview a family, I know at least as much about my interview subjects as my readers do.
But one reader, who vented to Sound Off about the family of Portage County's first baby of the new year, apparently claims to know more than I learned about this family.
The reader said the story I wrote shouldn't have been in the paper because "there are three kids that the father and mother produced and the mother is still single," the entry reads. Surprisingly, nothing was said about the father being single.
I found myself wondering how the reader in question knows something about this family that I didn't even know after interviewing them.
The happy couple told me their names, and they happened to have different last names. They never said anything to indicate their marital status. In the midst of asking the new parents about the circumstances of the birth and the losses they experienced along the way, I never bothered to ask, "So, by the way, are you guys married?"
It's none of my business, but just for the record, last names do not denote marital status. I know many couples who maintain different names throughout their marriage.
The reader then claimed that the family must be on welfare to bring another child into the union. I don't know where the reader gets the impression that this family is on public assistance, because it certainly wasn't reported by me.
What was reported was this: The mom who was featured already had lost her mother and one of her twin daughters during her pregnancy.
And I'll also add this -- the dad in the story was more verbal than most fathers I've talked to, and I've done many a Baby New Year story. He obviously was there through the pregnancy, at the doctor's visits, and the birth. He's a dad who is clearly involved in the lives of his daughters. And the fact that this healthy baby was the lone survivor in a set of twins needs to be celebrated as well.