ALONG THE WAY: David Dix

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Jeff Smeiles, now 25, who's been an accomplished long distance runner going back to his days at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Kent, finished within the top 100 runners at this year's Boston Marathon.

The son of Chris and Debbie Smeiles, Jeff completed the race in two hours, 32 minutes and 3 seconds. That put him in 98th place among all runners and 88th place out of all male runners. Jeff came in 74th in the 18-39 age group.

A graduate of Messiah College in Grantham, Pa., Jeff and his wife, Karli, also a Messiah graduate, reside in Grantham, which, he writes, is about 20 minutes from Harrisburg, the Pennsylvania state capital, where Jeff is employed with a consulting engineering firm.

When Jeff was a student at Messiah, he placed third overall in the Cross Country Conference Championships his senior year. He ran the 3,000- meter Steeplechase in 9 minutes, 43.7 seconds which put him at No. 10 on the Messiah Track & Field All-Time Top List. He finished in the top 8 in the Steeplechase within his conference all four years in college.

When I e-mailed him, Jeff replied that since college graduation he has been running with a club team of Messiah alumni that its members have named SWIFT, an acronym for Strength, Wisdom, Integrity, Faith and Truth. It is U.S. Track & Field Association recognized.

Four members of SWIFT ran with him in the Boston Marathon. Cheering Jeff on in Boston were Karli and her parents, who are from the central Pennsylvania area, and Jeff's parents.

Because he finished the race so early, Jeff said, he was long gone from Boylston Street when the bombs exploded and did not realize anything was wrong until he started receiving text messages asking him if he was OK

I remember Jeff when he lived in Kent, seeing him running now and then on Ravenna-Hudson Road when I was driving to and from work. He appeared to be in great shape and apparently remains so even today when he is 25 and settled down in a job and married.

Thanks to Mike McClure of Cutler Realty for this news tip.

A plug for Dad from Liz

Roger Sidoti, the former Roosevelt principal who is running for Kent City Council, got an unexpected boost on national television recently.

That's because his daughter, Liz, who is the national politics writer for Associated Press, was on a news talk program on national television and at the show's end put in a plug for her dad.

"We were totally surprised," Roger and Mary Sidoti said of their daughter's unexpected plug.

A fervent believer in the important of good local schools, Roger said he spoke with Liz and, thanking her, said passage of the Kent school levy Tuesday is more important than his election to council.

A visit with Dan Smith

Nice to see Dan Smith, Kent's Economic Development director, and a key player in the city's rejuvenation efforts surveying the positive results of all his efforts Thursday despite recent health setbacks.

The encounter was coincidental. A former R-C circulation manager paid me a call so I took him to lunch in the downtown and drove to the top of the new parking deck so he could see all the change.

At the far end from where we parked, I noticed a lone couple walking in our direction.

"Out to see the sights like us?" I asked and then saw it was Dan and his wife, Missy.

"It's great to see the Esplanade taking shape," Dan remarked.

It was nice to see Dan and Missy out on a gorgeous day.

Flagpole 'Friends' still raising funds

Co-chairs of "Friends of the Flagpole" Peggy DiPaola and Jack Schafer are still looking for donations toward their goal of raising $150,000 to repair and save the 150-foot historic flagpole in front of the Portage County Courthouse. Although more than halfway toward that goal, there remains at least $70,000 to be found.

A successful effort could spark a more widespread interest in preserving some of the beautiful buildings that grace Ravenna. Donations can be made at Portage Community Bank and Hometown Bank, which have set up accounts for that purpose.

An excellent example of the use of the iron structure developed for the construction of bridges and other monuments of civic expression, the Ravenna flagpole is a rare survivor of a kind of building technique that became popular after the Civil War. Built in 1893, the flagpole utilized the same technology that was used in the Eiffel Tower for the Paris Exhibition in 1889.

The Van Dorn Ironworks of Cleveland, which built the flagpole,was a huge company whose ironworks in the late 19th and early 20th Century ran from jail cells to street corner steel mailboxes. The company was begun by James Van Dorn as the creator of fancy steel fences for the homes of well-heeled Americans.The Arcade in Cleveland has steel fencing inside of it created by Van Dorn. Van Dorn built chairs for the specifications of Frank Lloyd Wright. It manufactured auto parts and in wartime turned out steel plating for tanks.

A plastics division of Van Dorn survives in Strongsville and it is owned by a larger German corporation.

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