ALONG THE WAY: David Dix

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Jack Schafer of Trexler Rubber, who has a degree in architecture and whose first career was in historic preservation, emailed these two photos of downtown Ravenna. The first is a panorama taken in 1910 when the Victorian-era Portage County Courthouse and jail were on the square. The second is a panorama that is more current and shows the successor Portage County Courthouse that took the place of its predecessor in 1961.

Tom Riddle, a descendant of Henry W. Riddle, the person who constructed most of the Victorian-era buildings in both photos, did meticulous work repairing the older photo, Jack said, adding that he and Tom photographed the square from the exact same angle to get the effect of the first picture.

Jack said the Historic Preservation Act, approved by Congress in 1966, really got the preservation movement going across the country. I think that an awareness that led to passage of the Preservation Act was partly due to the courageous battle violinist Isaac Stern, Jacqueline Kennedy, New York Times columnist Ada Louise Huxtable, and many others raised to spare New York's Grand Central Station from the wrecking ball.

Timing is everything and I ask myself at times if the effort to replace the Victorian-era Portage County Courthouse had been delayed 10 years whether the results might not have come out very differently.

Regardless, Ravenna's downtown square, in front of the courthouse and surrounded mostly by Riddle buildings, retains a beauty unmatched by most communities of Northeastern Ohio. One of the best views of the square is from the lobby of Hometown Bank in Riddle Block No. 1.

Outstanding video by Stow students

Stow-Munroe Falls High School has teamed up with the Stow Sentry's website and is posting supervised student contributions on it.

When proposed, we were hopeful this would give us a venue to show off the great talent of young people in Stow High School. The first contribution, a video regarding the school's dress code, was so well done it greatly exceeded our expectations.

The video is in an early 20th century style, uses French subtitles that are translated into English, and reminds one of the great silent films that people like Charlie Chaplin created. You can find it on the Stow Sentry web site, www.stowsentry.com, under the title Stow-Munroe Falls High School News.

I was so taken by the production and its creativity that I posted it on my Record Publishing Facebook page and took it home to show Janet.

"Those students must have a wonderful teacher," she said after looking at it.

If other high schools are interested in doing the same, we'd like to talk with them.

The agreement with Stow-Munroe Falls High was set up with the assistance of Superintendent Russ Jones.

Catching up with the Crails

Marc and Jayne Crail, visiting Kent, are, in their retirement, still working part-time for Disney World's Animal Kingdom as tour guides and I bet they give great tours. Jayn said she is busier in retirement than ever and Marc said he has been involved in planning in the community of Mount Dora, Fla., which is now their home.

It would sure be nice if Ohio could hang onto talented people such as those two. Time flies. The Crails have been in Mount Dora for five years.

Not wanting to miss seeing people, Jayn way in advance contacted people they knew when Marc was Kent school superintendent and Janet and I were flattered to be on their list. We met for dinner in downtown Kent and walked around showing off all the positive changes that have occurred. Even though Florida's development is something to behold, they said they were very impressed with what has occurred in Kent.

Seeking a vision for 2040

Team NEO's effort to encourage the people of Northeast Ohio to create a vision of what they want this part of the state to be in 2040 let people vote Wednesday at the Kent Student Center Ballroom. The exercise was called, "Imagine My NEO."

The issues presented weighed current sprawl trends against the alternative of rehabilitated core cities, pedestrian-friendly with more greenfields permanently protected. The alternative, it was explained, would make for less expensive living costs, a more interesting urban environment, and more pristine rural areas.

In Portage County, which has seen its share of sprawl, one wonders at people who move to the country and then demand city-level services, which cost more per person when spread out over a wider area than they do in a more compact urban zone.

Among those casting his vote was Ravenna Mayor Joe Bica, whom I photographed during the exercise. He recommended that computer literate persons who wish to know more go to VibrantNEO.org/Imagine.

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