ALONG THE WAY: Mike Sever

By Mike Sever | Staff Writer Published:

The new land bank that is handling state funds to take down abandoned and debilitated houses took down its second house in Portage County Monday. This one was in the McElrath neighborhood of Ravenna Township. The first was on an overgrown lot off Hayes Road near Prospect Street -- so overgrown the crew had to cut a trail to get access.

Monday's target was a 1950s-era one-story home on Adams Street that was abandoned after its owner died without any heirs.

It took about an hour for the house to be knocked into a small pile of rubble. By spring it won't be obvious a house was ever there.

After months of paperwork, the land bank is just starting to take down houses, paid for by a grant from the Ohio Attorney General's office. The money is part of a multi-state settlement over mortgage irregularities.

The land bank, made up of people from cities, villages and townships around Portage County, has a long list of houses to come down.

It's good to see some good coming out of the mortgage fiasco that led us into the worst recession since 1929.

As these properties are cleared, I would bet people will come forward with others to be added to the list. Sometimes people inherit or otherwise acquire a piece of property they can't use, can't afford to clear or can't sell. The land bank is one way of seeing those properties put back into productive use and back on the tax rolls.

Happy Trails eyes arena

Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary south of Ravenna is starting a new capital campaign. This one is to build a covered arena to help the recovery process of rescued horses.

Many of the horses taken in may be recovering from leg or eye surgery, hoof diseases and other ills that would benefit from a safe, dry turnout area.

Annette Fisher, executive director of the sanctuary on New Milford Road, said the estimated cost of the arena is $54,000. Happy Trails can qualify for a $12,000 grant through the Kenneth A. Scott Charitable Trust if it raises enough money for the first phase -- the arena itself.

If needed, a Phase II would address electricity and lighting, new footing and gutters and drainage.

Check them out at www.happytrailsfarm.org.

Affected by shutdown

The partial government shutdown during the first half of October wasn't too apparent to the average Portage County resident. Unless you needed to make use of a government web site, talk to a government agency, or just try to find out what was going on.

For example, the Federal Railroad Administration was closed, which meant the Record-Courier couldn't talk to a representative about the tragic crash that killed 15-year-old Sierra Thornton. Luckily, the FRA's website was still active (unlike a lot of other federal sites) which gave us access to some technical information, such as the number and speed of trains that use that section of rail every day.

Keep deer in mind

Here's a little item from the Ohio Department of Insurance -- motorists are reminded to watch out for deer in the roads this time of year.

According to Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, who also heads the Department of Insurance, "this is the time of year when we see an increase in the number of deer-related accidents."

The release goes on to talk about the cost of a vehicle-deer collision, the fact that some insurance policies may not cover such crashes, and finishes with a reminder to buckle up.

All good information. But not one word about WHY such crashes go up this time of year, and that word is -- sex! Yep, it's the mating season for Odocoileus virginianus, otherwise known as the white-tailed deer. A buck deer turns to thoughts of romance in the cool days of autumn rather than the warm breezes of spring.

So, if you see a deer near a road you're traveling, keep in mind that his mind isn't on watching for traffic.

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