ALONG THE WAY: In Philippines helping in typhoon relief

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Will Harper, a 2001 graduate of Roosevelt High School and the son of Mary Beth Harper and Joe Harper, both of Kent, is working in Tacloban, Philippines, assisting with the typhoon relief effort.

According to his mother, Will is beginning his fourth year with Save The Children UK, an international organization focused on helping children in 120 countries.

"As a Child Protection Advocate, Will has worked all over the world, including stints in Tanzania, Pakistan, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Tunisia, Myanmar, and most recently, South Sudan," his mother writes.

After graduating from Kent State University in 2005, he spent nearly three years in South Africa on a project helping child-headed households in Orange Farm outside Johannesburg.

In his current role, Will is one of five Child Protection Emergency Response Personnel with Save the Children who are sent in emergency situations to advocate for the most vulnerable, usually children. He has worked with refugees in a number of situations and coordinated efforts to trace and reunite families while making sure kids who are orphaned or separated have a safe place to stay.

According to Mary Beth, Will arrived in the Philippines in mid-November and has been able to send a few updates to his family via e-mail.

"We're doing some really important things, which is nice to be a part of," one email says. "Still a long way to go here, but people are really amazing and getting on with their lives. We've got running water now, and the generator is on for a few hours a day. Food is getting better, too."

"I am incredibly proud of Will and the work he is doing," says Mary Beth. "He is truly committed to helping the children of the world."

Obamacare perils?

My lifelong friend, Bob Griffin, whom I've known since we were both in our cribs started out in life a liberal Democrat, but somewhere along the way must have received an epiphany that converted him into an ideologically well-grounded conservative, a believer in individual initiative and its rewards and an opponent of public intervention that smacks of egalitarianism.

This past week, Bob sent me a list of questions, which he says conservatives should use in debating the merits of Obamacare and here they are:

First, Bob writes, "the federal government has taken on the role of decision-maker for all Americans regarding what health insurance companies must cover. Where is the debate of the government's mandated coverage? Where is or was the policy debate about whether the people want the government to make this determination in the first place? This is not simply the "one-size-fits-all" problem. It is a basic question of the appropriate role of government in the health insurance market."

Second, he says, "the financial model for Obamacare is to tax the young and healthy to cover higher costs of the old, the sick and the uninsured. Again, where is/was the policy discussion on whether or not this generational redistribution of income is how we citizens want the costs of health insurance paid for?"

Third, he adds, "A couple of years ago, Dennis Miller quipped that Obamacare is the planned obsolescence of self-reliance in America. On Fox Business on Dec. 3, Tom Scully, former head of CMS, stated that eventually 62 percent of Americans would be eligible for subsidies under Obamacare, the largest middle class entitlement in history. In his view, Obamacare could never be undone as Americans would get hooked on these subsidies. The moral and financial hazards of Obamacare are enormous. Who's focusing on these gargantuan problems?"

Bob's career in international economic development enabled him to see economic systems in countries throughout the world. He eventually concluded a system based on self reliance produces the best society. Bob is retired and resides in Hawaii.

Secret Cellar debuts

After Thursday's ribbon cutting at Kent's new "Secret Cellar Wine Bar and Jazz Club" in the basement of Acorn Corner, the new name for the beautifully restored old Franklin Hotel, I offered to take a photo for this column of the new owners, Jim and Amy Bragg.

"Oh, take my photo," Mrs. Bragg said. "I'm cuter!"

Dressed like a 1920s flapper, her appearance complimented what is shaping up to be a look-alike speakeasy, the kind that flourished during the Prohibition Era. The Secret Cellar is aiming for the late 20s and older crowd. It features a limited menu, but has an extensive wine selection including eight on tap, four whites and four reds. It also has four craft beers and a good selection of bottled beers.

Live music performs weekend evenings and donations for musicians are welcome.

It was my second visit. Last week, Janet and I, joined by Dave and Debbie Petrone, Wayne and Dianne Luke, and Ken and Dolly Burdick, toured the Secret Cellar as part of a sponsored tour of all of Acorn Corner that was led by Doug Fuller, architect for the restoration project, and his wife, Karen. Doug took us up through BW3 to the offices and luxury apartment suites above, all great places to work and live, the apartments being perfect for visiting researchers at Kent State on the campus for an extended visit of a semester or more.

After our tour last weekend, we adjourned to the nearby Laziza Restaurant for a delicious dinner of East Mediterranean fare. The tour was one of the auction items at "Right at Home," the fund-raiser the Coleman Foundation annually stages.

Book, a special gift

Roger Di Paolo's new book, "The Ravenna Record," a more-than-400-page collection of some his Portage Pathway columns regarding the people who lived from the early 1800s up to 1960, and helped build Ravenna into a community, is selling well. All proceeds from the $25 book price go to Friends of the Flagpole, the team trying to repair and restore the historic flagpole in front of the Portage County Courthouse.

Justin Barber, a faculty member at Stark Tech College, designed and edited the book. It looks beautiful and makes a wonderful Christmas or holiday gift.

For history buffs of both Kent and Ravenna, it makes a great package if joined by "Rooted in Kent," the book that the Kent Historical Society published four years ago that focuses on Roger's columns dealing with the people who helped build Kent into a community pretty much during the same period. Saturday at a book signing by Roger and other area authors, the Kent Historical Society was offering the two volumes as a package buy at $40 with $25 of the proceeds reserved for the flagpole and $15 for the Kent Historical Society.

If Kent can claim an Ohio governor in Martin L. Davey, Ravenna can do the same with William Rufus Day, U.S. Secretary of State under Presidents McKinley and Roosevelt. He negotiated the end of the Spanish American War and later served 20 years on the U.S. Supreme Court. Each community produced talented businessmen and inventors, builders, educators and civic leaders, women taking part in all this right alongside the men. Roger's research and peerless style of writing gives one a deeper appreciation of who we are and from whence we came.

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