Sunday, December 18, 2016

Lovable Ed a fixture in the news business

The Tuscarawas Valley news business lost its most veteran member – Ed DeGraw, 92, of Dover, who reported for a gazillion years for The Times-Reporter and other publications.

I’m not sure the business can create characters like Ed any longer. Always puffing on his pipe and sipping a Coke, Ed was a fixture in our newsroom, sitting in his little corner of the world pontificating about everything and launching into a rant without warning.

Ed was one of the few reporters and photographers that I managed who actually liked covering the county fair – it could get tedious -- and in tandem with another veteran, Joe Mizer, provided unprecedented coverage for our local agricultural community year after year. I suspect that demographic has noticed that coverage might not be the same since Ed and Joe retired.

But that’s not all.

Ed didn’t understand the concept of overtime pay and would show up for work on days off because there was a story or column to be written. Need a volunteer? Ed would raise his hand.

He’d cover the cops, or city council. Or attend that all-important chicken dinner without complaint. God love him.

I don’t remember him ever calling in sick, or asking to be excused from traveling to work because of bad weather. And he brought a historical view to the news that he wrote -- sometimes to a fault. He knew when stuff happened. Ed was our Google before Google.

It sounds corny, but Ed had the proverbial nose for news and maintained sources on all levels. The first phone call I received on a fateful Sunday morning a couple of decades ago was from Ed who reported that “New Philadelphia High is on fire” and that we needed to rally the troops. A source had tipped him off.

Ed also had a special relationship with gardeners. At the first sign of frost, Ed would knock out a column, offering his thoughts on preparing the soil for winter and he wrote that column from scratch every year. His other passion was the Cleveland Indians, but his sportswriter roots allowed him to offer commentary on every aspect of athletics. And he did. Often.

I suspect God is getting an earful from Ed right now. And if God is smart, he better listen. I suspect He’ll learn something.

A few more quick hits and I’ll let you get on with your pre-Christmas activities:

--Please don’t ask me “What do you think of Trump now?” That question usually comes from a Fox News devotee who hasn’t been paying attention. It gets me all riled up and puts me in a really bad mood.

--It seems to me that every elementary school should have its own principal. I would have gone nuts in my elementary school without Sister Monica waving her paddle (with holes drilled in it to alleviate wind resistence) at my fellow hooligans. Fortunately, New Philadelphia Superintendent David Branch agrees and will request Monday that the Board of Education approve the hiring of a full slate of building principals effective Jan. 1.

--If you study the tax duplicate for the famous Dairy Queen which sits in the footstep of the new Dover High campus you will come to the conclusion that the property is worth about $160,000. In my mind, that would be a good offer from the school district to the Yoder-Angel family which owns the property.

--Driving north on N. Wooster Ave. recently, I noticed that I got stopped by only one traffic light, which is a vast improvement over the old system. There’s still more work to be done before the synchronization project is completed and traveling south is still dicey through the retail portion of S. Wooster Ave.

--I’m still encountering folks who are unaware of the existence of this blog. If someone happens to mention to you that he/she can’t find Farrell’s column in the Bargain Hunter, tell them to Google "" It’s easily found.

--This is probably my last offering before Christmas. I hope you and your family have a great holiday. Talk to you soon.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

New frenzy: 'Take his phone away, take his phone away, take his phone away...'

Warning to my relatives south of the Mason-Dixon Line, staunch Republican friends everywhere and Hillary Clinton haters: You’re not going to like this.

I have been trying to be a good loser and give Donald Trump the benefit of all my doubts.

Doubts? I have had a few.

Less than a month after the election, it is clear to me that we did, in fact, elect a Tweeting reality TV star as opposed to anything resembling a statesman or leader of the free world. In other words, we chose an idiot.

In the interest of space, I won’t go into all of the reasons I decided to abandon hope for Trump. I’ll just focus on a few recent ones:

--He “saved” 1,000 Indiana jobs by striking a deal with the state of Indiana -- that would be the VP's home state -- to provide a $7 million tax break to Carrier Corp., which admitted later that it was only going to move 700 jobs to Mexico. I’m sure news of the deal lit up boardrooms across the country with executives plotting how they will weasel their own deal. Even Sarah Palin was critical of Trump’s “corporate cronyism.” Sarah Palin. Think about that.

--During a stop on his victory tour, he whipped a Cincinnati audience into frenzy, a la the campaign trail. The supporters broke into the intolerant “Lock her up” chant, which sends chills down my anti-fascist back. Then he announced his pick for secretary of defense, which apparently surprised the transition team, including close confidant Kellyanne Conway, who frankly has overstayed her 15 minutes of fame.

--He engaged in a free-flowing phone conversation with Taiwan’s leader even though such conversations violate a U.S. policy and protocol since 1979. So in less than a month, he’s irritated the world’s most populous country -- an important market to U.S. manufacturers and a cog in global supply chain -- sucked up to Russia and had niceties with Pakistan, which wouldn’t mind nuking its neighbor and our ally India. Nice job, Donald.

I’ll let the experts pass judgment on his cabinet picks, which hopefully won’t include former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who as far as I can tell is qualified only to serve as the court jester. He’d make a good one.

Now, none of my relatives or friends has publicly admitted to me that they regret their Trump vote. I suspect it’s a lot like when you buy a car that you brag about but which you find out later actually is a piece of junk. You’re not going to admit you have buyer's remorse.

In the aftermath of the 1972 presidential election and in the wake of the Watergate scandal, a lot of people slapped bumper stickers on their cars that said “Don’t blame me. I voted for McGovern.” Perhaps, we’ll see an updated version of that slogan in the wake of the 2016 election.

Anyway, God help us.

I’m happy to report that I got through the first part of the holidays without engaging in any arguments with relatives over the election.

I did, however, hide the posts of a lot of “friends” on Facebook, which in an odd way I felt bad about because I was tailoring my news feed to suit my viewpoint. The deciding factor, however, was a propensity by so many people to cite fake news sources as reasons for hating Hillary.

And that brings me to the underscoring problem: People are ill-informed. They don’t read. They don’t understand history or our global relationships and how they came about. Americans can be dumb.

And speaking of education…

The Ohio Chamber of Commerce is supporting legislation that would make financial literacy a high school graduation requirement.

And so do I.

There are too many young adults saddled with enormous debt after graduating (or not) from college, who are easily securing loans and credit card debt without one thought to the future.

House Bill 383 would require high school students to complete a one-half credit course. The number of electives would be reduced from 5 to 4.5.

Hopefully, if the bill is passed, the Legislature will provide schools with funding to teach the subject. I guess that’s part of financial literacy as well.

Here’s an interesting little tidbit that you probably won’t read about in the Canton Repository, the official Pro Football Hall of Fame newspaper. (Yes, really.)

In the wake of a lawsuit over cancellation of the 2016 game, it has come to light, via the New York Post, that Hall of Fame President David Baker had a little trouble with the law back in the 1980s.
In an article headlined “How Roger Goodell let a check-forging politician run the Hall of Fame,” the Post detailed Baker’s run-in with the California justice system.

Goodell, who serves on the Hall of Fame’s board of trustees, supported the hiring of Baker back in 2014. The job pays $367,000 a year.

That, folks, is landing on your feet.

I’m not sure why but I haven’t seen anything in the local press about the closing of Green Valley Golf Club. (If I missed something, please let me know.)

Green Valley, one of the area’s oldest courses, was challenging to say the least. Its greens gave me fits.

Anyway, operator Gary Miller announced on Facebook on Oct.10 that the course was closing with this (edited) message:

“Well, a long history of New Philadelphia closed last night. Green Valley Golf Club is no longer open this year and maybe for the future. With the lack of new golfers and old diehard golfers getting too old to play golf, (it has become) a challenge for every course in the Tuscarawas Valley.

“So support your local courses and keep them open. On behalf of my dad Merv, mom Millie and myself, I want to thank everyone who supported us for almost 40 years -- lots and lots of memories. I have seen young boys turn into young men.

“We all have had a blast here but like the saying goes all good things must come to an end. It has been an emotional roller coaster for me when we just could not get together on the lease, but we all sure tried. So, thanks to all.”

Miller was among area operators who welcomed youngsters to their courses and treated them as important future customers. Among them was my son. I thank Gary Miller for that. Goodbye, Green Valley.

Remember the sale of Atwood Lodge and Conference? It’s been delayed again, this time until Jan. 13, according to the Carrollton Free PressStandard.

Stay tuned.