Christian-Bennett new
county commissioner
Sabrina Christian-Bennett was named a Portage County commissioner Feb. 11 by the Portage County Republican Party. She will fill the final year of the term of Tommie Jo Marsilio, who resigned in late January.
Christian-Bennett was selected from among seven applicants. She is the owner/president of Bennett Land Title LLC with locations in Brimfield and Ravenna.
She promised to campaign for a full four-year term. But that’s not guaranteed as she could face a primary challenge from several of the candidates passed over.
Party officials said Christian-Bennett won a majority of votes on the first ballot, but did not disclose the vote tally. She will be sworn in once she receives her commission from the governor to fill the office.
Others seeking the appointment were Jack Groselle of Hiram Township, Joel Petkovich of Ravenna, Larry Solak of Shalersville, Lawrence Lohman of Rootstown and Ken Lewis of Ravenna Township.
— Mike Sever, Record-Courier

Poll workers needed
for elections in  2014
The Portage County Board of Elections is seeking energetic, civic-minded residents to serve their community by becoming poll workers.
With the coming year’s elections for governor and other statewide offices, the need is critical. The first countywide election this year will be the May 6 primary.
The county needs around 600 volunteers to staff the polls at its 62 polling locations. Elections board Deputy Director Brad Cromes said, “Without strong poll workers, we simply could not do what we do ; they’re the backbone of our operation.”
To become a poll worker, applicants must be registered to vote in Portage County, have no felony convictions and read and speak English clearly.
To apply to become a poll worker, residents can visit the election board’s website at and download an application or call the office at 330-297-3511. The deadline for applications is March 31.

Portage eyes solution
to jail’s overcrowding
Portage County officials are looking at a short-term solution to overcrowding at the county jail, particularly for the increased number of women inmates.
Sheriff David Doak said staff members came to him several weeks ago with a suggestion to enclose an open area between two of the inmate pods and turn it into a dormitory-like space for women inmates. Doak took the suggestion to the state jail inspector and county commissioners, who agreed it could work.
“Long term, that’s not a solution,” to overcrowding, Doak said of the dormitory idea. He said he’s not sure how long it could provide needed housing, but he hopes it will be three to five years.
Recently, commissioners selected the firm of Wachtel and McAnally Architects of Newark to design a new pod. But Commissioner Maureen Frederick said commissioners are not sure if they can include the short-term fix into the original scope of work that was advertised.
They have no idea of the proposal’s cost for construction or staff and operations.
— Mike Sever, Record-Courier

Parks levy seeks help
On Feb. 21, the Citizens for Portage Parks will host a volunteer kickoff event at 6 p.m. to help the campaign pass a 0.5-mill levy to support Portage parks. It will be at the Portage County Gardeners’ Center, 5154 S. Prospect St., Ravenna, and is open to all current and potential campaign volunteers. The purpose is to meet committee members, area coordinators and community captains, and recruit more people to help.

Four animals perish
in Happy Trails blaze
Several animals at Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary on New Milford Road in Ravenna Township died Feb. 14, though others escaped or were saved after bedding in a barn housing goats and sheep caught fire.
No humans were injured in the blaze at the private, non-profit sanctuary, which rescues abused and neglected farm animals and finds them new homes through adoption.
Two goats named Venus and Serena, a rooster named Jason and a pot belly pig named Rico died in the fire, Happy Trails executive director Annette Fisher wrote on the shelter’s website and Facebook page.
Two other goats that are part of the farm’s Animal Visitation Program and two barn cats were rescued. One of the cats was treated for smoke inhalation, Fisher said.
Edinburg Fire Chief Tim Paulus, the incident commander at the scene, said the first call came in at 7:17 p.m. Feb. 14 after a worker saw smoke coming out of the roof of the barn.
He said a heat lamp appears to have ignited the animals’ bedding and flames “caused the smoke that caused the animals’ demise.”
— Dave O’Brien, Record-Courier

Water monitoring tests
offered by area groups
Two concerned citizens groups offer monitoring testing for residential water wells in Portage County.
Testing is offered the fourth Monday of each month at 7 p.m. at Hiram Christian Church, 6868 Wakefield Road in Hiram.
Quarterly testing is available at Sand Hill Stable, 4311 S.R. 303. The next monitoring scheduled is set for March 2 from 3:30 to 5 p.m.
Free monitoring does not replace EPA-certified lab tests. It is intended to establish baseline records of indicators of general water quality.
For accurate readings, water samples should be taken as close to the source well as possible and before any treatment. Samples should be in a clean, wide-mouthed, covered 8 ounce glass container.
Contact for more information.

Artisans sought in Mantua
Art on the Hill & Wine Tasting 2014, a day-long arts festival, is seeking artisans to sell and display handmade works of art at the sixth annual event July 12 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Mantua. Booth fee is $45. Applications can be obtained by calling Christine Pitsinger at 330-414-6486 or visiting

St. Rita offers scholarship
Thanks to a generous bequest, and after months of study, the finance committee of St. Rita Parish in Solon is offering students an opportunity to garner a scholarship to attend the day school.
Deadline for scholarship application is March 1. The St. Rita merit scholarship is the first of its kind offered by a private elementary school.
St. Rita’s is located at 33200 Baldwin Road in Solon. Call 440-248-1350 ext. 102 for more information.

Trees, plants sale kicks off
The annual spring tree sale by the Portage County Soil and Water Conservation District is under way.
“We are featuring some hard to find native plants,” said Lynn Vogel.
Preorder deadline is April 4, with plant pickup from April 16-18 at 6970 Route 88, Ravenna.
 Visit for a full listing of plants and descriptions or call 330-297-7633 with questions about the plant sale.

Parks levy help eyed
Citizens for Portage Parks will host a volunteer kickoff event Feb. 21 at 6 p.m. to help the campaign pass a half-mill levy to support the Portage Park District. It will be at the Portage County Gardeners Center, 5154 S. Prospect St., Rootstown and is open to potential campaign volunteers.