August 28, 2014

Elyria
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Off the beat: Oct. 20, 2007


Area teacher experiences sweet defeat

A brand new chocolate-covered 2007 Jeep Liberty filled with candy bars?

It sounds like the waking dream of a chocoholic 16-year-old, but it actually was the makings for one crazy “Sweetest Day” contest. Seven lucky contestants from several states competed in the Sweetest Day Challenge for a Jeep Liberty on Thursday at Cleveland State University.

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Ben Winner, of Columbus, licks through more than a hundred pounds of chocolate covering a Jeep as he searches for the “sweet spot” and the key to a new Jeep. A North Olmsted teacher nearly won the contest.

The runner-up was one Nancy Pommerening, an eighth-grade teacher from North Olmsted who had the time of her life. When I spoke to her Friday, she sounded like she had yet to land from her sugar-high the day before.

She breathlessly described the chocolate-covered full size Jeep she had to lick clean and the 46,000 pieces of chocolate she had to dive into in an attempt to find a key to the Jeep.

The first round of chocolate-covered chaos pitted Pommerening against the six other essay winners in an attempt to lick her way to as many gold stars as possible.

“It was tough,” Pommerening said.

In 30 minutes she managed to get 12 and a half stars — and an aching tongue.

“My poor tongue was so sore by the end,” she said.

Her 12 and half stars, though, was enough to advance her to the final showdown.

Pommerening had to race her way through mounds of candy against a woman from Chicago to find the key to the Jeep. When she opened the door, “candy came flying” and the race was on. Hidden amid the heaps of sweets was the Liberty key.

“A little while in, I had a bright idea,” said Pommerening who had entered through the passenger door, “I bet the key is in the cup holder. Well, as soon as I reached for the cup holder on my side, the other woman reached for hers — and sure enough she found it.

“So close, but so far,” she said.

While she didn’t leave with the Liberty, she did leave with a duffel bag filled with chocolate for her students and a TV appearance.

“A lot of people said they saw me on the news,” she said. “But I was bent over licking a Jeep. I hope they don’t know me from that angle!”

With or without the Jeep, this was one Sweetest Day that Pommerening will not soon forget.

“It’s not something you do every day,” she said.

— Michael Baker

Wheels of justice

County Common Pleas Judge Mark Betleski is back on the job, but he’s stuck in a wheelchair.

Betleski, who broke his ankle during a motorcycle crash on his way to work in September, has been in and out of the office the past few weeks as he recovers from his injury, which required surgery to repair.

Betleski lost control of his motorcycle as he was making a turn. He was wearing a helmet at the time, but his foot was caught under the bike when he went down.

The accident cost him more than just walking — he also had to pay $206 in fines and court costs on a failure to maintain reasonable control charge he faced for the crash in Elyria Municipal Court.

— Brad Dicken

PolyOne Corp. raises $263K for United Way

What could you do with $263,000?

Well, the PolyOne Corp. and its employees opted to help others with the money — raising it for United Way in a little more than a month.

The company, with locations in Avon Lake, Norwalk, Massillon, Macedonia and North Baltimore, kicked off the campaign Sept. 10 and ended the push Oct. 12 with a celebration during which it presented fat checks to the local United Way organizations in those communities.

Raising the money was not easy, but it sure was fun, said John Daggett, company spokesman.

Contests, employee donations through payroll and raffles where the lure of winning brand-new television sets and free airline tickets managed to keep the campaign going, he said. Also, the corporation kicked in $70,000 by donating 50 cents for every $1 employees gave.

“It was a wonderful campaign,” Daggett said. “It was really all about our employees stepping up to the plate. We’re just trying to duplicate what the Indians are doing.”

— Lisa Roberson

Pictorial perfect

The book written by Elyria native Carey Stevanus about two Colorado parks is a winner in the pictorial division of the 2007 Colorado Book Award.

Stevanus, a 1989 graduate of Elyria High School and a 1993 graduate of Kent State University, took 15 of the photographs in the book “Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, Then and Now.”

The premise of the book was to find old photographs of the park in collections and postcards and photograph the places as they are now, and tell stories about their significance.

For example, the town of Estes Park is where novelist Stephen King was inspired to write “The Shining” after he stayed in the historic Stanley Hotel on a hill above the town.

Stevanus also was able to interview people in their 80s who lived in the area, including two women who described how they celebrated Halloween — by taking outhouses and putting them in the center of town to torment the sole police officer in the town at the time. 

Stevanus is the daughter of Meg and Larry Stevanus. Her book was featured in a Sept. 3, 2006, story in The Chronicle.

— Cindy Leise

Oberlin again at the head of the patch

Oberlin College is a nominee again for the Most Vegetarian-Friendly Colleges in America competition sponsored by the youth group of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

After placing sixth in last year’s contest, Oberlin is back again this year with impressive vegan options, according to PETA spokeswoman Sarah Leimert.

Some of the highlights include vegan Salisbury steak, pumpkin soup with cinnamon croutons and teriyaki tofu with pineapple, Leimert said. Oberlin also has an on-campus nutritionist who counsels students on vegetarian and vegan diets, she said.

Other nominees include UCLA, Arizona State University and the University of Puget Sound.

Colleges were chosen according to student nominations, feedback through MySpace and Facebook, and direct communication with the schools. Everyone is eligible to vote. Winners will be announced in November.

Everyone who casts a vote at peta2.com/college will automatically be entered into a competition to win a student prize pack which includes a $50 iTunes gift card, vegan snacks and the latest Peta2 gear.

Why are so many students giving meat, eggs, and dairy products failing grades? Vegetarians are on average fitter and trimmer than meat-eaters, so being vegan is the way to avoid putting on the “freshman 15,” according to PETA.

Last year, Indiana University at Bloomington won first prize, Leimert said.

— Cindy Leise