Northeast Ohio churches speak out against President Obama’s birth control policy

By: Kristin Byrne,

President Barack ObamaBRUNSWICK, Ohio – Catholic churches in northeast Ohio are on mission to have their message heard after President Obama announced a federal mandate regarding health care coverage for contraception.

The regulation requires faith-based institutions to provide insurance for things like contraception. It’s been revised so churches can opt out of providing coverage, but that doesn’t matter much to some local church members, like Mike Ruffing. He’s been a member of St. Ambrose Catholic Church in Brunswick for eight years.

“Regulating some type of aspect of providing insurance for something that is against their conscience is more than just a Catholic issue, that’s a government infringing upon people’s religious freedoms,” he said.

Ruffing has been emailing lawmakers, other church members and anyone who’ll listen. His pastor, Father Bob Sec, is taking action, too. He’s been keeping his parishioners up to speed on the topic and telling them where the church stands on the issue.

“I think we’ve been called to faithful citizenship and faithful stewardship what that means is that we need to be participants in the conversation of shaping out society, shaping our culture, and shaping the laws of the land.”

Other churches feel strongly something has to be done. St. Thomas More Catholic Parish has created a petition against the new mandate and members at the Queen of Heaven Catholic Church in Uniontown can pick up postcards to mail to lawmakers.

Lawyer from Green set to face ‘Toughest Footrace on Earth’

By Sean Patrick  South Side Leader

Richard-DavisFrom April 6 to 16, Green attorney Richard Davies will be in Morocco to compete in the Marathon des Sables — a race that covers 155 miles in seven days in The Sahara Desert.

Davies, 58, said he has never done anything like this before in his life. In fact, Davies said he has yet to even attempt a single marathon.

The idea for running in the race, the British-born Davies said, came from an alumni newsletter.

“I moved to this country almost 40 years ago,” he explained. “I went to a school in England, and I got an alumni magazine from my high school last year with an article about one of the alumni who’d done the 25th anniversary race in 2010. I thought, ‘That sounds interesting,’ and I started to do some research on it.”

Known as “The Toughest Footrace on Earth,” the Marathon des Sables (or Marathon of the Sands), which will take place from April 8 to 14, is equivalent to running approximately five-and-a-half marathons in seven days — in the desert.

Davies said he has been preparing through a variety of means, including “walking, running and doing exercises to build up [his] core.”

“Approximately 20 percent of the terrain will be sand dunes,” he said. “Most of the terrain is very rocky, and there’s a mountain in the middle of the course.”

In addition, runners will carry a pack with them that includes items such as food, clothing, medical supplies and an anti-venom pump.

“The race involves you carrying everything you need for the week on your back, except for water, which the organizers hand out at control points. The water is rationed,” he said. “And they also provide an eight-person tent. But as far as food, clothing, sleeping bag, bowls, anything like that, you have to carry it yourself. And they limit the amount you can carry. There is a minimum and a maximum amount. Most packs average 20 to 25 pounds.”

Typically, Davies said, 50 to 60 people who enter the race will not finish it. He said he does not plan to be among that group this year.

“I intend to finish it,” he said. “There will be about 1,000 participants this year. About 90 percent of them will run the course, while 10 percent walk it. I have a feeling I will be doing more walking than running. Because it is called the ‘Toughest Footrace on Earth,’ just finishing it is an achievement. Some people try to finish in the top 100 overall or be one of the top 10 Americans or something like that. My goal is just to finish it.”

And even though the Marathon des Sables is considered a race, Davies said he is more interested in the achievement of finishing the race and the experience of taking part in such an event, than he is in worrying about where he finishes.

“There is some money involved for the top finishers, but almost always it’s the Moroccans who win it because they train on the same ground and they train for six months out of the year for the race,” he said. “For most people, it’s just to go out, test yourself physically and mentally, and experience a part of the world that you’re never going to see again in all likelihood.”

Davies said he will be the only runner from Ohio and one of approximately 45 runners from the United States to take part in this year’s event.

“Everybody’s reaction is to ask me if I’m crazy, including my wife and my daughters,” he said. “But it’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing to do. Honestly, I wanted to do it just to see if I could do it.”

However, Davies said, his reason for attempting the event took on a larger cause when one of his daughters, Amy Troyer, of Uniontown, suggested he do it for charity.

Davies chose to support The Up Side of Downs, a nonprofit organization in Cleveland that exists to provide support, education and advocacy for people with Down syndrome throughout Northeast Ohio.

“My grandson, Ryan, who is 11, has Down syndrome, as does my younger granddaughter, Drusilla, who lives in Portland with my younger daughter, Meredith Hines,” he said. “So I have two grandchildren with Down syndrome and I thought it sounded like a wonderful idea to raise money for Down syndrome and awareness for it.”

Davies said he signed up to participate in the Marathon des Sables last year.

“Normally, it takes two to four years to get in the race. The number of runners who can participate is strictly limited to between 850 to 1,000 runners,” he said. “Usually, the contingency from the U.S. and Canada is between 50 to 60 runners, and they say it’s very unlikely that you will get chosen in your first year. So I signed up to have my name on the list, and I happened to be chosen. It’s strictly a lottery. All they ask for is your name, address, state and country of citizenship.”

Davies said he has received the go-ahead from his doctor to participate.

“I have talked to my doctor, and he said it’s fine for me to go,” he said. “The organization requires that when you arrive in Morocco you have a statement from your doctor that’s no older than 30 days that says you are fit to race it. They also require an EKG to make sure you are physically able to do it.”

And while there will be medical care available throughout the course, Davies admitted he does have some concerns about the race.

“I think I would be silly not to,” he said. “It’s going to be hot in the day — it can get up to 120 degrees — and cold at night. Your water is limited. There is the danger of twisting an ankle or breaking something, and you could suffer dehydration or heat stroke. Blisters are a constant threat and you have to watch out for scorpions and snakes and spiders. Physically and mentally, it can just get very, very tough. Mentally, I think I’m there. Physically, I have eight weeks to go.”

The cost to participate in the race is $3,900. Davies said he is accepting both donations for the Up Side of Downs and sponsorships to help with his expenses.

“I have divided it into donations and sponsorships,” he said. “The donations go directly to The Up Side of Downs; they don’t come to me. If you want to sponsor me, there are sponsorship opportunities. I have had a number of people who have volunteered to help me to defray some of the costs. In return, there will be a banner I will carry with the names on it.”

Donations to The Up Side of Downs can be made online at Mention the Marathon des Sables in the “donate now” comments box so the donations made specifically for this race can be noted. Donations by mail should be sent to The Up Side of Downs, One Independence Place, 4807 Rockside Road, Suite 200, Independence, OH 44131. Mention the Marathon des Sables on the check’s memo line.

Sponsorship contributions can be made payable to Richard Davies and sent to 3572 S. Arlington Road, Suite 2-4, Akron, OH 44312. For a list of sponsorship levels, contact Davies by email at rdl@rich or by phone at 330-899-8846.

And for those who would like to keep track of Davies on his journey, the official website of the Marathon des Sables,, will post updates on all of the runners through a GPS tracking device located on the runners’ ankles. Davies will be listed by his number, which is 962.



Goodyear donates historic blimp gondola to Smithsonian

By Jim Mackinnon| Beacon Journal business writer

Goodyear GondolaAnother piece of Goodyear’s airship history is headed to the Smithsonian.

A six-person gondola first attached to a Goodyear blimp in 1934 and finally retired in 1986 trucked out Tuesday morning on the back of a big flatbed from Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.’s Wingfoot airship base in Portage County. Destination: The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va. The donated gondola will be placed near another historic Goodyear airship artifact, a lifeboat that is the sole remaining piece from the ill-fated 1911 Akron airship that the tire maker gave to the museum last year. (The museum is also home to the gondola of the Goodyear blimp Pilgrim.)

This particular gondola, also called a control car and given the designation C-49, played a role in pop culture from 1975 to 1986 when it was part of the Goodyear airship Columbia based in California. Actor Richard Chamberlain, impersonator Rich Little and actress and Laugh-In television comedy show regular Jo Anne Worley flew in the Columbia. The Columbia had a starring role in the 1977 thriller Black Sunday and also was used for — either to film aerial scenes or appeared in — Disney’s Flight of the Navigator and Condorman and Oh, God! Book II, among other movies. The blimp provided aerial coverage for four Super Bowls and two World Series, Rose Bowl games and parades and the 1984 summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

But the C-49 gondola is much more than a pop culture item, said Tom Crouch, senior curator of aeronautics at the museum.

It started out in 1934 on the Goodyear blimp Enterprise, was pressed into Naval service in 1942 for World War II and then sold back to Goodyear in 1946. Goodyear kept the gondola as a spare and rebuilt it in 1969.

“It covers a big chunk of Goodyear airship history,” Crouch said. “I think people are just plain fascinated by airships.”

And most of the American public is familiar with the iconic Goodyear blimps, he said. “They played an important role in aeronautical history,” Crouch said. Blimps have been used for sporting events and for military use, he said.

“Not a single ship was lost in convoys protected by blimps (in World War II),” Crouch said.

“The C-49 has a rich history within the Goodyear blimp fleet and with the U.S. Navy,” Nancy Jandrokovic, Goodyear’s director of global airship operations, said in a statement.

The C-49 gondola has been sitting unrestored at the Wingfoot Lake hangar since being retired. The gondola soon will be put in an area of the museum where it will be visible to the public, Crouch said. It might be at least a couple more years before the Smithsonian fully restores the gondola to how it looked at the end of its service in 1986, he said.

Goodyear recycled and upgraded its gondolas over the decades, spokesman Edward Ogden said.

“They were very easy to repair and to refurbish,” he said.

A blimp envelope — the big cigar-shaped bag that holds the helium — typically lasts 10 to 12 years. Gondolas can last much longer, Ogden said.

While the C-49 closely resembles the gondolas that are now part of Goodyear’s current three-blimp U.S. fleet, the interiors and technology are very different, Ogden said. The gondolas now in use have the latest materials and electronics, he said.

“I hope they all find a good home,” said Tim Hopkins, chief mechanic and one of the Wingfoot hangar crew overseeing the placing of the C-49 on the flatbed truck. He has worked on numerous blimps in his career at Goodyear, including being part of the crew that built Goodyear’s newest blimp, the Florida-based Spirit of Innovation that launched in early 2006.

Meanwhile, Goodyear is preparing to start building the next generation of airships at the Wingfoot Lake hangar, 246-foot-long semi-rigid Zeppelins that are faster and more modern than the current generation of U.S.-based, 192-foot-long Goodyear blimps.

The first Goodyear Zeppelin is scheduled to be built in 2013 and will replace the Spirit of Goodyear that is based at the Suffield Township site and is a familiar sight in Northeast Ohio skies. Goodyear is partnering with Germany-based ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik to build the new airships at a cost of $21 million apiece.

Parts of the first Goodyear Zeppelin are already arriving at the hangar from Germany, a spokesman said.

Steelhead trout running up area rivers, streams

By D’Arcy Egan, The Plain Dealer

Steelhead trout running up area rivers, streams Lake Erie’s massive algae problems have shut down the yellow perch fishing from Toledo to Cleveland, although some trophy walleye are being caught around Kelleys Island and jumbo perch are biting northeast of Fairport Harbor. Big winds will be a major problem on Lake Erie over the weekend. The fall bass, crappie and perch fishing has been good on the inland lakes, catfish are still biting and weekend rains should kick off another run of steelhead trout into Northeast Ohio rivers.

 The yellow perch fishing has been very slow because of a blanket of algae that stretches from Cleveland Harbor to about 10 to 12 miles offshore. Some perch are being caught by anglers making the long trip to cleaner waters. The walleye fishing has been poor this week, but the night bite should heat up as the waters cool and the algae disappears.

 The yellow perch fishing has been good to outstanding off Fairport Harbor. Trophy walleye catches have been surprisingly good northeast of Kelleys Island and north of Huron along the Ohio-Ontario border.

The yellow perch fishing has been slow west of Cleveland because of the algal blooms. Good catches of perch are being reported northeast of Fairport Harbor, in 41 to 44 feet of water where the water is fairly clear, but has been slower off the hump a couple of miles northwest of the mouth of the Grand River. The walleye fishing off Fairport Harbor has been slow.

Some perch are being caught off Eastlake in 50 feet of water.

 The Rocky River has been at the top of the steelhead trout fishing list, with fair to very good catches reported all week. The forecast is for a good shot of rain today and Saturday, which should lure a fresh run of trout. A few stray chinook salmon have been caught from the Rocky River this week.

All of the other Northeast Ohio rivers are giving up steelhead trout, as well. Anglers are casting small spawn bags, jigs tipped with maggots, Little Cleo spoons and in-line spinners. Kwikfish lures in the K9 and K10 sizes worked close to the river bottom below the riffles and rapids have been catching trout. Fly fishers are casting baitfish-colored streamers, egg patterns and wooly buggers with success.

 Catfish and trout are still be caught from the canal at the Cleveland Metroparks’ Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation in Cuyahoga Heights. Anglers have been catching trout on Powerbait and small spinners and taking catfish on nightcrawlers and chicken livers.

The largemouth bass fishing has been good just about everywhere as bass move to shoreline structure, weed beds and points. For weed bed bass, cast topwater lures, spinnerbaits, jigs or plastic worms. Fish the points with diving plugs and jigs. Top bass lakes include Mosquito and Nimisila lakes and the Wellington Upground Reservoir.

Crappie have moved to near-shore brush piles and around docks. Work jigs tipped with minnows or waxworms under a float, with Pymatuning, West Branch and Mosquito good choices for crappie. Catfish are still taking nightcrawlers, chicken livers, shrimp and prepared catfish baits, with Mosquito, Berlin, West Branch and LaDue reservoirs all reported good.

Blade baits are a top choice for walleye at Pymatuning, where the best depth has been 12 to 17 feet of water. Perch fishing has also been good along the causeway on hooks and jigs baited with pieces of nightcrawler.

 The walleye action has picked up around Gull and Kelleys Island shoals and northeast of Kelleys island, with anglers casting small spinners tipped with pieces of nightcrawler and weight-forward spinners tipped with nightcrawlers. Some walleye are also being caught in deeper water while trolling Reef Runner diving plugs in pink and purple colors. The yellow perch fishing has been fair off Ballast Island, east of Kelleys Island and off the Marblehead Peninsula.

 Fish Huron Ohio Walleye Tournament (Lake Erie at Huron): 1. Team T-Bone (Chad Schilling, Jimmy Whitehair, Jason Schatzel), 5 walleye, 46.95 pounds, $4,300; 2. Team Kullet (Scott Geitgey, Jason Kopf, Jay Gullett), 5 walleye, 42.55 pounds, $3,000; 3. Team Erie Storm (Michael Zaborski, Francis Ball, Ronald Bradway), 5 walleye, 40.59 pounds, $2,000; 4. Team Got Het Rattler (Stephen Puruczky, Steve Borowski, Kevin Lukehart), 5 walleye, 40.54 pounds, $1,500; 5. Team Medina Plating (Shawn Ritchie, John Wagner, Jim Swick), 5 walleye, 40.3 pounds, $1,800. Big Walleye: Team Medina Plating, 12.31 pounds.

Big Eye Classic Walleye Tournament (Lake Erie at Huron): 1. Team Sea Biscuit (Joe Leighton, Michael Petruska), 5 walleye, 43.52 pounds; 2. Team Slow Boat (Dave Jenco, Tim Gwynn), 5 walleye, 43.26; 3. A Team (Dan Bishop, Kara Grissinger), 5 walleye, 42.32 pounds; 4. Team T-Bone (Chad Schilling, Jimmy Whitehair, Seth Schitzel), 5 walleye, 42.01; 5. Team Cross Eyes (David Conant, Jason Kopf, Scott Geitgey), 5 walleye, 41.57 pounds. Big Walleye: Team Show Boat, 10.88 pounds.

Bad Bass Champs Tournament Trail Championship (Mosquito Reservoir): 1. Keith Baker (Uniontown) and Bob Laird (Cuyahoga Falls), 10 bass, 29.03 pounds, $3,896; 2. James Wright and Tyler Wright (Stow), 10 bass, 24.19 pounds, $1,948; 3. Ed Hankins and Bret Hankins (Clinton), 10 bass, 24.08 pounds, $1,836; 4. Mike Pierce and Dave Loucka (North Royalton), 10 bass, 22.43 pounds, $1,l05; 5. Mike Stohovitch (Akron) and Jeff Hahn (Alliance), 10 bass, 20.50 pounds, $612. Big Bass: Hankins and Hankins, 4.50 pounds, $450.

LaDO Bass Series Fall Open (LaDue Reservoir): 1. Ray Halter Sr. and Ray Halter Jr., 5 bass, 12.95 pounds, $340; 2. Brandon Crusan and Ron Bailey, 5 bass, 10.32 pounds, $205; 3. Matt Byrnes, 4 bass, 9.52 pounds, $110. Big Bass: Mike Bunner, 6.62 pounds, $120.