Goodyear gets a lift as work begins on new blimp fleet

BY KATIE BYARD
AKRON BEACON JOURNAL

goodyear blimpAKRON — It resembled a giant erector set, and the men working on it looked as happy as children with a new toy at Christmas. But this was serious business, as the men at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.’s Wingfoot Lake hangar were literally building Goodyear’s airship future: the first of three larger, faster airships that will replace the company’s iconic blimp fleet.“We are just at the dawn,” of a new airship era, Nancy Ray, Goodyear’s director of global airship operations, said on a recent morning at the hangar.

Behind her, a crew of German and American workers assembled a portion of the towering aluminum and carbon-fiber internal frame of the airship that will be 246 feet long — 50 feet longer than a Goodyear blimp.

“I’ve been in aviation my whole life and to have an opportunity to be a part of this has been amazing,” said Tom Bradley, Goodyear airship mechanic.

“We high-fived each other” when work began March 10, Mr. Bradley said, motioning toward mechanic Markus Draeger of German airship company ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmBH & Co.

Nearly two years ago, Goodyear said it planned to replace its three-blimp U.S. fleet with the bigger semi-rigid airships — with an internal frame — to be jointly built by Goodyear and the German ZLT Zeppelin company.

Last September, the German-made parts began arriving at the Wingfoot Lake hangar in the Akron suburb of Suffield Township.

The internal frame is one of the significant features that will separate the new aircraft from Goodyear’s current fleet.

While purists will point out that blimps do not have internal frames, Goodyear officials plan to still call the semirigid airships “Goodyear blimps.”

Ms. Ray said the new airship will be flying in 2014, carrying Goodyear’s blue-and-gold logo over sports and other events. It will replace the Spirit of Goodyear.

The plan is to have the second new-generation airship flying in 2016 and the third in 2018. Each of the modern Zeppelin craft will be built at Wingfoot Lake. Each will cost about $21 million, Goodyear has said.

The new airships, in addition to being longer, will be slightly shorter in height.

“It’s going to look long and skinny as compared to the kind of chubby one we have today,” Ms. Ray said.

The new crafts will be powered by three 200-horsepower prop-engines.

Two of the propellers pull the airship and one pushes at the tail; the current blimps are pushed by two engines mounted off the cabin, or gondola.

The propellers can be tilted up and down, or vectored, which allows the airship to take off and land in smaller spaces.

“We’re going to get a lot more speed, we’re going to be a lot more efficient,” Ms. Ray said, noting the lightweight materials that are used to construct the frame.

Ms. Ray said the cruising speed of current blimps is about 30 miles per hour, and the cruising speed of the new airship will be about 50 to 55 miles per hour.

The blimp also will be quieter, and its gondola will hold 12 people as compared with the current seven.

Goodyear has built and operated more than 300 lighter-than-air vehicles since 1917, including two large rigid airships, the USS Macon and the USS Akron, built for the Navy in the 1930s.

Township fire prevention officer will no be replaced

LAKE TWP.: Lake trustees said Monday they have decided not to replace the township fire prevention officer who recently resigned.

Instead, the board voted to have the fire chiefs of the Greentown, Hartville and Uniontown volunteer departments take on those additional duties on a rotating basis for six months at a time. Chief Vince Harris of the Greentown Fire Department will serve the first six months.

Each department will conduct its own fire safety inspections.

Hartville Police Chief Larry Dordea, a candidate for Stark County sheriff, outlined his views on township policing and said he would work with whatever entities the voters decide on for township-wide police services.

Trustee Ellis Erb said the board will make a decision on whether to place a police levy on the November ballot before the August deadline.

Trustees accepted the resignation of auxiliary patrolman Harry H. Lovejoy Jr., from the Uniontown Police Department.

Akron and Uniontown Dentist Improves Dental Care With Digital Radiography

Uniontown DentistPeak Dental Arts announced that the practice has added digital radiographs to its Uniontown and Akron, OH offices. This technology upgrade is part of the dental practice’s commitment to superior customer service. According to dentist Dr. Craig C. Lanik, digital radiography is one of the greatest technological advancements in medical imaging over the last decade. Dr. Lanik can evaluate the digital X-ray images immediately; there is no processing time. As part of the practice’s commitment to advanced technology, Dr. Lanik also provides Cerec dentistry, which allows for the creation of dental restoration in a single visit.

Dental patients visiting Peak Dental Arts for restorative and cosmetic dentistry will now receive X-rays using the practice’s new digital radiography. In place of traditional X-ray film, digital radiography uses a digital sensor to capture images of the teeth.

“The safety and convenience of our patients is paramount,” said Dr. Craig C. Lanik, the founder and owner of Peak Dental Arts. “That’s why we are excited to announce our switchover to digital radiography. Both our Uniontown and Akron offices now feature the state-of-the-art digital radiography. This allows us to instantly view and evaluate a patient’s teeth.”

The practice’s dental care team has completed special training for the administration and interpretation of digital imaging. Dr. Lanik says that the images provide a larger, more accurate representation of a patient’s teeth structure. Images can be enlarged or magnified for improved evaluation and analysis. For example, by adjusting brightness, contrast and color settings, Dr. Lanik can better identify small cavities in the teeth.

Dr. Lanik stressed that digital radiography eliminates the need for harmful developing chemicals and also minimizes a patient’s exposure to radiation. “Digital dental x-rays emit 90 percent less radiation than traditional film X-rays,” said Dr. Lanik. “In addition to reduced radiation, digital records of X-rays are easier to track, manage and share with other dental professionals. If a patient moves to a new state, I can easily send a file of these records to his new dentist. This streamlines patient care and prevents unnecessary diagnostic procedures — saving patients valuable time and money.”

In addition to digital radiography, the dental practice also offers Cerec dentistry. This ceramic dental restoration procedure uses 3D computerized imaging to aid in the design of dental restorations.

“Patients today have busy lives and demanding schedules,” said Dr. Lanik. “It can be difficult to squeeze in multiple visits to the dentist in order to have cosmetic restorations created. With Cerec dentistry, dentists only need a single appointment to create restorations — there’s no need for multiple impressions, a temporary restoration, or follow-up visits. We complete the entire procedure in one easy visit.”

Dr. Lanik provides comprehensive oral health care services, including cosmetic dentistry and restorative dentistry. The practice offers teeth whitening, caps and crowns, dental bridges, veneers, tooth-colored filings and implants.

Uniontown officer Daniel Stiles honored at memorial ceremony

captStilesA member of the Uniontown Police Department is among six law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty last year being honored during a ceremony in London, Ohio.

Thursday’s gathering at a training academy in London, west of Columbus, marks the 25th annual Ohio Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony. The attorney general’s office says the event honors six Ohio officers who died in 2011.

They include Capt. Daniel Stiles from the Uniontown Police Department. He was hit by a car while directing traffic on Feb. 15, 2011.

The other officers who died were from the Columbus, Sandusky and Stow police departments and the Warren and Clark county sheriff’s departments.

Officials also are adding six historical inductees to a memorial wall for fallen officers.

The state says 749 Ohio officers have been killed in the line of duty since 1823.

Drilling inspectors needed: Ohio looks to hire as shale play spreads to more counties

By Alison Grant, The Plain Dealer

Ohio_frackingOhio expects to triple the number of its oil and gas field inspectors, as horizontal drilling and fracking of shale formations intensifies and moves west across the state.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources wants to have 90 inspectors in the field by early next year, up from more than 30 today, spokeswoman Heidi Hetzel-Evans said.

State regulators are scrambling to keep up with Ohio’s latest energy push. They inspected 18 percent of the state’s 64,481 operating wells in 2011, leaving more than 50,000 wells unchecked.

“It’s almost a daunting task, but you gotta do the best you can,” said Gene Chini, district supervisor of the north region of the Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management.

Ohio has inspected a smaller share of its wells since 2009 than its neighbor in the shale boom, Pennsylvania. Ohio’s inspections also lagged those in three other big oil- and gas-producing states — Texas, Colorado and Oklahoma, though funding shortfalls in Oklahoma have cut inspection rates almost in half in recent years.

By Kari Matsko’s reckoning, hundreds of thousands of Ohio oil and gas wells go without annual inspections. Matsko, director of the People’s Oil and Gas Collaborative, a Lake County grassroots group, said the state has more than 275,000 wells when adding in those that are plugged or abandoned.

Some of them pose contamination danger, she said, pointing to a finding by federal investigators that natural gas in two residential water wells in Medina could have migrated from an abandoned gas well.

“Wells require a lifetime of care and feeding,” said Matsko. “They never go away.”

But others contend the focus most keenly belongs on wells under construction. Meanwhile, many existing wells are scant producers.

“Keep in mind that many of the 64,000 wells are classified as marginal wells that may produce less than 10 barrels of oil a year,” said Rhonda Reda, executive director of the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program, which does public outreach for the industry. “If you took those out of there, I think you would look at a very high rate of visits (inspections) for those that are producing significant volume.”

James Zehringer, ODNR director, said the agency has begun hiring and training additional inspectors to insure that shale wells are correctly built and inspected.

Natural gas and oil reserves in Ohio’s Utica shale formations have attracted a rush of major companies leasing rights to drill horizontal wells and then fracture, or “frack,” the rock to release the gas and oil. Sixteen horizontal wells have been drilled and completed; nine so far are in production.

Zehringer said money from permit fees for shale exploration and drilling will pay for new workers to help not only with inspections but also enforcement and administrative work.

“A strong regulatory staff at ODNR will enable inspectors to be present at every critical stage of well construction, insuring these sophisticated structures are built in a manner that protects both people and the ecosystem,” Zehringer said in a statement late Tuesday.

Chini, based in Uniontown in Summit County, said inspectors monitor new wells at critical points in their construction. They’re on site when the “conductor pipe” is installed in glacial drift or other loose surface material to keep gravelly layers from washing away and destabilizing the drilling rig.

They police installation of the “surface casing” that is cemented in place and protects groundwater. When available, they also monitor installation of the “production casing” that carries oil and gas out of the ground. And they monitor “frack jobs,” when water under intense pressure is forced into well bores to fracture the shale.

If there is a violation, they continue to visit a well until it’s corrected, Hetzel-Evans said.

Inspectors also check wells when they close and the well site is graded and reseeded.

The shale push has also turned a spotlight on some of Ohio’s old wells.

Landowners are asking inspectors to check wells that may have lapsed out of production. Property owners hope that happens because then they might be freed from old leases and able to negotiate new contracts that pay more per acre and have fatter production royalties.

“With the advent of this shale gas, the Utica play, we’re getting a lot of calls,” Chini said.

Vote on Lake Township police levy continues to divide community

By Nancy Molnar
Special to the Beacon Journal

greentown BarberLAKE TWP.: Imagine walking into the voting booth and facing this option: You can vote for a service and still lower your taxes.

That’s what some Uniontown police district residents did Nov. 8, when they voted to expand their Uniontown Police Department and its tax base to the remainder of Lake Township, including the area’s other unincorporated community of Greentown.

The 4.5-mill permanent tax replaced 6.7 mills. It passed in 10 of the 11 precincts in the former Uniontown police district.

It failed in all 11 precincts in the remainder of the township.

“I would certainly, if I was in Uniontown, I would vote for it,” said Charles Heisroth of Spur Circle. “I don’t think I’ve ever voted to lower my tax.

“So why wouldn’t they vote for the police levy? I don’t think that’s very fair.”

Heisroth estimated his taxes will rise by $160 to $200 a year.

“But I’ll still be paying for the sheriff of the county and I’ll be paying for the Uniontown Police Department,” said Heisroth, 73, who has lived in the township for 46 years.

The status of the tax is in the hands of the Ohio Supreme Court, following a ruling from Stark County Common Pleas Judge John Haas that invalidated the election result on the basis of a ballot error. The mistake understated the cost of the tax by a factor of 10.

Last month, Haas continued an order allowing the Lake Township Police Department to patrol the entire township until a status and appeal hearing April 9.

Among those supporting the expansion of the Uniontown police district to the rest of the township was Howard R. Miller Jr., whose HRM Enterprises Inc. owns the Hartville MarketPlace shops and flea market, Hartville Kitchen restaurant and Hartville Hardware store.

Miller was the largest contributor to Citizens for Lake Township Police, the campaign committee that supported expanding the Uniontown Police Department to township-wide coverage. He gave $7,500.

That amount raises questions for Michael Grady, a Republican candidate for county prosecutor and one of three attorneys working to have the court invalidate the police levy’s passage based on the ballot error.

“You seldom would see anybody dishing that kind of money into an issue,” Grady said. “Was this about public safety, or was this about return on investment?”

Miller said he did know how much of a difference the expansion of the Uniontown Police District would make in his taxes.

“We are pleased with the Uniontown police service that we have received and they were in favor of this, so we wanted to support them,” Miller said in an email.

Miller’s businesses, along West Maple Street (state Route 619), are equal parts tourist attraction and staples of local life.

His new hardware store, being built by township Trustee Ellis Erb, will be a 245,000-square-foot, two-story building west of its current location.

Stark County Building Department records show an estimated construction cost of $13.3 million. If that building is taxed for police services at the new Lake Township rate of 4.5 mills, it would cost $10,532 less annually than if it is taxed at the 6.7-mill rate of the old Uniontown police district, which covered only 9 square miles in the northwest section of the township that borders southern Summit County.

The difference in taxes represents 2.6 percent of Miller’s total property tax bill of $404,992 for this year, an increase from last year’s $401,106.

Aside from Miller, most other police levy campaign contributors were township officials. Giving $1,000 each were Erb’s construction business, Trustee Galen Stoll and the businesses of Trustee John Arnold and township Fiscal Officer Ben Sommers.

Erb said the need for police to address crime throughout the township caused him to support the issue, even though it increased his property taxes because most of his holdings are outside Uniontown.

He said emergency medical services were among the leading proponents of a township-wide police service.

“It makes their job safer,” Erb said. “They get a suicide, or they get a young kid that’s high on drugs and he’s got a gun.

“What is a poor mother supposed to do? And this happens. I mean, this is not just one incident.”

Resident annoyed

To Russell “Rusty” McCoy, a barber in Greentown, the Uniontown Police Department, with its Special Response Team and Humvees, is more than the area needs.

“Greentown is a lot like Mayberry,” he said. “It really is. You just don’t go into Mayberry and tell Andy and Barney that, ‘Oh, by the way, you need all this extra protection,’ when all they’re doing is catching a few chicken thieves.”

He is irked that township officials are pressing to have the new police tax validated in court despite the ballot error.

“It just seems like it is taxation with misrepresentation,” said McCoy, 50, a U.S. Navy veteran who also works as a parking-garage assistant manager.

Like some others in Greentown, he would have preferred township trustees consider hiring the Stark County Sheriff’s Office for extra patrols.

Neighboring Plain Township has a 2.25-mill property tax for that purpose.

“The fact is they wouldn’t even entertain speaking to the sheriff’s department,” said Grady, the attorney who is working pro bono for citizens opposing the levy. “That’s what I found somewhat disturbing, particularly after this issue had been voted on twice before.”

Similar issues to the one now being contested failed in 2005 and 1998.

Trustee supports issue

Erb said the area has not had good service from the sheriff.

The office of Sheriff Timothy Swanson was at a low point in 2011, when the Lake police levy appeared on the ballot, due to a shortage of county funding. He since has rehired staff due to the passage of a sales tax in the same Nov. 8 election.

Erb said deputies would waste time driving to and from their headquarters in Canton. Further, the sheriff’s offer to provide enhanced service for $1.85 million a year did not include cruisers. He said he would prefer to stick with the plan for a township police service supported by $2.59 million from the levy.

“If we get turned down by the Supreme Court, well, so be it. We’ll put it on the fall ballot again,” Erb said. “If you stop and think, the majority of the people voted for it.”

Nancy Molnar can be emailed at nancymolnar2002@yahoo.com.

Girl Scouting turns 100

By Lori Monsewicz | CantonRep.com staff writer
JACKSON TWP. —

grl_scouts100Girl Scouts from all over the area, many of whom have been Scouts for more than a half-century, gathered Sunday to celebrate their organization with a tea.

The event entitled “Silver and Gold — Celebrating the Memories, Living the Promise,” took place at the St. Stephen the Martyr Lutheran Church, 4600 Fulton Drive NW,, where Girl Scouts young and old celebrated 100 years of Girl Scouting and 25 years of the Order of the Silver Trefoil, an organization of Scouts who have been registered members for 15 years or more.

Scouting paraphernalia at displays, crafts and, of course, cookies were on hand and so was Juliette Gordon Low — or rather, Priscilla Nemetz of Uniontown, portraying the renowned founder of Girl Scouts. Other former Scouts and Scout leaders also donned Girl Scout uniforms from 1919.

“Her day camps — they were the best day camps ever,” said Beverly Snyder, a Scout leader for two troops whose members attended day camps for Scout Leader Helen Wetzel of Massillon.

Wetzel, who came to the tea with dozens of Scouting patches sewn onto her jacket, has been a member for 57 years. She began as Troop 274’s leader for her daughter, Paula “Kookie” Gurney, when Gurney was a Scout. Gurney, whose jacket also sported dozens of patches she, too, earned, has been a member of Scouting for 58 years.

A Girl Scout member since 1954, Gurney was in Scouting only a year before her troop was left without a leader. Her mother took over, she said.

“Troop 274 (their troop) was the first one to get the 100-mile (hiking) patch from the Boy Scouts,” Helen Wetzel proudly recalled.

Former Scout leader Irene Miller said she and her daughter, Linda Carozza, will get their 45-year pins next month. Miller joined Scouting when her daughter was a Brownie, which now is the second rank for a Girl Scout.

Girls joining at younger ages are called Daisies, and one was on hand at the tea to talk about what she thinks of scouting.

Hayley Child, 6, of Strongsville, said she enjoys Scouting because it means “having fun.”

Sidney Schloenbach, 14, and her sister Victoria Schloenbach, 16, both of North Canton, arrived with their mother, Jane Schloenbach, who served as Troop 521’s leader until it disbanded a few years ago. But the memories of the time they spent together and with their fellow Scouts are precious.

“Girl Scouting is being friendly to others and helping those who need a friend and serving God,” Sidney said.

Her sister said they enjoyed their time in Scouting because, “we are always out doing something. You are never bored. We did a lot of camping, games and hikes … ”

The girls started in Scouts as Daisies, their mother said. She eventually took over as a troop leader.

“What I loved is watching the girls grow and mature. They loved doing the community service and our girls loved going outside,” Jane Schloenbach said. Her troop took frequent camping trips to the Great Trail Girl Scout camp.

She is also a second-generation Girl Scout.

Her mother, Jane Young of Perry Township, who also was at the tea, became a Brownie in 1957, and eventually, a Scout leader.

“I’ll be getting my 55th-year pin this year,” Young said.

Jan Hart of Hartville has been director of the Scouts’ summer day camp in Hartville for more than 30 years. Hart, who is a member of the nationally-chartered Order of the Silver Trefoil, pointed out that it is the last day camp in the area.

This year’s camp will run from Aug. 6 to 10 in Hartville.

For more information about Girl Scouts and the camp, log onto www.gsneo.org, the website for Girl Scouts of North East Ohio.

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

By: Kristin Byrne, newsnet5.com

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.

Crossing upgrades advance in Lake Township, Ohio and Washington

The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) plans to hold a public meeting on Thursday to solicit comments on potential improvements to three crossings along the Charlotte rail corridor in West Charlotte.

A study conducted in conjunction with STV/Ralph Whitehead Associates might recommend closing some of the crossings, NCDOT officials said in a meeting notice.

Railroad-lights-gatesMeanwhile, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) approved authorization from the Ohio Rail Development Commission directing CSX Transportation to install flashing lights and gates at two crossings in Lake Township and Middleton Township.

Funding will be covered by federal dollars. CSXT must complete the upgrades by Nov. 14, according to PUCO.

In addition, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) approved a plan to provide the Puget Sound & Pacific Railroad $20,000 from the Grade Crossing Protective Fund to upgrade warning signals at a crossing in Aberdeen.

The railroad will replace the spur track crossing surface with a concrete surface, install new underground cable, upgrade the flashing lights to light-emitting diode lights and convert train detection equipment to a constant warning system. The work must be completed by Dec. 30, according to the UTC.

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 www.theupsideofdowns.org. 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 arddavieslaw.com 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, www.darbaroud.com, 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.