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Yarn Lovers Unite in Logan 

Yarn Lovers Unite in Logan 

Yarn Lovers Unite is a weekly knitting club that meets at the Logan-Hocking County District Library. Nancy Wright, the program and events coordinator at the library, founded the group in January 2015.  The yarn enthusiasts meet on Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the library’s meeting […]

New Lexington’s Caring Bookstore 

New Lexington’s Caring Bookstore 

Along with selling books, a small bookstore wants to help create awareness for Ohio’s growing problem.   The little book store in the middle of Main Street in New Lexington might not seem like much at first. But among the small stash of books that line the 5-foot-tall shelves in Twice Turned Bookstore lies real gold and a […]

Preserving Shenandoah’s History

Preserving Shenandoah’s History

Nestled in Noble County is a piece of United States history.  

Back in 1925, the USS Shenandoah crashed in Ava. The crash’s history lives on at the Shenandoah Air Disaster Museum 

The museum is in a camper and is packed with artifacts detailing life aboard the airship. Theresa Rayner opened the museum with her late husband Bryan, which opened in 1995 on the 70th anniversary of the crash. 

“When you think about the impact this had on Noble County back in 1925, it’s probably the equivalent of when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded,” Pastor and Noble County historian John Powell says. “Noble County was thrust into the spotlight.” 

The museum includes various pictures and models of the airship as well as newspaper clippings about the crash. There are also items from the USS Shenandoah, including flattened soup cans and spoons. A collection of DVDs and VHS tapes that reference the airship is also on display.  

The Navy built the USS Shenandoah for scouting purposes to help protect its surface ships from enemy submarines. The USS Shenandoah, however, never went on any official scouting missions.  

Growing up, Bryan would follow around his grandfather and listened to all the stories about the airship crash. Theresa, on the other hand, didn’t always share her husband’s fascination. It wasn’t until the couple got married that his interest rubbed off on her.  

“Once we actually met some of the people whose lives were actually totally changed because of this piece of history, then that’s when I have to say I really got hooked,” Rayner says.  

Family members of those who were killed in the airship disaster have visited the museum, including the family of airship Lieutenant Commander Zachary Lansdowne, who died in the crash.  

Before the museum opened, the Rayners acquired totes full of items relating to the crash which they would drag out every time someone would visit. They decided they needed a place to put the items on display, and the idea for the museum was born.  

Visitors from all over the world have visited the museum including people from New Zealand, Canada and Germany.  

“It’s exposed a very small rural country area to a lot of different cultures and a lot of different people from all walks of life,” Rayner says.  

One of the schools in the area, Shenandoah High School, is named after the crash of the USS Shenandoah.  

The mascot for Shenandoah High School is a Zeppelin because the USS Shenandoah was a Zeppelin ship, Shenandoah High School Principal Justin Denius says. A Zeppelin is a type of rigid airship named after the German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin. 

A few years ago, the Shenandoah Zeps were named the most unique mascot in Ohio, Denius says. 

“Having a Zeppelin as a mascot, it’s not like you can dress up as a blimp and run around like a tiger, but we’ve been just recently tying our mascot onto our football scoreboard in terms of the Navy star that was on the side of the USS Shenandoah,” Denius says. 

One time, when Rayner was in a store in Marietta, her oldest daughter was wearing a shirt and someone in line asked about their Zeppelin mascot.  

“I go in to this great big long explanation of the airship and how it crossed here in the county, and that’s our school’s mascot,” Rayner says.  

People sometimes ask Theresa why the airship crash remains relevant after so many years.  

“We can see all these pioneers in lots and lots of different fields,” Rayner says. “The first men who flew into space were pioneers. Well these were the first men that dealt with a lighter than air craft.” 

Fast facts:  

  • The USS Shenandoah carried 43 men.
  • 14 men died flew  
  • The airship crashed in Ava on Sept. 3, 1925.    
Wheatberry Books: Downtown Chillicothe’s newest independent bookstore

Wheatberry Books: Downtown Chillicothe’s newest independent bookstore

In the growing heart of Chillicothe, a former tattoo parlor is now an independent bookstore. In December, Wheatberry Books, a community-oriented business opened to sell new and used books to the people of Ross County. “We have a small store, but we like to cover […]

Wayne National Forest to construct 88 new miles of trail

Wayne National Forest to construct 88 new miles of trail

After years of planning, Wayne National Forest, which spans across 12 southeastern Ohio counties, received approval to begin the construction of 88 additional miles of biking and hiking paths. The Baileys Mountain Bike Trail System, to be located between Athens and Nelsonville, will connect to other trails along […]

Marietta Makes History

Marietta Makes History

One studio is responsible for markings of history all across the nation. And nobody even knows it’s there. 

 Marietta is a treasure trove of history and off-beat facts. Taking the time to explore the small town will reveal ghost stories, museums and the last intact steam-powered sternwheel boat. But Marietta also harbors a bit of ongoing history. Each day that passes by in the small factory tucked away on Millcreek Road is history in the making, literally.  

Most people, while walking through a certain town or road-tripping down the highway, have seen signs of cast aluminum, often painted, with a short quip of history that happened in that spot. Almost 75 percent of these historical markers, hundreds of thousands of them, were made by Sewah Studios, a small factory in Marietta.  

Sewah Studios began in 1927 when E.M. Hawes opened up an aluminum foundry to produce metal casting in an old organ factory. He wanted to create historical markers for the country so that people who now had access to travel anywhere could read about local history.  

Sewah, which is Hawes’ name spelled backward, was then sold to Gerald Smith in 1953, where the studio has stayed in his family for three generations. 

In **year** Gerald’s grandson, Brad Smith took over the studio. Smith oversees 20 employees and the entire sign making process; typeset, casting, foundry, setting the finish and applying paint, it’s a business Smith has deemed “History on a stick.” 

“The process hasn’t changed,” Smith says. “Just a lot of elbow grease and hard work. We consider sticking to our roots an advantage.” 

Smith makes his signs the same way Hawes did 90 years ago. First, a sand cast is made. Next, molten aluminum is poured into the cast at a temperature of 1375 degrees. Once it’s cooled, the sign is touched up to fix impurities, baked and then painted. Overall, the process takes anywhere from one to six weeks.  

The art of making these signs is one that Brad holds dearly to its roots. The signs are a product of tourism, and that connection has never been lost. According to Brad, the business should have been wiped out decades ago through the invention of plastic and the internet. But it hasn’t.  

“Our products are all the same, since 1927,” Smith says. “It spans across decades. I don’t know another product that can hang its hat on that. Anything that can last that long I think is a testament to true craftsmanship.” 

Most of Sewah’s original signs are still standing. The originals stand alongside the 12,000 new signs that Smith and his team put out every year. They can be seen in every state, and even in some unconventional places.  Smith spoke of one sign that was placed at the bottom of Lake Michigan and can be dived to with proper equipment.  

Over 60 years ago a relationship between Sewah Studios and the Ohio History Connection was established. And henceforth OHC has been working with locals and other historical organizations to find stories worth marking. It was then, in 1957, that the iconic brown signs plated with gold letters began dotting Ohio’s map. 

The Coordinator of the Ohio Connection’s Fund, Andy Verhoff has been working with Smith at Sewah since 2009 to make sure Ohio’s signs are as concise and accurate as possible.  

“Markers are special in a sense that they actually mark the spot where something historical happened,” Verhoff says. “You can’t see the streets of the 1801 Chillicothe riots when they happened, but you can stand in the exact same spot and learn the story.”  

Change over time happens, places have layers of history. Everything people see today hasn’t always been. Andy believes Sewah Studios is helping to bring these layers to light. 

With a product that has crossed the paths of just about everybody who shares this country, it’s interesting to think nobody knows the true origin. Sewah Studios has spent 90 years telling everybody else’s story, so this time it’s their story that is being told. The story of the American storytellers who put history on a stick. It all starts with metal, but it’s what the metal is turned in to that matters. And that’s what people see. 

Traveling Through History on the Ancient Ohio Trail

Traveling Through History on the Ancient Ohio Trail

The Ancient Ohio Trail (AOT) is a comprehensive collection of travel routes and resources designed to help tourists discover “the distinguished Native American Culture in the Midwest,” according to the AOT website. AOT also offers virtual excursions to experience earthworks as they were believed to […]

Ohio’s Most Perfect Tree

Ohio’s Most Perfect Tree

In Pike County there stands a tree that is so perfect that it has been claimed to have been featured on Ripley’s Believe it or not. After that, it was rumored to be the world’s most perfect tree. It may not be the world’s most perfect […]

Lawrence County Dedicated to Improving Lives of Probationers

Lawrence County Dedicated to Improving Lives of Probationers

Lawrence County was recently recognized by the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (DRC) for its outstanding intensive-supervision probation programs.  

On average, 40 percent of people on probation will eventually end up in jail in Ohio. In Lawrence County, only 28 percent of probationers (as defined by chapter 2951 of the Ohio Revised Code) end up incarcerated according to the Huntington, WV Herald-Dispatch. 

The courthouse in Ironton is in the center of the little town, surrounded by a couple of churches and a few restaurants. The amount of police cars parked outside the court house may alarm unknowing passersby. 

On the third floor of the courthouse, down a little hallway that opens up to a grand hallway sits the entrance to the Lawrence County Probation Department office. Seven officers and two assistant staff members sit behind the reflective doors. 

“I believe everyone who is in this job is here because they care about the people, and that’s rewarding,” Officer Lynn Stewart says. 

Stewart has been a probation officer in Lawrence County for almost 19 years. Her work day looks a little different every day; it’s ever changing. It’s not necessarily a 9 a.m.–5 p.m. job.

“It’s a hard job to put down. You worry about them [people on probation] still when you go home. It’s a hard job to emotionally detach from,” Stewart says. 


Cases and Counseling 

A majority of the probation cases in Lawrence County are drug related. Each case goes through an assessment performed by one of two judges who look at probation files and determine in which program a person would best fit, Stewart says.   

Some of the programs are residential rather than outpatient and require the probationer to live in a rehabilitation house with a structured daily schedule that includes household chores and pro-social activities. This is intended to help the person living in the home integrate back into normal life.  

“A lot of times, being positive and telling them ‘good job’ goes a long way,” says Lawrence County Chief Probation Officer Carl Bowen, who has been with the department for 21 years. 

In less extreme cases, the individual goes through a series of weekly meetings and homework assignments, Stewart says. 

“In recent years, we’ve had a lot more programs to be able to place them in—residential instead of outpatient, so that they can go and stay there,” Stewart said. 

Officer John Sexton leads a program called “Thinking for a Change,” in which he has meetings with lower-risk probationers to help them get on a path to recovery.  


Model Probationers 

Higher-risk persons on probation are placed on intensive, supervised probation—which is monitored by Stewart and Sexton—for six to 12 months and then remain on regularly supervised probation for the remainder of their term. The standard amount of time a person is on probation is four years, but the longest term is up to five years in Ohio, Stewart says.  

A probation sentence can get reduced based on evaluations throughout the sentence. The sentence can be reduced by up to half its total time if the person is a model probationer–something officers in the department work diligently to help those in the system be. 

The Lawrence County Probation Department received a good site-visit score from the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections auditors earlier this year. The auditors assess the department’s progress twice a year.  

The assessments are done in compliance with a grant that Lawrence County was awarded by the DRC. The grant, which Stewart directs, comes with a number of strict standards that are graded upon assessment and site visits. 

The probation department in Lawrence County has started practicing “graduated sanctions” as a way to help those on probation. 

“Let’s say that somebody is under the influence of alcohol at their house during a home visit. Instead of sending somebody to prison, there’s consequences, but we’re not going to just rush right into prison,” Bowen says. “They may have to do extra hours of community service; maybe they have to report to us more often.” 

Bowen handles the majority of the follow-up consequences to graduated sanctions before the case even goes to court. He says this helps the courts, but it helps probationers as well. 

“It shows that we’re willing to work with offenders, because relapse is usually inevitable when it comes to addiction, and we understand that,” Bowen says. 

Stewart says probationers that are no longer in the system don’t often come back to thank those in the department that helped them along the way, but it does happen on some occasions.  

“It’s not as often as you might think, but when you do and you see them it is really refreshing. It’s very nice. It’s a very rewarding feeling,” Stewart says. 

Ultramarathoner Grows Love of Sport in Southeast Ohio

Ultramarathoner Grows Love of Sport in Southeast Ohio

If you blink, you might miss him. You have to be fast to keep up with Michael Owen.   When he is not helping plan races around Ohio, the Pomeroy native is running 100-mile races—more commonly known as ultramarathons. Ultramarathons are any distance greater than a marathon, or 26.2 miles.   “The main thing with ultras […]

My Diary

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Yarn Lovers Unite is a weekly knitting club that meets at the Logan-Hocking County District Library. Nancy Wright, the program and events coordinator at the library, founded the group in January 2015.  The yarn enthusiasts meet on Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the library’s meeting room to share and compare projects and techniques. 

“In the beginning I think we started with five to eight, and it kind of just ballooned from there,” Wright says over the phone. “We almost never have less than nine members show up. Generally, there are 15 or 16 people there.” 

Carol West, a 69-year-old grandmother and retired nurse, sits across the meeting room table. In her hands, two knitting needles joined together by a thin and flexible plastic wire stitch together a bundle of gray wool. The end product will be a new sweater for her loving grandson. 

“We’re open to the public,” West says. “If anybody wants to learn to knit, crochet, whatever, there is someone here who can show them.” 

West discovered Yarn Lovers Unite two years ago on the library’s website, but was reluctant to join. She already knew how to knit and crochet. She had been yarning-over since she was a teen. It wasn’t until her friend and former colleague Ruth Johnson decided to pick up the hobby that West elected to join.    

“I wanted Ruth to know as a beginner, she is going through the same things that every new person does,” West says. “She thought she was stupid, she thought she couldn’t do it. I wanted her to see that she’s no different than anybody else. It just takes practice.”  

West and Johnson were welcomed with open arms. 

“First day I came, these guys were really fun and nice,” Johnson says, addressing the group with a smile. “They made me feel comfortable almost immediately. I loved you guys.” 

Being frustrated is normal when first learning. The craft takes a tremendous amount of dexterity and concentration. After two years, West and the rest of the Yarner Lovers have coached Johnson up to a full-blown knitter, needles and all.   

Yarn Lovers Unite provides its members with a dose of weekly socialization with needlework as the common ground.  Johnson turned to the hobby as a way to adjust to retirement and the amount of free time that comes with it. 

“Work takes up a huge part of your life,” Johnson says. “I worked 12-hour days . . . It’s hard to fill up the hours. I don’t want to wash and clean all the time.  It [Yarn Lovers Unite] not only gives us an outlet to learn something fun, but also people to talk to.”   

At its core, Yarn Lovers Unite is just a weekly knitting club. More importantly, though, it provides the women of Logan with a safe place to speak candidly about the world they live in free of judgment.  

“There’s no fighting or fussing in here,” Johnson says.   

Instead the women of Yarn Lovers Unite work through life’s problems the best way they can, one stitch at a time.