Year: 2017

Latta Earthworks cultivates better compost for Athens County

Latta Earthworks cultivates better compost for Athens County

Wearing brown from head to toe, Chad Latta of Latta Earthworks seems to blend into the piles of compost that surround him. “Welcome to my sandbox,” Latta says with a smile. The compost site sits just outside the county seat of Athens. “This is where […]

Making Moonshine in the Hocking Hills

Making Moonshine in the Hocking Hills

Hooch. Mash liquor. Mountain dew. Known by many names, moonshine is one of the oldest and most famous spirits in the U.S. Its flavor is distinctly sweet and deceitfully potent. And today, moonshine maestros like Brian St. Clair, owner of Hocking Hills Moonshine in Logan, […]

Ohio Hockey announcer’s impact in Athens is felt far beyond the ice rink

Ohio Hockey announcer’s impact in Athens is felt far beyond the ice rink

The Ohio University hockey team takes the ice for a game at Bird Arena. A loud, booming voice roars throughout the historic building. “WELCOME TO THE ICE YOUR O-HII-OOO BOBCATS!!!”

That is the voice of 32-year-old Jacob Jakuszeit, public address announcer for the hockey team. Jakuszeit announces with passion and clearly enjoys what he does. But, outside the limelight, he has personal ambitions as well.

Jakuszeit says announcing was completely different for him when he originally started. At first, he would just show up and read a script given to him before the game. But as Jakuszeit became more comfortable on the microphone, he began to develop his own personal style.

Jakuszeit is a local superstar

During his ten years as the announcer, Jakuszeit has become quite the popular figure in Athens. People recognize his voice all throughout the town, even when he just grabs a bite to eat. “At first I would walk up and down the stands and no one knew who I was, but now people stop me all the time. I’ve had someone recognize me by my voice in the McDonald’s drive-thru as I am ordering a value meal. They asked me, ‘Are you the hockey announcer?” Jakuszeit says, trying to contain his laughter.

Jakuszeit’s love of hockey has a personal connection. There is a button on his desk with a picture of his brother, who passed away several years ago, played hockey in high school.

The hockey team appreciates the excitement Jakuszeit generates for home games. Just ask coach Hogan. “Oh man, he is the best!” Hogan says with a huge grin on his face. “He definitely brings energy for us. Jake is just a staple of the game day here.”

Jakuszeit’s interests extend beyond the ice

Jakuszeit’s love forOhiohockey is on full display as he loudly cheers on theBobcats from his usual location high above the ice. Photo by Haiyun Jiang.

 Though many residents in Athens know Jakuszeit for what he does on Friday and Saturday nights, he does much more away from the ice. For one, he works the graveyard shift at Alden Library at OHIO. He chuckles at the irony of working in a library where people are typically quiet, when he is most known for his loud, distinctive voice.

Additionally, Jakuszeit is involved with OHIO’s campus planning and the city of Athens’ comprehensive master plan. Within this role Jakuszeit evaluates budgets and prioritizes OHIO’s campus needs.

Jakuszeit’s interests throughout Athens come back full circle to his love of hockey. His involvement with OHIO’s master planning has allowed him to oversee potential plans for a new ice rink at the university. While there are no plans currently for a new ice arena, it has been identified as a future campus recreation need for the university.

Jakuszeit believes a new rink can benefit people all throughout Southeast Ohio, not just Athens. “It is a great community resource and a great academic resource. There are a lot of uses for [the rink] and there is a reason why it is still around after 60 years,” Jakuszeit says.

Jakuszeit has big goals for himself, but they are not on his mind when he is behind the microphone. Out on the ice, the Bobcats are in a battle. Jakuszeit intently watches the game. Suddenly, OHIO scores. Jakuszeit cues the goal music, sending the fans into a frenzy, and shouts, “O-HIII-OOOOO GOAL!”

Dolan’s Chill and Grill is the hub of family and friends in Pleasant City

Dolan’s Chill and Grill is the hub of family and friends in Pleasant City

If you’re looking for home cooked meals and friendly faces in Pleasant City, Dolan’s Chill and Grill is the place to go. For owner Donna Dolan there were several factors that influenced her decision to open the restaurant, including the desire to start a new […]

The Skyview Drive-In theatre in Lancaster operates as a hallmark of Americana culture

The Skyview Drive-In theatre in Lancaster operates as a hallmark of Americana culture

At the Skyview Drive-In movie theatre, a bright white and seamless screen defiantly stands the test of time. The scent of fresh popcorn flows throughout the gravel parking lot as Elvis’ “Hound Dog” rocks through the air. Children run and play in the grass under […]

The Guernsey County Getaway You Can Feel Good About

The Guernsey County Getaway You Can Feel Good About

For John Nicolozakes, wine started out as a hobby. He is a man of many talents, after all. Not only does he own and manage Cambridge’s only trucking company, but he also acts in commercials and short films.

This hobby, however, has transformed into a large-scale operation that features a wine shop, a pizzeria, and micro-brewery. Georgetown Vineyards is a romantic and feel-good destination in Guernsey County. It’s also a business that thrives on social consciousness and sustainability.

John began planting vines at its Georgetown Road location in 1998, and he continues to care for Georgetown Vineyards with the help of his wife Kay and their two children, Emma and Sam.

The strong family ties roll into the warm and lively spirit of the vineyard. A child carrying a pizza slice tottles behind his grandmother. Mindy, the family schnauzer, guards the entrance, anticipating the influx of people who arrive in the evenings to listen to bluegrass performers or smooth jazz. The vineyard’s rescue cat, Miles, prowls around the premises, eyeing customers as they pull out their phones to take pictures of his lion-esque haircut for Instagram and Facebook.

“Everybody comes here for the view,” says customer Jana Cowden, a Cambridge resident, as she places her glass of Chardonnay on the white patio table. “The music in the evenings also attracts a lot of people. My daughter has performed here.”

According to John, Emma spearheaded the business’s partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “I just happened to come across the EPA website and since we already had a wind turbine, I thought the partnership might be a good fit,” Emma states in an email.

The solar panels at Georgetown Vineyards power multiple parts of the business. Photo by Haldan Kirsch.

The Green Power Partnership, created in 2001, is a program that educates and assists over 1,300 companies wishing to power their facilities with alternate energy forms and reduce their corporate carbon footprint.

Georgetown Vineyards has operated since 2009 using a 10 kW Bergey wind turbine, which took almost three months to install, Emma says. Two years later, they installed a 20 kW solar array, which consists of 90 panels.

These green-energy generators are used to power a pizzeria, a micro-brewery and a wine shop. Another 10 kW solar array powers the family’s small cabin on the outskirts of the vineyard. “We currently produce approximately 40,000 kilowatt-hours of green power annually, and use all of it!” Emma says.

The family business does more than utilize alternate energy in hopes of not operating wastefully. John explains that to water plants and flowers surrounding the vineyard, they reclaim water into cisterns attached to downspouts.

The rainwater collected is stored in tanks and used for the upkeep of the surrounding flora. “This water isn’t drinkable,” John says with a light chuckle. “But we don’t have to use city water. We have wells and rainwater.”

In fall 2015, Georgetown Vineyards opened its first brick oven, thus introducing its locally iconic wood-fire pizza. A year later, they installed an outdoor pizza oven to expand production. Guests gravitate toward “The Classic,” cheese and pepperoni on a thin crust.

Dry, medium-sweet, and sweet wines line the shop shelves. Georgetown Vineyards’ most popular wine, according to both John and Sam, is its Concord. Shipping of wine bottles is offered to 35 states.

Customers at Georgetown Vineyards are often first-time visitors, Sam says. “Sometimes you don’t pay attention to what’s in your backyard.” The business has its local customers, but people often travel from other counties to soak in the classic atmosphere and the expansive view of Cambridge, with its rolling hills and old churches peeking over the horizon. Sam even met customers visiting from France, who could enjoy a gleaming glass of Concord as the wind turbine towers ahead and the solar panels soak in the sun’s rays.

Region’s last local record store continues tradition

Region’s last local record store continues tradition

On West Union Street in Athens sits an empty storefront that once served as a haven for vinyl collectors. The former shop, Haffa’s Records, closed in late September after nearly two decades of patronage. However, the region finds hope in the success of Chillicothe’s Apollo […]

Discover Benjamin Lundy and the Underground Railroad Museum in Flushing

Discover Benjamin Lundy and the Underground Railroad Museum in Flushing

Children’s books and old yoke worn by slaves during the Middle Passage can be found among other mementos of history inside a building on the corner of East High and Market streets in Flushing. “There are still thousands and thousands of stories to be told […]

Couple builds on recycled material

Couple builds on recycled material

Down a winding back road in Philo sits the home of Annie and Jay Warmke. But this isn’t an average house made of brick, siding or stone.

The Warmke’s house is made of trash.

The walls are filled with mud-packed tires and covered with a limewash finish. Cans, bottles and other reusable items are also employed in the structure. The home uses a combination of thermal mass and passive solar. Thermal mass means the structure’s material absorbs and stores heat energy, while passive solar refers to the sunlight coming through the windows. The only other heat source is a small fireplace in the living room, which warms up the space where Annie works.

At Blue Rock Station, Jay and Annie use grey water recycling, solar electricity and composting toilets. Grey water recycling is the reuse of water from sinks, showers, tubs and washing machines. The process allows the Warmkes to raise plants in an indoor wetland. The solar ray provides electricity for their home, and the composting toilets allow waste to be used as a nutrient-rich fertilizer.

“The idea is that you can provide all of these systems for yourself, and then why not build the structure itself out of things people are throwing away?” Jay says.

There are 14 other buildings on the site, all created with similar reusable materials. The Warmkes, interns and monthly workshop visitors built each structure from scratch. During the summer months, Annie and Jay invite people to come work on the tiny house, their latest project. During the workshops, participants learn basic construction skills such as building insulation and plastering. This year, they are creating what looks like cement blocks that are actually made of straw and mud. Those will be used as the insulation of the building.

One former intern, Eduardo Sandavol, still returns to Blue Rock Station to work on the tiny house. The house is going to be two stories with a sleeping place, a small kitchen, a shower and a porch.  Sandavol wants to build his own home to live in and is using the sustainable construction and carpentry skills he’s learned from Annie and Jay to make that happen.

“If I can temporarily stay in something like this while I construct my final home, something I don’t have to invest that much money into, something that is easy to put together, something that can stay on my property as a guest home—that’s really ideal,” he says.


Sandavol is also a part of a group of interns that created the Blue Rock Station free school. Alongside the Warmkes, the interns instruct skills that aren’t taught in today’s culture. Among those skills are basic carpentry, self-care, basic sewing, car maintenance and bread making. The idea behind the free school is those who take part will form a community by working on a local level and looking out for one another. The two- to three-hour sessions are held on the third Saturday of each month at Blue Rock Station.

Creating a support system in Southeast Ohio was difficult for the Warmkes at first, but they have involved themselves in many groups. Jay is on the board of Green Energy Ohio, a nonprofit organization that promotes environmentally and economically sustainable practices. Annie created Women Grow Ohio, a group that connects women who are producing food on a small scale. The two also work closely with Rural Action in Athens, a nonprofit agency that works to ease poverty in the region.

Exchanging re-usable resources, sustainable skills and friendship among likeminded people is what keeps Annie and Jay interested in sustainable living. The two are especially inspired by the young interns who live and work at Blue Rock Station.

Oftentimes, Jay and Annie see physical and intellectual changes in those individuals by the time they leave. They hope that the interns can take the skills they learn and apply them to their own lives.

“If you can say, ‘I don’t need a big house; I can have a smaller house. I don’t need a new thing, I can have a used thing;’ Then you begin to find that these choices are not hardships,” Jay says. “They’re more like living life aware.”

Those choices have proven successful for the Warmkes. They plan to continue offering opportunities for others to learn and contribute. Their home at Blue Rock Station has become more than a house—it has become a community, an ideology and a lifestyle.

“I was dreaming of it for many years of my life,” Annie says. “I couldn’t imagine it would look like this, but I knew it would feel like this—where people feel safe and happy and get some courage within themselves. That’s what I thought it would feel like. I achieved that.”

Castle Inn Mystery Nights are spooky fun

Castle Inn Mystery Nights are spooky fun

The Castle Inn Bed and Breakfast in Circleville maintains a tall and imposing figure across the landscape. And on the last Friday of every month, it offers a role-playing event that Agatha Christie would likely approve of: a murder mystery.   On this particular evening, […]