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 […]
The first horse Rachel Bendler rescued on her own from a slaughter-sale was Red. In 2007, Red was penned up at a horse auction waiting to be sold. Instead of meeting his demise over the border in Canada where horse slaughter is legal, Red met Rachel who bought him for $10 that day.
It was the beginning of what is now Bella Run Equine, a nonprofit organization in Athens County dedicated to “responsibly rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming slaughter-bound horses.”
Husband and wife, Zack and Rachel Bendler co-own the nonprofit. In addition to rescuing and rehoming horses, their farm serves as a halfway home for other abandoned pets as well.
Rachel & Zack
Having spent her childhood riding horses and then her time after school as a barn manager, Rachel is without a doubt a horse person. Zack gushes just talking about her.
“How Rachel is able to break through to animals that have been done wrong by humans, cover up bad memories with positivity — it’s a gift,” he says.
A true Western man, Zack wears his cowboy hat and country button-up like he never left his native Oklahoma. Experienced in traditional ways of breaking horses, Zack came to Ohio looking for a less harsh alternative.
Like the horses she so loves, Rachel saw a kindred spirit looking for a home when she met Zack at a horse barn in Athens. After Rachel won over Zack’s support for rescuing horses, Rachel and Zack were on their way to falling in love, getting married and starting Bella Run Equine.
In 2014 Zack bought the land he was leasing. And what started with Red, grew into what is now around 30 horses.
Horses, Dogs, and Ducks
The Bendlers have a network of friends who help out at Bella Run. Both Zack’s brother Ethan Bendler and Rachel’s best friend Trisken Emmert both volunteer. Emmert, a live wire, and local school teacher feels at home when she is giving a voice to the voiceless.
“There’s a lid for every pot — I hope somebody told ya that — we say that all the time,” Emmert says. At Bella Run, they use the saying to describe the notion that every animal has a good owner out there, but the key is finding a quality fit for both.
Emmert is passionate about the horses. She describes Monarch, a beautiful 14-year-old bay thoroughbred, and Enzo a Palomino pony, and the Seven Sisters, and on and on without even taking a breath.
The zeal for rehoming animals does not stop with the horses. Bella Run also works to rehome dogs with their Farm Dog Program. They rescue dogs that are either abandoned by owners or at the end of their time in kill pounds.
Tanky Tank, who was once a troubled mutt at Bella Run, is Emmert’s favorite puppy success story. With tireless training, Tank became an adopted certified rescue dog.
In addition to horses and dogs, Bella Run has a few other lost creatures finding refuge on the farm. Kevin and Patrick, the rescued ducks, call Bella Run home as do a few goats and sheep.
Rachel and Zack use realistic decision making, sound budgeting, a great support system and untiring effort to keep the farm on track. They emphasize rescuing horses with high adoptability potential so that future adoption sales can help fund the purchase of the next rescue.
For these animals to have a home is paramount to Zack and Rachel.
“The world needs your attention and they need it right now. Let’s making caring cool again,” Zack says.
And with their nonprofit Bella Run Equine, the Bendlers are doing just that.
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
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!”
Although the Confederate troops traveled through Pike and Jackson Counties they stopped in 2. Meigs County near Portland, where the Battle at Buffington Island occurred. It is the only major battle from the Civil War that took place in Ohio. The Union soldiers surrounded Morgan and his 1,700 men the night of July 18, 1863 and attacked the next morning. You can visit the Buffington memorial site –– but fair warning –– the site is actually three miles farther north on State Route 124 than what GPS lists. There is a burial mound for the soldiers who lost their lives, a monument about the battle and a few picnic tables.
3. Athens County
4. Guernsey County