Tag: Athens

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 […]

Young Athens Professionals Q&A: The premiere local club for networking

Young Athens Professionals Q&A: The premiere local club for networking

Anywhere is a good place to network, but Athens tends to be especially good. The Young Athens Professionals (YAP) aims to encourage local young professionals to meet, network and work for companies by connecting them with business leaders and entrepreneurs in Athens. I sat down […]

Athens County Horse Farm Rescues Slaughter-Bound Horses and More

Athens County Horse Farm Rescues Slaughter-Bound Horses and More

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

Gretchen and her three dogs pose for a picture with Zack and Rachel Bendler. Photo by Natascha Roelsgaard

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.

Athens to get its first transitional housing for women recovering from addiction

Athens to get its first transitional housing for women recovering from addiction

Teresa G. still receives support from other women who once sent letters to her at least twice a week. She had started receiving these letters after she joined a 12-step recovery program while in prison for forgery and check theft to fund her addiction. The […]

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 […]

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!”

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 […]

Climb Athens Center Brings Bouldering to the Community

Climb Athens Center Brings Bouldering to the Community

Ted Welser pushes aside a vacuum plastic curtain and climbs a set of steep stairs that lead to the loft of his garage on the residential east side of Athens.  The plywood walls are barely visible under interlocking nobs and bits. Polyurethane climbing holds make […]

Take our Morgan’s Raid driving tour

Take our Morgan’s Raid driving tour

by Sarah Weingarten
Southern Ohio is the only region in the state to host a Civil War battle. In July 1863,General John Hunt Morgan and his Confederate army raided southern Ohio. And today you can drive along the path that the Confederate army took to their defeat. The total drive is around 550miles, but you don’t need to travel far to visit some of the venture’s most notable spots.

1. Adams County is where Morgan and his men entered Southeast Ohio. They made their way to Locust Grove, then south to the Wickerham Inn where the soldiers slept overnight. It is one of the oldest brick buildings in Adams County and is believed to be haunted. Today Wickerham Inn is private property, but history buffs can still stop by to view the outside.
Nearby: Serpent Mound, the largest effigy mound in the world. Drive 20 minutes south to eat at Blake Pharmacy & Hallmark Cards, an authentic ‘60s drugstore and soda fountain serving milkshakes and sandwiches.

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.
Nearby: Snowville Creamery, a staple in SoutheastOhio, or spend the day at Forked Run State Park boating on the Ohio River or hiking alongside it.

3. Athens County
After the Battle at Buffington, Morgan and what was left of his men fled through Vinton County and stopped in Nelsonville in Athens County. Nelsonville was empty of Union troops because Union soldiers thought Morgan would go to Athens, so Morgan took 36horses and set a handful of canal boats and set canal bridges ablaze before leaving.
Nearby: Stuart’s Opera House and take a look around Gallery 1879. You can also stop by the Fun Barn to play arcade games and catch a movie.

4. Guernsey County
Morgan and his men traveled through Perry, Morgan, Muskingum Counties, then stopped in what is now Old Washington in Guernsey County. Morgan’s army of 2,460 men was now less than 600 men. They did not ransack the town, but instead wanted shelter and food. The Union army arrived early the next morning and fired shots at the troops,forcing them to flee the state. Three Confederate soldiers were killed in Old Washington and are buried there.
Nearby: Check out the Southeastern Ohio Symphony Orchestra in Concord. If you are looking for something more adventurous, you can go on a Zipline Tour of The Wilds in Cumberland.
ReUse Industries Opens Athens First Tool Library

ReUse Industries Opens Athens First Tool Library

Athens Tool Library gives you access to over 500 different tools Ever wish you had full and legal access to your neighbor’s tools? Such sentiments align with the philosophy of Athens Tool Library, the first of its kind in the Appalachian region. Located next to […]