Thanks for support

I am writing to thank the people of Bainbridge for taking the time to vote on Nov. 2 and showing their support for me in my first race for Bainbridge Township trustee. When I started this journey, I had no idea what twists and turns it would take, or what to expect on Election Day.

I thank you for your words of support, your donations of time, money or talent, along with your votes. As I have said in the past, there were three very excellent candidates to choose from in the election and I feel humbled and privileged to have been one of the two ultimately chosen for this position. I look forward to hearing from you, helping to solve township issues and problems, and being a part of an excellent township leadership team. Thank you again for your encouragement and support.

Michael D. Bates

Bainbridge

Never forget

On Friday night, two high school football teams played at Kenston High School – Steubenville versus Kenston. My wife and I are the statisticians for Kenston – a fun gig that generally offers us a warm spot to watch and chart the games on cold Friday nights. As we settled in, we met a gentleman from Steubenville. Asking about their team, it took less than two sentences for him to define the team, the school, and the community in the context of Steubenville’s 39-year tenured head coach, Reno Saccoccia.

“One more win and he will be the winningest high school football coach in Ohio history – an average of 10 wins a season.”

During the game, coach Saccoccia prowled the sidelines barking at officials and opponents. It was only after the game when I was reminded that 10 years ago, this Steubenville school and team were the center of multiple criminal complaints and later convictions regarding players for sexual assault/rape charges.

While there were several allegations, only one instance involving multiple players and a 16-year-old girl was ever prosecuted. Investigations at the local, state and federal level found only two players responsible despite text messages and videos from those players involved indicating that multiple coaches had both knowledge of the assault and attempted to prevent law enforcement from investigating.

Only the school superintendent and its IT administrator were found culpable of obstructing the investigation. Those same coaches who escaped responsibility led the Steubenville team on to the field Friday night. Who knows what became of the young woman whose life was irrevocably damaged?

Steubenville’s nickname is “The Big Red.” It should stand for all that is good about a school and its community. But it only reminds me of an indelible stain of shame. The players of today have no part in this. They were elementary school children when these events happened. The coaches and community supporters that manipulated their actions after the fact remain unrepentant and unaccountable to this day; and their misconduct must be condemned as unacceptable.

Friday night, coach Saccoccia did not get his victory. I have no doubt this is but a brief delay in an unstoppable march. Early in next fall’s football season, he will secure his coveted win and a re-writing of the record books. There will be parades and speeches and celebrations in Steubenville honoring his lifetime achievement. Officials from all corners of the state will rush to congratulate him. And it will be tainted.

For on Friday night, after a long bus ride home, coach Saccoccia, and his collaborators will sit in a dark room and begin their wait for next year.

Somewhere on that same night, a young lady (and maybe more than one) will sit all alone in the dark, too. Her thoughts won’t be in anticipation of the future but rather an all-too-familiar prayer to forget the pain as the victim of a violent night past. We, collectively, owe it to her not to forget.

Chris Berger

South Russell

Word of Thanksgiving

This letter is a thank-you to all the voters of Newbury who came out in support of me during the recent election in the township trustee race on Nov. 2. I can’t express my gratitude enough for those that allowed me to put signs in their yard to show their support during the past few months. From the small business owners to the residents of Newbury, to my close friends and family – thanks so much.

You are making a difference in our town. A special thanks to two other candidates as well. Greg Tropf was more than kind in his guidance as I weaved through the paperwork requirements and overall protocols required to take this first step into local politics. For that assistance, I thank you. In addition, I wanted to give thanks to Bill Majeski. Bill and I do not agree on political issues necessarily, but he was more than gracious to me during the campaign and showed the utmost professionalism and understanding as the campaign came to a close. Thank you, Bill.

This was definitely a learning experience. I had (and still have) a lot to learn about running a campaign and getting my message out to the folks of this community. I am not a politician. I am a dad and a proud resident of Newbury. I will work hard in the months and years ahead to bring issues to the forefront that affect us all in our community. It is to you, the citizens of Newbury, that I wanted to say, thanks so much.

Phil Paradise Jr.

Newbury

Be aware, confront biases

In the Oct. 28/29 edition of the Times, the article about Ansel’s Cave includes a quote from Geauga County Parks District Chief Naturalist John Kolar. 

“It was also rumored to be a stop on the Underground Railroad and a hiding place for runaway slaves,” Mr. Kolar said.

What caught my attention is that in this day of increasing awareness around enslavement, a more sensitive, more aware approach is needed. 

“Runaway slaves” reads like the enslaved persons are the criminals, rather than people seeking refuge as they attempt to liberate themselves – these are people who are taking agency in their own fate. “Enslaved person” and “enslavement” are more accurate terms than “slave” or “slavery,” so as not to define someone by their condition – enslavement is a condition. Just as being differently abled is a condition but doesn’t define a human being.

Our more aware self now knows that people are and were not to be owned. But we also need to adjust our language to reflect that knowing. 

A more sensitive and accurate expression might be: 

“Ansel’s Cave was rumored to be a stop on the Underground Railroad and a place of refuge for enslaved people seeking freedom.” 

I want to be clear I’m not calling John Kolar or the reporter a bad person, just unaware. Our family’s experience of Mr. Kolar over the years is of his passion for the planet, nature and Geauga parks. He’s a great guy. (The reporter is a dedicated journalist for many years).

But it takes all of us bringing awareness and sensitivity to our work to create a cultural shift of valuing those who have been systematically marginalized.

I have been participating with a group of people from Federated Church and Mt. Zion Congregational Church, a predominately black church in University Circle, for a monthly course called Sacred Conversations to End Racism. Through this process, I have realized how little I know and how much there is to learn. These “subtleties” of language are ways we perpetuate the status quo for people of culture. 

Not knowing doesn’t make us “bad,” but being unwilling to look at or learn perpetuates ignorance. I am trying to do better job of being aware of and confronting my own biases, I believe we all can.

Polly Manke

Bainbridge

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