West Fair Branch Remains Open Through Renovations

Our branch on West Fair Avenue in Lancaster is undergoing an expansion and renovation project and we couldn’t be more excited.

This project is a direct result of strategic planning that was done by bank leaders and is part of an effort to focus on transforming VCNB branches to meet the needs of customers. EVP of Marketing Audra Johnson explained the purpose behind this work. “Our goal is to update many of our branches in the next few years, not only in look, but in technology and in convenience as well. We want our customers to feel comfortable in our branches, but also to feel like they leave knowing they received excellent service and the resources they need for a better financial future,” Johnson explained.

The West Fair Avenue expansion and renovation will include the rerouting of drive-thru lanes and changes in the customer parking area. A new addition to the building will be constructed to include a new employee lounge and employee restrooms. While the expanded area will not be open to customers, per se, teams of employees that are essential to the success of the bank will be moving their offices to this new space.

“Customers will not be conducting their transactions or meeting with their personal banker behind the doors of the expansion, but rest assured that the space will be put to good use. We are starting to outgrow many of our branches and also our operations centers. This is a great problem to have because it means we’re growing, we’re employing more people and we’re ensuring we will be there for our customers in the long run,” Johnson said.

In addition to the expanded square footage, the building will receive some cosmetic upgrades as well as changes to the way customers and employees interact. A new roof and face lift to interior design and décor are in the works. More importantly, there will be a new style of employee office meant to create more privacy as well as new teller pod stations instead of the traditional teller line. Finally, the lobby will be outfitted with new technology that will allow customers to interact with the bank’s online and mobile platforms inside the branch.

“To say that I am excited about the upgrades we are making is an understatement. We have a mission to be the best for our customers, shareholders and employees. This is just another step toward upholding that mission,” Johnson concluded.

Customers should rest assured that this office will remain open during construction. “It’s business as usual at our West Fair Avenue office. Our staff there is ready to assist you with all of your banking needs.”

 

Last Minute Summer Road Trip

By Brandi Betts
VCNB Marketing Specialist

August is here so you probably think it’s too late to get in a summer road trip. However, in my experience, it’s never too late for a little road trip enjoyment. There are tons of fun options within an easy driving distance of southern and central Ohio. It’s just a matter of finding what you’re looking for and figuring out what’s best for you.

A lot of times, we think that vacation only counts if we go far away or if it’s something exotic or expensive. The truth is, you can have fun almost anywhere if you go looking for it. In fact, you can find adventure and relaxation in your own community just as easily as in someone else’s. With that said, I’m the first one in the car if there’s opportunity to leave home and explore someplace else.

Here are some places that literally offer something for everyone and that aren’t too far from home.

If you just have a day or two:

Consider Cincinnati! There tons of museums and historic sites, state and metro parks, shopping, amazing hotels and restaurants here. Plus they have one of the best zoos and aquariums anywhere! The greater Cincinnati area is a neat mix of metropolitan and small-town mom and pop type communities. Now, with a soccer team (that’s about to go Major League and that’s doing really well for themselves) along with the Reds and Bengals, this is truly a destination for sports lovers too.  Hop a ride on a streetcar and take in a concert at Riverbend, Cincinnati Music Hall or one of the other great venues.

Personally, one of my favorite places to visit here is the American Sign Museum. It’s about 20,000 square feet packed with antique and vintage signage that may remind you of your youth as well as a lot you’ve never seen. Other favorite stops for me include the 85,000square foot Ohio Valley Antique Mall at Fairfield and one of the two Jungle Jim’s locations I always pick up a few bottles of craft sodas and have fun touring all the international foods here!

If history is your thing, the National Park Service operates the William Howard Taft National Historic Site. This is free to tour and lends some great insight into the life and career of our 27th President. It’s not too far from the downtown attractions and about a ten minute drive from the zoo. I recently read about something I had never heard about – it’s an old fashioned root beer stand that looks and sounds like a time capsule in all the pictures. The Root Beer Stand is on my agenda very, very soon.

Cincinnati is one of those places where you could spend as long as you want and keep finding more to do.

 

If you have a long weekend:

If you have longer, Wytheville, Virginia may be a good fit for you. For as long as I can remember, Wytheville (pronounced WITH-vill) was just an interstate stop on the way to the beach. There’s a collection of hotels and gas stations and a Cracker Barrel convenient for the weary traveler but it wasn’t until recently I learned what’s hiding just beyond the highway.

Downtown Wytheville is a beautiful place with tree lined streets, cute storefronts, lots of history, easy access to the mountains, great architecture and interesting places to stay in downtown. The area boasts state and national parks with recreational experiences for almost anyone. Big Walker Mountain National Forest Scenic Byway winds through sixteen miles of forest land, ideal for both cars and motorcycles. Fishing, camping, hiking, mountain biking are popular here too.

When I went this spring, I visited the birthplace of first lady Edith Boling Wilson and found amazing pizza at a little hole in the wall that is a local hangout. There are several hotel options but if you’re looking for something special, the Edith Boling Wilson Hotel is awfully nice. It’s located in downtown and is known for service and luxury. Speaking of downtown, be sure to check out the big pencil outside Wytheville Office Supply. While it’s not something to plan a trip around, it certainly adds a little character to your journey! They are also known for a number of fun events throughout the year including a hot air balloon rally and some big car shows.

Personally, I love the character of Wytheville. It’s a laidback, southern town where the people are friendly, the food is tasty and where you feel like they truly want you to come back.

If you are craving the water

If you’re craving water and sun but don’t have the time or money for a long beach trip, Lake Erie could be a good compromise.

I love lighthouses and the 75-foot tall Marblehead Lighthouse is the best Ohio offers. For a small fee you can tour it and learn about this 1822 lighthouse that is still keeping ships safe. If you have kids, or if you’re a kid at heart, there is a Merry-Go-Round Museum. I will admit that I have never gotten to visit so I’m hoping some of our readers will go and send pictures. It sounds like fun and looks like a real feast for the eyes.

Maumee Bay State Park, Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge and Kelleys Island provide countless opportunities to get outdoors and take in your surroundings.  Put-In-Bay village is about a twenty minute boat ride from Port Clinton and it has been a destination for over 150 years. Guided tram tours, backroads for biking, a winery and Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial are among the attractions here. And of course, there’s the water activities on Lake Erie and Cedar Point Amusement Park for the roller coasting riding thrill seekers in the crowd.

Other Options

Not sure about these places? Looking for something a little different? I say look around you. The Buckeye State is packed with activities, interesting sights and ways to while away these last days of summer. People travel to Ohio from all over the country to visit our Amish Country, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, amusement parks… the list goes on and on. While they’re here, they’re also finding the smaller attractions that make our state special like our Quilt Barn trails which started down in Adams County and the little mom and pop roadside places that make us who were are.

Pack up the kids or grab a friend and hit the trail before this summer slips away. Need more inspiration? Our friends with Ohio tourism have some ideas.

 

All photos by Brandi Betts

 

Small Business Spotlight: Cook’s Creek Golf Club

Small businesses are important to communities and running a small business is tough work. That’s why we feature a small business in one of our communities every month!  

BEST 15 PIC - USE IN ADCook’s Creek Golf Club in South Bloomfield on U.S. 23 in northern Pickaway County is unlike any golf course you’ve ever seen. In addition to simply being a beautiful place, it is known as one of the best public golf courses in Central Ohio. In fact, it was rated the 2017 Top Pick for Central Ohio Public Golf Courses by The Columbus Dispatch. However, what makes the place truly special is the unique story of how it came to be and the family ownership that helps make guests come in as strangers but leave feeling like family.

Cathy Cook’s eyes beam when she tells the story of how the family business came to be some 25 years ago. “This is truly a family business. My son is the Director of Food and Beverage, my daughter as a third year college student is involved with all aspects including operation of the Cookside Café, my dad is the Captain Cook of this ship and I’m the golf pro,  sort of the glue that holds everything together.”

The Cook family name is synonymous with golf – her brother John Cook is a former PGA Tour player with 21 PGA Tour victories, now currently a TV analyst, and Dad Jim Cook has a powerful name in the business of golf as well. Cathy is also known for her work as a pioneer in programs that teach kids to play golf.

Building the 250 acre golf course on farmland bordering the Scioto River and Little Walnut Creek was the logical next step for the golfing family. The property was previously a farm that sometimes struggled when Scioto River flood waters spilled out of the banks into the fields and forests. However, it was ideal property for a golf course.

The year was 1992 and the Cooks pooled their knowledge and experience to begin transforming the property using designs from local architects who were assisted by John Cook. The first nine holes opened in 1993 while the other nine debuted in 1995.

The golf course is bordered by 140 acres of wetlands and forests that the Cooks chose to leave for the wildlife – eagles, blue heron, deer, fox, rabbits, coyotes and other creatures call this place home.

The family actually has a special connection to this land. Here, Cathy’s grandfather, Burt Cook, worked as a young man, watering the livestock for meals and .25 cents a day. A giant sycamore tree and the old fashioned hand pump that her grandfather used all those years ago still stand on the fifteenth hole, near the 1800 farmhouse where Cathy’s parents reside.

While the property is close to U.S. Route 23, the course feels quiet and relaxing. Calming is a word often used to describe the property which is anchored by beautiful lakes and incredible old trees. Each hole is its own sanctuary, not seeing any of the other golfers on the course

“We want people to come here and have fun. We want them to relax. We want to make their day better and make them want to come back. We want them to feel like they’re family,” she said. “Only we won’t put them to work like we would real family,” she laughed.

The Cooks are working to create an environment that is relaxed and friendly for not just the experienced golfer but for the novice as well. That’s why they have active programs for women and for juniors. They also are in the process of developing the menu at Cooks Bar & Grill, hoping to create a dining experience that will appeal to locals who just want to eat.

They invite folks to stop by any time of the year for a full meal or just for appetizers and drinks on the deck.

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They also offer a banquet room that seats approximately 150 people for weddings, reunions, parties and other events. They offer full services including linens and food but event organizers are welcome to bring in their own caterers and decorators as well.

Earlier this month, Cooks Creek even hosted Governor John Kasich who visited an event hosted by House of Representatives District 92 Representative Gary Scherer. She said that Scherer frequently hosts community meetings here and that several organizations and golf leagues use the facilities. They also have a strong following of members and others who simply like to play the course. “It is humbling when someone chooses to spend their time with us,” Cathy said. “It is a high compliment when they choose to come here for an hour or for the day. It validates all the hard work we’ve been putting into this place and the efforts we’ve made to make it the place where people want to be. We don’t take this lightly.”

On a tour of the property, Cathy good naturedly joked with guests, calling them by name and making small talk. She seems to know the entire property like the back of her hand and takes pride in the work they are doing to improve it. The Cook family had actually sold the golf club three times before buying it back in August 2016. She indicated that parts of the property had deteriorated after the Cooks sold the golf club. They are working hard to bring it back to where the family believes it should be. “We have made a lot of progress and we know this because each time people come, they see the progress and they mention it. For a while it felt like two steps forward and five gigantic steps back. But we’re starting to make some real progress and we’re always looking for ways to improve,” she said.

Golf provides great life lessons, according to the seasoned pro. “Golf teaches you to face your fears. If you are intimidated by the water, you have to learn it’s just water. If you focus on where you want to go and let go, you’re fine. A lot of what golf teaches is how to manage yourself and about what you’re focusing on,” she said.

Cook’s Creek Golf Club is located at 16405 US Highway 23, South Bloomfield.  Learn more about Cook’s Creek at their website or follow them on Facebook.

 

 

 

 

Prepare Now For Happier Holidays

There are about 22 weeks until Christmas.

You’re probably wondering why your bank wants to talk about Christmas during the hottest days of summer but there is one really good reason: we want to see our customers have a nice holiday season without accumulating a mountain of debt.

Calculating the Cost of the HolidaysLots of folks wait until November to start thinking about what they’ll buy and how they will fund it. Others just buy without thinking and worry about it when the credit card bill comes in January. We would rather see you start planning and saving now and we’ll tell you why. Without the stress of money worries weighing you down, the holidays will be much more enjoyable. It’s that simple.

Luckily, there are still almost six months left to prepare.

How Much Will You Spend?
First, you need to know how much money you will want to spend. Make a list of each person you buy gifts for as well as other expenses related to the holidays. Do you host a big Christmas Eve bash or do you travel to see the in-laws? Do you make charitable donations during the holidays or send Christmas cards? List all those things too.

Then assign an estimated dollar amount to each person or category and add it all up. That’s the amount you need to aim for saving. If it sounds like too much, you might need to adjust your spending expectations.

Create a Savings Plan
Take your budgeted amount and divide it by the number of pay checks you will receive before Christmas. That’s the amount you need to save each pay. For example, if you plan to spend $500 on Christmas this year and are paid weekly, that means you would need to save about $23 per pay to be ready in time for the holiday.

Think you don’t have extra money to save every paycheck? Keep reading.

There are sneaky ways you can save money. If you budget $100 for your electric bill and it’s just $95, then save the extra $5 instead of spending it. If you have a vice like drive-thru lunches, pack your meals occasionally and save the extra. Save your change and bring it to a VCNB location with a coin machine for easy counting. Be intentional with how you use any extra amount of money, no matter how small it may be, and save it.

Automate That Savings
Whether you join the VCNB Christmas Club or just schedule automatic transfers, automate your savings plan. Schedule an automatic transfer of that $23 every single payday. It will be just like any other bill and you won’t have to lift a finger to make it happen. And while we’re talking about savings accounts, you may choose to open a savings account just for your Christmas spending. You’ll have easy access to your cash when you need it and can just transfer it back to your checking account when ready to spend.

Think Ahead
Stores and online retailers are filled with clearance racks and good sales every day of the week. Keep your eyes peeled and you may be able to pick up a few gifts long before the Black Friday frenzy begins.

Also, if you do travel during the holidays, nail down your travel days and start looking for deals on flights and hotels.

If you have a big family, it may be time to have a conversation with your siblings about gift giving. Do you want to buy gifts for everyone or just for the kids or maybe gifts for couples rather than individuals? We aren’t telling you to be stingy but you may find that some people in your life are relieved to have less shopping to worry over.

Reward Yourself
VCNB offers a Rewards Checking account that literally rewards you for spending your own money. Saving these points throughout the year to redeem before the holidays is another great way to save! Customers who use Rewards Checking receive one point for every $3 spent and 200 bonus points when they have 21 or more transactions per statement cycle. These points can be redeemed for cash back, gift cards, travel and more!

There is a coordinating Visa® Platinum Card that allows you to earn one point for every dollar spent. These points can be redeemed for exciting merchandise, gift cards and travel. Customers who use both Rewards Checking and the Visa Platinum Card can link their points in one account to make redemption a breeze.

Ready to get started? Open online or learn more about Rewards Checking or open that new Passbook Savings to get started with your holiday savings today!

Seven Ways to Save at Disneyland — No Magic Required

Prepping your wallet for a trip to see Mickey Mouse is no walk in the park. There will be tickets, souvenirs and food to buy.

So to make your visit to California’s Disneyland more of a fairy tale and less of a financial nightmare, try these seven ways to save money. While the tips below focus on the Anaheim park, visitors to other Disney properties will find some ideas for cutting costs, too.

  1. Rely on reviews

Before you step foot in the park, brush up on Disneyland’s best offerings by going online. You’ll find many bloggers who write reviews about the newest attractions, says Casey Starnes, owner of the Disneyland Daily blog.

The blogs will help you decide what, and what not, to spend money on. For example, with a little research you can decide which dining packages are worth the splurge. It may also help you decide which rides are worth waiting in line for, maximizing the money you spent on your ticket.

  1. Get a discounted ticket

You don’t always have to pay full price for a ticket. Disneyland offers specially priced tickets to active and retired U.S. military personnel, for example. Other visitors can search for discounts through organizations like AAA.

Be careful to avoid illegitimate sellers, though. Scammers on Craigslist and other websites have been known to deliver fake tickets. Before buying, check out a seller through online reviews or look for accreditation such as from the Better Business Bureau.

  1. Don’t be a Sleeping Beauty

If you want to get the most bang for your buck, wake up early. You can hit up rides before the crowds set in.

“I always tell people that Disneyland vacations are not for sleeping in,” says Jessica Sanders, founder of The Happiest Blog on Earth and author of “Disneyland on Any Budget: Money Saving Tips From The Happiest Blog on Earth.”

Sanders recommends lining up at the gate an hour before opening so you can take your first ride within minutes of entry. “I typically get in 10 or more attractions during the first two hours of my day, even during the summer.”

  1. Skip a meal

To save money — and feel less stuffed as you’re walking around — eat two big meals instead of three, Starnes says. Try a mid-morning brunch, snacks during the afternoon and a big dinner in the evening.

“Disneyland is known for snacks, and they’re much more affordable than meals,” she says.

  1. Use Disney gift cards

Another clever way to stay on budget? Gift cards. If you know you can afford to spend $25 on souvenirs or $50 on food, buy a Disney gift card for that amount. Cards can be purchased online, at the resort or at a Disney store and redeemed at many places in the park.

“We have a gift card with that set amount on there, and then when it’s gone, we’re done spending on that particular thing,” Sanders says. “So you don’t have to keep track in your head or go way over budget because most people aren’t keeping track of every receipt and everything they’re spending while they’re on vacation.”

  1. Pick the right souvenirs

When you buy something, choose wisely. For souvenirs, Starnes recommends selecting items that will stand the test of time. So consider a coffee mug over a toy. Or pick a commemorative photo book instead of a shirt that your child will outgrow.

  1. Perfect your strategy

These tips won’t expire when the clock strikes midnight — and they don’t only apply to summer visits. Reuse and refine them each time you visit Disneyland.

“It’s almost like competitive vacationing,” Starnes says. “Every time you come, you want to do more and more. You want to do better than your previous visit and you learn more every time you visit.”

More From NerdWallet

Courtney Jespersen is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: courtney@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @CourtneyNerd.

The article 7 Ways to Save at Disneyland — No Magic Required originally appeared on NerdWallet.

 

Celebrating Success: Stout Graduates From Stonier

Cassie Stonier Class 2018
Cassie Stonier 2018The VCNB Family has a reason to celebrate!

VCNB Regional Retail Manager Cassie Stout recently graduated from the American Bankers Association (ABA) Stonier Graduate School of Banking, following in the footsteps of countless VCNB leaders who completed this challenging piece of their banking education.

Stonier is an elite program for the nation’s best and brightest bankers. The three year program prepares future industry leaders with curriculum covering a wide variety of industry topics. Taught at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School in Philadelphia, the program also provides a series of leadership sessions.

Stout explained that she has been completing off-site work for the program for the last three years. Then one week a year the class convenes at the Wharton School in Philadelphia for an intense period of classes and networking. “They cram a lot into those weeks we are there. It’s a very intensive week we spend there every year,” she explained. She indicated that students choose from a catalog of banking courses and are encouraged to select those that are most appropriate for their financial institution.

They also take Wharton School leadership classes that are taught by Wharton professors. While they aren’t specific to banking, they teach skills useful in all lines of business. Wharton is widely regarded as one of the world’s top institutions for business education and the Stonier School attracts bankers from all over the country and around the world.

“I have learned a lot about banking and about bank management through this process,” she said before naming some of the topics she learned about and how they apply to her role at VCNB. She also praised the connections she has made through Stonier and the efforts made to pair bankers with others who are from similar institutions but not from competing institutions. “They are very selective in how they pair bankers so in the end you have a nice network of bankers you can call on to bounce an idea off of or to just have someone to talk with.”

The class of approximately 240 graduated on June 14 with a Stonier diploma and a Wharton leadership certificate.

She indicated that she has already put to good use some things that she learned at Stonier on both special projects and on daily tasks. In fact, just last week she used a Wharton exercise during a meeting with the branch managers who she supervises.

Stout began her career with VCNB in 2006. Many customers will remember her as the Branch Manager at our Ross County Banking Center on Main Street in Chillicothe. Today she serves the bank in a different kind of role, overseeing managers of branches in Vinton, Hocking, Jackson and Ross counties.

“I am grateful for the opportunity and appreciate that the bank gave me this opportunity,” she said.

VCNB Head of Retail Brenda Doles expressed pride in Cassie’s accomplishments both at the bank and at Stonier. “I am so very proud of Cassie. When she sets her sights on a goal she can accomplish anything,” Doles said. “She truly manages her time. Through all of this she managed her branches, she managed her personal life, she managed her course work without missing a step and without ever letting anyone down. She’s someone I hope will go far for us.”

Five Ways Not to Blow a Financial Windfall

Whether you’ve won the lottery, inherited a fortune or sold your business, landing a financial windfall can drastically improve your financial outlook. But the sudden wealth can also leave you stressed and unsure how to handle the cash.

First, hit the pause button, says Don Hance Jr., founder of LifeSighted, a financial planning company. Take time to create a spending plan to avoid making poor decisions.

“You want to give yourself time to take stock of everything and work through emotions before spending the money,” says Hance.

Here are five smart ways to allocate a financial windfall.

1. Cushion your nest egg
Maximize your 401(k) contributions if you still plan on working, or at least contribute enough to earn the full employer match, which is essentially free money for your retirement. As you put more money toward retirement, the windfall will fill that gap in your cash flow.

This move also carries tax benefits: contributions are taken out of your paycheck pre-tax, lowering your taxable income for the year. Investments grow tax-deferred until withdrawals at retirement.

Also, look into funding a Roth IRA if you’re eligible, says Mark McCarron, a financial planner and principal at Bond Wealth Management, LLC. Contributions to Roth retirement accounts are made after-tax, and your investments grow tax-free. Unlike a 401(k), there’s no income tax on withdrawals made in retirement.

“It is one of the only free lunches the IRS gives us,” McCarron says.

2. Pay off toxic debt
If you’ve been trying to pay off debt, this is an opportune moment. Pay off toxic debt with the highest interest rates first, such as credit cards, payday loans, title loans and installment loans.

For example, a credit card with a $10,000 balance at 20% interest would cost $11,680 in total interest if you made $200 monthly payments. It would take more than nine years to repay the debt.

Use your windfall to pay the balance in full, and you’ll save interest.

3. Build an emergency fund
An emergency fund is money set aside to cover unplanned expenses, such as car repairs or a job loss, so you don’t have to rely on credit cards or high-interest loans.

A good rule of thumb is to have three to six months of expenses saved, says McCarron.

The amount to save depends on factors such as job security and how much debt you owe. Keep the money in a high-yield savings account, where it earns some interest and is readily accessible.

4. Invest in yourself or a loved one
Investing isn’t limited to your retirement; you can also use some of the windfall toward self-development. Go back to school, hire a career coach, travel or learn a new skill.

Consider starting a 529 savings plan to support a child, relative or friend through college, says Levi Sanchez, financial planner and co-founder of Millennial Wealth, based in Seattle.

The plan provides tax-free investment growth and withdrawals for qualified education expenses, such as tuition, fees and books. Most states also offer a tax break for residents.

Under the current tax law, 529 withdrawals up to $10,000 per year can be used for tuition costs at elementary or secondary public, private and religious schools. Check with your state’s plan before making withdrawals for this purpose; not all states have adopted the changes.

5. Give back
Consider making charitable donations to an organization or social cause you support.

Your gift can positively impact the organization, but unless it’s a sizable donation, it may not help your taxes. That’s because you need to itemize your taxes to get a deduction, and itemizing only makes sense if your deductions add up to more than the standard deduction.

For 2018, the standard deduction is $24,000 for married individuals filing jointly or $12,000 for single individuals. Maintain records of your contributions if you donate.

Giving money to family and close friends doesn’t carry tax benefits. But if you’re feeling generous, you can give up to $15,000 per individual in 2018 without having to file a gift tax return, says Sanchez.
A financial planner or tax professional can provide further guidance on managing a windfall.

Steve Nicastro is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: steven.n@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @StevenNicastro.

The article 5 Ways Not to Blow a Financial Windfall originally appeared on NerdWallet.

AEP Recognizes VCNB Improvements

VCNB was recognized earlier this year by AEP Ohio for their work to improve energy efficiency and environmental impact at several bank branches. This was a result of a lighting project which has made work spaces lighter and brighter and that will save the bank money over time.

New lighting was installed at offices in McArthur, Circleville, Grove City, Chillicothe, Bremen and at one Lancaster location.

As a result of this project, the bank will save 61,868 kWh or 47.4 tons of CO2 annually. This is equivalent to:

– Ten cars off the road per year
– Annual C02 generation of five single family homes
– 1,228 tree seedlings grown for ten years.

According to AEP Ohio, commercial buildings account for nearly one-fifth of the total energy used and one-third of end use electricity. They point out that the benefits of improved building energy efficiency and lowered energy costs are widely recognized and they commended VCNB for working to be part of this movement through their savings incentives programs for businesses.

A Library Straight From a Fairy Tale

Exterior with signReaders often say they enjoy reading books because it’s an opportunity to be transported to another time and place, to meet people and enjoy special places they otherwise couldn’t access in their daily lives. If a book can accomplish this, imagine a library so special that a walk through the doors is also like being transported to a whole new world.

Such a place does exist and it is situated in the quaint village of Lithopolis on the line of Franklin and Fairfield counties.  The Wagnalls Memorial Library is an imposing building that resembles a castle and that serves so many roles that there are almost too many to mention. If the community is looking for a place to hold an event, to learn, to play, to be enriched, to appreciate history or to engage with others, The Wagnalls is the place to be.

Library Director Tami Morehart speaks of the library, the town and its people with such enthusiasm and love that it’s hard to separate the library from the community as she tells their stories. That’s because library employees are involved in community projects while community organizations and residents are involved in the library.

Morehart’s own life story is closely entwined with that of the library. She began coming to the library and to story time as a child. She met her husband and celebrated their wedding reception here and has worked here off and on since she first started shelving books in 1974. She said that serving as Library Director for the last few years has been a dream come true as she’s had opportunity to give life to projects and to help shape the library’s future while keeping an eye on its intriguing past.

The library’s story begins in the early twentieth century with a gift of humungous proportion. Mabel Wagnalls Jones had the library built as a gift to the town to honor her parents, Adam and Anna Willis Wagnalls, who each were born in log cabins in Lithopolis. Her father was the co-founder of publishing giant Funk & Wagnalls and her mother had always dreamed of doing something special for the village and wanted to provide opportunities that were not available to her as a child.

Mabel was an author and concert pianist who lived most of her life in New York City but who had a fondness for her parents’ birthplace and grew up visiting her grandmother who still lived in the town. She believed that this gift to the town would fulfill her mother’s wish.

Interior reading room.JPGThe Tudor-Gothic library was designed by Columbus architect Ray Sims and most of the workmen were from Lithopolis. Most of the stone was quarried from a site just behind the library and the construction was said to be a true labor of love for those involved.

The original library is considered a work of art in itself, featuring a formal entrance hall, a tower, auditorium with stage and banquet hall. The upper walls have a sculpted grapevine with bunches of grapes to signify plenty. Owls keep sentinel over the room, perched on shields depicting religion, industry, education and patriotism – values held dear by the Wagnalls family. The owls hold their own meaning, representing some baby owls found in a tree that had been cut down during the quarrying of the stone.

The center window contains stained glass inserts that tell more of the Wagnalls’ story. The State of Ohio Seal, a printing press, a log cabin, the lamp of learning and the Seal of the United States are all depicted in this window. The room was furnished with handmade tables and chairs.

 

The library is also filled with countless paintings and memorabilia. Mabel’s favorite Steinway grand piano is on display along with the Loving Cup that was giving to her by the village at the library’s 1925 dedication. Two original Norman Rockwell paintings are on permanent display as well as paintings that were used as covers for Funk & Wagnalls’ magazine The Literary Digest.

exterior garden.jpg

Outside, the grounds and gardens feature rock sculptures made from rocks collected from all over North America, a martin house, and winding paths lined with flowers and shrubs.  The gardens are maintained by the Fairfield County Master Gardeners.

Since the library was dedicated in 1925, it has been expanded three more times – in 1961, 1983 and 1992 – each time to help the library better serve the growing needs of the community. Now it boasts an impressive children’s library with a locally designed and constructed train station and corral for the kids to enjoy.

Administrative offices, a computer lab, a reading room and patrons’ services desk were added on over time as well. While additions and improvements have been made over their 93 year history, efforts have been made to remain true to the integrity of the original building and to create spaces that feel as though they have always been there.

The library continues to grow and adapt to the needs of a changing community and society. For example, they recently completed a Creative Play Space where children are encouraged to put down electronic devices and use their imagination to play with the numerous toys provided. Made possible by a South Central Power grant, this room has been popular with kids and adults. Morehart said that some things are constants in this room, like a play kitchen, dollhouse and a Lego area for older kids. However, she said that some toys will be periodically cycled in and out. “This week we have dinosaurs out, next week it could be something different,” she said. “We want kids to be able to play here, to use their imaginations. There are no computers in here or electronic devices. It’s all creative play.”

 

The library also continues to add programming and events to keep the community engaged. Yoga classes, board game night, book clubs for adults and teens, cooking classes for adults and kids and a writing club are regular events. They recently hosted a class on phone photography and are offering a summer course to teach kids basic coding. Other interesting programs include a Harry Potter Reading Club and a weekly event where kids can practice their reading skills by reading to a registered therapy dog.

They host an annual Yule Ball in February, will host Santa during a Christmas Open House on Saturday, December 8 and will host a Great Gatsby themed fundraiser on October 6. Their theater group will put on a production of The Adams Family this fall.

“We want to be a destination place for people, for families, not just for books but for connecting with others, for learning, for community,” she said. “When someone is looking for a place to meet or something to do or some kind of resource they might need, we want them to think of us first,” Morehart explained.

 

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The community does use the library and they also often pitch in to help with projects and fundraising. With a small library staff and just two part time maintenance workers, there is an endless list of projects at the 93 year old facility. There is also a Friends of the Library group that raises money to support the library through used books sales and other events. “We are always looking for volunteer groups to help us out,” she said.

She said there are many ways for the public to support the library. They can start by simply using the library or taking part in programs. Volunteerism is another great way to help and supporting fundraisers is another.  In fact, there are many ways to contribute financially through private or corporate donations or through projects like Legacy Brick sponsorships.

interior stained glassThe library also welcomes visitors who simply wish to tour the facility. They offer a walking tour brochure and groups can call ahead to schedule a guided tour with Mabel, as portrayed by Carol Gaal.

Library hours are:
Monday – Thursday: 10:30 a.m. to
7:30 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Friday and Sunday: Closed

A new website contains a massive amount of information on events, library history, giving opportunities and other topics of interest. Visit www.wagnalls.org  or call 614.837.4765 for information and to find out how your group can volunteer. Click here to follow them on Facebook. 

“I think it’s important that we’re here. We want people to feel that it is safe and warm and welcoming here. Our staff is wonderful and they work so hard to be helpful. It’s the kind of place where we know your name and what you read and that you weren’t feeling well last week or that you got a new pet,” Morehart said. “We also are aware that we have to adapt and that we can’t become set in our ways. That’s why we are constantly thinking of ways to bring people in and to bring them together. It’s a living library because we never want to stop growing and changing and being what the community needs us to be.”

Morehart, who grew up in this library, said she has just one regret. “I remember this being such a special place to come to as a kid and it still is, as an adult but I wish I could see it for the first time as an adult and to know what that’s like to experience that wonder and awe! ” Morehart said.

While you may not be able to have that experience, we can tell you what it’s like. It’s like walking into a storybook. It’s magic.

Small Business Spotlight: The Shamrock

Small businesses are important to communities and running a small business is tough work. That’s why we feature a small business in one of our communities every month!  

The Shamrock has been a fixture in downtown Logan since before Prohibition. New owner Shad Mace takes pride in keeping his Irish pub friendly, safe and welcoming to all.

It isn’t every day that you find yourself in an Irish pub in southern Ohio.  It’s an even rarer occasion to visit a business with one of the state’s oldest liquor licenses. The Shamrock, in downtown Logan, has a brand new owner but historic roots that are nearly a century old.

While owner Shad Mace doesn’t know the complete history of the business, he knows that it existed prior to Prohibition as a café, pub and hotel. Their liquor license was acquired just after the 1933 end of Prohibition.

Today the bar stands at 62 E. Main St., just a few blocks from its original home at Main and Mulberry streets. Mace said the previous owner moved the business to this location in 2003.

With exposed brick walls and numerous elements from the old bar, the place is quaint, welcoming and packed with character. “They brought over the original bar top and bar back, the booths, a vintage cigarette machine and a Tiffany glass sign to keep a lot of the original feel and the history,” Mace explained.

In 2003, the previous owner relocated the pub to its current location from just down the street. They brought with them the old booths, bar and other fixtures that give the pub a timeless, welcoming feel.

He purchased the pub in March and took over the business just in time for St. Patrick’s Day weekend. “We opened going into the busiest weekend of the year. It was a madhouse in here but it went much better than we expected. It was extremely busy,” he said. “If we could make it through that weekend we can make it through any weekend.”

The Logan native chuckled when asked if he had any experience running a bar. “No, that’s one thing I’ve never done,” he said. “But for some reason, wherever I would go – bars, restaurants that served – I always paid attention to what they were doing and kind of thought to myself that I could do better. That sounds arrogant but that’s just how I tend to think.”

Mace left Hocking County in pursuit of education at the University of Cincinnati where he spent some years as the UC Bearcats mascot. His career later took him to Arizona. After several years of missing the changing seasons, he returned to Logan where he began  a new career in sales for Osburn Associates, Inc.

In 2017 he learned there was an opportunity to purchase The Shamrock and he set to work on this new adventure. A clear perfectionist, Mace has plans for growing the business and a vision for what he wants it to be.

games and safe

Owner Shad Mace invites friends and families to gather round a table for a friendly game or two. The antique safe is original to the business which began sometime before Prohibition.

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The antique cigarette machine is another piece brought from the original bar. They no longer use it to dispense cigarettes but Mace believes it is in good working condition.

With music acts and food trucks on the weekends, he’s working hard to pack the place when folks are looking for something fun to do. They currently do not have a kitchen but Mace indicated that plans are in the works to have food available this fall. Meanwhile, customers are welcome to bring in their own food to enjoy while hanging out with friends or watching the game on oneof their televisions.

They do have The Golden Tee, an electronic golf game, and a golf league to encourage friendly competition among enthusiasts. A rack of board games like Trivial Pursuit and Sorry provide entertainment for groups large and small, young and old. In fact, they have Game Nights on Monday and Tuesday each week but customers are encouraged to play anytime. “We are very kid friendly here. In fact, kids are welcome to come along. We have games for the family to play and some non-alcoholic beverages that are kid friendly. We try to be a clean cut, casual, respectable place where parents feel comfortable bringing their kids,” he said.

A digital jukebox contrasts nicely against the antique fixtures and gives the place a sense of modernity. Although, not too much – they still have a vintage cigarette machine, an old safe and great vintage advertising art on the walls. A black and white photo hangs above the modern cash register, a tribute to where they come from. It shows the interior of the old bar, staff lined up waiting to help the patrons gathered around the bar.

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“We want to be different than the rest. It sounds like a tired old line but we want to have a friendly atmosphere. We want this place to be warm and inviting and a little different than what you see other places. It’s a small space but it has a lot of character and we’re going to continue building on the good things we have going here,” Mace said.

The Shamrock is located at 62 E. Main St. in Logan and is open 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Call them at 740.216.5110 or follow them on Facebook for their latest events and information.