Santa Visits Set

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Here at VCNB we’re pretty good friends with Santa Claus which is why he’s kind enough to visit some of our branches every December. We know it’s his busy season so we really hope you’ll take advantage of his visits by coming to see him!

Boys and girls of all ages are welcome to visit, share their holiday wishes and have their picture taken. Just remember to bring your own camera or phone for pictures!

Here are the dates and locations!

Friday, December 7 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Canal Banking Center

Friday, December 14 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Friendly Bremen Banking Center in Bremen

Thursday, December 20 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Friendly Bremen Banking Center in Pataskala

Friday, December 21 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Friendly Bremen Banking Center Lancaster East Main

Why We Are Thankful

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We asked our employees to tell us what they’re thankful for this Thanksgiving! Here are a few of their responses.

There are so many things to be grateful for! Faith, family, friends, health and each new day are all blessings I am thankful for. I am also thankful for my job with VCNB and for the opportunity to transfer to a new position this year!

Grace Delong
Indirect Loan Processor

* * *

I am thankful for my two daughters. They are truly the best blessing I could have ever asked for. I’m also thankful for my family and friends. They are always there to help and support me.I am very thankful for my job. Without my job I wouldn’t have been able to provide for my daughters.

Kati Maple
Branch Manager, Pickaway County Banking Center – Ashville

* * *

Most of all, I am thankful for family. I know that sounds so typical but you haven’t met my family! We are not typical!

Barbara Perry
Teller, Pickaway County Banking Center – Circleville

* * *

First and foremost, I am thankful to serve a God who gave his son so that I may have everlasting life. I am thankful to have great family and friends to share my life with. I am thankful to have the ability to pull memories of loved ones who have gone before me. I am happy to live in this beautiful free country where I can make my own choices. I am also grateful to be able to help others as the opportunities arise. All in all I am a very thankful and blessed lady.

Monica Delong
Retail Accounts, VP

* * *

Thanksgiving is here, with another year coming to an end. I have always thought of Thanksgiving as a favorite holiday of mine. We can celebrate together, giving thanks to the God that we serve for what he has done for us. I am thankful for my wife, children, and now grandchildren for the happiness they give me. As I continue to age, I am more and more thankful for the health that I have. We cannot forget the country that we live in, and the freedoms that we take for granted. I will, also, pause to thank VCNB for the opportunities that they give to us to grow and serve the communities that we work in. Lastly, I was born on Thanksgiving!

Dale Massie
Senior Retail Lender, Jackson County Banking Center

* * *

I have so much to be thankful for. God has blessed me with a wonderful family, nice home, a good job and so many other things that we sometimes take for granted. I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy your time with family and friends.

Charlotte McCarty
Branch Service Manager, Vinton County National Bank – Wilkesville

* * *

I am thankful for having two healthy little boys who fill my heart with joy, along with my husband who is my biggest supporter and best friend. I am thankful for having a great place to work at that is so understanding to a working mom and the hiccups that happen with having two small children.

Emilee Harper
Branch Manager, Pickaway County Banking Center- Commercial Pont

* * *

I am thankful I work for a company that allows – and encourages – personal involvement with my community and allows me the freedom to make sure I can be there (wherever “there” may be from time to time) for my family. I live a busy life between my professional life and the extracurriculars my family is involved with and the groups and organizations that are important to me. The ability to simply “be there” sometimes is greatly appreciated. Add to the fact that I call Southeast Ohio home – I’m born and raised here – and there’s a certain pride I have in making a living here. I’d feel silly asking for much more than that.

Austin Rohr
Marketing Specialist

* * *

I am thankful for nights that turned into mornings, friends that turn into family, and dreams that turned into reality.

Erin Hart
Teller, Salt Creek Banking Center

* * *

This holiday season, I have the privilege of hosting our family’s Thanksgiving gathering for the very first time. In October, we were blessed with a new home and enough space to accommodate my 20+ loved ones for dinner. I am so very thankful for the opportunities given to me in 2018, and more importantly, to be able to share them with the people I love. To my father who returned home from surgery just last week, I am grateful to have you here to cut the turkey. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Nicole Scott
Branch Service Manager, Friendly Bremen Banking Center – Bremen

* * *

This Thanksgiving, I have so many things to be thankful for. Here are just a few. First and foremost, I’m thankful to have a God that forgives us and loves us unconditionally. I’m thankful for my family and friends and I’m thankful for our military who fight for our nation’s freedom every single day so we can be free. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Patricia Scott
Senior Teller, Ross County Banking Center – Richmond Dale

* * *

This year I am thankful for another fantastic year with my husband. We have built a beautiful life and I am thankful for it each and every single day. We adopted the sweetest/crazy puppy this past January and have truly enjoyed watching him grow into an amazing companion to us. We have a home that we built together fifteen years ago filled with all of our precious memories. We get to travel and well, just spend as much time together as we possibly can. He is my best friend and I am more than blessed and thankful to get to live my life with him.

Emily Wangler
Personal Banker, Franklin County Banking Center

* * *

I wish to give thanks for all the blessings I have today. I’m thankful for all those around me – my co-workers, customers, friends and my family. I’m grateful for my good health, living life to the fullest with my family, and getting to call beautiful Vinton County my home.

Beth Ann Patterson
Senior Retail Accounts Officer, Vinton County National Bank – McArthur

* * *

I am thankful for my home, family, and for the memories we make everyday.  For the love ones that I lost. Who taught me to live life to the fullest and gave me the opportunity to love them in return. I am blessed each day and thank God for the great scenery.  All the colors in the fall, to the first frost, only to start at the beginning with all the colors of spring. Each day is a blessing and I’m thankful.

Tracy Nichols
Senior Customer Service Representative

* * *

I am thankful every day for our God, family, health, home, friends and neighbors. Happy Thanksgiving to all!!!

Melda Cottrill
Personal Banker, Canal Banking Center

* * *

This year I am especially grateful for our new house and family. From my sister giving birth to two beautiful twin girls in September (I’m an uncle!) to the more recent loss of my grandmother only a few short weeks ago, it’s been an eventful year. I feel lucky to have such a supportive and loving family through the high and low moments of life.

Mitchell McCrady
Personal Banker, Friendly Bremen Banking Center – Pataskala

* * *

I am so thankful for my family. My wife and children and all of my family, whether they’re blood related or not. They all collectively make my life better and without them, I’d be lost. They’re my biggest supporters through everything and my biggest comforters when things aren’t so good.

Johnathon Bentley
Teller, Vinton County National Bank – McArthur

 

From all of us here at VCNB, we wish you and yours a happy and peaceful Thanksgiving. We are thankful to be a community bank with hard working employees and to be serving customers in so many amazing communities. We thank you for your business!

Small Business Spotlight: Broadway Fireplace and Decor

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

Broadway Fireplace and Decor Owners, Jeremy and Danielle Johnson

“Live the life you’ve imagined.”

This is the advice written on the wall at Broadway Fireplace and Decor in Grove City. It also seems to be the way owners Jeremy and Danielle Johnson are living their lives.

The couple has combined Jeremy’s twenty years of experience with fireplaces and her love for making things beautiful to build their retail business near downtown Grove City. The store literally is a one-stop-shop for home décor, fireplace and chimney needs. Jeremy explained they are able to guide customers through the process every step of the way, beginning with helping customers determine their needs all the way through planning, installation and even through decorating the mantle and the room around it.

A trained chemical engineer, Jeremy has enjoyed a diverse career, doing everything from retail to MRDD casework. But it was in Nashville where the London, Ohio native moved to find a fresh start that he found his calling as a chimney sweep about twenty years ago.  “Every day is a different home.  Every day I meet different people and I get to do something different every single day,” Jeremy said.

The road to this retail location was a long one and to really understand it, you have to go back to high school. Jeremy and Danielle were high school sweethearts. He says he was in love with her then. She says he was her best friend. Over time, they went their separate ways. While his career took him different places, she got married and was stay-at-home-mom to three children before divorcing.

fb2.JPGSeveral years passed before they reconnected on Myspace and rekindled their friendship which grew into romance.  They have been married for five years.

In 2016, the two decided to branch out his chimney sweeping business to the retail space they have today. “She had always wanted to do home décor and me with my fireplaces and stoves – it just made sense,” Jeremy said.

Danielle said they located the building, which was once the city’s popular Kentucky Fried Chicken, and set to work on an extensive renovation project to make the storefront suit their needs. They opened in 2017 and have been growing ever since.

The store is beautiful and welcoming, featuring a variety of home décor items with various textures, colors and scents, all arranged to compliment the fireplaces on display. “We want you to get a feel for what it’s like to live with a fireplace so we want you to come in and sit down. You’re able to see how you might decorate the mantle or arrange chairs around the fireplace so you can imagine what it would be like in your own home,” Danielle said.

She likes décor pieces that are unique and different than those found in most stores. “I like to hunt flea markets and barn sales and antique malls to find just the right piece,” she said. “You don’t want to have the same things that everyone else has,” she said describing her style to include everything from industrial and barn look to boho chic.

Inventory includes pillows, blankets, seasonal décor, vintage and antique items as well as a number of interesting candles from brands like Firefly Creek, Marcus Alan and the Columbus based Small Batch Candle Company. Handmade candles in great containers that were created by her daughter and niece are very popular too. In addition, she and her daughter collaborate on handmade custom wood trays that are perfect for centerpieces.

They also have on display a number of fireplaces and stoves– wood, propane and gas log burning styles as well as outdoor fire pits and gas grills. Plus, they have the expertise to back up any product you purchase. Product brands include Regency, Majestic, R.H. Peterson and Monessen. Customers are especially impressed with Music City Fire Tables which use Bluetooth to stream music and then coordinate the fire to react to the energy of the music.

fb6.JPG“The first step is we’ll come out and look at what you have already. I don’t want to sell you something  until I know what you have. When we come out, we can recommend the size and type of product you need for your home,” Jeremy said.

They also do all of the installation and can even lay brick or stone around the fireplace if that is what the customer wants. Then Danielle can step in and help make the room flow around it. “That’s the difference between us and the other stores. We don’t just sell you a product, we make that product a part of your home,” he said.

He has a number of horror stories of customers who attempted to DIY a stove or fireplace project, only to call in a professional when it wasn’t as easy as home and garden television shows made it seem. “When it comes to something like this, it’s best not to rely on Google for advice. Find a professional to help you. Find someone who knows what they’re doing and that you can trust to do it right the first time,” he said.

They also provide services including chimney sweeping, even for products they did not sell or install.

Broadway Fireplace and Décor is located at 3827 Broadway in Grove City. Call them at 614.277.8340. Click here to visit their website or here to follow them on Facebook.

Be sure to stop by for their Christmas Open House on Saturday, November 3 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. They will have music, door prizes and shopping for unique vintage, Christmas and handmade décor. Enjoy refreshments, including a complimentary glass of wine by the fire! Plus, Legacy Smokehouse Food Truck will be available at the open house from noon to 4 p.m.

See below for a slideshow of more pictures from Broadway Fireplace and Decor!

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Small Business Spotlight: Sudslingers Laudromat

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!   

Mark Erslan, Todd Wesaw (Sudslingers), Nicole Scott

Sudslingers Laundromat owner Todd Wesaw is pictured at center with VCNB Head of Lending Mark Erslan and Bremen Branch Manager Nicole Scott. 

For our Small Business Spotlight this month we’re doing a Q&A with Todd Wesaw of Sudslingers Laundromat, Bremen’s newest business! Read on to learn more about the exciting and unexpected things happening at Sudslingers!

VCNB:  Hi Todd!  When sifting through ideas for our September entry in our Business Spotlight Series, our Bremen Branch Manager Nicole Scott suggested we talk to you about Sudslingers Laundromat.  After discussing how exciting it is that a new business has entered the market in the small Village of Bremen, we thought this would be a great feature.  So, that said, why don’t you give me a little background on how Sudslingers came to be? And why Bremen, Ohio?

Todd: As a resident of Bremen since 2005 and a current Village Councilman it’s my job to look at ways of growing our community and expanding resources for our fellow residents. I am always looking for opportunities to bring new business to our Village so I decided to take the leap.  When I encourage new companies to consider Bremen as their location, I felt it would hold more water if my own business was located there.

When I decided to start Sudslingers Laundromat, I considered the population as well as the residents that may rent in the area and not have access to washers and dryers.  Plus the fact that is has been approximately twelve years since there was a Laundromat in Bremen.  Residents were having to travel to surrounding towns, so why not have a local Laundromat that is convenient and here in the Village open daily 8 a.m.-9 p.m.?

The idea was to start Sudslingers Laundromat here close to my home so I could educate myself about the business and hopefully grow into a chain of them with the same concept. As I started my research to determine my offerings, size, location, layout etc., my friend Kevin Newman asked if he could get involved. Since I have other businesses and am holding a Council position, I thought that it would be good to have a partner that could help share the responsibilities, so our partnership came together. Kevin is a truck driver over the road so, with his schedule, it works out that we share opening/closing and daily maintenance.

After putting all the ideas together, the build-out began. I wanted it to be big enough but not too big for this area so I decided to start out with six washers and six dryers. I chose machines that could fit into the budget I had available but could accommodate more than one load of laundry.  After all the planning and testing, we decided to open May 1, 2018.

VCNB:  It sounds like you had a good handle on the business before it ever came to be because of the work you put in beforehand.  Give us a rundown on the business itself – one may hear “Laundromat” and have an image in their head of what they think it is, but we can tell that you are really breaking the old model of this type of business.

Todd: I did not want a typical laundromat like the ones I grew up seeing or using while in college, where you dreaded the laundry piling up only to go to the bank to get change, arrive and sit and be bored for hours, waiting for my chance to start laundry at a dreary and, most of the time, dirty place to the point you felt you needed a tetanus shot after you left!

As part of my planning process, I decided I wanted a place that is inviting, family oriented and, as some of our guests say, “A place to go and get away from the home and relax.” So I decided to build an environment that offers modern conveniences such as climate controlled air, black stainless LG high efficiency/low energy washers and dryers, LED lighting with multiple colors, etc. The floors are exposed concrete and we’ve got exposed lighting, distressed woodwork, a ceiling fan, wrought iron seating tables and chairs, folding tables, and a flat screen TV with cable.  We’ve even got a backyard area with picnic table.  We have a bill coin changer that accepts ones and five dollar bills in-house and we recently added free WiFi for our guests.  They will soon be able to use the WiFi features that our washers and dryers are equipped with!  Guests will be able to download an app to monitor their laundry, which gives them the freedom to enjoy the seating or picnic area, or just leave and comeback as their laundry is complete.

Our walls are decorated in historic images of Bremen and some entertaining signs. We also offer a restroom that is ADA compliant.

The washers start out at $5.00 per load, depending on the size, and that price includes free drying. If you choose to wash at home or elsewhere, we recently added a Dryer Deposit Box for our guests that just need drying for $2.50 per dryer. We currently don’t offer soap and bleach products, however we are planning to add a vending machine that will have these products.  We’d also like to add a beverage machine as the business grows. We do offer pick up and drop off service by appointment only or you can schedule us to come to you and we will do your laundry for you.  These services are at an additional cost and prices vary.

VCNB:  It’s definitely a clean, modern, and well-kept facility and an asset to Bremen.  Do you have any big plans for Sudslingers in 2019?

Todd: Our goals for the future include adding highly visible signage, vending machines, and additional equipment. We’ll be joining the Bremen Area Chamber of Commerce and possibly even adding one to two new locations.

 

VCNB:  We’ll be keeping an eye on it!  We’re always thrilled to see new, thriving businesses in our market areas and we are thrilled when they choose to bank with VCNB.  We thank you for your business, Todd, and wish all the best to Sudslingers!  Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Todd: Thank you VCNB for the opportunity to share information about Sudslingers Laundromat with you and your other banking customers, and helping us bring Sudslingers Laundromat to Bremen!

We are proud to be a doing business with VCNB and Friendly Bremen Banking Center.  I would also like to personally thank Nicole Scott, Mark Erslan, Kathryn Cooper, and all of the staff and to you for featuring Sudslingers Laundromat for your September Business Spotlight.

Please like us on Facebook and check us out on Google. We are always updating the latest information about Sudslingers Laundromat and have it available at both of these online resources. Come check us out to see why we offer “Loads of Fun” and if you are a regular guest, please hurry back!

We will announce our grand opening in the near future.

 

 

 

 

 

Small Business Spotlight: Wellston Flowerland

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!   blog window.jpgWhen Michelle Canter’s job as an X-Ray Technician was eliminated by corporate downsizing last year, she knew it was time for a change. That’s when her husband suggested that she return to her roots as a florist and open her own flower shop. Business has flourished since opening Wellston Flowerland on February 3 and the rest, as they say, is history.

Many area residents will remember the old Flowerland, which occupied the First Street building beginning in the mid twentieth century. It changed hands a few times over the years and the name eventually changed before the business was shuttered for some time, leaving the city without a local florist. However, when Michelle and Alvin Canter looked at the building, the sun shone on the faded outline of the Flowerland name on the store windows, and she knew that would be the name of her shop.

blog ladderWith some paint, elbow grease and hard work, the space has been transformed into a beautiful shop with a large workspace for Michelle’s floral work. The store sells floral designs and planters that are ready to buy but Michelle specializes in orders for custom work as well. Balloon and candy bouquets are also popular as well as custom quilt angels and other remembrance items like throws and pictures.

Gift items include Willow Tree Angels, Ohio State University jewelry, quilts, wall décor, seasonal décor, greeting cards and food mixes for cheeseballs, dips, soups, pancakes and cider.  Fall décor will be out soon and mums from Lucy’s Gardens Greenhouse in Jackson will arrive the week of the Coal Festival. Plans are underway for Christmas décor and poinsettias as well.

“I try to keep a lot of variety in the store,” Michelle said. “I like things that are unique, that are a little different that make people feel like they are getting something special. I try not to make the same arrangement twice.”

In addition to unique and quality flowers and gifts, Michelle said she tries to keep the prices affordable.  “I work to keep prices affordable and will work with people to make sure that no casket goes without something and that they stay within budget for what they need,” she explained.

She said that some customers are uncertain of what they want. In that case, she asks a lot of questions about the purpose, the recipient’s favorite color or flower, budget, etc. “We ask a lot of questions and can generally steer them in the right direction,” she said.

This is very much a family affair as her husband and daughter are involved in the shop operation. Michelle’s mother and mother-in-law help with deliveries as well.

“This has very much been a building year but I’m excited to see what next year will bring,” she said.

When asked why she chose this profession, Michelle smiled and said “I like it because when people are grieving, I can do something to help. When they need a gift or something to brighten someone’s day, I can help. Besides, everyone likes to get flowers!”

Wellston Flowerland is located at 111 East First Street in downtown Wellston. Stop by to browse the store and check out their seasonal window displays. They are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to noon. Call Michelle at 740.577.6978. Follow them on Facebook or visit them online to place an order or browse their selection of floral arrangements.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

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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.

cigarette machine edit

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.

Small Business Spotlight: Bay Food Market

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!  

Bay Food Market 1

If you’ve ever driven the roads of Fairfield County or the streets of Lancaster, you’ve no doubt seen one of the red Bay Food Market vans traveling about. It’s a brilliant yet simple piece of marketing, and the vans have become nearly as iconic as the little market on the corner of Maple and Walnut Streets in downtown Lancaster.

Since 1932, Bay Food Market has been serving up quality meats with great service in a locally owned and operated neighborhood grocery. As Lancaster’s oldest independent grocery, the Fairfield County staple has become an icon in Lancaster and around Ohio.

Bay Food Market was recently selected by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to be featured for “Women-Owned Business” month, showcasing a handful of women-owned businesses around Ohio.  The grocery is owned by siblings Karen Kraft Crutcher and David Kraft, who received a special commendation presented by Secretary of State’s Regional Liaison Bob Kalish.

Specials - Ham Steaks & RibeyesThe few who don’t already know about the market are now finding out why local patrons and long-time regular out-of-town visitors make the market a regular visit.  Known for their wide variety of fresh cut steaks and chops, house made brats and fresh sausage, and ham steaks, bacon, pork belly, and a variety of sausages smoked in-house, they are also well known for their variety of high quality and creative beef patties, some made with a variety of cheeses and even bacon.

And while the patties fly out the doors, beef brisket has become a top seller, something that wasn’t always the case, says co-owner David Kraft.  “It wasn’t until people started smoking (brisket) in maybe the mid-2000’s that it was anything special.  We actually used to grind it up.  But those meat smokers changed the game,” he explained.  On a visit to Texas, David said he kept seeing brisket on the menu and offered as a cut in local markets.  Once he saw what was happening and the popularity it was gaining, they revamped their strategy for this particular cut in their own market and stopped grinding it.  It’s become one of the most popular sellers, showing that a business as old as Bay Food Market is never too old to adapt and evolve.

Custom party trays and grill boxes are a hit with customers and it’s not uncommon to find something new and creative being offered behind the counter.  A recent visit saw Apple Brats on the price board, a secret concoction that David said exemplifies the inventiveness of their business.  “We’ll try to make anything – whether it’s by request, or just an idea that pops into our heads!”

And Bay Food Market is not just a meat market – you can find everything you need for your pantry, kitchen, cookout, or even your pet.  Fresh ham salad and beef barbeque are a regular offering.  Fresh produce, baking goods, sauces, spices and seasonings line the shelves, and local favorite Conn’s Potato Chips and Snacks are prominently offered.  Sweet treats like Pumpkin Rolls from Margaret’s Heritage Kitchen in Bremen can be found, as well as massive jars of pickles perfect for your cookout and dog treats and dog bones for your furry friend.

 

However, the meat is what drives business and it all comes from their state inspected meat processing facility – the only fully inspected red meat facility in Fairfield County. This means that an inspector from the Ohio Department of Agriculture is in their facility any time meat is being processed. The inspector is looking for quality and safe food handling practices.  The majority of their meat is not prepackaged or frozen, and their practice of only purchasing from farmers that do not use growth hormones and that limit their antibiotic use to an as needed basis assures that no additives or preservatives are added.

For a fantastic deal on filets or ribeye, smoked ham steak or New York strips, Bay Food Market is where you’ll find it.  The grocery is located at 301 South Maple Street in Lancaster, and can be contacted at 740.653.9606.  For hours, payment options, specials, and answers to frequently asked questions, visit them online at https://www.bayfoodmarket.com/ and find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BayFoodMarket.  Pay attention to their frequent contests, as you may be the next Fan of the Week!