Saturday, April 26, 2003

Notes From My Knapsack

Somewhere in the next few weeks, time will run out.

It will be all over for an unwitting holder of a $9 million dollar lottery ticket that was sold just southeast of here in Perry County, in Hunter's Run as a matter of fact. The ticket was a winner, but no one came forward to claim the prize in February or April, and in May the time limit will run out. . .and the proceeds will go to the general fund of the state of Ohio.

One more time: the ticket was purchased, the buyer made a number of decisions about it (which catergory to purchase, number selections, annuity payout), and the ticket won. But if the holder doesn't claim the winnings, which are quite real, they'll go into a black hole (see: state general fund).

With Easter just past, it seems unavoidable to point out a parallel here. All of us -- that's right, all of us, all of creation -- has been forgiven our sins on the Cross and offered a share of eternal life at the Empty Tomb. The "work" is done. The only thing asked of us is that we. . .accept the Gift.

Of course, accepting the Gift means admitting we need it, trusting that it is real, not being distracted by less important things (see: state general fund, etc.). But the only work to do is to say "Yes." To redeem the prize which we've already won.

What distracted the lottery winner? The need to get the pants into the laundry? A new hunting season? Bad news? Good news, even? Or did this lottery winner (they don't know that yet, but we do) start to think that the whole point of playing was the act of buying and choosing, and that the end result didn't matter?

Probably the latter, which is why I don't buy lottery tickets. I don't buy half a book, I hate missing the end of TV shows, and something about the Easter story reminds me why I don't even like to "get out of the stadium ahead of the crowd." Endings are important, especially because they so often turn into new beginnings if you're paying attention.

By the way, if I just reminded you to check your pockets and. . .the church gets 10%, right?

In Grace & Peace,
Pastor Jeff

May Bible Study Series
Wednesdays at 10 am
Readings in I John
"Set Your Heart At Rest"
through May 28

Memorial Day Parade
Monday, May 26
10:30 am, starts from
American Legion Hall
Hebron Christian Church
Wreath-laying immediately after
Public Program at the Veterans Memorial

Daybreak Service!
8:30 am early worship
(with communion)
begins again Sun., May 25
through the summer

Ohio Bicentennial Programs at Hebron Library
Led by Pastor Jeff:

Sat., May 3, 10 am
"The Stone With An Edge: Flint!"

Sat., May 31, 10 am
"The Great Hopewell Road"
Hebron Crossroads 5-04
By Jeff Gill

A Time To Plant, A Time To Pluck Up What Is Planted

To a good orthodox Druid (or even a reformed tree-worshipper like myself), the sights along Rt. 79 from Hebron to Heath are grim indeed. Any of us with an appreciation for trees, whether evergreen or deciduous, full grown and mature or shrubby and stubby, feels a pang of regret at the ugly but necessary work that’s preceeded the widening project.

And it’s not just along 79: US 40 to the west, spots near I-70 to the east, and even at Dawes Arboretum, where a blight on red oaks has forced the cutting of 250 some trees, most planted in the 1920’s by Beman and Bertie Dawes themselves.

Our area sunrise service Easter morning was at Dawes and very well attended, but we weren’t sorry we had abandoned the Japanese Gardens (you can only fit less than 100 down there), since the main cutting has been along that road. On the bright side, the view across the South Fork valley to Heath and Granville is quite dramatic now!

Once the stumps are tended to, no doubt the arboretum staff will plant a new cohort of trees to replace the red oaks, but it will be 75 and more years before they become as majestic a grove as we’ve just lost. Certainly ODOT has plans to set new rows of saplings to soften the borders of the new, improved Rt. 79, but the shade and shelter of what will grow there is far in the future. . .perhaps our future, certainly someone’s future.

This time of year is wonderful for flowering trees of all sorts, as we crest May Day and coast towards the local frost-free day of May 15 (hold those tomatoes a few days yet!). White billows of pear blossoms and crab-apple clusters, punctured by pinks and lavenders of redbud and lilac; snowball clumps of dogwood mix with hillsides of apple trees and the occasional grass-strewn puddle of magnolia petals, now gone with the cherry blossoms.

Most folks know that fruit trees have to be planted long before they are fruitful; there are many stories told along the lines of a young person planting tender shoots alongside an elderly forester, and learning with amazement that the first crop from these trees won’t appear until well after their mentor’s passing.

However your version of the story goes, the common ending is of the youth asking “why are you doing this,” and the answer returning, “because someone planted fruit trees for me.”

That’s the story of Tuesday, May 6 as well. We have an election for the Lakewood School District levy that is about planting or uprooting, preparing for the future or chopping down good, sound trees for an evening’s bonfire.

From 6:30 am to 7:30 pm, at each polling place in Hebron and Buckeye Lake, in Union and Licking and Franklin Townships, in a few other areas around the far-flung fringes of our school district that truly encompasses everything from the Lake to Dawes’ Woods, we have a chance to plant a seedling that will bear good fruit.

The people at the Lakewood levy headquarters on Main St. well into the night, the pancake flippers and sign planters, the parents and grandparents and friends and neighbors all are interested in this planting season because someone planted the seed, someone paid the bills for them. Our schools are the most critical infrastructure we have in common around the Hebron Crossroads, right up there with bridges and drainage and power lines.

Think a bit about how it would be if suddenly, overnight, every bridge in the Lakewood district disappeared. Take ‘em all away, just let them vanish from your mind, and leave the gaping interval from road to road on either side of each river and stream and gully.

Would absolutely everything come to a crashing halt around the area? Not quite. Do the materials and the knowledge to build bridges exist outside of public officials and government employees? Yep. Could we build structures to cover the gap? Sure we could.

So do we need bridges as part of our civic infrastructure? Of course we do, comes the chorus of voices from the people. But I think the first reaction would be: Who let this happen? What made this seem like a good idea? Do we want an assortment of bridges built by a variety of well-intended amateurs inspected by no one? Is this really best for our local economy and quality of life?

The right answer to the “mystery of the missing bridges” is obvious. And to lose all extracurriculars in our school system is, to my mind, not much of a stretch from that scenario. As Paul Thayer from Harbor Hills has pointed out, the problem is in Columbus and with a funding system that allows this to even be a possibility, but voting “no” is adding irresponsibility locally to the legislature’s indifference. We need to vote “yes” and then get our act together as school districts to tell the Statehouse what we really want for a state public education system, and that will happen starting as soon as we’re not spending every spare minute from soccer leagues and 4-H clubs and church meetings trying to get a levy passed so we don’t have to do another fifteen fundraisers a year.

For what it’s worth, this correspondent is also impressed with the proposal Hebron Village has put forward to shift the tax burden from property tax to income tax to help improve the school district’s position. . .and my wife and I are part of that only 5% of Hebron residents who will pay that increase, so I’ll pay more in sum, but the folks who need municipal services the most will be paying their fair share, so I’m for it.

One last time: on Tuesday, get up early and vote; if you don’t get up early enough, put a sticky note on your dashboard and vote on the way home; if you get home and forgot, put your shoes back on and go vote. It’s THAT important, because we’re planting some fruit trees we’re all going to need for shade and food from some fine day down the road.

Jeff Gill is pastor of Hebron Christian Church and happy to offer wake-up calls as needed Tues., May 6; if you want a reminder, call 928-4066 or e-mail

Thursday, April 24, 2003

Hebron Crossroads 4-27
By Jeff Gill

“Carousel” by Rodgers & Hammerstein is the spring musical at Lakewood High School, with a Saturday showing at 7:30 pm and a Sunday performance at 3 pm.
That opens a very lively week, or two weeks really, in the Lakewood area. The Lakewood levy campaign headquarters in downtown Hebron, next to PAL Printing in the former library building, is open every evening and most afternoons through the May 6 election. You need to apply right now to get an absentee ballot (see, or go to the County Administration building on the southeast corner of Courthouse Square in Newark and vote right there through Monday the 5th.
The levy headquarters can get you yardsigns, fliers, or answers to any questions about the schools and how they spend the money we entrust to them.
During weekdays, of course, you can just go straight to the Lakewood offices and get your questions answered right through the year like always!
Friday May 2 is the annual “Full Pool Breakfast” sponsored by the Greater Buckeye Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, and after a great meal for your $10 at 7 am, Jim Wilcox of Countrytyme will speak at the Buckeye Lake Yacht Club. I know I’m poaching on columnist Jimmy’s turf here, but Hebron is always strongly represented by village staff, officials, and community folk such as myself. George Pugh has a number of distractions to work through this year, but has still done his usual great effort in ensuring that this signature event for the Lakewood area comes off. . .thanks, George!
At the Hebron Library, a number of public programs are offered on Saturdays through the year, and on the first and last Saturdays of May, at 10 am, your correspondent will talk about two subjects related to the Ohio bicentennial that’s celebrated all this 2003.
May 3 is “The Stone With an Edge,” on our Ohio state gemstone, flint. From prehistory into the present, our local axis that the Ohio story revolves around is a very special kind of rock found in a unique form just east of here along US 40. How flint is created geologically and how it’s been used by humans for millennia around Licking County is the program of the day.
Later in the month, May 31, I’ll borrow a few pages from my friend Brad Lepper, curator of archaeology for the Ohio Historical Society, and talk about his work on locating “the Great Hopewell Road,” whose likely route just passes the doors of the Hebron Library. I’ll tell y’all more later. . .
But turning from prehistory to history, the Hebron Historical Society is hosting Mary Beth Sills on Monday, May 5 at 7:30 pm for a program on Women’s Dress and Undress in the Civil War era. Mary Beth is part of the Licking Park District staff, and has a number of programs she’ll offer around the area for the state bicentennial, but this one is right here in town thanks to our local society. They’ll be at Hebron United Methodist that night.
And the next day, May 6, is Election Day, when you can come down to the American Legion Hall at 6:30 am and see the crowds turn out to support the Lakewood school levy!
After the production of “Carousel” at the high school this weekend, the middle schoolers’ award-winning “Future City” display at the municipal complex these last few weeks, the baseball and softball teams hard at work on some chilly diamonds under the big red “L” fronting their caps, National Honor Society inductions and prom preparations, how can anyone in the district not see how vital these extracurricular activities are?
Or some tell me, perhaps we should call them “supracurricular,” or “transcurricular.” Whatever you call them, we didn’t see them as “extras” in the ‘60’s or ‘70’s, and they are even less so today in 2003.
If you’re out of town on May 6, go absentee vote now; if you don’t have the date on your daily calendar now, write it in immediately. Our biggest obstacle to passing this basic, vital levy is the registered voter who doesn’t get up early or remember to vote on the way home from work, and once home doesn’t think to go back out. We’ve all got from 6:30 am to 7:30 pm to do our work as citizens, and if our troops can get the job done on MRE’s and in sandstorms, we can remember to wake up 30 minutes ahead of usual or drive past a polling place before hitting the driveway, and fulfill our duty as residents and citizens of this great school district.

Jeff Gill is pastor of Hebron Christian Church and happy to drive anyone to a polling place on May 6, even if they’re voting “no”! If you have a transportation request or local news to share, call 928-4066 or e-mail

* * * * * * *

Local Author Writes For Young Readers
By Jeff Gill

When Patty Huston was at Lakewood High School, her counselor was Bill Mann (who has himself gone on to some other adventures at the JVS and now Newark High School).
She told him “someday I’m going to write a book.”
Bill encouraged her, and also said that it would be wise “to build a base for that,” in a field like journalism. What he probably knew, but didn’t want to burden her with while supporting that dream, is that even published authors often don’t make enough to live on.
But they do often find something to build a life on, and Patty Huston-Holm has done just that.
Her mother, Jean Huston, is still a Hebron resident, and she’s very proud of all the work her daughter has done: as a writer, a communications director, and as a public relations official with the state department of education. What they are both proud of is the vocation Patty is fulfilling to write for young adults, a readership that in her work at a vocational school she saw “start to tune out from books and reading.”
“They weren’t seeing anything on the shelves that spoke to them,” is how Patty viewed the withdrawal from reading among her students.
That concern stuck with her until the day came when she was downsized out of a job years later, and wondered whether this was a good or a bad time to take a risk and write that book she’d known was in her since high school at Lakewood.
It was in turning back to Lakewood that she found the inspiration to make that step. Her mom had a good friend from her high school days, a cheerleader then and a woman full of cheer now, Marian Davis, whose niece was a cheerleader at Lakewood who had just been in an accident that left her paralyzed.
Through Jean and Marian, Patty was introduced to Holly Slack, and her story became the book “Shattered,” but only after a long, three year journey, a journey which brought many changes for Patty as an author and for Holly and her mother Janet as they adjusted to life in a wheelchair for an active young woman.
Early in their conversations, Holly told Patty, referring to other books and videos on paraplegics, “they’re not telling the whole story.” Holly and Janet wanted to be “brutally honest,” and Patty shared their desire to tell the whole story and a true story.
The peaks and valleys of the experience of adjusting to paralysis, the loose endings that were irresolvable and the anticlimactic closings of some chapters of her life, all were factors that made “Shattered” a hard sell to editors, and a temptation to movie makers to “improve the ending.”
In the end, the movie option didn’t sell, and wider publication deals aren’t in the works, but both author and subject are happier with a book that is true and an ending that points simply to “life goes on,” which is Holly’s story (who recently graduated with honors from Wright State in Dayton), and the storyline for most adolescent lives as well.
Patty’s latest book is aimed at that same young adult market, by being about a young man who overcomes obstacles and reaches some unexpected achievements. “Kid In the House” is the story of Derrick Seaver, another Ohio teenager who became not only the youngest person ever elected to the state House of Representatives, but the youngest, at age 18, elected to any state legislature in the nation.
After his election and appearance on Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show,” Patty met Derrick at a legislative breakfast in Columbus, and 18 months later the result was “Kid In the House.” He and his mother read “Shattered,” and agreed that Patty was the one to tell his story, but for a change of pace, this book is an “as told to” work.
Derrick was ready to tell his story, but many people pitched in to share details that Patty wanted to make the story “speak,” but that he didn’t even believe people would want to know: the music in the car, the coffee cup he drank from, the tie he wore. Here, his fiancĂ© Leslie and his mother were very helpful.
Once again, Patty hoped to write a book that would encourage reading among young people like Derrick and Holly by telling their stories honestly. Both her subjects were very supportive of that kind of candor, even when it didn’t put them in the best possible light.
Pat Walters, supervisor of the Hebron branch of the Newark Public Library, gladly accepted a free copy of “Kid In the House” at Patty’s recent program on “Writing and Ghostwriting” at the Hebron Library on W. Main St. “Shattered” is already on their shelves, and is regularly signed out. Crossroads Florist Shop on E. Main also has copies available for sale, and they can be purchased at or
Patty says “I have another project in mind, but I don’t want to jinx it.” She hopes someday to not spend more preparing and researching a book than she makes on it, but as long as young readers are using her work as a gateway into the world of reading, “it’s worth it.”