Township Government

The Township is governed by a three-member board of trustees. Along with the three board members, there is also a fiscal officer; all four government officials are voted in by the Township populace. Board members are elected in November of oddnumbered years to a four-year term beginning on the following January 1. One board member is elected the year before the presidential election, as is the fiscal officer, and the other two board members are elected the year before it. The fiscal officer, known as a clerk prior to December of 2005, serves a four-year term. As of 2016, the board was composed of chairman Thomas O. Schmidt and members Jamey DeFabio and James C. Balogh, and the fiscal officer was Tania Johnson.

According to the Township website, “the Board of Trustees appoints all Township employees each year and approves all Township contracts and purchases, except where such authority is officially delegated. … The Township Manager oversees the daily operation of the Township, including management of all Township employees.” The current Township Manager is Robert S. Kagler.

Twinsburg Township was organized by proclamation of the Portage County Commissioners in April 1819. The first recorded public official was clerk Frederick W. Stanley. The first known trustees were James Roach, Hanford White, and Lyman Chamberlin.

History of the Heights

There is a another community (besides the Township, city, and village) with a rich if too often unspoken history: Twinsburg Heights. It is often referred to as simply “the hill” by its residents due to it being situated atop a hill. Though officially part of the Township it has always been something of an entity onto its own. It has since its inception been unincorporated. The small development spans all of seven streets, all of which are named after venerable universities—Oxford, Yale, etc. It lies all along and to the west of Hadden Road (previously know as Richner Road) between Darrow and Highland roads. An unusually close-knit and religious community, all the residents were familiar with one another and there was a church nestled on every street.

Land developer Charles H. Brady of Ravenna Building Co. created the master plan for the community. He bought the land and had it surveyed into forty-foot lots. In the 1920s families started moving into the new development. All the lots were sold to African-Americans, the reason for this is not known. The houses that were built were small, often with no basement and in outhouse out back. Driveways were dirt or gravel. It resembled African-American neighborhoods and communities in the deep south. Much like the deep south it was very rural and a number of residents raised pigs or chickens. Carlton Powers, current and long-time Deacon of Mt. Olive Baptist Church said, “I never was in Mississippi, but they tell me it was like they took a part of Mississippi and brought it up in Ohio and planted it there.”

There has always been a sense of family among the residents. Tania Johnson, Fiscal Officer for the Township and life-long resident of the Heights recalled, “even if you weren’t related…you felt like you were related.” Block parties, numerous church and social clubs, and the beloved community center were factors adding to the closeness felt by the residents.

Brady promised a church site to the first pastor to move to the Heights. This was eventually awarded to Reverend John W. Ribbins, who moved from to Cleveland to the Heights. The site for the new church was 2089 Oxford Street at the corners of Oxford and Yale.

The first church meetings in the Heights “ were held in a room rented from Emman Mckinney, and a little later the home of Lewis McDonald served as a meeting place,” according to a History of Twinsburg. May 25, 1932 is the date the church was officially organized with Rev. J. B. Wilder serving as Chairman and Christine Golden acting as secretary. They moved from parishioners homes to  Church of God in Christ, located on Eaton St. in 1933. In late 1934 the congregation moved again, this time to the new church built on Oxford Street, with Rev. Ribbins serving as the first pastor. At this time the church was named Mt. Olive Baptist Church, still active today and the longest running church in the Heights. It was the first of many churches in the community. Some of the other houses of worship that were founded in the Heights included the African Episcopal Methodist Church,  the Sanctuary of Praise, Seventh Day Adventist, Apostolic Church of Christ, and other non-denominational churches.

From the 1940’s, a Mt. Olive Sunday school class.

Though the Heights has been considered a great place to reside by nearly all current and former residents, it has seen its share of injustice. Residents of the Heights have often been the beneficiaries of racism and discrimination. The Heights was never able to establish equality with or independence from the Township or the City.  If the Heights had been incorporated into a village  in the 1960s as was attempted, greatly needed improvements and renovations the community greatly need would have occurred much sooner. Incorporation was always blocked by Township Trustees.

In the mid-80s The Plain Dealer ran an article citing numerous instances of African-American residents of the Heights being the victims of the discrimination. Incidents ranged from school bus drivers refusing to pick up or drop off students in the Heights to police profiling. There was also a rash of fires set to houses and other properties in the Heights.

One of the greatest injustices dealt to the residents of the Heights was the lack of running water and even electricity in many homes. Running water, a given for most Americans by the middle of the Twentieth Century, yet wasn’t commonplace in the Heights until the 1980s. Gas and water lines “came down Hadden, went up Cambridge all the way to Chrysler…but we were not allowed to tap in,” according to Carol Tate. Besides the water line originating in Akron that pumped water to the Chrysler Plant there was also a water line from Cleveland to the village of Twinsburg. Though both lines passed through the Heights, residents of the impoverished community were not allowed to tap into either.

Well into the latter decades of the twentieth century, paved roads were an unknown commodity. “Sometimes the roads were so bad that the bus couldn’t go any further than Hadden Road, so we had to walk from our home to Hadden Road, at least a 10-12 minute walk when conditions are favorable. Sometimes the mud would be over our shoes,” said Ms. Tate. Street lights were uncommon as well. Starting in 1980s a revitalization program happened in the Heights. Finally running water, electricity, sidewalks and paved roads became the norm. Modern homes have been built. It was a long process and immensely overdue.

The Heights has been on the upswing for years, but the difficult times should not be forgotten. Filmmaker Carla Carter, along with a group of high school students, brought the story of Twinsburg Heights to the masses with the documentary, Voices on the Hill. The film has played at a number of film festivals across the country.

Veterans Day Tornado, 2002

The potential for a storm to spawn a tornado peaks during the heat of summer. Mother Nature decided to mix things up, however, when Ohio was rocked by an unusually late tornadic outbreak on November 10, 2002. News stations around the state had their hands full as nineteen tornadoes touched down across the region. One left a scar on the land and lives of area residents when damage and destruction from a swirling storm damaged dozens of homes and completely leveled others.

According to an issue of the Plain Dealer dated November 23, 2002, “Twinsburg, Macedonia, Solon and Glenwillow filed a joint application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for emergency funds to help pay for recent tornado damage, said Macedonia Mayor Barbara Kornuc. Public officials have asked FEMA to consider their communities one disaster area. The communities will have to pay a total of more than $500,000 to clean up damage.”

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

A small F0/F1 tornado touched down in Macedonia near the intersection of Valley View Drive (SR 631) and Aurora Road and moved northeast. The tornado gradually strengthened and reached F2 intensity as it crossed State Route 14 and moved into Twinsburg. Extensive damage was done in Macedonia and Twinsburg. In Macedonia, 60 homes were damaged including two that were destroyed and 15 others were damaged enough to be declared uninhabitable. The most severe damage in the county occurred in the Glenwood Preserve neighborhood on the north side of Twinsburg. Extensive damage was done on Andover Drive and Deeplake Circle where several homes were leveled and a total of 45 homes damaged. Damage estimates in Twinsburg alone were well over $5 million. The damage path was continuous and about 100 yards in width. Dozens of cars were damaged or destroyed and hundreds of trees and power poles downed in Summit County.

Thanksgiving Blizzard of 1950

During the Thanksgiving Blizzard of 1950, forty-mile-per-hour winds socked the region, and a blanket of snow more than one foot deep covered the land. Areas farther east fared worse, with some Ohioans recording more than two feet. The culprit was an extratropical cyclone that paralyzed the area unlike any storm during the prior three decades. Temperatures hung near zero, freezing water lines and killing car batteries. Nationally, 353 souls perished due to the storm. Many sources compare the storm’s ferocity to that of the 1913 storm that crippled the region for five days. Estimates place fatalities for that storm at over 250. In Cleveland, the Ohio National Guard provided support in light of the countless police officers unable to make it in to work. Many of those enjoying family and festivities over the Thanksgiving holiday were forced to extend their stay.

Image taken from Cleveland Plain Dealer. See full article here:


Fire Department History

“To protect and preserve life while conserving property, utilizing specialized skills and compassion.” A rather brief statement for so large a responsibility, yet the men and women of the Twinsburg and Reminderville Fire Departments take this burden upon themselves anew every day, regardless of the simplicity or seriousness of the task at hand.

The Department (TFD) can trace its roots back nearly a century to 1919, when the very first informal members fought smoke and fire with little more than perseverance and a bucket—tough work considering the peril and pay. In 1921, the informal brigade became a more organized, yet still volunteer-based organization and stayed that way into the 1950s. Four years later, the department acquired its first fire engine, a technological leap over its two-wheeled hand cart.

Further purchases would follow, and the firehouse would move more than once. According to a history of the TFD compiled by retired fire chief Daniel J. Simecek (served 1957–1997), the department’s first permanent home was a ten-by-twenty-foot addition built onto a garage owned by Earl Bowen (who served as chief from 1972 to 1932) in 1923. From there, they relocated to what is now the VFW Hall in 1939.

Perhaps the most notable move came in 1954, when, according to Chief Simecek, “Twinsburg Township passed a bond issue for money for a new fire station. Twentyone firefighters formed the Twinsburg Land Company and cosigned a loan from Twinsburg Bank and used their summer vacation to build the building on the north side of the VFW Hall. Chief Ray Richner purchased the land, and when the building was finished the Township used the bond money to pay off the loan for the land and materials used.” For private individuals to take on such a financial burden, even if briefly, was a tremendous show of responsibility by anyone’s standards.

Between 1955 and 1956, what had been one entity quickly become three. The villages of Twinsburg and Reminderville splintered off from Twinsburg Township. To prevent a lapse in protection and avoid taking on the financial burden of creating their own department, the Village and the Township agreed on a contract by which the Township would pay for services rendered. Various levies have been used to pay for these services, although there was a point when the Township sought to fund a completely independent fire department. The rising cost of the yearly contract came to a head in 1978, encouraging the Township to reevaluate its agreement.

Farther north, the newly organized Reminderville Fire Department took control of the Geauga Lake Station, its men, and its equipment. As is often the case with a new organization, growing pains are to be expected. William J. Delgado, Reminderville Fire Chief for seventeen years, his assistant, Joseph W. Algeri Sr., and another firefighter all quit the fire department in the same week in February of 1972. They jointly alleged the burgeoning village’s budget and equipment were inadequate. Their potential inability to keep the village safe as the population continued to grow, in particular with the addition of Aurora Shores, weighed heavy on the department. At the time of the unrest in the department, the three engines utilized were a 1939 Ford, 1946 Dodge, and a truck purchased for $150 by the firefighters and subsequently remodeled.

Little has changed since the schism with a few exceptions. As has been tradition, a mix of paid and volunteer firefighters continues to protect and serve the community, although over the past twenty-five years it has become mostly full-time professionals.. Twinsburg Township continues to contract fire and emergency response services out to the City of Twinsburg.

According to the documentation provided by the Township, these services are currently paid for with proceeds from two property tax levies and supplemented by EMS billing revenues collected from insurance providers and nonresidents. Population growth and urban sprawl did necessitate the construction of a second fire station for the TFD. Station #2 opened on Glenwood Drive in 2007.

Troyer’s Restaurant

Run by Ann and Roy Troyer, the sandwich shop was a popular hangout for area teens needing an escape. Where Tip Top was more of an adult spot, Troyer’s was geared toward a younger crowd. “The owners would let us play music and dance after hours,” Mildred Karabec recalled fondly. The menu offered standard diner fare, but it was Troyer’s sandwiches that will forever be etched in the minds and palates of its former customers. When he wasn’t satiating the appetites of hungry townsfolk, Roy honed his culinary skills as a cook at the Cleveland Browns’ training camp.

The First Congregational Church

Like a boulder that withstands the flow of a rushing river, the First Congregational of Twinsburg has remained unmoved, in spite of time and transformation. A house of worship, it has stood through the ages, a silent witness to generations of parishioners and the coming and going of reverends, as well as periodic renovation and expansion.

Twinsburg’s oldest church during a long ago Christmas season.

The origins and essence of the church predate its physical embodiment. The first assembly coalesced in August of 1822. Though small in number, the thirteen founding members formed a cohesive community, united in their belief in a higher power. The work and worship they dedicated themselves to began within the walls of a small log structure in close proximity to Public Square. The church standing today owes its construction and craftsmanship to the skilled laborers who completed the structure in the autumn of 1848.

Over its nearly two centuries of service, numerous leaders would guide the flock; schisms fractured the congregation and time brought them together again. The street it stood along, Church Street, was named for its houses of prayer, though Congregational Church would eventually stand alone, much as it was when it began its life. Of all the reverends to serve, Dewey Long held the distinction of serving the longest, doing so from 1972 to 1991. It was during his tenure that in 1974 the National Register of Historic Places bestowed a place within its ranks on the church, recognizing its longevity and importance to the community. Patricia Jefferis, the first woman to shepherd the flock, arrived in 1998.

For more information, visit the First Congregational Church website here.

Roseberry’s Department Store

Twinsburg’s first department store.

Nestled between the Twinsburg Banking Company and Lawson’s stood Twinsburg’s very own department store, Roseberry’s. The shops surrounding Public Square were owned by a veritable who’s who of area families. Staking a claim there made complete sense for the up-and-coming business. The store originated within the confines of an old Gulf

The store originated within the confines of an old Gulf gas station near the intersection of Routes 91 and 14 that Stan Jewell owned and operated. It was October 1945, and Stan had just made it home from serving his country. Seeing an opportunity to use his mechanical skills and provide for his family, he moved quickly to establish a sound and successful family-owned business. One of the ways in which he provided services to the community was having his father-in-law, Wilmer Roseberry, open a small store within the station. Stan Jewell referred to the section of the gas station that would become Roseberry’s as the “Notion Nook.” It was just one room, as he described it, consisting primarily of women’s goods, like blouses and underwear. “It was the only place in town [to get such things].”

And shop they did! Business was doing well and a storefront vacancy between too older, more established businesses proved too titillating to pass on. Roseberry would take the essence of the Notion Nook and expand it into what many area residents remember so fondly. During its years of operation the store was a bastion of convenience for those in need of items not typically available in Twinsburg at the time. “The main floor,” according to Mildred Karabec, “had a little bit of everything and anything anyone requested . . . all kinds of personal items and household items.”

Mr. Roseberry was not only the owner of Twinsburg’s first department store, but the owner and publisher of the Twinsburg Bulletin.

The holiday season stood out for many as a particularly special time for shopping at Roseberry’s. Karabec worked there for two years, including one memorable holiday season. Asked to describe it, she spoke of how the basement was stocked with toys, but only accessible to children nearer the holidays. One of the notable things missing from the typical seasonal offerings of a larger department store was the jolly presence of St. Nick himself. According to Karabec, Roseberry’s was just too small to accommodate the girth and grandeur of a seasonal Santa.

Twinsburg Pharmacy

In 1956, James Richard Hill, Jack Vorhes, and another financial backer bought the store fronting Public Square that would become the Twinsburg Pharmacy. “It was a very old pharmacy at the time,” Dave Hill recalled of his father’s store. It was once the storefront for Twinsburg pharmacist Hugo Braunlich, and prior to that it was the A. E. Bishop General Store. Images of the various iterations show a similar scene: a small interior brimming with goods of all kinds.

Hugo Braunlich’s Pharmacy, which eventually became the Twinsburg Pharmacy while being run by the Hill family. Also pictured are Trejbal’s Bakery and Jewell’s Gulf Station.

Dave Hill, who worked there with his father, spoke about what it was like during the early years. “At that time, pharmacies were quite a bit different than they are today . . . they had an old soda fountain. It was like what you would expect in a 1920s pharmacy.” Although the pharmacy was, for a time, “the only game in town,” the business’s budget was tight, and income and expenses ran neck and neck. Dave said, “When they first started out, they were filling so few scripts, they couldn’t support two pharmacists.” His father would man the pharmacy during these lean times, and his partner, Jack, would work at another pharmacy he had business with.

The years ticked away and customer wants and needs changed with the times. By the early 1970s, the soda fountain was removed to make way for other things, like greeting cards. The Twinsburg Pharmacy stood in opposition to new stores eroding its market share. In 1984, the senior Hill suddenly fell ill and died during the summer. The mid-1980s saw the arrival of Revco, the first, but not the last, competition to arrive on the scene. By 1996, the writing was on the wall. The Twinsburg Pharmacy shuttered its doors, heralding the closing of yet another family-owned and -operated business and bringing to an end the years of personal attention and the friendly phone calls from loyal customers asking for emergency prescriptions and extended hours. In the end, it wasn’t necessarily competition from large chain stores that did the store in but an unwillingness by insurance companies to work with mom-and-pop stores, preferring to do business with the Walgreens and Drug Marts of the world.

Twinsburg Bulletin and Aurora News

Hot off the press and into the hands of a news-hungry public, the Twinsburg Bulletin became the source for all news fit to be printed in 1956. It was at least the third attempt at a local paper. The paper was the brainchild of Wilmer Roseberry, owner and operator of the local department store bearing his name. Roughly nine hundred copies of the paper were delivered when the first edition rolled out, with a focus on locally relevant goings-on. More than a hundred issues were delivered for free, but as the cost began to rise, a fee of five cents was placed on each issue. The timing couldn’t have been more fortuitous for the expanding publication, as Twinsburg was in the midst of a population explosion. Between 1950 and 1960, the resident base more than doubled, no doubt due in part to the introduction of Chrysler to the employment infrastructure.

Usually published every Thursday, and sometimes not at all if Wilmer Roseberry was out of town, early iterations of the paper was more advertisements than articles. Sales at stores, specials at restaurants, and the event times filled the pages. As time passed, the length of the paper grew as did the scope of its content.

The McGhee family took control of the paper in early 1959 and ran it for decades before it was finally sold. Local stories appeared side by side with coverage of state and national issues. Although the appearance and professionalism of the paper has matured over the last sixty years, the heart of its mission has remained the same—local issues for the local community

Twinsburg Public Library

The year 2010 marked a century since the people of Twinsburg dedicated the area’s first public library. The door to the Samuel Bissell Memorial Library swung open on May 1, 1910. The locale of this “book nook” was a two-story residence located along the northern side of Public Square. Funding for materials came from donors, patron subscriptions, and a healthy dose of donations. For a time, the small structure seemed well suited for the little library, and the little library seemed well suited for the tiny town.

But as the city grew, so did the demands placed on the diminutive library. Eventually, demands for new materials and services outstripped traditional sources of income, and additional funding was needed. By the end of the 1920s, the library became tied to the school district and those who supported it. More people meant more books, more books meant more space was needed, and more space meant an inevitable move to a new location.

Little of note happened during the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. With resources spread thin for many Americans by the Depression and World War II, activities for many remained close to home. However, statistics during this time frame do show circulation increasing by a factor of twelve, from 5,325 in 1929 to 64,657 in 1966. By 1963, the fruits of planning and budgeting were reaped and a new building was completed, marking the first time the Twinsburg library occupied a space specifically designed for the learning and literature its staff strove to provide. For thirty years, staff, students, and the public utilized the services of the library at 9840 Ravenna Road. Classes were taught, meetings were held, and the minds and imagination of youths were opened to new possibilities. With the newly completed edifice, the evolution of the Twinsburg Public Library paralleled that of the city. Close-knit and quaint when the first library opened, the city became larger and less rural, evolving into something more akin to other cities and offering similar amenities.

By 1991, after nearly three decades of utilization, once again a move and a more expansive home were needed for the library. According to census records for Twinsburg, the population more than doubled between 1960 and 1990, from roughly four A number of Twinsburg’s favorite locales, including the Public Library, Richner Hardware and Lawson are featured in this photo of the Town square. {Courtesy of the Twinsburg Historical Society} CHAPTER NAME 39 thousand to nearly ten thousand. The building couldn’t handle an increase of that magnitude, so books, fixtures, movies, and music were packed up and relocated. The new building, at 10050 Ravenna Road, opened in 1993 under the leadership of director Karen Tschudy and the Board of Trustees. Even more space was added in 2003.

Under the stewardship of director Laura Leonard, standards of customer service have been retained while the evolving needs of the patron base have been brought into the twenty-first century: patrons have access to one-on-one personal assistance, a soundproof audio/video studio, a well-equipped computer lab, and a bookmobile acquired in September 2016. Leonard envisioned the bookmobile as a way to “reach communities that don’t have easy transportation—some of the people in the township, especially in Pinewood Gardens; some of the people in Reminderville; some of the smaller senior living areas.” Today, the Twinsburg Public Library serves an average of thirty-two thousand patrons per month and strives to do more for a user base with an ever-evolving list of demands.



Very few businesses have emerged in Twinsburg Heights through the years, but of the few that have existed Gaskins is the most beloved and fondly-remembered. It was a mom and pop store originally known as the Jones Store, as it was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Jones. The Jones’, who were famous for verbally sparring in front of the customers, sold their store to Mr. and Mrs. Gaskins, who proved to be much more welcoming owners. Mrs. Gaskins, in particular was known for her generosity and civic-mindedness. She was responsible for getting the first street lights installed in the Heights.

Carol Tate recalls visiting the store as a small child, placing a handful of buttons, she believed was money, atop the counter and in return a knowing and generous Mrs. Gaskins would give her some penny candy. The store stocked necessities such as nylons, produce, frozen meat, luncheon meat and the aforementioned candy. Sadly the store would see its demise due to the redevelopment of the Heights, as all the older buildings were demolished.

Premature Burial in Locust Grove Cemetery

Fear and paranoia lead many to do strange and irrational things. One case in point can be found resting within the confines of Twinsburg’s Locust Grove Cemetery. Prior to the advancements in medicine and biology we have all come to take for granted, there was a time when the fear of being buried alive was a very real, very plausible scenario. Many stories exist of those unfortunate souls found minutes, hours, or days too late to be saved, having run out of air, food, and drink. Such a scenario was immortalized through the words and writings of Edgar Allan Poe in 1844, when he published “The Premature Burial.” The notoriety of Poe’s prose and other stories may have led one local to take precautions so as to avoid a similar fate.

A body rests in Locust Grove Cemetery with not one but two bullets in its head. The victim of foul play? Not at all. According to Twinsburg Historical Society member Marti Franks, the woman interred in the grave, Rebecca Young, stipulated that upon her death the attending doctor ensure her departure was final. And so he did, or so the story goes. No nails clawing at the inside of the coffin, no muffled cries from beneath the ground, no lasting uncertainty; in this very unusual instance, peace of mind came from two shots from a gun.

Apparition in the Chamber of Commerce

An otherworldly apparition is said to haunt the halls of the Twinsburg Chamber of Commerce. Who…or what this eerie entity might be is open to speculation, though an edifice as old as this may offer any number of possibilities: a previous occupant with unfinished business, an enraged local business owner, or perhaps something more tragic.

The sizable home sits atop a rather expansive basement, whose rooms and walls are outlined with large blocks of sandstone. There, beyond those walls, lies another room; an almost secret room accessible only through a roughly-hewn hole in the stone. It is through this passage that runaway slaves are rumored to have found refuge. Might the specter that stays there be a remnant of this tragic tale? How sad to think that those who suffered in life may continue to do so beyond it.

Military Personnel Killed In Action

To find the center of American patriotism, the heart of valor, you need look no further than the faces and names engraved on the monuments and markers of Public Square. Heroic deeds and the horrors endured mingle in the mind of each individual who contemplates those who fell fighting for an ideal bigger than themselves. Time may pass, but the names remain. Each of the individuals below gave his life protecting that which they loved, and each had a family that suffered an incomprehensible loss.

Civil War

Edward Bissell
John E. Carter
Walter C. Chamberlain
Henry Crocker
Dryden Ferguson
George W. Gaylord
Edwin R. Hanks
George W. Hanks
John Hansard
William Hansard
Joseph G.Hawkins
Elmore Hinkston
Anderson Oviatt
George E. Pease
Louis Shroeder
Charles H. Springer
Charles H. Stearns
Eli Thompson
Warren I. Wait
Charles B. Weatherby
Samuel B. Vail

World War I
Orland Bishop

World War II
Herbert Gill
Paul Bennett
Fred Staedtler
Bert Buganski

Vietnam War
Patrick Mortus
Alvin Robertson
Donald Malicek

First Fatal Fire in History of Reminderville, 1998

For the first forty-three years of the villages existence there had not been a single fatality due to a fire, but that streak came to an end on May 5, 1998. The first fire fatalities were David and Jeanne Pappalardo of Regatta Trail. The blaze was confined to their downstairs bedroom and was caused by smoking in bed. They were survived by their two cats, who were found safe and sound in an upstairs room.

Louis “Babe” Triscaro

An otherworldly apparition is said to haunt the halls, and especially the basement, of the Twinsburg Chamber of Commerce. Who . . . or what this eerie entity might be is open to speculation, though an edifice as old as this may offer any number of possibilities: a previous occupant with unfinished business, an enraged local business owner, or perhaps something more tragic.

The sizable structure sits atop a rather expansive basement, whose walls consist of large blocks of sandstone. There, beyond those walls, lies another room: an almost secret room accessible only through a roughly hewn hole in the stone. It is through this passage that runaway slaves were rumored to have found refuge. Might the specter that stays there be a remnant of this tragic tale? How sad to think that those who suffered in life may continue to do so beyond it.

Mayors of Reminderville, 1955-

Since its incorporation in 1955, Reminderville has been governed by a bevy of mayors, twelve to be exact, all of whom have contributed to the continuous progress of the village. The achievements of four of the most prominent mayors are highlighted below.

The first mayor of Reminderville was Clement Reminder, a member of the famed Reminder family that is the namesake of the village. Illness shortened his fledgling political career. He spent less than a single year in office.

Ray Williams, one of the most important figures in the brief history of Reminderville, was the third mayor of the village, holding office from 1960 to 1963 and then again from 1976 through 1983. Overall the Democratic mayor served twelve years in office for the village he loved and dedicated his life to. He was one of the founders of the village; while he was in office Glenwood Drive was constructed.

It was during Ray Williams’s second term as Reminderville mayor that the population exploded from 215 residents in 1970 to approximately 2,000 in 1983. During this same period the village budget ballooned from $10,000 to $675,000 annually.

In addition to his storied career as Reminderville mayor, Williams also spent thirty-two years at Republic Steel as a crane operator. For a period he served as president of United Steelworkers Local 2665 and at the time of his demise was the Vice-President of Republic Steel retiree’s organization. Ray W. Williams Park, located next to the Reminderville Village Hall and Fire Station, was dedicated on December 31, 1983 .

From 1988 to 1998 Tom Schmida was mayor of the village. If that wasn’t enough he also served as vice-president of the Cleveland Heights Teachers Union for the first two years of his mayoral tenure and then president of the same teachers union from 1990 to the present.

The most recent mayor Sam Alonso, a native of Fairmont, West Virginia, migrated to the area in 1993—mistakenly believing he and his family had set down roots in Aurora. What turned out to be Aurora’s loss proved quite fortuitous for Reminderville. Thirty-one years as a union rep at General Motors endowed Alonso with the ability to communicate and negotiate making him an ideal candidate for mayor of the village.

Local corruptions lead to his run for mayor. While budgeting was being conducted in 1999 it was discovered that Palmer Peterson, the mayor of the moment, had been taking money allotted to the fire department and using it to make the budget balance for the next year.  Alonso, at the time a councilman for the village, informed that Peterson money earmarked for the RFD could not be used to the balance the budget. Peterson’s response was a challenge to Alonso’s authority: “If you don’t like it you run for mayor.” Alonso did just that: easily defeating his predecessor nearly three to one.

The early days of his mayoral reign were rife with hardship: discovery of a clerk/ treasurer who pilfered over $100,000 of village funds and a police chief who was illegally moonlighting as security manager of Geauga Lake Park. These early setbacks were quickly overcome by Alonso. His accomplishments have been numerous and varied:

• Construction of a new village hall

• Renovation of Glenwood Boulevard (including new bike lanes)

• Helping to establish the Joint Economic Development District (JEDD) of the Village of Reminderville and Twinsburg Township in 2002. The JEDD’s primary purpose is to promote jobs and economic development in the two participating communities.

Tip Top Restaurant

Leo Wagner was the owner of the Tip Top, a little restaurant once nestled between Richner Hardware and Roseberry’s. Mildred Karabec began working for Wagner in her teens, when she was still too young to work out front, and was later being promoted to waitress. “There was a restaurant up there . . . it was called The Tip Top,” she recalled. “It was one of the nicer restaurants in Twinsburg for a few years . . . good food . . . Steak, chicken, anything, pork chops, or sandwiches on lunch.”

Some of Twinsburg favorite stores in the 1950s.


First Female Firefighter

Betty Tomko began her public service career just east of Twinsburg in Aurora, Ohio. In 1978, Betty broke a gender barrier that once seemed so prevalent: she became the first firefighter, paramedic, and fire inspector in the history of Twinsburg, positions traditionally held by men in a profession traditionally associated with masculinity. Serving with Twinsburg for three and a half years, she made her way amid rampant sexism and stereotypes.

In her interview for the bicentennial she confessed, “It was tough in some ways. There were two men who eventually quit the fire department and that’s on the records at the police department. They named me as the reason they left because they didn’t want to work with a woman.” While her employment opened the door for other women hoping to protect and serve the people of Twinsburg, the firehouse remains a predominantly male domain. As of 2016, only one of the twenty-nine full-time firefighters and paramedics with the TFD was female.

Close Encounters and UFO Sightings

Mankind has experienced many strange things for which no parallel could be found. In 1972, author and UFO researcher J. Allen Hynek categorized and defined the many experiences people claimed to have had with aliens and unidentified flying objects. His book The UFO Experience: A Scientific Journey provides the following outline:

Close Encounters of the First Kind: visual sighting of a UFO
Close Encounters of the Second Kind: physical effect of the UFO is felt
Close Encounters of the Third Kind: the eyewitness account of an alien entity

Disclaimer: not an actual photo of the purported UFO seen over Twinsburg in 1969.

Disclaimer: not an actual photo of the purported UFO seen over Twinsburg in 1969.

On the evening of March 6, 1969, area residents both saw and experienced the effects of one such object. Eyewitness accounts seem to corroborate the presence of a UFO along a stretch of Liberty Drive.

Mildred Karabec lived off Liberty Road in 1969, along with her husband James Karabec. The strange activity began as they arrived home for the evening. “We had just moved in…I pulled in my driveway and I opened the garage door . . . and the door kept going up and down and up and down.” Their residence was located along a swath of high-voltage power towers that cut across the rural countryside. Former mayor James Karabec, suggested that alien aircraft “would get their power from the power lines,” as they flew parallel to those streams of electricity. What of the aircraft itself? What did it look like? Mildred Karabec recalled, “We saw lights but there was no noise over the power lines . . . there was absolutely no noise . . . bright, they were just bright lights . . . white.”

Sketch of a unidentified flying object from page 6 of a highly redacted United States Air Force report, from 1969.

Sketch of a unidentified flying object from page 6 of a highly redacted United States Air Force report, from 1969.

Reports from residents terrified and confused by what they saw began making their way to the police on duty that night. According to Betty Tomko, two area officers investigated. Her account of their patrol is as follows: “We had two policemen call it in . . . and they were coming up Cannon Road Hill . . . and they actually stopped their cars on the hill and got out because something was hovering over top the police car and it was very bright lights around and they got out and watched this thing for a while and they felt it was watching them so they got back in the car, and when they would try to go forward this thing would follow them and I guess it followed them to the top of Cannon and when they turned on Liberty, it flew away.” Photographer Mark Gutowski remembers, “We were actually friends with one of the patrolmen at the time. Not sure which one it was . . . On that night, I remember him visiting our home and asking if we’d seen anything.”

An interview with police sergeant Donald Prange appeared in the Twinsburg Bulletin on February 24, 2015, adding credence to accounts by the many silent observers of that night several decades ago. Reporter Andrew Schunk wrote:

The evidence may have been in the evening sky over the city Feb. 17, 1969. The curious case of one local UFO sighting began innocuously enough in the city of 7,000 with TV interference at a Glenwood Drive home. It concluded, abruptly, with a bizarre visit to the Twinsburg Police Department from a United States Air Force lieutenant colonel and his mysterious, diminutive sidekick.

According to a recently released report from Project Blue Book, the United States Air Force’s systematic analysis of UFO reports between 1952 and 1969, a woman, 44, and her son, 19, were watching the news when the color contrast went out on their TV—and then the entire signal. The mother walked outside at dusk to check the antennae, and immediately called Twinsburg police to report an “oval-shaped object that had red and white lights around it”—what World War II pilots might have dubbed a “foo fighter,” or UFO, just two decades earlier. “Looking up we seen [sic] the strange object, coming over Glenwood Drive,” said the woman, whose identity is redacted in the March 6, 1969, report. “I never seen anything like this before,” she states. “It seemed to have stopped near the corner of [Glenwood Drive], then proceeded down [East Idlewood Drive] for about a quarter mile . . . then it just went right up out of sight.”

Sgt. Donald Prange, a former Twinsburg officer and Marine Corps veteran who later served as chief of police in Twinsburg in the late 1970s, responded to the woman’s call around 6:40 p.m. More than 20 calls referencing the UFO were ultimately fielded by Twinsburg dispatch that evening. Prange, now 77, recalled the event with detail Jan. 27 from his home in Rancho Cordova, Calif. “We officers talked amongst ourselves after the sighting,” said Prange, who said he witnessed the object over R.B. Chamberlin High School for several minutes with Twinsburg patrolmen Walter Orcutt and Herbert Munn. “I told them I didn’t think we should say anything to anyone . . . they would think we were crazy.”

In keeping with caution, the TPD did not immediately report the event to the USAF. The USAF was made aware of the event thanks to a Feb. 18, 1969, letter from the woman’s 19-year-old son to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton detailing the sighting. In its April 22, 1969, conclusion to the Glenwood Drive woman, the USAF determined that the object was actually an “aerial advertizing [sic] aircraft.”

“A letter was sent to the Twinsburg Police Department requesting information on the sighting, however this office did not receive a reply . . . the description of the UFO is similar to past reports of Aerial Advertizing aircraft,” states Lt. Col. Hector Quintanilla, chief of the now defunct Aerial Phenomena Branch at Wright-Patterson. Prange said he doesn’t buy the USAF’s answer in the Twinsburg incident any more than he believes its conclusion from a Portage County case three years earlier, in 1966, when officers were informed that they had just chased the planet Venus for 85 miles, from Ravenna to just outside of Pittsburgh.

“It was like nothing I’ve ever seen,” Prange said. “We had three cars respond, and watched it for several minutes over R.B. Chamberlin High School, near some power lines there. “It appeared to be stationary, hovering. What bothered me is that it didn’t seem to be making any noise, at least not that ‘egg beater’ sound you get from a helicopter. It was more like a whirring sound. Then it slowly rose up and disappeared.”

For the woman and her son, the story ends with the April 1969 correspondence from Quintanilla. For Prange and his fellow officers, the story of the peculiar foo fighter over Twinsburg has one final, bizarre chapter. About a month after the sighting, Prange says his department was visited by a USAF lieutenant colonel—believed to be Quintanilla—and a “strange little man.”

“They brought out a light colonel . . . another strange little man was with him . . . to question us individually,” Prange said. “The smaller man, perhaps 5 feet tall, was not like us . . . he had strange features, almost like a child who has aged rapidly. He wore a hat, gloves, and he never spoke to us, never shook our hands, just observed. I don’t remember [the colonel] ever even saying thank you. When they left, we never heard from the Air Force again.” Prange added he never experienced anything like the February 1969 call again in his law enforcement career. “You ask me what it was? It was a flying saucer,” he said.

Fast-forward to 2014, and glowing spacecraft were still lighting up the skies over Twinsburg. Mildred Karabec recalled, “We were changing a tire for my younger sister and just happened to look up and we saw two of them interacting . . . and it had flashing lights.” They proceeded to head toward Liberty Park, the site of the close encounter thirty-five years earlier. “I got out of the car and stood by the hood of the car and two cigar-shaped [objects] . . . came toward us and stopped right above us and I turned to jump back in the car at that point and when I did, they went up a little higher and one went left and one went right. And then in a second they both met back in the center and headed straight toward Aurora and disappeared, but they moved at such speed.”

The pencil mark below the "30" indicates the angle above the horizon of the alleged UFO as seen by an unnamed observer along Glenwood Drive.

The pencil mark below the “30” indicates the angle above the horizon of the alleged UFO as seen by an unnamed observer along Glenwood Drive.

If flying saucers and glowing lights weren’t enough, there were rumors of an abduction. According to Betty Tomko, “There are a set of apartments at the top of Route 91 . . . [where] a child claims to have been abducted.” She said, “He was spending a night with a friend . . . The people who owned that apartment disappeared.” Local police were purported to be going door to door following the incident. When asked if they believed it to be a UFO, Betty Tomko replied, “I can’t attribute it to anything else.”

Inger Marie Halverson

AFS-USA has been the leading, nonprofit organization in intercultural learning and  international exchange programs for over 70 years. As of the early 1960s though, when the program was barely 20 years old,  Twinsburg had never been one of the communities to participate in the program. This changed on August 14, 1963  when Inger Marie Halverson arrived from Torga, Norway and stole the collective hearts of the region.  Her year in Twinsburg was spent at the home of her hosts, the Don Gilbert family.

Twinsburg's first foreign exchange student during the 1963-1964 school year.

Twinsburg’s first foreign exchange student during the 1963-1964 school year.

Inger Marie fever quickly spread across the community. Mayor Richard Lippet proclaimed her day of arrival as “Inger Marie Day”, and gave her a key to the city during a ceremony at the Village Hall. Open houses were held at the high school for the region to meet her. There was a the showing of a Norwegian film, a rare occurrence in a small Midwestern village in the 1960s. Inger Marie’s mother sent Norwegian holiday cookies and holiday decorations for all to enjoy, and Twinsburg celebrated Norwegian holidays so Inger Marie wouldn’t feel homesick. She was voted sweetheart of her class at the sweethearts dance in February of 1964, but as soon as the fervor had started it was over. At least to some extent.

During the following years letters from and news about Inger was often found in the Bulletin, including her graduation in 1966 and marriage to Bjorn Bakken in June of 1971.  As the years went by though they became more and more sporadic, ending in the mid 1970s.

The Gilbert’s eventually lost touch with her, but for a time in the early 1960s Inger Marie Halverson was the most popular girl in Twinsburg.



Cost of Freedom, 2015

Like so many family-oriented, close-knit communities, the three communities are proudly patriotic. Twinsburg is the perfect locale for hosting an event honoring our veterans and safety services. In September 2012, a postcard was delivered to the Twinsburg Historical Society from a company in Texas promoting the traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall. The letter was passed along to Commander Joe Jasany, who immediately broached the idea of bringing the tribute to his fellow members of the 4929. In December of 2012, the Texas company provided information, including the cost of the exhibit, to Commander Joe. The cost for bringing the wall to Twinsburg was $16,000, an amount Post 4929 wasn’t even close to possessing, so Jasany went before City Council to ask for funding. The Council agreed without a second of hesitation to donate $5,000. In quick succession the Township and Reminderville gave $6,000 and $5,000, respectively, effectively paying for the wall.

There was still a great deal of funding needed for security, construction of a replica Vietnamese village, and a variety of other expenses. The Cost of Freedom Fundraising Committee held approximately fifteen fundraising events to raise funds for the event. In fact, so much money was raised ($88,000 overall) that a surplus was accrued and given to veterans in need.

From July 1 to July 5, 2015, Twinsburg’s VFW Post 4929 presented the Cost of Freedom Tribute event. According to the City of Twinsburg website, “The Cost of Freedom Tribute is a one of a kind outdoor tribute depicting honor, respect and remembrance of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country. The mission of the traveling tribute is to create a forum for communities to come together for all those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country and to educate all to the cost of freedom. The AVTT, or American Veterans Traveling Tribute, travels the USA bringing this traveling tribute to as many communities as possible.” The event featured much more than just the tribute wall. There were exhibits from every era, including a 9/11 exhibit built entirely by a retired firefighter from Macedonia.

Somewhere in the vicinity of sixteen to twenty thousand patrons visited the wall during the holiday weekend it was displayed in Twinsburg. It was open twenty-four hours a day with clergy stationed in a comfort tent the entire duration of the event. The majority of veterans visited the tribute in the cover of the darkest and most desolate hours of the evening and morning. The experience was too emotional and personal for them to share with the public. A couple of videos were produced to commemorate the event, one produced by Cable 9, the other created by a local high school student.

Mayoral Era of Twinsburg, 1979

Prior to the mayoral era, Twinsburg was run by a city manager hired by city council. This style of government worked for a while, but in the 1970’s it came time to move forward. Anthony Perici resigned from the charter commission in April of 1972 with greater political aspirations. He had been attempting to get the commission to enact a mayoral form of government where the mayor is actually in charge, eliminating the city manager. This action would make the council weaker. He resigned from the Commission to work from the outside in order to make this happen. Perici served as the president of city council from 1974 to 1976 and as part-time mayor 1977 to 1978 before becoming the city’s first full-time mayor in 1979.

The most flamboyant of all Twinsburg mayors, and city managers for that matter, Perici ruled the city with an iron fist. Often described as a dictator (in fact his nickname was “The Little Dictator”), he believed he alone could govern Twinsburg. Once when asked why he rarely visited his second home in Florida, Perici’s response was: “Who will watch the city while I am gone.”

Perici’s use (or possibly abuse) of power Perici was showcased in 1983 when he served as judge and the city council served as jury in hearings to remove Darryl Paskoff from the council for alleged neglect of duty, misconduct, and violation of his oath of office. It is unusual for the accusers to also serve as judge and jury. Perici also refused to recognize the police union. They union) took the case all the Supreme Court of Ohio.

Perici had just as many admirers as detractors. He was an old-school, hard-nosed leader and “a student of world history”, according to Adelle Nykaza, long-time city employee who worked with a number of city managers as well as the first three full-time mayors.  Katherine Procop described him thusly: “He was the kind of guy you would ask to do something and boom it would be done right now.” His methods were unorthodox, but he got things done.

The second mayor of Twinsburg, and possibly the most important, James Karabec held the office for twelve years (1987-1999). For twenty-five years prior to becoming mayor, Karabec developed land and businesses for Developers Diversified. This experience, along with his time on city council and passion for the community, made him the perfect candidate. Hand-picked by his predecessor, he was far from a puppet. Perici thought he could still govern the city and that Karabec, due to his quiet nature, would oblige, but Karabec had no intention of handing the reigns back to Perici.

“I’m a great believer in giving people services,” says Karabec–a stance that differed greatly from Perici’s. Upon taking office, Karabec was told there would not be money to pay the mortgage on the sewer plant that year, but the city did have the money, and not only paid the mortgage but also improved the plant. “He [Perici] gave the services to the people, but he didn’t want to do anything extra, like build ballparks,” says the former mayor. The Karabec administration was the polar opposite; the fitness center was constructed, a golf course was bought, and property was traded to help build a new high school.

One of his greatest contributions to the city he loved was using tax abatement to bring more business into Twinsburg, helping to diversify the industrial base. If not for his foresight an initiative in recognizing the need to attract a cornucopia of commerce to the city, Twinsburg could have been set up for a huge financial hit when Chrysler departed. At one point Chrysler accounted for 75 percent of income tax revenue in Twinsburg, but by the time of the plant closing it was closer to 12 percent. The loss was devastating but far from catastrophic.

On November 2, 1999 Twinsburg elected its first female mayor, Katherine Procop. She won with relative ease over opponents, Susan D. Ferritto and William E. Hon. She would become the longest tenured mayor of Twinsburg, holding the office for sixteen successful years.

After arriving in Twinsburg with her husband and son in 1977, she almost immediately became heavily involved in the community affairs.  Her first true foray into local government came in 1986, when she was appointed to the Parks and Recreation Commission, followed in 1991 by a successful run for city council. While she was on council, Karabec first suggested she become his successor.

Her greatest accomplishment may have been the procurement of Liberty Park, including the beloved Ledges, for the city. Karabec started the push for the purchase, but it was Procop who ultimately secured the land deal.

During Procop’s tenure in office there were a couple of calamities, not of her making: the demise of the Chrysler stamping plant and the tragic death of police officer Josh Miktarian. No previous mayor or city manager had dealt with such dire circumstances.

In 2009 the council and safety forces backed Procop in her quest to raise taxes a quarter percent over a four year period to offset the loss of revenue from Chrysler’s departure. Members of both the fire and police departments went directly to the voters, pushing the benefits of passing the temporary tax increase. Taxes were raised, and the loss of revenue and safety services was averted. Twinsburg residents voted to repeal the tax increase of November 2013.

When Officer Miktarian was murdered, Mayor Procop was in Maine, but merely four hours after receiving word of the tragedy she was back in Twinsburg. His death was devastating to the entire community. Procop has often singled it out as the toughest challenge of her administration and the “worst day of her life.” As tragic as this atrocity was, it brought a close-knit community even closer, aided by the leadership and compassion of its mayor.

There were other controversies that occurred during her administration, including zoning and charter issues. Though she was quite popular, there were many detractors and critics as well.A group of concerned citizens played the part of watchdog. Their criticism came from a love of the city they grew up in and a concern for the rights of the electorate.

Ted Yates was elected the fourth mayor of Twinsburg in 2015. He was born in Alabama, but in 1984 his family moved to Solon, where he finished his last two years of high school. Four years later he moved to Twinsburg.

His first foray into local government was an appointment to the Parks and Recreation Committee, serving as chairman. An avid cyclist and triathlete, he is a long-time spin instructor at the fitness center, so a position with Parks and Rec was a natural fit. In 2009 he was appointed as the Ward 3 councilman. He applied for the vacant position and was appointed by council to serve the last two years of the term. In 2011 he won an election for the same Council position.

When it became apparent to the public Procop would not run for another term, many of her supporters petitioned Yates to make a run. The move made sense since Yates and Procop shared similar visions for the city. Where they differ was Yates analytical approach to leadership honed through years of law and accounting.

Yates is focused on the creation of an “active, walkable downtown”, a critical economic driver that Twinsburg lacks. His vision is similar to what Hudson has developed on First and Main in that quaint and cozy city. Yates also sits on the board of a private, nonprofit community improvement corporation created by Procop that allows the city to acquire properties through a no-bid process. This could prove to be a useful tool in meeting Yates goals for downtown.

Only time will tell if Mayor Yates can live up to the lofty standards set by his predecessors, but all indicators point to a successful tenure.

1963 Twinsburg Homecoming Program

From July 10th to 13th, 1963 Twinsburg held their annual Homecoming Festival.  The event welcomed everyone to Twinsburg: “The Community with a Forward Look”.

1963 Twinsburg Homecoming Programing

The 52 page program was full of recognizable names including Mercer, Roseberry, Herrick, Bishop, McGhee, Chamberlin, Karabec, Bissell, Kollman, Richner, Percy, and others as well as area businesses and  locations.