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.

 

Gaskins

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 Passkoff 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.

1930 Homecoming Program

In 1930 Twinsburg’s Homecoming was a Township wide event that celebrated all aspects of its history and culture. The program itself featured a history of the Township, Congregational Church, Samuel Bissell Memorial Library, schools, and many local business’. The thirty-two page program is sprinkled with names such as Bishop, Rylander, Herrick, Bissell, Dodge, Richner, Chamberlin and Doubrava.

1930 Twinsburg Homecoming

The event, held on the August 8th and 9th in 1930, featured a play, races, fireworks, and performances.

Police Chase, 1970s

A car chase that began in the Cleveland Metroparks in Solon quickly made its way into Twinsburg, as Metroparks and Solon police pursued a vehicle driven by Erwin Hawkins of Cleveland after he resisted arrest for an unspecified crime. When Hawkins entered the city, Twinsburg police, as well as officers from Boston Heights, Hudson, Macedonia, Oakwood, and Reminderville, joined in pursuit of the fleeing fugitive. Hawkins’s car careened dangerously through the streets of Twinsburg. He was desperately attempting to reach his sister’s residence at Whitewood Apartments off Ravenna Road. But in the parking lot of the apartment complex police cars surrounded him, thwarting his escape.

He may have been cornered, but he refused to cower. Hawkins took hold of a tire iron and proceeded to swing wildly at the officers. During the course of his onslaught, Hawkins caused considerable damage to the patrol car of Twinsburg officer Joe Jasany—beating out the windows and headlights. In the meantime, a crowd of onlookers had gathered, preventing the police from retaliating with gunfire. Officers were forced to hold fire lest innocent bystanders become accidental casualties.

Finally, Chief Donald Prange decided desperate measures were needed. Prange called the Twinsburg Fire Department, asking for assistance. Engine seven, equipped with five firefighters, swiftly arrived at the site of the standoff. The firefighters readied their hoses, aiming at their target, moments away from spraying a fierce flood of water at Hawkins. Seeing there was simply no defense against the inch-and-a-half hose, Hawkins dropped his tire iron and forfeited his freedom, though once placed in a police cruiser he proceeded to try kicking out the windows. Officers transported Hawkins to the Twinsburg jail, where he continued to violently resist arrest. During the ensuing struggle, a Macedonia police officer’s hand got jammed in the frame of the jail door, and four of his fingers were broken.

Heroic Grandfather Saves Five, 1965

Jessie S. Dunacan heroically raced to the second floor of his burning house at 1888 Buchtel Street rescuing five small children (three of whom were his grandchildren, the other two his offspring), one-by-one, as he tossed them out a window to his wife below after which he leapt to safety. One child was left behind, his (Duncan’s) 14 month old granddaughter–Betty Butler. Duncan attempted to dash back into the now engulfed domicile, but Summit County sheriffs deputies prevented him from doing so due to the severity of the blaze.  Flames were shooting out all windows and doorways.

Betty Butler tragically died in the accidental inferno, caused by a grease fire in the kitchen that occurred during dinner preparation. The two-story home was completely decimated, with an estimated $6,000 worth of damages.

Blizzard of 1978

No mere snow squall or winter gale, this storm was known to those who witnessed its icy wrath as “The Great Blizzard.” The front slammed the region, dropping the mercury to dangerous lows and pumping out snow to incredible heights. It began on January 23, as it moved west toward the Ohio Valley. On January 25, forecasts for the state began to paint a more severe picture of things to come and by nine p.m. a blizzard warning was issued for the entire state of Ohio. Scott and Sue Kollman of Kollman’s grocery store conveyed the frantic state of locals as the storm approached, saying, “Everyone was scared . . . there was a run on the store.” The next day, President Jimmy Carter declared a state of emergency for Ohio. This would mark the peak of the blizzard’s strength, with wind speeds topping eighty miles per hour in Cleveland. It would be another two days before the storm broke and an assessment of the damage could take place.

Of the storm’s aftermath, local Andrew Miller nostalgically remembered it as only a small boy could have: “I remember the snow being up to my knees, which at the time probably would’ve been two feet . . . No plows had been through yet, nobody had shoveled after, it was still storming and you just couldn’t tell the difference between the road and someone’s front yard. It was just an even plain.” His mother Sandy told how theirs was the only home in their neighborhood with a wood-burning fireplace, presenting a warm and inviting refuge for nearby neighbors without heat . . . providing they were capable of braving the storm. And for some, that bravery came from the insatiable need to eat, drink, and be inebriated. “Nobody could go to work, but Babka’s was packed,” according to the Kollmans. The following is taken from a bulletin by the National Weather Service:

Still images and film footage were combined, documenting many of the familiar sights around Twinsburg as they appeared during the infamous now infamous blizzard. Public Square, shops and storefronts, Corbett’s Farm, and rural byways are shown coated in snow, reflecting the true ferocity of the storm in its immediate aftermath. Film footage of the 1978 blizzard was captured by Twinsburg resident James Kizak.

The following content are the actual press releases from the National Weather Service illustrating the evolution of the storm from January 24-26:

SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE AKRON OHIO
100 PM EST FEB 1 1978

…THE BLIZZARD OF 78…

TUESDAY JAN 24…TWO SEEMINGLY UNRELATED LOW PRESSURE AREAS SEPARATED
BY VAST DISTANCES…ONE IN THE WESTERN GULF OF MEXICO THE OTHER IN
NORTHERN NORTH DAKOTA…BEGAN TO BECOME ORGANIZED. THE NORTH DAKOTA
LOW WAS EXPECTED TO PASS NORTH OF OHIO POSING NO GREAT WEATHER THREAT
TO THE STATE OTHER THAN TO BRING IN COLDER AIR. THE GULF LOW WAS
FORECASTED TO MOVE GRADUALLY NORTHEAST UP THE MISSISSIPPI VALLEY TO
THE OHIO VALLEY AND THEN NORTHEAST OF OHIO. RAIN WAS EXPECTED TO
SPREAD INTO THE STATE FROM THIS LOW…CHANGING TO SNOW AS THE COLDER
AIR MOVED IN BEHIND.

WEDNESDAY JAN 25…ALL THINGS SEEMED TO BE OCCURRING AS FORECASTED AS
THE GULF LOW MOVED INTO NORTHERN LOUISIANA DURING THE MORNING. THEN
THE FIRST SIGNS OF SOMETHING MORE OMINOUS BEGAN TO APPEAR. THE NORTH
DAKOTA LOW STARTED TRACKING MORE SOUTHEAST AND PRESSURES NORTH OF THE
GULF LOW BEGAN TO FALL RAPIDLY. IT BECAME APPARENT THAT THE TWO LOWS
WERE ON A VIRTUAL COLLISION COURSE AND THAT COLLISION WOULD TAKE
PLACE IN OR VERY NEAR THE STATE OF OHIO. PRESSURES CONTINUED TO FALL
RAPIDLY AHEAD OF THE GULF LOW AS WARM MOIST AIR WAS BROUGHT NORTH. BY
AFTERNOON HEAVY SNOW WARNINGS WERE ISSUED FOR NORTHWESTERN COUNTIES
OF OHIO AND A WINTER STORM WARNING FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE STATE. BY
EARLY EVENING THE PRESSURES HAD DROPPED TO RECORD LOWS THROUGHOUT THE
BUCKEYE STATE AND THE COLD LOW FROM THE NORTH WAS TRACKING DIRECTLY
TOWARD OHIO. IT NOW BECAME VERY OBVIOUS THAT A VERY DANGEROUS WEATHER
SITUATION FACED OHIOANS AND BLIZZARD WARNINGS WERE ISSUED FOR THE
ENTIRE STATE AT 9 PM. TEMPERATURES ROSE INTO THE 40S AND RAIN
CONTINUED AS THE DAY NEARED ITS END. THE WIND INCREASED GREATLY TOWARD
MIDNIGHT AND THE PRESSURE CONTINUED ITS DOWNWARD SLIDE.

THURSDAY JAN 26…BY EARLY THURSDAY HERE AT THE AKRON CANTON WEATHER
SERVICE OFFICE THE WIND HAD RISEN TO SUSTAINED SPEEDS BETWEEN 25 AND
30 MPH GUSTING TO OVER 40 MPH. THE PRESSURE WAS STILL DROPPING AND IT
WAS EVIDENT THAT A STORM OF UNPRECEDENTED MAGNITUDE WAS IMMINENT. AT
347 AM THE BAROMETER REGISTERED 28.33 INCHES…A FULL HALF OF AN INCH
LOWER THAN THE PREVIOUS RECORD LOW OF 28.83 INCHES SET ON FEB 25 1961.
WIND WAS NOW BLOWING AT 30 TO 40 MPH AND GUSTING TO OVER 50 MPH. BY
430 AM THE COLD AIR MOVED INTO THE LOCAL AREA. TEMPERATURES DROPPED
RAPIDLY AND THE RAIN CHANGED TO SNOW. THE WIND WAS NOW GUSTING TO
OVER 60 MPH AND AT 512 AM A PEAK GUST OF 76 MPH WAS RECORDED. BETWEEN
5 AND 6 AM THE TEMPERATURE FELL 21 DEGREES FROM 34 TO 13 AND
EVERYTHING THAT WAS WET FROM THE RAIN BECAME ICE. THE TEMPERATURE
LEVELED OFF AROUND THE 10 DEGREE MARK BUT THE WIND REMAINED HIGH…
SUSTAINED AT 25 TO 35 MPH AND GUSTING TO 40 AND 50 MPH DURING THE
ENTIRE DAY. REPORTS OF DAMAGE BEGAN TO POUR IN OF POWER LINES DOWN…
TELEVISION ANTENNAS BROKEN OFF…TREE LIMBS AND WHOLE TREES DOWN…
AND BROKEN WINDOWS. ROADS HAD BECOME VAST SKATING RINKS AND DRIVING
WAS ALL BUT IMPOSSIBLE. THE SNOW WAS BLOWING AND DRIFTING REDUCING THE
VISIBILITY TO NEAR ZERO. WIND CHILL FACTORS DURING THE DAY FELL FAR
BELOW THE MINUS 60 DEGREE MARK MAKING VENTURING OUTSIDE EXTREMELY
HAZARDOUS.

BLIZZARD WARNINGS WERE CONTINUED THROUGHOUT THE DAY AS OHIO REELED
UNDER WINTERS WORST STORM IN MANY YEARS. WINDS REMAINED HIGH…SNOW
BLEW AND DRIFTED…AND ALL TRAVEL AND OUTDOOR ACTIVITY CAME TO A
VIRTUAL HALT. THIS SITUATION CONTINUED INTO FRIDAY WITH THE BLIZZARD
WARNINGS BEING REPLACED BY TRAVELERS ADVISORIES AT 440 AM FRIDAY
MORNING. THESE ADVISORIES REMAINED IN EFFECT THROUGHOUT FRIDAY AS THE
WINDS DIMINISHED BUT WERE STILL STRONG ENOUGH TO CAUSE CONSIDERABLE
BLOWING AND DRIFTING…AND RESTRICTING VISIBILITY ON THOSE ROADS THAT
WERE OPEN. WIND CHILL FACTORS OF MINUS 40 TO 60 DEGREES CONTINUED AS
WINDS BLEW FROM 25 TO 40 MPH AND TEMPERATURES HOVERED IN THE TEENS.

FOR SHEER MAGNITUDE…THIS MUST RANK AS THE WORST STORM TO HIT THE
GREAT LAKES REGION IN MANY YEARS. ON THE WEATHER SIDE…RECORD LOW
PRESSURE READINGS…HIGH WINDS…DRAMATIC TEMPERATURE DROPS AND
CONSIDERABLE BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW WERE ALL BUT UNPRECEDENTED. ON
THE HUMAN SIDE…THE SUFFERING…DISCOMFORT AND DANGER CAUSED BY
DISRUPTED POWER…WIND DAMAGE…STRANDED AUTOMOBILES AND OTHER STORM
RELATED EVENTS WERE PROBABLY MORE WIDESPREAD THAN IN ANY OTHER STORM
IN MOST PEOPLES MEMORIES. MANY WEATHER RECORDS WERE BROKEN BUT THAT
IS WHAT RECORDS ARE FOR AND THOSE ARE JUST COLD STATISTICS.
UNFORTUNATELY THERE ARE NO RECORDS OR COLD STATISTICS TO MEASURE THE
HUMAN FACTOR IN A STORM OF THIS VAST SCALE.

Sanctuary of Praise International Ministries

In March of 1983 Bishop William B. Smith, Sr. joined the Apostolic Church on Stanford Street.  Over the next decade the church’s congregation, which was very small upon Smith’s arrival, constantly worked at renovating the small facility for it’s quickly growing membership.

The Seventh-Day Adventist Church is located on Stanford Street in the Heights, and was once the location of the Apostolic Church now known as the Sanctuary of Praise on Hadden.

The Seventh-Day Adventist Church is located on Stanford Street in the Heights, and was once the location of the Apostolic Church now known as the Sanctuary of Praise on Hadden.

In April 1994 they choose to break ground on a new facility still within the Heights neighborhood. The new facility, renamed The Sanctuary of Praise, relocated just a few blocks onto Haden Rd.

Over the next decade the Church’s activities continued to grow, requiring the Church to add 7,500 square feet to the original complex.  The expansion including a larger chapel, classrooms, office space and a hall. Now known as the Main Campus, to differentiate from the Southern Campus located in Akron, the new facility has served as the focal point of a number of international ministries, while still being led by Bishop Smith.

Their original facility is now home of the Seventh-Day Adventists and still serves as a Church for the Heights neighborhood.

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Marble Champion, Johnny Florek

In the early summer of 1947 everyone in Twinsburg had marbles on their mind, especially marbles as played by Twinsburg resident Johnny Florek,

Sponsored by VFW 4929, Florek finished second to David Glenny of Cuyahoga Falls at the District Marble Shooting Tournament held on June 14 .  However, a second place finish entitled Florek a spot in the State Tournament where he again faced his rival Glenny. This time though, Florek prevailed in what was described as even a closer match than their initial clash by local media.

The State Tournament, held in Glenny’s own Cuyahoga Falls, included a parade through the town. The highlights of the procession were two motorcycle policeman with sirens, a white police cruiser driven by their Police Chief, various State VFW Officials, as well as the Mayor of Cuyahoga Falls, Joseph Harding.  Florek and Glenny rode in a convertible with what was described as a beaming Harding, obviously proud of the Marble Tournament his town had hosted.

Florek’s successful run ended at the National Tournament held at Father Flanagan’s Boy’s Town in Nebraska. The VFW paid for all expenses for Florek and his mother to attend the National Tournament.