Bellefontaine Examiner

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Reflecting on my time at Bellefontaine High School

Accepting the position of business teacher and head basketball coach in May 1966, was one of the highlights of my coaching career.

Mr. Miller was the H.S. Principal and he was popular with the teachers and the students. He accepted a similar position with the Lexington schools near Mansfield after two years. Harold Johnson, an assistant principal at Sidney H.S. replaced Miller. His arrival met with resistance from many of the staff as he spent most of the school day in his office. He was friendly with me as he was a former Hoosier and really liked discussing basketball. I felt like he was getting a bum rap from the staff, so during one of our visits I encouraged him to mingle with students during changing of classes and at times visit the teachers’ lounge and socialize. Not that I want to take credit, but Johnson was a good guy and I was pleased that he had given himself that opportunity and he gained a lot of respect from the staff and was often seen laughing and joking with both students and teachers.

In 1966 BHS was located in the “old building.” The gym was a real home court advantage and two players that carried the load were Don Epps and Jimmy Dearwester. We ran a lot of High Pick and Roll Plays and Jimmy was a pin-point passer as he hit Don 2-3 steps from the basket for an easy lay-up. Epps was a high percentage shooter from the free throw area. However, the most pure shooter from 15-18 feet was Jimmy. He was the most accurate scorer from that area I ever coached.

One of the most remarkable men I have ever met was Mr. H.A. Dodd, my first year at BHS. He was an administrative assistant and would retire in May ’67. After our first two games, I was walking out of my classroom and he approached me with his hand out and as we shook hands, he paid me a compliment that I’ll never forget. He said, “I really enjoy watching your team play as they are well-schooled in offensive fundamentals and play tough defense.”

During the next several years I would take Coach Dodd on Tuesday scouting trips usually to Urbana or Sidney. Once he got seated in my car, coach would begin reminiscing about former games and players of years’ past. One athlete that he often spoke of was Kelly Dearwester. He said Kelly was the hardest hitter he ever saw — H.S., college or pro. He said he was so burly, so strong, that he punished the opposing backs.

I wish time and space would allow to mention all the athletes I had the pleasure of coaching at BHS. However, to mention just a few and what I recall: Jesse Williams (greatest athlete I ever coached), Gail Clark (aggressive tough competitor and outstanding rebounder and shutdown a lot of opposing big men), Jeff Cole (as shooting guard made game-winning shots in several games), Steve Donahue (outstanding quick jumped and controlled defensive boards), Pat Ellis (smooth left-handed shooter with a soft touch), Dick Heath (most intense, competitive player who loved playing defense), Bryan Davis (quick hands, quick feet and really developed into outstanding floor general), Roger Dearwester (played with a lot of pressure living up to the Dearwester name, but was an emotional leader and scoring and rebounding were strong). The Roberts brother — Greg, Doug, Randy and Biff were three sport athletes and gave 100 percent in all three sports.

After several attempts to get Tony Vance to join the team and with no results, I asked him for his shoe size and I went to the sporting goods store. When I handed him the shoes in homeroom, he finally gave in and joined the team. He rarely started but came off the bench and gave the team a big lift. Stanley Hunt was fun to coach. He sparked the team and was a real winner. Jim and John Brown were another brother combination that developed into good players and played on one of the last teams I coached at BHS. Chuck Patterson had the misfortune of breaking a bone in his foot and missed most of his senior year. He was loyal to  his team and came to every practice and game. Joe Vicario was an English teacher and also kept the scorebook for all the games. He rode the bus with the team and was typical of the staff at BHS as they would always be there to help the kids. Two of Bellefontaine’s finest were Anderson and Kellogg, city police officers who made sure our students were safe. On snowy winter nights they often stopped to take kids home.

I recall walking the stairs to the Examiner’s office and Gene Maine would be finishing the game story. The typewriter would be printing out all major details and after a few questions directed to me, Gene would work those into the game story. He and Byron Scott were real pros and Gene’s writing skills made for fantastic reading on Saturday for all of Bellefontaine.

My family often talks about how much they enjoyed living in Bellefontaine. The three oldest, Kathy, Jane and Michael, were in grade school and in the summer they would walk to the swimming pool and on rainy days off to the movie theatre. It was a small town in many ways a nice safe place to raise kids and outstanding school system.

Moving to Elyria was a tremendous adjustment. And my coaching has taken me to a lot of interesting places — Southern Illinois University, Saint Louis University, Canton and from 1989-93 coached pro basketball in Ireland.

I always look forward to visiting with former students and athletes at one of my favorite towns — Bellefontaine.

Mike Riley,

Last Updated on Saturday, 06 September 2014

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Signs damage public trees

As the 2014 “Garage Sale” season winds down, the Bellefontaine Shade Tree Commission has recently been made aware of garage sale signs being screwed, stapled or nailed to city boulevard trees. Per the City Tree Ordinance 907.06(a) unless specifically authorized by the Director of Service and Safety, no person shall intentionally damage, cut, carve, transplant or remove any public tree; or attach any rope, wire, advertising poster or other contrivance to any public tree; allow any gaseous, liquid or solid substance which is harmful to such trees to come in contact with them; or set fire or permit any fire to burn when such a fire or the heat thereof will injure any portion of any tree.

Our urban tree canopy is a precious resource to be respected and cared for. Initiating any damage to a tree provides potential entry to the tree for disease and rot. It is also very costly to replace any trees that die or become safety hazards due to such damage. The Tree Commission is asking residents, who wish to post garage sale signs, to do so by attaching them to a small stake/post or wire sign hanger pushed into the ground. Future incidents, of any signs attached to trees, may result in a fine being assessed to the owner.

Shelley Moore


City Tree Commission Volunteer

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 August 2014

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Big hearts better than big cities

Many people talk about the desire to live in a big city. While we may sight some advantages like shopping, restaurants and a variety of entertainment possibilities that are readily located in big cities, I wonder, is bigger really better?

Our local schools have classes that graduate 40 to 140 students and while I graduated from a bigger class size of 440 plus, my wife, whom I met while in the military, came from a very big city, Boston, and there are indeed many fascinating things located there.

We married and settled in rural West Liberty 35 plus years ago.

Still that question: Is bigger always better? I believe, merits a closer look. What do you gain and what is the potential cost of moving to a small community? Is bigger better?

Maybe not.

In small communities when someone sneezes, someone hears and someone always cares.

My brother, Randy was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and you do wonder about treatments and hospitals and other concerns for the family.

And so, one evening I received a call from Victor Klingelhofer, a small businessman that owns Vic’s Country Cookin’, asking me if I knew a Randy McGill, to which I answered, yes, he is my little brother. Victor would go on to say, “I heard he is having it tough.” I responded, ‘yes, he has cancer and is in a fight.’ Victor had already talked to Curt Roach, who owns C&R Pharmacy and they had worked together to help others before.

Victor said we would like to do something to help out the family. They had already started to formulate a plan.

So two small business owners, one from West Liberty and one from DeGraff, wanted to help, they cared and they put that caring into action. They made calls, placed ads, spread the word, enlisted help and set a date.

And so from little villages they came and from places further out they journeyed. More people than we could have imagined. They stood in line at Vic’s wagon and Curt served by refilling the cooler for drinks. All sorts of people pitched in to help, people stood in a line that did not slow down for four hours. People stood and stood and stood and some brought their loved one in wheelchairs. They encouraged us just by showing up, and my parents, both in their 80s, were emotionally moved and amazed that in a little town so many showed they cared.

The fire department donated space, equipment and labor. People moved tables, some Lions Club members served, some sold cookies and all shared. Curt carried supplies and Victor and his family cooked and people ate and smiled and laughed and loved.

It was big! So yes, bigger is better, and in small towns where hearts are so very big, at least so it seems to the McGill Family, it is better.

Thank you to all the churches that prayed and continue to pray and a big thanks to all for whatever came from your hearts.

The whole McGill Family of West Liberty.

Matt. 25:36

Michael McGill

West Liberty

Last Updated on Monday, 07 July 2014

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Mary Rutan Hospital is asset to community

I recently had a 10-day stay at Mary Rutan Hospital. I was sent to the emergency room from Maple Leaf Family Medicine. Upon arrival I was greeted professionally and urgently which set the tone for the remainder of my day.

I was treated with sincere care from everyone I came in contact with; from the nurses, doctors and all of the support staff. I would like to thank the entire staff and remind our community what a great asset we have here in Logan County.

Jim Bouldin, CEO

Hilliker YMCA

Last Updated on Monday, 07 July 2014

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