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Goodliving in Avon

Humble Farming Beginnings

Cool Schools

Play Ball

Quaint Farms

Health Facilities

A Crushing Success

A Mayor With A Past


Goodliving in Avon from The Morning Journal, 10-21-09 By MEGAN ROZSA, mrozsa@MorningJournal.com

``From bloom town to BOOM town, Avon grows up in many ways since 1990

Avon first became a city in 1961 and boasted 20.5 square miles, or 16,000 acres, of land. Twenty years ago, a mere 7,332 people inhabited the city -- compare that with today's [10-21-09] nearly 18,000 residents.

Anyone who lives in Avon knows the city is growing at unprecedented rates. Shopping centers are popping up left and right, giving residents the ability to shop where best suites them, and there's a variety of restaurants that will satisfy any culinary craving. So how much has Avon really grown? Let's look at Avon by the numbers.

The stats -- back then

Here's a look at basic population and housing statistics from the 1990 Census:


Breakdown of race:

* White -- 7,109

* Black -- 28

* Hispanic -- 185

* Asian -- 3

* Other -- 7


* Number of married couples with children younger than 18 -- 809

* Number of married couples with no children younger than 18 -- 846

* Nonfamily households -- 433


* Number of people living in households:

* One-person households -- 380

* Two or more people -- 1,972


* Number of workers who worked in Lorain County -- 1,743

* Number of workers who worked outside the county -- 1,768

* Number of workers who worked outside the state -- 21


* Number of students enrolled in public schools -- 1,133

* Number of students enrolled in private schools -- 393

* Number of students enrolled in public college -- 424

* Number of students enrolled in private college -- 104

* Number of people not enrolled in school -- 5,012


* Residents making less than $5,000 -- 69

* Residents making between $5,000 and $19,999 -- 348

* Residents making between $20,000 and $34,999 -- 545

* Residents making between $35,000 and $49,999 -- 497

* Residents making between $50,000 and $74,999 -- 560

* Residents making more than $75,000: 233


* Number of residents 18 and older above the poverty line: 4,899

* Number of residents 18 and older below the poverty line: 258

The stats -- 2000 ...


Breakdown of race:

* White -- 11,092

* Black -- 82

* American Indian/Alaska Native -- 20

* Asian 118

* Other 28


* Number of married couples with children younger than 18 -- 1,460

* Number of married couples with no children younger than 18 -- 1,295

* Nonfamily households -- 136


* Number of people living in households:

* One-person house 806

* Two or more persons 3,274


* Number of workers who worked in Lorain County -- 2,430

* Number of workers who worked outside the county -- 3,092

* Number of workers who worked outside the state -- 37


* Number of students enrolled in public schools -- 1,904

* Number of students enrolled in private schools -- 565

* Number of students enrolled in public college -- 342

* Number of students enrolled in private college -- 124

* Number of people not enrolled in school -- 7,902


* Residents making less than $10,000 -- 91

* Residents making between $10,000 and $19,999 -- 281

* Residents making between $20,000 and $34,999 -- 546

* Residents making between $35,000 and $49,999 -- 554

* Residents making between $50,000 and $74,999 -- 814

* Residents making $75,000 and more -- 1,794


* Number of residents 18 and older above the poverty line: 7,845

* Number of residents 18 and older below the poverty line: 170 ...

Census workers are busy taking the latest counts, but Avon Mayor Jim Smith said population is quickly approaching 18,000.

The population isn't the only thing that's growing in Avon. In 1997, the city was home to about 360 companies. Now, that number is growing past 600, and the city's officials don't expect it to stop.

Mayor Smith has lived in the city for 61 years, and if anyone knows how Avon has changed, it's him. "A lot of people don't realize that when I was a kid, there weren't many trees, it was all farms," Smith said. "You could look from almost one side of Avon to the other except for a few tree lines. I hear people say they wished there was a lot of trees like there used to be, but there weren't a lot 50 years ago."

Smith said most of the population and business boom happened in the past 10 to 14 years ... Smith added if newcomers are looking for farmland, Avon isn't the place to be, but if they are looking for nice places to live, it is ...

"This is as good as you get," Smith said. "You have to have a good cross of residential and industrial growth so you don't get overweighted. Our city has grown in a very good proportion." ...''

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Goodliving in Avon from The Morning Journal, 10-21-09 By AMANDA DOLASINSKI, adolasinski@MorningJournal.com

``Since 1814, Avon keeps spirit of its humble farming beginnings

Jean Fischer moved to Avon in the mid-'60s, searching for a house big enough for her family -- herself, her husband [Dr. Delbert Fischer] and eight children. She found the perfect house on Stoney Ridge, which also happened to be the house of Avon's first settler, Wilbur Cahoon.

Avon started out as a small, agriculture town, but it has evolved into one of Lorain County's most booming cities. It was founded by Cahoon in 1814, who came to Avon with his wife and eight children.

"The interior hasn't changed that much. The basic layout of the house is the same," Fischer said. "The only real addition is the 1950s kitchen, which is added to the back of the house."

Avon was originally named [Xeuma, then] Troy. It became known as Avon when the Moon brothers, from Avon, N.Y., petitioned to get it changed. The [Lorain] County Commissioners officially changed the name in 1824.

Fischer's historic home sits on French Creek, where Cahoon maintained orchards and a saw and grist mills. "By 1878, we had large acres with wheat, oats, corn, potatoes, orchards and several acres of just meadows where cattle was raised," Fischer, an Avon historian, said. "There were also a lot of general stores."

Back then, Fischer said farmers traded food pound for pound. In 1878, she said farmers produced 37,330 pounds of butter and 13,275 pounds of cheese ...

Grapes became popular when Germans migrated to Avon in the ... 1800s, just before railroads were introduced to the city.

"Farmers took the grapes in their wagons to ... [be shipped] to Northeast Pennsylvania," Fischer said. "Five hundred- fifty carloads were shipped from the Avon railroad station."

Avon has taken advantage of its climate to establish wineries. Avon historian Jack Smith said that [Lake Erie] allows grapes to flourish. "One of the major benefits of Avon was being close to Lake Erie [which] protected grapes from [blossoming] too soon in the spring," he said. "It also protected grapes from sudden frost in the fall, which made it ideal for growing grapes."

Before crops thrived, however, Smith said there was a summer he's still not sure if anything grew. After Mount Tambora in Indonesia erupted violently in 1815, Avon experienced "the year without a summer" in 1816. The volcano left clouds of ash in the stratosphere, dropping the temperature and making it extremely difficult for farmers to grow anything.

"That's where some mystery begins," Smith said. "I don't know whether they actually got a crop in. There's no discussion of this." [Farming in a forest of old growth trees was a challenge. The first step was to girdle the trees with an axe so that sun light could reach the ground. Stumps were removed as time permitted. Over the years Avon farmers became expert with dynamite and would walk around with sticks of dynamite in their pockets.] ...

One aspect that helped Avon evolve from a small, agricultural town to a larger town was transportation. Avon's first road was built in 1848 by Rockport Plank Co. It started at West 25th Street in Cleveland and stretched all the way west to what is now Detroit Road. The first paved road came along in 1925. But before that, all the roads in the town were essentially dirt.

"This was used because farmers became truck farmers," Fischer said. "They took [produce] into Cleveland. It was a two-day trip by horse and [wagon]."

Smith described the first road as an Indian trail [on the North Ridge]. When Cahoon made the trek from his half-brother's house in Bay Village [then part of Dover Township] to what would be his home on Stoney Ridge in Avon, it took him six days. "Nowadays, that takes us 10 minutes," [Smith] said. "Of course, he was driving an ox cart, pulling his family inside."

The biggest transportation revolution came with the automobile in the 1920s. The automobile shaped Avon in two ways. First, it not only helped Avon farmers get to markets in Cleveland faster, but it also helped bring people back into the city.

"At that time, both Elyria and Lorain had laws against Sunday dancing," Smith said. "That meant people from Lorain and Elyria could drive [to the Avon Isle] and dance Saturday night into Sunday morning if they wanted to."

Automobiles also changed [education. In 1924,] one-room schoolhouses were eliminated because students could take buses to [the consolidated school, now the Village School on Detroit Road], Smith said.

Finally, Interstate 90 was added to Avon in the 1970s. "That had a profound effect on Avon," Smith said. "It changed a farm town into, well, transportation-wise, it reaches around the world."''

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Goodliving in Avon from The Morning Journal, 10-21-09 By MEGAN ROZSA, mrozsa@MorningJournal.com

``Cool Schools! Avon institutions of learning have that 'distinctive' edge

The Avon Local School District serves more than 3,000 students and still manages to grow by at least 200 new students each year.

District Treasurer Kent Zeman said when he was appointed five years ago, he saw student enrollment increase by 200 each summer, taking the total enrollment from a little more than 1,000 to now close to 4,000 ...

"Avon is successful because of community support," Zeman said. "We're fortunate that our community values education. They've been supportive over the last 20-odd years."

He added that the schools haven't seen a failed levy since 1990, and the renewal levy on the Nov. 3 [2009] is a combination of three small renewals that were actually started in the late '80s and early '90s ...

The current renewal levy, Issue 25, generates $914,700 per year and costs the owner of a $100,000 property $37.06. Zeman said residents may notice this number is lower than years before, and he attributes that to the rapid growth of Avon. As more people and businesses move in, the tax base spreads. Superintendent Jim Reitenbach agreed and said the community has always been supportive of the district ... When it comes to managing the district's money, Zeman said the district tends to buy only what it needs ...

The district also uses bond money to build new schools and renovate older schools, making each building as cost-effective as possible. Schools built and renovated in the past 10 years include Heritage North and South, an addition to the high school and [to] Avon East Elementary.

Zeman mentioned that even though the district is growing, it has not seen any increase in state funding, which pushes the financial burden to the community. "The financial forecast looks bright until 2012," Zeman said. "Unless the state does something different, which I doubt it will, we'll be asking the community for more money. Hopefully our community will still continue to support education." ...''

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Goodliving in Avon from The Morning Journal, 10-21-09 By SCOT ALLYN, sallyn@MorningJournal.com

``Play ball ... and everything else: Avon tackling lots of recreational opportunities

As more active young families who love sports and other recreation have made their homes in Avon, opportunities for family fun have increased to meet the demand.

The Avon Parks and Recreation Department has weekend workshops, games and other offerings for young people throughout the fall, All Pro Freight Stadium hosted a fairy-tale season for the Lake Erie Crushers the first year it opened its gates, and the French Creek Family YMCA is on schedule to open in March.

Diane Corrao, recreation coordinator for the city of Avon, said her programs focus on younger children, from kindergarten through sixth-grade ...

Through Oct. 31, Veterans Memorial Park is the scene for flag football for kindergarten to fourth-grade.

"We created a small-scale football field, 30-by-50 feet, in the baseball outfield," she said. "On Sept. 12, Avon High School varsity players and coaches put on a clinic for the young players. They learned how to tackle, how to carry a ball and agility footwork. Coach Mike Elder went above and beyond what we'd wanted."

Games started Sept. 18, and the league has eight teams for third- and fourth-grade players, eight for kindergarten students and 16 for first- and second-graders, with boys and girls on the same teams.

Intramural volleyball is available for girls in grades three to six at Heritage South Elementary School gymnasium. Girls in third- and fourth-grade play once a week, and fifth- and sixth-graders play twice a week. The cost is $35.

"We try to keep all clinics under $50, so it's affordable for everyone," Corrao said.

A basketball clinic for grades three through six will be at Heritage South Elementary School in mid-November after school, for kids to learn the basics of basketball in a group, she said.

"This league is for recreation, to have fun without a competitive edge," she said. The league will run through Christmas break, and could become intramural basketball in January 2010.

Avon Parks and Recreation Department also offers nonathletic programs for children. A kindergarten mini-masters arts program started its first session Sept. 17, and the second session starts Oct. 22.

"The kids explore the works of famous masters of art, and they make a piece of art in that style," Corrao said. Session II runs for four weeks at the Lions Club Community Center at Northgate Park, 2251 Eaton Drive. The cost is $47 for residents and $52 for non-residents.

Kindergarten Fun Science with Holly Knuebel began Oct. 19 with the subject of dinosaur discovery. "It's a way for kids to learn about creatures of long ago," Corrao said. The group meets on Mondays at Lions Club Community Center.

Men's open basketball started Oct. 18 in the Avon Middle School gym from 3 to 5 p.m. offering informal games on Sundays through February, with a break for Christmas. "It's not a league, but open pickup games," Corrao said. Players pay $3 each time they participate.

On Sunday nights, the Avon Middle School gym hosts an adult volleyball league with 16 teams from 5:30 pm. to 9:30 p.m. Another session starts Jan. 10, 2010.

For more information on Avon Parks and Recreation programs, call 937-4461.

Another option for young gridiron fans is Avon Youth Football, which offers a tackle football league for fourth- to sixth-graders. The league is open to boys and girls, but no girls took part this year, according to Brian Benes, who runs the program. Four teams for third and fourth grade play against each other at Veterans Memorial Park in Avon, through Oct. 24 [2009].

Players in fifth- and sixth-grades play teams from a conference that includes North Olmsted, Avon Lake, Lakewood, Rocky River and other communities, through Oct. 31.

More information is available at www.avonyouthfootball.com or by calling (216) 408-8824.

Avon baseball fans had plenty to be happy about, because the Lorain County expansion team of the Frontier League, the Lake Erie Crushers, came from out of nowhere to win the Frontier League championship last month [9-09].

Manager John Massarelli assembled the team from scouting trips and a tryout weekend open to young players with big hopes and dreams.

Their first game was a win over the Washington Wild Things, in Washington, Pa., on May 22, and their winning ways continued at their first home game June 2, when they walloped the Windy City ThunderBolts 5-2. Crusher Paul Fagan earned the Frontier League Pitcher of the Year award.

For Avon families dreaming of more recreation and fitness options in their back yard, the 66,500-square-foot French Creek Branch YMCA will be opening in March next to All Pro Freight Stadium at SR 611 and Interstate 90. The $14.2 million center will include an eight-lane indoor pool with spectator seating, aerobics studio, child care center, sauna, whirlpool and wellness center.

Joe Cerny, executive director of French Creek Branch YMCA, said programs will include youth fitness, group exercise, family programming, aquatics and triathlon training ... The French Creek Branch YMCA has been taking memberships since Sept. 1, Cerny said. For more information, visit www.clevelandymca/org/branches/avon or call (440) 934-9622.''

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Goodliving in Avon from The Morning Journal, 10-21-09

``Still a little bit country ... Quaint farms, produce stands remain part of Avon's rich culture

Lorain County residents hoping to find a little bit of country in a city atmosphere don't have to look very far. The city of Avon is packed with an array of colorful stores and restaurants, but local fruit farmers can also be found dotted across the city streets.

With fruit stands scattered around the city from May through October, visitors have plenty of options when it comes to fresh fruits and vegetables. But Pickering Hill Farms and Fitch's Farm Market offer residents a more permanent location, complete with October hay rides and pumpkin picking.

Pickering Hill Farms, 35669 Detroit Road, has been providing locals with fresh fruits and vegetables since the mid-1800s. Lill Pickering, current co-owner of the farm, said her husband's great-great-great-grandfather opened the business as a meat ranch before it was transformed into the 6,000-square-foot market that exists today.

"A lot of the employees are family from the original Pickerings," Pickering said. "It's a very rewarding business, providing something good and hearing positive feedback from the customers."

Like most farms, October is Pickering Hill's busiest month, not only because of the plentiful vegetable selections, but because of free hay rides and corn mazes offered to customers. The farm is also a popular location for preschool field trips, Pickering said.

The farm's main products in the fall include pumpkins and sweet corn, but it also grows tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and squash on the 75 acre farm. Local orchards provide the farm with apples and grapes, while Amish cheeses, meats, jams and jellies stock the shelves in the market ...

Fitch's Farm Market, 4413 Center Road, is in its sixth generation of operation. Three generations currently work on the farm, including Robert Fitch, his son, Richard Fitch, who runs the market, and Richard's three sons Adam, Daniel and Michael.

Like Pickering, Fitch's offers weekend wagon rides for pumpkin picking through the end of October. Visitors can also choose from an array of fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, peppers, apples, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, potatoes, onions, yams and pumpkins. Decorative farm products, including gourds, straw bales and cornstalks, are also for sale.

Besides pumpkins, Fitch's also allows visitors to pick a range of peppers and tomatoes. Roma plum and round tomatoes as well as semi-hot peppers, hot banana peppers, yellow bell peppers, green bell peppers and sweet banana peppers, are ripe and ready for customers.

And though the farm generally focuses on fruits and vegetables, annual flowering plants are also for sale at Fitch's.

Flats, hanging baskets, bags and multiple-sized pots of geraniums, impatiens, petunias, snap dragons and gerber daisies are sold at the farm ...

And though they do not sell fruits or vegetables, Willoway Nurseries, 4534 Center Road, has become the go-to location for landscaping and wholesale companies. The company is known nationwide, but does not sell directly to individual customers.

Willoway, which was founded in 1954 by Lester and Marilyn Demaline, started off as a landscaping company. Lester decided he wanted to begin growing different plants, and the business grew into the operation it is known as today, Administrative Assistant Emily Jalkanen said.

The business is still family owned and operated, with three generations of Demalines currently employed at Willoway. Although the main nursery is located in Avon, Willoway also has two wholesale distribution centers in Hilliard and Avon.

Willoway's peak season begins in April and lasts until the end of July. The nursery is home to one of the largest container operations in Ohio, and ranks in the top 40 across the country. Trees, bushes, flowers, shrubs and evergreens can be found at Willoway, Jalkanen said.

"We have more than 3,000 customers across the country. We sell nationwide, but we provide to the local economy as well," Jalkanen said. "We sell a lot of hydrangeas and roses. We do very well with garden centers and landscapers."

Some of the garden centers and landscapers Willoway sells to include Cahoon Nursery in Westlake, Connelly Landscaping in Avon, Gale's Garden Center in Westlake, Schill Landscaping and Lawn Care in Sheffield Lake, Lifestyle Landscaping in Grafton and Pinehaven Greenhouse in Avon.''

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Goodliving in Avon from The Morning Journal, 10-21-09 By RICHARD PAYERCHIN, rpayerchin@MorningJournal.com

``Medical marvel: Health facilities springing up all over Avon

Doctors and health offices have sprung up around Avon, and more are in the works. EMH Regional Healthcare System, [Community Health Partners] CHP and the Cleveland Clinic each have a strong presence in the city, and the list keeps growing.

Already established in Elyria, EMH Regional Healthcare System now has an Avon facility at 1997 Healthway Drive. The hospital bought more than 50 acres and planned to grow in the highly visible area.

"Originally a lot of it had to do with visibility, being right on the highway, and convenience, being near a population base," EMH Chief Financial Officer James Simone said. "We knew it was a growing area." ... EMH now has facilities totaling about 85,000 square feet, with a 65,000-square-foot fitness center that opened in 1999.

The hospital touts it as "the premier medically based fitness center in northeast Ohio." It offers cardio equipment, free weights, two indoor pools, racquetball and basketball courts, tennis and sand volleyball courts, a full-sized gym and indoor and outdoor tracks. Members can participate in more than 115 group classes as well.

"We're a healthcare system," said Dr. Don Sheldon, EMH's president and chief executive officer. "The reason we got into the fitness center is the wellness side of medicine. This is being more proactive than reactive. We are working on trying to keep people healthy to prevent them from needing more extensive medical services."

The health system in 2005 opened its standalone emergency room, with 18 patient bays offering care 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The emergency center has a helicopter landing pad if patients need to be flown to another trauma center if needed.

The center also has imaging capabilities including MRI, CT, bone density scanners and a small laboratory. "It's pretty extensive," Simone said. "Now we plan on expanding that with additional services there." The imaging center may grow up to 40,000 square feet with state-of-the-art equipment, Simone said.

While many people think of emergency rooms being part of a larger hospital complex, the standalone emergency center has worked successfully around the country, Simone said.

Kaiser Permanente has medical offices at the Avon Pointe Professional Campus, 36711 American Way ...

The Cleveland Clinic also has its Avon Medical Offices, 36901 American Way, at the intersection of SR 83 and Chester Road ...

Community Health Partners also has an Avon physicians office at 37450 Colorado Ave.

CHP and the Cleveland Clinic are poised to grow in the community and speculation about new facilities has skyrocketed.

Community Health Partners paid $6.5 million for two parcels totaling 33 acres of vacant land at the intersection of Interstate 90 and SR 611 in Avon.

CHP has confirmed it was the buyer of the land off Colorado Avenue, across from BJ's Wholesale Club, plans are still being finalized and are awaiting approval of CHP's board, according to Megan Manahan, vice president of marketing and communication ...

The Avon Planning Commission has granted approval to the Cleveland Clinic to begin grading the ground on the 40-acre site where the clinic will build new facilities.

Last year, the clinic unveiled plans for a new four-story, 120,000-square-foot Family Health Center and a two-story, 61,000-square-foot Ambulatory Surgery Center. A groundbreaking could happen as early as November on the parcel off Just Imagine Drive, east of Nagel Road.

RS, the architect on the project, completed a Cleveland Clinic facility which opened recently in West Palm Beach, Fla. The company also did the work on a Cleveland Clinic facility which opened in downtown Toronto ...''

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Goodliving in Avon from The Morning Journal, 10-21-09 By SCOT ALLYN, sallyn@MorningJournal.com

``A crushing success

The area around the All Pro Freight Stadium and the soon-to-open French Creek Branch YMCA, at SR 611 and Interstate 90, is poised for growth following the successful first season of the Lake Erie Crushers, according to Avon Mayor Jim Smith.

The traditionally designed red-brick stadium, visible from I-90 under a halo of spotlights, has been a calling card for the city to the thousands of drivers who pass each day, Smith said.

"It has given us a lot of great advertising, a lot of good press," Smith said. "The valuation of that interchange was unchanged for years, but is now growing."

Hotel representatives, which Smith said he was not at liberty to name, have expressed interest in a site on private property next to the stadium and future YMCA. Another group has been inquiring about the out-of-business Dianna"s Deli and Restaurant, on Chester Road, and a tennis group is considering a site the city owns for tournaments to be fully funded by a private developer, Smith said.

Mulligan"s Pub and Grill, 38244 Colorado Ave., added a patio during the summer, due to increased traffic. "It"s been phenomenal," said Jeff Wright, owner of Mulligan"s Pub and Grill. "I have families coming in before the games and after the games. The (Lake Erie Crushers) players, and even the opposing teams, are coming in." Wright added a patio that seats about 100 to the restaurant on July 1, and his sales are up significantly, he said.

One important key to growth in the area will be banks freeing up money for entrepreneurs, Smith said. "We have a good product there, and I think a lot of other people are coming," he said. "When the economy breaks loose, that intersection is sitting ready for revenue-generating businesses. We"re getting more looks, a lot of new attention to the area. It"s been a great year."''

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Goodliving in Avon from The Morning Journal, 10-21-09 By AMANDA DOLASINSKI, adolasinski@MorningJournal.com

``A mayor with a past ...

Mayor Jim Smith's family goes back to the earliest days of Avon

Mayor Jim Smith has been part of Avon since 1869. His grandmother was just three years old when she moved to Ohio from Sondheim, Germany.

Since then, public service has been in Smith's blood. His grandfather was the last marshal in the city around 1923. "The only mode of transportation he had was a horse," Smith said. "He couldn't drive a car, so he had to give up the marshal position."

Smith's grandfather's brother-in-law was the first fire chief in the city.

Looking through his family tree, Smith said he has seen Avon develop and change first hand.''

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