Thursday, November 12, 2009

“Nobel Prize, Geauga Style”

c. 2009 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

When President Barack Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009, supporters and skeptics sparred over his suitability for the award.

Some said that the honor was bestowed with an eye toward the future. Others complained that it was premature to bless a leader with so much of his ambitious agenda in progress.

For this writer, the debate provided inspiration. What if citizens of our county were eligible for the glory of Nobel Prize recognition?

What follows here is a short list of potential candidates who might be considered:

NOBEL PRIZE FOR LOYALTY – To the ‘Browns Backers’ of Chesterland. Their ability to remain dedicated in the face of miscues, controversy, lost players, fired executives, and yet another squandered NFL season has been truly inspirational. Team owner Randy Lerner might look to them for a glimpse of how beloved his franchise remains, despite years of incompetent management.

NOBEL PRIZE FOR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT – To Edna L. Davis, of Middlefield. This long-time public servant has enriched the county by representing voters with patience and integrity.

NOBEL PRIZE FOR BANKING – To Chardon, for becoming the ‘Fort Knox’ of northeastern Ohio. This city has amassed more financial establishments per square mile than any other small municipality in the state.

NOBEL PRIZE FOR STORYTELLING – To Robin Echols Cooper, a gifted Geauga County writer, musician, and master of folk theater. After graduating from The Ohio State University in Columbus, she developed a unique style of performing that drew on childhood experiences, and family tales. Through weaving character studies and musical improvisations together, her appearances have become much more than a simple recitation of stories.

NOBEL PRIZE FOR TRANSPORTATION – To Junction Auto Family, a dealership originally founded in 1931. While the industry has suffered from unpredictable fuel prices and economic turmoil, this family-owned business has prospered.

NOBEL PRIZE FOR CANINE HEROISM – To Midge, the Geauga County Sheriff’s Department police dog and goodwill ambassador. She has skillfully uncovered various criminal substances, foiled lawbreakers, and inspired local citizens, while attracting attention from media organizations across the world.

NOBEL PRIZE FOR HOLIDAY SPIRIT – To ‘Christmas Tree Lady’ Paula Horbay. Residents of the county have long depended on her seasonal business to locate an evergreen centerpiece for their Yuletide celebrations. Additionally, her cheerful demeanor and charm have brightened the holiday season for generations of customers. A Bonus Prize goes to anyone able to solve one persistent riddle about Paula: Is she actually a North Pole elf who got stuck living in Ohio?

NOBEL PRIZE FOR IRONY – To local fans of the Cleveland Indians who watched Cliff Lee face off with C.C. Sabathia in World Series competition between Philadelphia and New York. Both of these talented pitchers thrilled us with their exploits as members of ‘The Tribe.’ But by moving on to other, more well-heeled franchises, they achieved a level of greatness that has eluded our hometown team.

NOBEL PRIZE FOR MECHANICAL PROWESS – To Thompson Raceway Park for being Ohio’s oldest continuously operating dragstrip. The venue first opened in 1958 and has hosted hopped-up, customized, fire-breathing vehicles of all sorts - including cars, trucks, motorcycles, minibikes, and yes… snowmobiles.

NOBEL PRIZE FOR POLITICS – To Chardon City Council for spending $25,000 on an inconclusive report about the possible leaking of details during contract negotiations that took place this year. Despite an incredible expenditure of taxpayer funds, the document failed to catalog even one shred of physical evidence.

NOBEL PRIZE FOR CITIZENSHIP – To those in charge of the Geauga County Fairgrounds, for quietly providing a venue where residents of the area could hold their ‘Tea Party’ event in October. Despite the prevailing media distaste for such grassroots activities, local citizens came, expressed their conservative opinions, and left without incident. A Bonus Prize goes to supporters of Lyndon LaRouche, for making it clear that their eccentric hero has not yet succumbed to political decorum, old age, or intellectual futility.

NOBEL PRIZE FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT – To Rollin Cooke III for bucking current trends of economic chaos with a new car care facility. His expanded repair depot is located at the former Classic Ford-Mercury site in Chardon. By moving the automotive service operation from Water Street, Cooke was able to expand the business while adding jobs.

NOBEL PRIZE FOR CULTURAL INTEGRITY – To Amish residents who remain in the county. While the advent of cyberspace has worked its spell on our social habits, those who have decided to continue the discipline of ‘plain’ living provide a needed contrast. While different from the mainstream, their endurance proves that not everyone has been overwhelmed by the creeping sameness of modern life.

NOBEL PRIZE FOR CLOSE ENCOUNTERS – To the mysterious Olden Moore, for seeing a descending UFO near Montville in 1957. His story was reported in the Geauga Times-Leader and eventually attracted attention from Washington, D.C. officials. It remains a staple of alien lore on the Internet, with versions repeated on websites around the globe.

NOBEL PRIZE FOR ENDURANCE – To the venerable Chardon Laundromat. While other businesses have been revamped, revised, or eliminated by competition, this Geauga retail landmark has continued to prosper. Along with tidy clothes, it offers a bit of old-style culture for those seasoned enough to remember life before the iPod.

NOBEL PRIZE FOR VOLUNTEERISM – To Carole Brazis, founder of ‘Tim’s House.’ After the suicide of her only son in 2006, this Geauga County mother took it upon herself to create a spiritual oasis for those who have been affected by such tragedies. The result has been to turn her personal anguish into something positive and uplifting. Volunteers of all kinds have passed through the house, making it a genuine local phenomenon.

Nobel Prizes typically serve to spotlight outstanding accomplishments or abilities. Their value has transcended national borders for many generations. While some may doubt the correctness of various selections, one truism remains upon which everyone may agree: There are many in this county who are worthy of the honor.

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