Amherst News-Times, 1997-09-10
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Vintage cars fill restaurant lot — Page 7 Family learns new language — Pac Amherst News-Time i ~T~I -3 O O to X X r»HH C UlOo ro < X HH cr m i~< 3: -( 3> o Wednesday, September 10, 1997 Amherst, Ohio < o t/5 O n 4s Ford goes, so go the Middletons, tO( i '_. by GLEN MILLER News-Times reporter Katie Middlcton watched from her bedroom window as her father hammered a for sale sign in the family's front yard last Thursday. "Dad, don't do it. Don't do it," the 15-ycar-old sophomore cried out. Bul her father, Bob Middlcton, knew he had to, even though it pained him. The closing of the Ford Motor Assembly plant in Lorain didn't leave him much choice. It was as hard on him as it was on the Marion L. Steele High School student and the rest of the family. "We've talk and talked about this as a family. I thought that we were all agreed this is what we have to do," Middleton said. "Her true feelings showed up and it bothered me, but the decision has been made. There's no going back." A Ford employee for more than 21 years, Middlcton, 41, is among more than 600 company workers who have opted to accept a transfer to Louisville, Ky. in order keep his job. He has nine more years before he can retire and devote more time to selling real estate, a second career he began about a year ago with Anchor Realty. In the meantime, he's hoping to sell the family's home at 449 Oak Knoll Drive. Neither he nor his wife, Debbie, 40, Katie or their two other daughters, Julie, 17, and Amy, 13, want to move south but realize the auto maker has left them little choice. Middlcton thinks Ford could have The Bob Middleton family is ready to sbwly say goodbye to Amherst due to the closing of Ford's Lorain assembly plant. At top from left are Debbie and Bob Middleton, and brother-in-law Larry Mamrak. At bottom from left are the Middleton's daughters Julie, Katie and Amy. handled the plant closing much better by making another vehicle at the facility, an alternative lhat now seems farfetched at best. Some new employees remain optimistic about the plant's future. They believe Ford will continue to make Econolinc vans al the plant and eventually may replace the Thunderbird wilh another vehicle. Among them is Middleton's brother, Denny, of Vermilion, who works in the Avon Lake van plant. Middlcton doesn'L "We're going to make the move because I don't feel secure here and I don't have the same faith some of the other guys do," he explained. The plant is running at half capacity. Based on his own 21 years with Ford, he believes Econolinc manufacturing may leave Lorain in the coming years. The Middletons aren't sure how many Amherst residents who work al Ford will be moving with them, bul they know of about least a half dozen. It means they'll have plenty of company in Louisville. It will be what Debbie Middleton called an Amherst-Lorain County group that's likely to band together until they become adjusted to Louisville and its people. The family recently visited Louis ville to look at ai like to live. Good^ jor factor, Debbie Miaaieiuu mm. Ford is giving Middleton and other transferees a $45,000 bonus over two years to help case the difficulty of moving south. The money will help in moving and possibly the purchase of a new home somewhere in the Louisville area. It won't ease Debbie Middleton's anger and hurt or their daughters' pain of saying goodbye to friends with whom they've grown up. "It's devastating and a slap in the face because this is where the children have grown up, where we've worked on this house and where our friends and relatives are, she explained. For 21 years, the Middletons have had to live by the layoffs imposed by Ford's production demands and car sales. Bob Middleton worked as a roofer during an 18-month layoff in 1981. He only had been working at Ford for 24 weeks when he was laid off due to slumping car sales, two weeks shy of the 26 weeks needed for unemployment eligibility. There have been other periods of unemployment lhat have affected the family's life. "It's been a roller coaster ride every two or three years," she added. "You kind of have to hold your breath and adjust your life around Ford because you never knew what Ihey would do until the last minute." The bonus was not enough of an incentive to leave, but the worry about the family's future was. Even CONTINUED on page 2 New home permits down as building levels off by GLEN MILLER News-Times reporter New home building in Amherst seems to be leveling for Ihe first time in about two years, according to statistics from the city building inspector's office. To date, 38 new homes have been built compared lo 45 in both 1995 and 1996. Mayor John Higgins doesn't know why but said he believes it may be related to the closing of the Thunderbird Ford assembly plant in Lorain and the number of existing employee homes that may be put up for sale in Amherst and Lorain. Several hundred Ford employees have been offered transfers to an assembly plant near Louisville, Ky. Those who accept are likely to sell their homes, he added. Higgins said the city does not know how many Ford employees live in Amherst. Some may sell their homes, others may not. "Whatever happens, the potential of homes going up for sale will wa ter down new construction here, in the township and elsewhere," the mayor added. "It's your traditional supply and demand factor coming into play." Higgins said he doubts if this year's home building in the city will match 1995 or 1996 figures. The number of building permits usually declines in the fall because of the changing weather, he explained. "I'm not saying there won't be new homes, bul with more existing homes going on the market here, Lorain or elsewhere, the demand for new ones will be less." Area realtors have computerized lists of all homes on the market regardless of what firm is representing the seller. According to Joan Park, a realtor with Lehman Johnson in Amherst, 131 homes were on the market in Amherst and the surrounding area last week. Of those, only 13 are newly constructed. "This is more than normal, but not usual," ReMax realtor Joe Crisp CONTINUED on page 2 Father does an impromptu nail inspection of some of the children in Workshop Players' production of "Cheaper by the Dozen, show opens the Players' 50th season. The Players open 50th season in 'Cheaper by the Dozen' Workshop Players is kicking off its 50th season with a production of Christopher Serquel's "Cheaper by the Dozen." This play was first produced by Workshop in 1956 and directed by founder Valerie Jenkins Gerstenberger. It is Ihe autobiographical story of the Gilbreth family, as told by two of (he children (played by Allie Jenkins and Jonathan O'Toole). Their father (played by Chris Dalton) is an efficiency expert who uses his career expertise to leach his wife (Brenda Turner) and 12 children — Amelia Inge, Chris Dalton, Connie Osborne, Sarah Woz- niak, Mikio Akagi, Meredith Dalton, Justin Durrell, Kori Akagi, Shellbee Turner and Sarah Turner — the value of saving time. Rounding out the cast are Donald Butchko as Joe, Alan Gardinsky as Larry, Jimmie Looney as Miss Brill and Tim McHenry as Dr. Burton. The director this time is Teresa Jenkins. Performances will be Sept. II, 12. 13, 19, 20, 21, 25, 26 and 27 at 8 p.m. Sunday matinees are presented on Sept. 22 and 28 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $7.50 and may be re-, served by calling ihe box office at 988-5613. Season tickets are still available al $37.50 for all six shows or any combination of six tickets. Workshop Theatre is located on.Middle Ridge Road, halfway between Rts. 58 and 2. Wanted: few good resident planners to help city grow by GLEN MILLER News-Times reporter Wanted: people willing to help envision how Amherst can become a better community in the coming years. It's not a classified ad, but it is the goal of a 25-member steering committee being recruited by Amhersl residents Judy Alexander and Steve Simon. Alexander, director of the Marion L. Steel High School media center, and Simon, owner of Stagecraft audio store, have been asked by Mayor John Higgins and other city officials to help form the committee and oversee an ongoing community envisioning process. The goal of the process is to recruit ideas from residents on how to solve- community problems and improve Amherst. The process was conceived about a year ago by Higgins and others but wasn't launched until recently because Alexander and Simon nave been busy with unrelated projects. Five people each are being asked by Simon, Alexander and three other volunteers to serve on the steering committee. It will hold an organizational meeting Sept 25 at 7 p.m. in the high school library. The community goal setting process will be explained at the meeting. Once the steering group is formed, it will organize a series of community meetings for residents who want to make suggestions on the future of the city. In the meantime, the steering committee will be busy raising money to possibly hire a part- time coordinator to do administrative work involved in the envisioning process, Alexander. Most committee members are will be Amherst residents, although a few Amherst Township people will be asked to join because many of the concerns of city and township residents are related, Alexander said. Group members will be trained in the community envisioning process by Lorain County 20/20 executive director Fran Bostwick. "It's a way of getting people involved in everything from downtown improvements to parks or whatever concerns or ideas they have," Alexander explained. Future planning is among the issues members of advisory committees set up by the steering groups will take on. 'The whole idea is to get community input and get people involved rather than only depending on elected and government officials to come up with ideas and do planning," she added. The steering group's job is to design the process for getting people involved in the smaller groups. Bostwick, who implemented a county envisioning process five years ago, will act as a consultant lo the Amhcrsl groups. Community envisioning is a community planning process that began about five years and is spreading nationwide. Vermilion is among the local cities where the envisioning process has been started and action teams have been formed. Elyria has completed its envisioning process and is in the midst of implemeniing-goals set by it, according to Bostwick. "Bul this is not an overnight process. It's a five, maybe 10-" year process aimed at getting ideas, setting goals and reporting tp the community on their implementation and success," she said. "It takes a commitment on the part of many people." Ideas will come from what residents are interested in pursuing. Others will be needs of the community. Alexander foresees possible groups being formed for streel, park, water and sewer and downtown improvements'. Others could work wilh the school, district in some capacity. "We have a whole lot of new people irr the community. It will help them become involved in it and learn more about it," she added. Eventually, large community meetings will be held from Which ideas will be solicited. A possible informal poll of residents could he conducted to determine, the best ideas to pursue, she said.
|Title||Amherst News-Times, 1997-09-10|
|Date of Original||10-SEP-1997|
|Submitting Institution||Ohio Historical Society|
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