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Published: Monday, 3/21/2005

Benefits go way out West

Westward Ho! It was time to put on your spurs and grab your pardner for a trip back in time to the Wild West. And it was a wild time indeed for two area fund-raisers Saturday night.

IN THE POKEY: 'Sheriff' James Johnson keeps an eye on Sandy Smith, center, as she tries to convince Dan Kosinski to bail her out of her 'jail cell' at Navy Bistro. IN THE POKEY: 'Sheriff' James Johnson keeps an eye on Sandy Smith, center, as she tries to convince Dan Kosinski to bail her out of her 'jail cell' at Navy Bistro.
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RED bandanna print invitations gave guests a clue as to what was in store for them at Navy Bistro for the Westside Western Round-Up for West Side Montessori Center. Guests were invited to rustle up their gang of cowboys and cowgirls for a shindig complete with chuck wagon stops at prairie-grazing stations and foot-stompin' square dancing. They were also warned to be ready to dicker over silent-auction items.

They were not disappointed: Wagon wheels, bales of hay, saddles, boot-shaped balloons, and more set the scene. Great grub filled one's belly and a Margarita fountain quenched one's thirst. Silent-auction items - packaged in western-decorated boxes - tempted all. There was everything from entertainment packages to desserts for a year. Bidding wars erupted over children's art at the Kids Corral. Student-created coat trees, step stools, quilts, memory books, birdhouses, and pottery were just too irresistible.

PARDS: Wendy Wesselmann is blindfolded by Barb Bauchman for 'pin the brand on the steer' during the Montessori benefit. PARDS: Wendy Wesselmann is blindfolded by Barb Bauchman for 'pin the brand on the steer' during the Montessori benefit.
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A "Pin the Brand on the Steer" game proved fun especially for Teri Fischer who won a peridot and gold and silver pendant and chain. And yee hah! Jana and Bill Schultz, winners in horse shoes, won a pool table. A raffle for a trip to Mazatlan, Mexico, was won by Mary Wendt.

Ratting on a pardner was all in fun. The varmints were hog-tied and kept in the pen until they bribed the sheriff with cash for the cause. Chairmen were Annette Gruetter and Kim Hamilton, who counted $25,000 net so far, but they are still going.

EVERYONE lassoed a good ol' time at the Black Swamp Saloon, a fund-raiser for the Pemberville-Freedom Area Historical Society at the Pemberville American Legion Hall. Some 200 guests walked through old-fashioned swinging saloon doors to belly up to the bar with rootin-tootin' cowboys and gals. A general-store front, an old-fashioned bank, "wanted posters," a life-sized stuffed horse, and more set the scene. Saloon gals were wrapped in satin, lace, and feather costumes created by Cindy Lohrbach.

Tables were centered with bandannas, tin cups, kerosene lamps, dice, and playing cards. Head "cookie" Vickie Runyon whipped up some tasty treats including Rio Grande Chili, Cow Hand Cheesy soup, Wild West wings, Straight-Shootin' pork and Round-up beef sandwiches, Okie Dokie nachos, Black Swamp cheese ball and crackers, and OK Corral Apple Crisp.

WILD, WILD WEST: Todd Sheets, left, and Stacey Flores get ready to welcome thirsty cowpokes to the Black Swamp Saloon event for the Pemberville Historical Society. WILD, WILD WEST: Todd Sheets, left, and Stacey Flores get ready to welcome thirsty cowpokes to the Black Swamp Saloon event for the Pemberville Historical Society.
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There was plenty of liquid to whet one's whistle: Barkeeps Bob and Joanne Bruning and Anne Michel sold beer, sarsparilla, cream soda, and more.

Sheriff Dave Marsh kept the peace, randomly arresting those who had a guilty look on their faces. Jim Dobson was lassoed more than once to sit in the cell.

Meanwhile, guests took their chances on the roulette wheel and the horse races. Keith Bradley's live auction included a red-tone 1910 photo of Pemberville; an antique chair donated by Gerald Sprow; homemade delights, and iron works by the local blacksmith Rick Leuck. The Rag Time Strutters kept the evening lively. The best-dressed couple was Mike and Mary Scabo of Lemoyne. Stacey Flores won the best server contest, but gave the $100 prize back.

Among the guests - nearly all in ten gallon hats and western shirts - were society president Sandy Leuck and the town's UPS man, Pete Maxwell, and his wife, Carolyn. Chairman Todd Sheets reports a net of $2,500; donations are still coming in.

MS FIGHTERS: Suzanne Carroll Witherell, left, Bonnie Tucker, and Jacque Pratt are advocates for a cure. MS FIGHTERS: Suzanne Carroll Witherell, left, Bonnie Tucker, and Jacque Pratt are advocates for a cure.
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Local movers and shakers got the ball rolling for two charities striving to find a cure and help those in need.

ST. PATRICK's Day was more than green shamrocks for some 200 guests who attended the second annual "Women Against MS" luncheon at Gladieux Meadows, benefiting the local chapter of the national Multiple Sclerosis Society.

A sea of green was the background for an upbeat program to help in the fight against MS. The event was extra significant for emcee and event chairman Suzanne Carroll Witherell: She was diagnosed with the disease 12 years ago on St. Patrick's Day. The vivacious Mrs. Witherell hasn't let it get her down. She hosts a live radio jazz show and is an advocate for those with MS. And it's a family affair: her husband, Dennis Witherell, is the chairman of the MS Society board of trustees.

Entertaining was Harlequin romance author Bonnie Tucker, the keynote speaker. Ms. Tucker, diagnosed with MS in 1989, sold her first book, a romantic comedy, to Harlequin in 1995. She's sold six more books and has taught classes in writing romance novels. Proceeds from sales of her books, which Ms. Tucker gladly autographed, went to the local MS chapter. The total $20,000 net provides funds for programs, services, and research to fight the devastating effects of multiple sclerosis.

CONSIDER this: When you are older, would you rather have wooden teeth or wooden eyes? You have one pair, no spare. That statement, made at the People of Vision 2nd Annual Awards Dinner presented by Prevent Blindness Ohio and KeyBank Tuesday at The Pinnacle, had guests thinking when their last eye exam had been.

SIGHT SAVERS: Honoree Dick Anderson, left, and past honoree Jim Hoffman team up to save sight. SIGHT SAVERS: Honoree Dick Anderson, left, and past honoree Jim Hoffman team up to save sight.
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Prevent Blindness Ohio, founded in 1957, is the only not-for-profit statewide health organization dedicated to preventing blindness and preserving sight. It is an affiliate of the national organization.

Local council members include Deacon Dzierzawski, Renee Elliot, David Dobrzykowski, Cindy Bland, Larry Conway, Andy Devine, Cynthia Ford, Mark Hankin, Kathy Holmes, Tyson Moore, Melanie Perz, Robert Rhee, Joe Basch, Jerry Baum, and honorary members Marcy Kaptur and Elizabeth Ruppert.

Emcee Lee Conklin of WTVG TV-13 kept the evening on target. The event started promptly at 6 p.m. with a cocktail reception and the dinner program ended at 8 p.m. sharp.

Mayor Jack Ford talked about the Save Our Sight fund and encouraged people to donate to it when they renew their license plates. KeyBank President Jim Hoffman announced the 2005 People of Vision Awardee, The Andersons, represented by Chairman Dick Anderson. The firm was honored for its outstanding community service and philanthropic vision for improving northwest Ohio's future.

Among the more than 100 community leaders on the guest list were Richard and Yolanda Jackson, Marcia Sloan Latta, Jan Ruma, Larry Leguire, state board chairman, John and Mari Davies, Mary Ann and Ken Palinski, Mike and Beth Collins, Virgil and Mary Ann Miller, Roger and Peggy Rupp, Myrl and Frieda Sauder, Jeanette Hrovatich, Keith Burwell, Bridget Holt, Debbie Paul, Marlene Uhler, Dan and Elaine Johnson, and Vern and Sue Synder. Carolyn and Maynard Sauder won the door prize: a basket of goodies from northwest Ohio and a $100 certificate from The Andersons. The event netted $33,000 for the organization's sight-saving programs.

WATERVILLE WORK: Doug Hayward, left, and Karen Masters help raise money for Anthony Wayne students. WATERVILLE WORK: Doug Hayward, left, and Karen Masters help raise money for Anthony Wayne students.
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A little art, a little wine excited the crowd March 4 at the Waterville Chamber of Commerce Wine Tasting and Live Auction at Nazareth Hall.

Nearly 150 guests nibbled hors d'oeuvres as they checked out the auction items. Then everyone sat down to taste various wines - paired with cheeses and fruits - while wine connoisseur Bob Hawker, there with wife, Wava, provided commentary about the selections.

Needless to say, the decibel level of chatter grew as the evening progressed. The bidding became more daring during the live auction of mainly art. It was especially entertaining for those who won the bids as auctioneer Jason Whalen kept the pace fast.

Chamber President Karen Masters, there with husband, Dennis, won the bid on a whimsical illustration by artist Paige Koosed. Also on the auction block were paintings by the late Earl North. The painting by the former mayor of Waterville Dave Myerholtz of the Roche de Bouef proved to be popular among the crowd.

The nearly $4,500 net supports the scholarship fund.

TRIO: Patsy Bolden, left, Patsy Stephens Kiros, and Denise Usher celebrate Women's History Month. TRIO: Patsy Bolden, left, Patsy Stephens Kiros, and Denise Usher celebrate Women's History Month.
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Women's voices rang loud and clear at The Study Hour Club and Top Ladies of Distinction's celebration of Women's History Month "Women Change America 2005" Saturday at Kent Branch Library.

The groups hosted Octavia McBride-Ahebee of Philadelphia, a former reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune whose literary work has appeared in numerous books and journals. Her recently published debut collection of poetry, Assuming Voices, gives voice to women who historically have not been heard: African women, women in refugee camps, victims of civil war, immigrants, and village women battling diseases.

POETRY READING: Octavia McBride-Ahebee, center, shares her poetry with Shreeta Johnson, left, and Carmean Lewis, who are seventh-graders at Stewart girls' academy. POETRY READING: Octavia McBride-Ahebee, center, shares her poetry with Shreeta Johnson, left, and Carmean Lewis, who are seventh-graders at Stewart girls' academy.
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Ms. McBride-Ahebee came to Toledo through a friend, Patsy Stephens Kiros of Toledo. The ladies met at the International Community School of Abidjan on the Ivory Coast in Africa, a school for children of diplomats, where Ms. Stephens Kiros was a librarian and Ms. McBride-Ahebee a fourth-grade teacher. Ms. McBride-Ahebee arrived in town a few days before the library event and spoke at some local schools, including Scott and Stewart. She recited a few poems and asked for input after she read a short story that wasn't quite finished. The students gladly obliged.

The Saturday presentation drew more than 80 guests who became entranced with her tales of travels to places such as Liberia and South Africa and her journey as a poet. She celebrates diversity and cultural differences, remarked Ms. Stephens Kiros.

Denise Usher is president of the Study Hour Club and Patsy Bolden is the president of Ladies of Distinction. This the first joint venture for the two clubs.

Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons are slated for the annual gala to benefit The Valentine. The event, presented by the Toledo Cultural Arts Center, will be Sept. 17 at the theater.

Mr. Valli, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, has wooed audiences for nearly four decades with hits such as "Big Girls Don't Cry" and "Rag Doll."

The event will start with cocktails, then Mr. Valli will perform with the Four Seasons. Dinner and dancing will follow. Tickets, $165 each, will go on sale May 1.



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