‘Power couples’ will shape region in 2017

This issue of About magazine features some of the area’s most eligible singles.

Maybe soon each will find that certain someone to create a dynamic couple.

But that’s on a personal level. What about on the professional level? Here are who I see as some of the important power couples for our area in 2017—people who need to establish a relationship, continue a relationship or repair a relationship for Stark County to thrive.

• David Baker, president and CEO of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Janet Creighton, Stark County commissioner. It is imperative that these two leaders meet regularly in 2017 for timely progress to continue at Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village. The county will play a key role in assisting with financing of the $600 million project.

• Baker and Thomas Bernabei, mayor of Canton. The Hall and the city share a good relationship, but it hasn’t been without a few bumps along the way. Over the next several months, Canton City Council will discuss and vote on details of the Tourism Development District, and it will be up to Bernabei and Baker to set clear expectations and to keep ordinances on point.

• Baker (see a trend here) and Adrian Allison, superintendent of the Canton City School District. As Hall of Fame Village expands and further surrounds school district land and facilities, these men must ensure that decisions are made with the best interests of students and district taxpayers in mind.

• Michelle Shaffer, superintendent of Louisville City Schools, and Kory Swope, president of the Louisville
Education Association.
Months of angst leading to a 16-day teachers strike in late 2016 left the district with deeper wounds and still no contract. Somehow these educators need to get together and resolve the district’s labor issues.

• Mary Jo Slick, legal council for the Stark County Educational Service Center, and Gary Kovach, labor relations consultant for the Ohio Education Association. These adversaries sat across the table from one another during Louisville’s contract talks and could again as other teachers’ contracts come up for renewal across the county. No one in those other districts should want to follow the path Louisville took.

• Dennis Saunier, president and CEO of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce, and Ray Hexamer, president of the Stark Development Board. There’s no reason to think this pair, among the region’s biggest advocates, will succumb to turf wars or concerns about who gets credit for what that can derail development deals and economic growth. Both know what matters is capturing opportunities wherever they materialize and working collaboratively to that end.

• Chuck Osborne, former North Canton councilman, and David Held, mayor of North Canton. Osborne, the city’s unofficial watchdog, needs to choose his battles more carefully and not act as if nearly every action City Council takes represents wrongdoing. Held needs to acknowledge that not everything Osborne says or writes is a misinformed rant. Osborne has raised some legitimate questions about whether council is following its own charter.

These relationships will bear watching over the year. It will be interesting to see who gets roses and who needs to see a counselor.

—Rich Desrosiers

Influence and power …

There is a big difference between power and influence. Influence requires respect. Power demands. Many people mistake the two. People often mistake those in positions of authority as influential because of their power. With great leaders, it is the opposite. They’re powerful because of their influence.

Now that we’ve got that straightened out, here is a look at three of the most influential people in Stark County in 2017:

A list like this has no credibility if it doesn’t start with David Baker, the president and CEO of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Baker has partnered with IRG founder Stuart Lichter, a developer, to build Hall of Fame Village. It is important to remember that the Hall of Fame owns part of the Village. Time is ticking away, and Baker is always aware of how many days are left between now and when the NFL celebrates its centennial on September 17, 2020. Baker’s job seems to be endless at the Hall. Not only does he have to promote the Hall, football and the values and history of both around the country, he needs to make sure deals come together to make HOF Village a reality. So far, so good.

Canton Mayor Tom Bernabei is one of those guys who is just sneaky smart and shouldn’t be underestimated. Over the years, Bernabei has been in his share of political dust-ups, and he’s still standing and holding one of the most powerful positions in Stark County today. Bernabei is working hard to make Market Square a reality. He will be the first to tell you he isn’t a visionary. I think he’s playing coy a bit with those statements. Bernabei is a master at underpromising and overdelivering … except on the golf course, his peers will tell you.

There are a lot of people who could slide into the third spot here. Ray Hexamer, Dennis Saunier, Ed Roth, Bob DeHoff. I’m going with Jane Timken. She was one of the first and earliest supporters of Donald Trump as a presidential candidate. She saw what plenty of us didn’t until after the election. Timken hosted a private fundraiser in Stark County for Trump and raised more than $1 million. She is a leader in the Republican party, and not just in Stark County, or Ohio. She has the president’s ear, too.

—Todd Porter

Never walking away from ‘The Walking Dead’

biz_walking deadI try not to watch much television. My time generally is better spent with my family, my hobbies or your friendly neighborhood newspaper.

And what TV I do watch, I’m attempting in 2017 to do more from my treadmill—which I’m sure will get me to watch even less TV, not actually get more exercise.

But I do have one “appointment show.” That means, I’m scheduling everything in my life (wife, kids, work, etc.) around watching that—if not live, then RIGHT AWAY on the DVR.

If a kid comes down with some crazy malady on Sunday nights at 9, Mom better be ready for the trip to stat care. If the furnace goes out during the show, we’re starting a fire in the middle of the living room if needed to stay warm until the show is over. If Canton and Massillon declare war and start firing missiles over Perry Township on a Sunday night, someone else on the staff better make sure that gets in Monday’s paper.

But lately, my favorite show is catching some heat from fans. Allow me this defense of “The Walking Dead.”

First, a brief description of the show if you’ve been living under a rock: Zombies have taken over the world. People die, but they come back hungry for the flesh of the people still living. Chaos ensues.

But you know what’s worse than the zombies? The people who are left in that post-apocalyptic world.

And that’s why this is the best show on TV, period, and has been since it premiered in 2010. Come for the zombies, stay for the gut-wrenching (and gut-spewing) drama.

Lately, the show has come under some fire. Its writers have been accused of toying with viewers, like when they appeared to show a popular character’s death only to bring him back two weeks later, or by building all of Season 6 to a terrifying climax that (air out of balloon) instead got pushed to the premiere of Season 7. And that Season 7 premiere last fall featured the most gruesome death (both graphically and emotionally for invested viewers) that I ever have seen on TV. I was physically exhausted after watching.

And that’s why I loved it. It’s fresh, it’s raw, and it’s a fascinating character examination of what happens in a world turned upside down.

Ratings dipped a little as Season 7 reached its midway point in December. People say the show was too graphic, too frustrating.

Too bad for them. The second half of the show’s seventh season begins February 12 at 9 p.m. on AMC. You’ll know where to find me.

—Scott Brown

Dating is not easy

Man stood up in a date checking phone messagesI was winning the date. The woman I was with did not realize she would be hanging out with a suave and good-looking man who could control a room with a good story. I had everyone’s attention, and as my tale reached a crescendo, I made a motion with my arm to the sky.

And half of my beer flew out of the glass and landed on her head.

Dating is not easy.

When you’re single, it’s hard to look at all of your defeats in the dating world in a positive way. But, once you are married, those become fodder for a laugh; hazy memories from the past.

So, don’t be discouraged.

In the world, there has to be plenty of people who found the person they’d spend the rest of their lives with early on. But, I know more people who had to go about it the long way.

It’s the worst. I don’t envy the single. It’s a hard road that includes more embarrassments than highlights.

I went on a blind date once, and she was late. It was night, and the lights reflected in the wet street in a way that made it hard to determine where the street stopped and the sky began. Except, my car was sitting right at that point in the front—and best—parking spot.

Her lateness had exceeded the amount of quarters I had. Today, with mobile pay, this likely wouldn’t be a problem. But back then, the length of your stay was tied to the change in your pocket.

So, I spent the meal looking out the window and hoping I didn’t get a ticket.

I did.

Excusing myself, and instead of turning left for the bathroom, I went right and out the front door, where I got into an argument with the meter reader.

My date watched the whole thing from our cozy table in front of the window that I had called ahead to reserve.

“Ready to order?” I said as nonchalantly as I could when I returned.

I thought the date went well. But, we never talked again.

At the time, I felt like a big failure, notching it as another in a long line of dating blunders that were totally my fault.

Now, I remember it as that time I had a meal with a stranger and she was late, and I got a ticket even though I found, like, the best parking spot.

If my wife were with me, she would have been out there arguing with the meter reader, too. And she is better at that than I am, so she probably could have gotten us out of the ticket.

Dating is a string of embarrassments. But one day, you realize that someone is not laughing at you but laughing with you.

And that’s the person you marry.

—Dave Manley