Leader Engineering Fabrication Inc. managed to grow during the recession and is expanding its custom design-build business located in the Napoleon Industrial Park about 40 miles southwest of Toledo.
“We had one of the best periods of growth during the recession due to quality, competitive pricing and service to our customers. They refer to Leader as a partner, not a vendor. We want to be their partner and build successful relationships,” said Sales Manager John Cichocki Jr.
“We came out of the recession a better, stronger and more efficient organization. We looked at it as an opportunity, not a reason to fail. We leaned down and now revenues are up. We’re looking to expand our business in-house and with acquisitions,” Cichocki said.
Leader recently acquired a small local machine shop and is incorporating it into its business. It plans to add one or two new employees for the additional operation, he said.
The biggest challenge for the team at Leader is finding qualified, skilled technical workers who are analytical in their processes. The company has an immediate need for an experienced design engineer, Cichocki said.
The company has been seeking a design engineer for six months without success. Its recent ad for the position generated four responses which is more activity than in the past, he said.
It has assembled a team of engineers with expertise in mechanical, automation, hydraulic, and electrical systems to help customers analyze their needs and develop concepts to meet those needs. Of its 35 employees, five are mechanical engineers and eight are electrical engineers.
Leader designs and builds custom equipment and machinery for automakers and Tier 1 suppliers to the automotive industry that comprises 90 percent of its business. It has supplied machinery to General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Hyundai, Kia, Toyota, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Navistar, and Caterpillar.
The company has supplied equipment for the production of components at GM’s Powertrain plant in Toledo and other components for the GM casting plant in Indiana.
It is preparing to hip a leak tester for valve covers to American Metal Technologies, a Tier 1 supplier to Navistar, according to Cichocki. Jamie Brink, a machine builder with 25 years of experience, designed and helped build the leak tester.
In addition to automotive, 7 percent of its business is building equipment for the food processing industry. Hirzel Company in Northwood is one of its biggest customers in that category, Cichocki said.
Leader also has a small printing operation which comprises the other 3 percent of its business. It processes its own plates for flexographic printing of boxes and plastic bags.
The company was founded on the idea that it will assist its clients in formulating new ideas and turning them into equipment that helps them overcome their manufacturing challenges, according to Cichocki.
Charles Leader founded the company in 1984 with John Cichocki Sr. after the pair had worked together in a similar business. They began operations with six employees and a 6,000 square-foot facility in Napoleon fabricating stainless steel equipment for Campbell Soup and other companies.
Leader serves as president and John Sr. as vice president of operations for the privately owned company. They asked John Jr. to join the business after he graduated from college and he has made a career of it.
About 20 years ago, the company built a new 24,000-square-foot office and manufacturing facility with a development grant from Henry County and the City of Napoleon. It continues to operate out of that location.
The mission of Leader Engineering Fabrication is to provide quality services to its customers, employees and the community by practicing the golden rule of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” according to the company.
For more information, visit www.leaderengineeringfabrication.com.
Archive for May, 2011
Leader Engineering Fabrication Inc. managed to grow during the recession and is expanding its custom design-build business located in the Napoleon Industrial Park about 40 miles southwest of Toledo.
Clad in light and dark blue gowns, Lake High School’s 100th graduating class entered their commencement ceremony May 22 and passed a silent reminder of how far they’d come.
Painted in white on a corner of turf on the school’s new football field is the date “6-5-10.”
It’s been nearly a year since a tornado destroyed the high school along with dozens of area homes, killing seven people, including the father of Lake’s 2010 valedictorian. After spending their senior year in temporary quarters dubbed “The Hanger” at Owens Community College, the 129 graduates of the Class of 2011 were glad to be gathered on the grounds of their former school.
“I’m so happy we’re graduating here on the football field,” said graduate Liz Anzaldua. “I don’t think it’d be the same to graduate elsewhere.”
Anzaldua, who plans to study pre-medicine at the University of Toledo on a full-ride scholarship, said she was excited to get her diploma.
“I’ve been ready since the beginning of the year,” Anzaldua said. “This day couldn’t come quick enough.”
On June 5, Anzaldua was at a friend’s house on Main Street in Millbury. The street was one of the hardest-hit areas. The twister flattened homes on both sides of the street and killed three members of the Walters family.
“We were messing around and said, ‘Wow, that sounds like a train’ and that happened to be when the tornado came through,” said Anzaldua, who said no one in the house was hurt.
During Superintendent Jim Witt’s address, he pointed to the middle school and elementary school, noting the buildings where many in the class spent their formative school years. He then pointed to the empty dirt lot where the high school one stood, the spot “where for three years, you cried, learned, laughed and made countless memories.”
“Today, for the last time as an entire group, you are home,” Witt said.
Graduate Hillary West said graduating on site was preferable to anywhere else.
“This is where we started; this is our home, our campus,” West said. “This is where we belong.”
West, who will attend the University of Akron on a softball scholarship this fall, said the hardest part of spending her senior year at “The Hanger” was feeling like the new kid again.
“We were just like freshman, going into a new school, starting over when we should have known what was going on,” West said.
Middle school and high school principal Lee Herman said he felt the graduating class had as normal a senior year as they could have under the circumstances.
“Kids are amazingly resilient and while the building [at Owens] has nuances that make it different from a regular high school, they handled it and adjusted to it well,” said Herman, who said construction of a new high school building is scheduled to be completed by August 2012. “If they had their choice they would much rather be in the old building, but that’s not a choice.”
It was a big adjustment, but West said the class made the most of it.
“As seniors, everyone was looking to us to lead and we had to take control,” West said. “The biggest thing for us was not getting split up. We didn’t want to go to other schools. Not that we don’t like other schools, but we wanted to be together.”
Graduate Casey Witt said the adversity made the class closer.
“It wasn’t the ideal location to spend senior year, but we got to do it together,” said Witt, who plans to attend UT and major in secondary education.
Thankfulness for togetherness was a recurring sentiment among the graduates.
“It was hard, but we got through it because we were together,” said Keegan Lucas, who plans to attend UT to study accounting. “They were talking about splitting us up, so it was good we were together.”
The class motto, printed on the commencement program, is lyrics from an Eminem song called “Not Afraid”: “We walk this road together, through the storm, whatever weather, cold or warm, just let you know, you’re not alone.”
Witt, who is the son of the superintendent, said graduation brought mixed emotions.
“It’s overwhelming and bittersweet, but it’s very exciting,” said Witt, who was one of five student speakers during the ceremony.
He had one piece of advice for his classmates: Don’t blink.
“Our community learned that everything can be gone in an instant. Our school, where we would have spent our senior year, also gone in an instant,” Witt said. “No matter where the world takes us or what it has in store, what matters is we all graduated from Lake High School together. Cherish every moment. Don’t blink.”
Fellow student speaker Dillon Wood took a less serious route, peppering his speech with inside jokes and quips, prompting the biggest laughs of the ceremony.
“The administration said everything would be OK, that we would just have to grind it out,” said Wood of the rebuilding process. “Then the day before Homecoming, we were informed there was a no grinding policy, so we couldn’t grind it out anymore.”
Witt recalled surveying the damage last June and wondering how students would react. Then he watched the community come together “in a way that’s indescribable even today” and saw the rising seniors pitching in to help their neighbors everywhere he looked.
“At that time, in that moment, I knew we were going to be fine,” Witt said.
Americans are exposed to as many as 20,000 advertising messages each day, once you add up print, Internet, television, radio, billboards and every label, sign and product you pass.
TARTA buses have long added to that total with their rolling billboards, so it’s not a stretch to picture ads on school buses.
Ohio Sen. Joe Schiavoni (D) introduced a bill May 17 that would allow school districts to sell ads on the sides of the rolling yellow student transporters. The bill was pushed last year by Ohio Rep. Tom Letsen (D) but did not pass. As Ohio’s economic condition has not improved and politicians are desperate for more income, the bill is receiving a second look.
The Department of Education and the Department of Public Safety do not allow ads on the sides of buses. If passed, Schiavoni’s bill would strike the restriction from state regulations.
The state highway patrol would also no longer be able to fail a school bus during inspection because of ads.
A Schiavoni spokesman told School Transportation News (STN), “If they can get $50,000 to $100,000 and save one or two jobs who are teachers or buy a few things for the school it’s a positive, overall.”
But Pete Japikse, director of transportation at the Ohio Department of Education, told STN the bill may carry “unintended consequences.”
“Ohio, like a lot of other states in the country, has this serious crisis with motorists that are distracted. They’re zipping past our buses with red lights and stop arms on,” he said. “Now we’re going to give something else for mom and dad to look at?”
Legitimate safety concerns accepted, there’s gold in them thar buses.
Toledo Public Schools should be salivating over the prospect for additional revenue. Imagine the scores of TPS buses emblazoned with ads for YarkAuto.com, ProMedica, Mercy, the University of Toledo and “Judgment Day 2011: postponed till October!”
There has been some discussion about restricting the types of ads that can be featured on the school buses.
Ads for alcohol, cigarettes, gambling, adult products, political campaigns and other things that upset hypocrites would be strictly forbidden, but that doesn’t seem fair or even necessary. In the age of the Internet, kids have access to more information and interesting visuals than at any time since teens in Sodom were texting teens in Gomorrah.
Why couldn’t Hooters pay for an ad that pushed life sciences? “Biology is Life,” the ad could read. Penn National Gaming could buy ads for the upcoming Hollywood Casino that push math: “Count on us!” would be a great campaign. Blocking political campaigns robs Toledoans of a lot of potential fun. Imagine a school board incumbent candidate extolling his or her virtues on a half-empty bus as it trundles past closed schools and schools being demolished.
On second thought, that’s one scenario that might be too obscene for students to see.
One of the benefits of publishing a newspaper is the exposure the job provides to a wide range of people. The normal course of business leads us to cross paths with scores of personalities and intellects.
One of the most accomplished and respected men I have worked with during the past six years is Dan Johnson. Johnson, a former University of Toledo president, has served as provost and COO of Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates for nearly three years.
Johnson had been instrumental in the Meta Plan, an effort to coordinate economic development efforts in our region that for a short time united and focused the missions of several local agencies.
At a lunch meeting before he left, Johnson, a longtime Toledo Free Press contributor, proposed a column, “Bridge to Dubai,” which would chronicle the cultural, educational and business development trends he would observe. For three years, Johnson has kept Toledo Free Press readers connected as countries on both ends of the bridge evolved.
On May 23, University of Toledo President Dr. Lloyd Jacobs announced a number of administration changes, among them Johnson’s welcome return. Johnson will serve as director of global initiatives at UT. It is good news for UT, Toledo and Northwest Ohio that Johnson will turn his attention to this important work.
He will be pleased to find that Toledo, under Mayor Mike Bell, has made tremendous strides in reaching out to the rest of the world. Bell has been to India and China (twice) and has collaborated closely with Regional Growth Partnership President Dean Monske. The RGP announced May 20 that it has opened its second Chinese office. These are developments that would not have been on the table as Johnson was preparing to move to the United Arab Emirates.
As Johnson wrote in one of his Toledo Free Press columns, “Our students today — at the University of Toledo and Zayed University — need the fundamentals of business such as finance, real estate, insurance, accounting, administration and ethics. But over the past 10 years, I’ve come to believe strongly that there are other elements that have become equally, if not more important: These elements are attitude — an entrepreneurial attitude — and perspective … a global perspective.
Dan Johnson understands and lives the global perspective, and we welcome him back to Toledo, UT and the pages of Toledo Free Press when he is ready to share his opinions and ideas for connecting Toledo to the global economy.
IBD stands for Inflammatory Bowel Disease, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. There are many symptoms that an individual may experience with IBD from frequent and excessive bloody diarrhea to abdominal pain and weight loss. Not to mention the secondary symptoms that the individual must face due to whatever medication they are on, medications such as Asacol or Remicade. For example, those using Remicade may experience the side effects of pain in rectum, and if you take Asacol you may develop arthritis. But that’s not all. There are many more symptoms that people diagnosed with IBD must deal with on a daily basis.
With gas prices currently at $4.09 per gallon and continuing to climb, unemployment rate is still high, and families having to downsize to survive…people with IBD have another added stress to deal with. The stress of being employed!
While being employed is a great thing, and it allows us to put food on the table and clothes on our back…this same blessing can become a curse to some.
Some individuals with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis are able to maintain their daily lives by taking their medication and making a few adjustments. However, for others that is not the case.
Some of the most mentally toughest people are those diagnosed with IBD. Just as the author who penned “The Spoon Theory” wrote, “Choose the rest of the day wisely, since when your ‘spoons’ are gone, they are gone. Sometimes you can borrow against tomorrow’s ‘spoons,’ but just think how hard tomorrow will be with less ‘spoons.’ A person who is sick always lives with the looming thought that tomorrow may be the day that a cold comes, or an infection, or any number of things that could be very dangerous. So you do not want to run low on ‘spoons,’ because you never know when you truly will need them.” (I recommend you Google “The Spoon Theory” and read it in its entirety.)
We have to be mentally tough because every day is a new challenge for us, and most times that problem begins, along with the added stress, when we report to work at our respective employers. Our employers can be the hidden symptom of IBD.
We are faced with having to go exceedingly above and beyond the call of duty at work. We are faced with always looking over our shoulder, questioning ourselves to make sure that we work better than the next employee, because at any given time our employer can find a loop hole in the policy of the American Disability Act, and get rid of us. No, they may not terminate us, as that comes with other issues that they may have to deal with. The new termination is called unpaid leave.
It is unfortunate that senior citizens have to choose between food, clothes and medication…and it is just as unfortunate that people with IBD must deal with insensitive employers. If only employers knew how much we go through on a daily basis…sadly many of them know, but just don’t care. They are governed by the almighty dollar…for the love of money.
PRNewswire reports the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that annual medical expenditures for Crohn’s disease patients are more than three times higher than those for a matched comparison group of patients. Similar results were found for people with ulcerative colitis.
The study examined both direct medical costs – inpatient and outpatient hospital care, office visits, emergency room visits, and prescription drugs – and indirect costs – absenteeism and short-term disability expenses – for patients with employer-sponsored health insurance. Annual medical expenses for Crohn’s disease patients were $18,963 versus $5,300 for a matched comparison group.
Ulcerative colitis patients’ annual medical expenses were $15,020 versus $4,982 for the matched comparison group. These figures are higher for individuals with extreme cases of Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
Dealing with the hidden symptoms of IBD can be stressful. Individuals with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis constantly have to either prove ourselves or explain why we don’t look sick.
We may not look sick, but we are. Just read some of the testimonies of people with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. These testimonies are taken from Facebook, and the names of each individual have been withheld to protect their identities.
“Having one of those days where I feel really pi**#d off that my body will never feel normal again. I didn’t appreciate my ‘goodish’ health until I got sick. Having a moderate UC flare up and arthritis in my hands, hips and feet! Not sure which one is more annoying. One day at a time I guess.”
“Can you please take a vacation or something? I’m tired of being sick and tired…tired of skipping meals to go out…tired of not being able to do stuff…just take a 10 year vacation…the trip is on me…JUST GO!!!”
“Trying to find ANYTHING that will relieve my 14 year olds many trips to the bathroom each day. I’ve read so much on Coconut oil and its benefits for this. Including a story about a man with Crohn’s and how he discovered through eating macaroon cookies, that it stopped his diarrhea. Has anyone tried this? I bought pills yesterday as well as coconut milk. I’m desperate to help her. It’s been 10 years of hell for my daughter; I just can’t watch her grow up like this. She’s miserable.”
I guess now we have to explain why we are worthy of being employed too!
For more information or speaking engagements about IBD contact Stephen Ward by email at email@example.com
You’ve never seen a drum solo until you watch Naturally 7’s Warren Thomas. He doesn’t use any sticks.
“My brother, Warren, wanted drums, and our mother thought it was just too noisy to have, so he decided he would become the drums himself,” explained Roger Thomas, the group’s musical director, arranger, baritone and rapper.
In 1999, Roger took that concept from his younger brother, multiplied it by seven, and created “vocal play.”
“A cappella is when you sing without instruments; vocal play is when you become the instruments,” Roger said. “And we’ve found that each one of us had this uncanny ability to imitate at least one or two instruments each.”
Be sure to get to the Michael Bublé concert early to see Naturally 7 — the Thomas brothers, Rod Eldridge, Napoleon “Polo” Cummings, Dwight Stewart, Garfield Buckley and Armand “Hops” Hutton. They will open the 8 p.m. show June 7 at the Huntington Center. Tickets range from $49.50 to $85.
“Every time we get in front of an audience, we’re blessed to see their jaws drop,” Roger said. “It sometimes takes some people two, three songs before they even know what’s going on, and that can make you smile for sure. You see some people, ‘Oh my goodness! Is this all vocal?’
“And there are some people that get it right away. We’ve got the mics in our hands, we’re singing, but we sound so much like a band, so much like instrumentation that people are used to hearing, it’s hard for them to grasp sometimes.”
Roger took a break from working on new music at a studio in Atlanta for the phone interview.
“I think people have an idea from Bobby McFerrin and from Take 6 that OK, you can imitate to a certain point, but I think where we’ve taken it is probably further than anybody’s seen it before,” he said. “You’re now seeing how versatile the human voice really can be.”
Check out Naturally 7’s YouTube video for “Feel It (In the Air Tonight).”
The group’s latest CD/DVD, “VocalPlay,” features originals and cover songs, including a song with Bublé on Dinah Washington’s “Relax Max.”
“We do three songs usually with [Bublé] someplace in the middle of his set,” Roger said, adding the group opens with a mix of R&B, pop, rock, soul, folk and gospel.
“I think a lot of people come out to hear his voice; they love Michael Bublé’s voice. So then when we open for him, it almost becomes a night to celebrate voice.”
Janice Diolon has dystonia, a neurological muscle disorder. She suffers from a heart problem, a seizure disorder and diabetes. She can’t cook her own meals, bathe herself, clean her house or do her laundry.
A caseworker provided through the Area Office on Aging (AOoA) does those things for her.
Diolon, 68, loves the freedom the AOoA has given her to stay out of a nursing home.
“It’s right for seniors to be at home if we so choose,” she said.
That freedom may be in jeopardy if the governor’s proposed budget passes.
Gov. John Kasich’s proposed budget includes a $9.6 million cut over two years to Medicaid funding for the Area Office on Aging for Northwest Ohio, said Pamela Wilson, the AOoA’s vice president of long-term care.
The majority of the AOoA’s budget goes to PASSPORT, an umbrella program of more than 100 providers of services such as transportation, personal care and home-delivered meals to 2,200 seniors in the region.
Erik Poklar, director of communications for the governor’s office of health transformation, said that number — $9.6 million for the region and $160 million for the state — was misleading unless viewed as a cut to a spending trend rather than an actual budget.
The mystifying part of the cuts for the AOoA team is that PASSPORT is a cost-saving program. Each senior who transfers from a nursing home to the program saves taxpayers an average of 40 percent, said Justin Moor, the AOoA’s vice president of communications and operations.
The average yearly cost for a PASSPORT patient is $14,000, about one-third of the cost for a Medicaid-funded nursing home patient, Moor said. So any budget that would force seniors back into nursing homes is self-contradictory and counterproductive, said Joseph Wells, a doctor of occupational therapy and co-owner of provider AmeriCare.
An applicant for PASSPORT must make $2,100 per month in income or less with no more than $1,500 in assets to qualify, so there are few non-Medicaid options. Chardell Russell, a caseworker for PASSPORT, said she recently spoke with a woman living on $300 a month.
For the AOoA, Wilson said, the cuts mean a smaller staff with greater responsibilities — a case manager with 65 clients today, for instance, might have to take on about 100 in the future. For seniors on PASSPORT, cuts could mean fewer hours of personal assistance and the loss of services such as food, adult day care and assistance with bathing.
Wilson said even the process for approving applicants for PASSPORT would become much less efficient, as the screening process could take weeks longer for an overburdened staff. Wilson said that is unacceptable for most applicants, who may be forced to enter a nursing home while the long process runs its course.
“For the most part, people can’t wait,” she said.
‘I promised I’d keep her’
Pam Feichter, 54, said she doesn’t know how she could care for her 80-year-old mother, Mary Jackson, without the AOoA aid. Jackson has chronic heart disease and receives 25 hours of care per week through Comfort Keepers, a PASSPORT provider.
“I promised her I’d keep her,” Feichter said. “I don’t want to put her in a nursing home.”
Kasich’s budget, Wilson said, includes an 8 percent cut in 2012 and a 15 percent cut in 2013 to the management and case assessment funds and a 3 percent cut to providers. Wilson said the cut could prove devastating for some providers already among the most poorly reimbursed in the state, forcing them to withdraw from PASSPORT.
Wells said seniors who want to stay home will return to hospitals and nursing homes as a result, which increases the pressure for providers. AmeriCare, Wells said, serves 150 clients in the area, and is already challenged by factors such as inflation, rising minimum wage and gas prices.
Cut costs, serve more
In addition to the cuts, the governor has proposed that the AOoA expand the number of its clients by 15 percent in the next two years.
While the office’s chief goal is to make at-home care possible for nursing-home level patients — in the past 20 years PASSPORT has pushed the number of nursing-home level seniors from 10 percent at home to 40 percent — Wilson is concerned the staff will be unable to maintain current service levels, particularly as the office has already been operating on a shoestring in recent years.
“We’ve cut the fat and now we’re to the point of cutting the bone,” Moor said.
Poklar from the governor’s office said the cuts to PASSPORT are part of an attempt to rebalance long-term care in a budget facing an almost $8 billion hole. Medicaid, he said, makes up about 30 percent of the state’s total budget. He said the lack of federal stimulus funds is putting pressure on the state.
There is a hint of better news for the AOoA. The bill passed the Ohio house with a softened cut of $145 million, down from the $160 million statewide cut proposed by the governor. That’s not enough to solve the problem, but Wilson said the AOoA is communicating with the state about its concerns and needs, and Poklar said PASSPORT administrators have made a good case.
“We’re hopeful,” Wilson said.
The result of those discussions will be immense for legally blind Richard Marion Witcher, 71. Before PASSPORT, he frequently cancelled doctor’s appointments because no one could drive him, so keeping the service is vitally important to him.
“We could survive,” he said, “but it would be difficult.”
Freddy Krueger is one of many unique topics covered on the EP “Visions” from Toledo band Goodbye Blue Skies. The band is holding a release party at 7 p.m. on May 27 at Headliners for the album. The show also features performances by We Call This Irony, The Golden Dawn, Deliver The City, The Cities Beneath Us and Through Beauty, Through Silence.
“There will be some new up-and-coming bands that will play with us,” said vocalist Victor Berrios. “They sound pretty good and I’m looking forward to meeting them all because I’ve never played with any of them. We did a show swap with ‘We Call This Irony’ so we’ll be playing in Grand Rapids the next day. It will be our first time going up there. It’s going to be a high-energy show for sure. The kids get pretty rowdy.”
Berrios describes Goodbye Blue Skies as post-hardcore emo, similar to bands it has toured with such as The Devil Wears Prada and Four Letter Lie. The band also features Billy Lange on guitar, Chris Marshall on guitar and vocals, Brian Smith on drums and Jeff Beach on bass. While the group has been around longer, this collection of musicians has been together for the last couple of years.
“I was in another band called Fall From Summer and that fell through,” Berrios said. “The brother of my bassist’s girlfriend was in a band called Fortune Favors. They started up Goodbye Blue Skies and were looking for a bass player. He tried out because we weren’t doing anything.”
Once his bassist joined the band, Berrios was not far behind.
“They wanted to get rid of their singer,” he said. “We jammed once and seemed to click. Unfortunately we lost our guitarist and bass player due to some personal problems. We ended up picking up Billy and Jeff. They’re good guys to have on our team.”
Lange and Bridges have proven their dedication to the band, traveling to Toledo each week for practice from Flint, Mich. and Lima, Ohio, respectively.
The band features a unique style of song writing. While the title of the song “AAAHH!!! Real Monsters” off the new EP is a reference to an old Nickelodeon cartoon, the track is actually about Freddy Krueger.
“The songs we write are kind of stories,” Barrios said. “We had one about Jack the Ripper too. We are doing one called ‘Gore Orphanage Road’ which is about that street out by Vermillion they say is haunted. It’s fun because we don’t really have choruses.”
A few of the new songs weren’t even fully composed before the band hit the studio for a 10-day recording session.
“We all are pretty excited,” Barrios said. “It was kind of intimidating to go in there. A couple of the songs we weren’t really prepared for. It was a lot of writing for the first couple days.”
Producer Jeff Schroeder received help from his in-laws to calm the band’s nerves.
“We stayed at our producer’s in-laws house,” Barrios said. “They call it Hotel Bower. It’s a nice older couple. They have all the bands stay there when they record. They get a kick out of it because they’re retired. They are really cool people. It’s been exciting going through this process. We’re all excited about the show.”
Goodbye Blue Skies is attempting to book an even bigger show by competing in the Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands for a shot at playing the Vans Warped Tour.
“They take five local bands,” Barrios said. “It would be a cool opportunity for us to get. We’ve tried for the past couple years, but the recordings we had for the last couple years probably held us back. We spent 10 days in the studio on the recordings we have now. It came out pretty good, so we feel like we have a shot.”
Visit www.BattleOfTheBands.com to vote for Goodbye Blue Skies. Tickets for the CD release party are available for $5 in advance of the show. Headliners is located at 4500 N. Detroit Ave.
Hoozier Daddy starts the fifth annual Party at the Park on May 28 with a live trackside performance at Raceway Park.
“We get excited about the Party at the Park because it is more of a family event, and we are truly an entertainment facility,” said Andrea Ritter, marketing coordinator at Raceway Park. “We don’t just think of ourselves as horse racing. We have a great facility. We get excited about horse racing, but we know we’re an entertainment destination, so we try to appeal to everyone.”
Party at the Park is a summer concert series held every Saturday with live music beginning at 5 p.m. and continuing throughout the night between live races, which begin at 7 p.m.
“You get crowds watching the races and enjoying the music at the same time,” Ritter said. “It’s really interesting to see how the songs correlate with the races. The horses love the music. It’s a fun atmosphere.”
Hoozier Daddy is a veteran of Party at the Park. The five-member band from Monroe, Mich. blends country, classic rock and dance music with three-part harmonies.
It will perform six times at Raceway Park from opening night to the final Party at the Park on Sept. 17.
“We like bringing them back,” Ritter said. “We try to bring back fan favorites. They are popular in Toledo. They have followings in Toledo, and they help by bringing their regulars out here.”
Raceway Park is filling the remaining slots with two other fan favorites, past performers Mas Fina and Nine Lives. Mas Fina is a three-member band from Toledo with guitar, bass, keyboards and percussion. It performs covers of rock, dance, pop, country and rap music. Nine Lives combines members of several Toledo bands to perform covers of music from nearly every decade and genre.
“We love having the music out here,” Ritter said. “It’s an all-around summer experience. You have horses and the outdoors, and nothing is better than outdoor music. They just go together really well. We love providing an all-around entertainment product.”
There is one open date for Party at the Park on Sept. 3 when none of the other bands are available. Raceway Park is looking for any bands interested in filling the slot.
While the concerts are outdoors, Ritter said adverse weather should not affect any of the scheduled performances.
“We’re just hoping for the weather,” Ritter said. “We’ve only had one day where we’ve been rained out for the live music. We’re hoping the weather is good. We’ve been really lucky with the good weather. Even on days where it’s a little rainy, it’s fun to come out here and watch the horses because you are so close.”
Admission to Raceway Park is $2 on Saturdays. For more information, visit the website RacewayParkToledo.com.
Senior Isaiah Ballard was removed from the University of Toledo football team after allegedly attacking Carlos Ruiz on May 15, breaking his jaw and bruising his face, throat and eye. Ballard has previously been convicted of a crime on seven different occasions since Sept. 2007.
Ruiz, a 23-year-old UT graduate in finance and current graduate student at Bowling Green, described the incident and what led to the confrontation for the first time publicly since it happened in an e-mail to the Toledo Free Press.
“The incident that took place on the 15th was extremely unfortunate,” Ruiz said. “Not only for myself but for Rocket fans all over the area. The following is my account of what took place that night which will contain the utmost honesty and accuracy.”
The confrontation occurred after 12:30 a.m. when Ruiz arrived at a friend’s house. Ballard, who was already present, and Ruiz began playing games with some of their friends. Ruiz said that they were socializing and even figured out that they both attended the same elementary school before a conflict ensued between Ballard and a female friend. He also claims that Ballard had been drinking.
Ruiz claims Ballard began calling the woman a “b—-” and she told him to leave. When Ballard refused to go, Ruiz stepped in.
“I know who to mess with and who not to mess with, and Mr. Ballard was not a guy I wanted to mess with,” Ruiz said. “I knew I had to be careful in how I approached him. I went up to him and calmly told him, ‘Hey man, you have to go. The party’s over and you called my friend a b—- and you can’t be doing that.’ At the blink of an eye, Mr. Ballard’s demeanor changed completely.”
Ruiz claims Ballard began to yell “What the f— are you going to do about it?” to him as he tried to tell him to relax and to calm down.
“I did not want to fight him and wanted to make sure he knew that,” Ruiz said.
In the house three females allegedly tried to defuse the situation by stepping between them but Ruiz claims Ballard “shoved the girls into the wall and the ground” before turning towards Ruiz.
“[He] began punching me in the face,” Ruiz said. “I was sent flying back and began pleading with Isaiah to please stop. He was not listening and once again approached me and hit me with another combo. This time I went down and he came over top of me and began kicking my face and throat.”
Ruiz said the three females each got up and pulled Ballard off of him but could not stop him as he came back again to hit him, landing approximately 10 punches and kicks to his face before he left the house.
Since the incident, Ruiz has been admitted to the Toledo Hospital. He had his jaw wired shut by a plastic surgeon on May 24 and it will remain that way for the next month to help it heal. He has also been on an all liquid diet.
“The pain has been terrible,” Ruiz said. “I never put a finger on Mr. Ballard, offended him or even raised my voice at him. His attack on me was completely unwarranted and now I’m painfully suffering the consequences.
“I hope Mr. Ballard realizes the severity of his actions and does not victimize anymore innocent people in the future. I trust justice will be served on my behalf.”
Ballard’s arraignment took place on May 25 where Thomas Lake posted $1,500 of his $15,000 bond. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 7 at 9 a.m.
Ballard started all 13 games last year for Toledo at the “star” position, a linebacker/safety hybrid, where he finished third on the team with 83 tackles to go along with two interceptions and five pass breakups. He also returned 15 kickoffs and was named Mid-American Conference Special Teams Player of the Week after returning three kicks for 103 yards and a touchdown against Ball State.