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Off the beat: Dec. 15, 2007


This Santa delivers with claw, quarters

Norm Wirth maneuvers the joystick that controls a claw to hook a stuffed animal. 

Just call Norm Wirth “Santa Claws.”

Wirth, of Elyria Township, donated 420 toys to the Not-Forgotten Box that he won entirely by playing coin-operated mechanical claw games.

It costs 50 cents a game and Wirth estimated it costs $1 to $6 to win each toy.

Getting cute cuddly toys for children in need is just part of the fun, he said.

“I got hooked on it,” Wirth said of playing the games.

This year, the retired electrical inspector for the city of Elyria easily beat his totals of 244 in 2005 and 287 toys in 2006.

The most he ever spent to win a toy was probably $20, he said.

“I got real aggravated, and I was bound and determined to not let it get away from me,” he said.

Wirth said he plans on making this the last year he plays the claw games to win stuffed toys, lunch boxes and other items to donate to the Not-Forgotten Box.

However, don’t be surprised if you see him at Habits Wine Shop on Lake Avenue playing away.

“My wife knows I probably won’t give up,” he said.

— Cindy Leise

School counselor given Browns tickets

North Ridgeville High School guidance counselor Randi Muck has never been to a Browns game. But her husband has. He’s the kind of fan that barks in anticipation in the parking lot — a true Dawg Pound kind of guy.

So, a recent bone tossed Muck’s way from the Ohio State Lottery naming her Ohio Teacher of the Month for the Lorain area is even sweeter because it comes with a prize pack that Muck’s whole family can enjoy.

No, she did not receive a cash prize. But, at least according to her husband, Dave Muck, also a teacher for Lorain Schools, what they got was so much better.

On a day when the Browns face off against the Bills in a game that could decide the team’s playoff hopes, Muck and her family will be cheering the team from the sidelines as her prize includes a four-pack of tickets to the game. She will be recognized just before kickoff.

“My husband is a huge Browns fan and I’m a fan of my children. They are excited — so I am, too,” she said.

This will be the Muck family’s first family trip to a Browns game.

As for the actually honor of being teacher of the month, Muck said just being nominated is an honor.

“That’s something I think is more special than the Browns tickets,” she said. “The most inspirational person in my life was my guidance counselor. If it wasn’t for my high school guidance counselor, I would have never got into college or even thought about going. Every day, I strive to do that for my kids.”

— Lisa Roberson

Who’s a ‘Guitar Hero’? Not the reporter

The results from the Dec. 7 Guitar Hero 3 tournament at Lorain County Community College are in.

Cory Landis and Joe Pincura were the first- and second-place winners, respectively.

Landis had a total of 364,827 points on the expert level, while Pincura had 297,500 points on the expert level.

Jill Monda also took home a set of headphones by capturing third place with a total of 269,260 points on expert.

Nigel Limpach came in fourth place and won a 1 gigabyte MP3 player with 56,870 points on the easy level.

For those who don’t recall, I went out to the contest intending to show off what I thought was my honed skill at the popular video game, which prompts players to copy the color-coded key strokes from the screen onto a guitar-shaped joystick.

It’s one of the hottest video games this year.

Well anyhow, to put it mildly, all of the folks above were A LOT better than I was. Don’t believe me? Check out the video of my performance at

— Stephen Szucs

Ridgeville Schools’ finances get an A+

Voters shot down the North Ridgeville school district’s bid for a $54 million infusion to expand its buildings, which Superintendent Michael Tefs said is too bad because the district is darn good with its money.

Even the state has stopped and taken notice.

On Dec. 19, Tefs said State Auditor Mary Taylor is stopping by the district to award them the “Making Your Tax Dollars Count” award for fiscal year 2006.

“We are getting this because of our superior financial reporting,” Tefs said. “We handle what we have very well and have had virtually no mistakes on our audit.”

Only 5 percent of governmental entities are eligible for this award.

— Lisa Roberson

Elementary students keep on giving

Lowell Elementary students pose with the food they collected during a food drive since October.

Students at Lowell Elementary got a bit overzealous when it came to this year’s food drive.

They have brought in 9,846 items since October for the Salvation Army in Lorain, which is nearly 7,000 more items than were ever donated before.

Principal Kathy Lantz said she was amazed by the quantity.

“We only have 500 kids,” Lantz said. “This is a high-poverty neighborhood, too, so they might even get some of the stuff. They just wanted to help.”

Most of the food came from the fifth- and sixth-grade classes, which brought in 2,959 items, and the kindergartners, who brought in 2,946 items. All the students received a pizza party for their efforts.

“We try to get the kids to give back to the community since we get so much from the community with items donated to us,” Lantz said.

— Adam Wright

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