VAN WERT — In 61 years of broadcasting, Orion Samuelson has done it all. Well, if not all, he’s done a great deal. The top agricultural broadcaster in the country, Samuelson has had seemingly countless wonderful experiences.
“There’s not one The Moment, there are many of them,” he shared. “I’d say my visit to Cuba, my first visit to China was absolutely fascinating, my visit to Russia. My background ethnically is from Norway so I enjoyed Norway perhaps the most. But I enjoyed England because of their sense of history. Hong Kong, one of the most exciting cities that never, ever stops moving.”
For Samuelson, his travels are for more than just sightseeing.
He stated, “I have had the opportunity to see those cultures and basically meet with farmers in those countries and see what they have to go through to produce and then see what they have to go through to feed their families. You see the struggle they have to feed their families. The don’t have the technology, and they don’t have the quality of land that we have in this country.”
Samuelson, who will turn 80 years old on March 31, will be speaking at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center on Sunday, Feb. 23 beginning at 3 p.m.
“They’ve asked me to talk basically about what I’ve written in the book, my autobiography of a year ago, You Can’t Dream Big Enough,” he related. “The title is for young people because you really can’t dream big enough — you just can’t imagine what’s out there waiting. Then I wrote it for people of my generation because some say, ‘Now when I run into my grandkids and they ask me what it was like to grow up on a farm, I just tell them to read your book!’ A lot of people grew up similar to the way I did; no electricity, no running water, no telephone, no newspaper. I tell people, ‘I don’t care what your beginning is, you can do whatever you want to.’”
Agriculture has always had Samuelson’s heart. He grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin before going to broadcast school. He worked at a few small radio stations around that state before going to work for WGN in Chicago in 1960. He was the staffer who read the news of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to WGN listeners in 1963. He has held the same position with the station for more than half a century, second only to Los Angeles Dodgers announcer Vin Scully for the longest tenure at one broadcasting job.
He and broadcast partner Max Armstrong reach into homes throughout the country with the National Farm Report, Farming American, and Samuelson Sez. Like a traditional farmer, Samuelson is early to bed and early to rise.
"I’m up at a quarter till 3 in the morning,” Samuelson said. “I do 16 broadcasts on WGN radio starting at 4:50 in downtown Chicago, the Tribune Tower. My last live broadcast is at 3:30 and my last on-air report is at 6:30. Then Thursday is the day we do the weekly television show that Max Armstrong and I do. I’ll probably spend about 40-45 days a year on the speaking circuit. So on a normal day, when I’m doing the office stuff, I get home about 4:00, and in bed by 8:00, and up at three in the morning again.”
Over the past 61 years, Samuelson’s job has changed simply because of the changes in agriculture.
“What has changed?” he asked. “Everything! The way that we do it and the content changed considerably because of the fact that in 1972 we became a global agriculture and realized that 95 percent of the world lives outside our borders, and so we had to go into the export market. That changed the weather that we watch, changed the government action that we watch, and it certainly changed the market action.”
He continued, “The thing that they are going to be concerned about is the demand. Then when you get into cases like 2012, with the drought, then you worry about supply because with the drought we certainly weren’t able to come up with the supply that we needed to take care of the global demand. We took care of our domestic demand, but… yeah, there are a lot more complicated factors today than when I was growing up on the farm and when I was starting out in this business 61 years ago.”
The increase in technology available to individual farmers has made some of the information from Samuelson’s reports readily available without the radio. But the appeal of Samuelson is not just the information he delivers.
“I’ve had a lot of farmers tell me that the Internet has no personality, and they like to get the opinion because they know I talk to a lot of people in all circles of agriculture. So that’s why, lucky for me, they still listen!” he chuckled.
They listen, and Samuelson keeps broadcasting. At the age of 79, he shows no signs of slowing down.
He quipped, “Well I’ll turn 80 years old on the 31st of March, and Paul Harvey, who was a good friend of mine, went until he was 90, so I’ll probably keep going, God willing, for a while. My theory has always been that when I’m no longer having fun, then I’ll quit. I’ve been in the broadcast business 61 years and I’m still having fun. I haven’t worked a day since I got into this business!”
You Can’t Dream Big Enough is Samuelson’s memoir, taking readers through stories of his adventures in radio and in agriculture. He claims he could never have imagined how his life would go from being a poor farm boy to a member of the National Radio Hall of Fame and “the American farmer’s best friend.”
He remembered, “Sitting on a milking stool on a cold January morning milking cows on that Wisconsin dairy farm, and I could never have imagined that I would visit all 50 states, 44 countries, meet seven presidents, go to dinner at the White House, and shake hands with Michail Gorbachev and Fidel Castro. You just can’t dream that.”
COLUMBUS – Secretary of State Jon Husted and members of the Ohio Ballot Board have approved ballot language for the statewide bond issue appearing on the 2014 May Primary ballot. It is the only statewide issue voters will consider in May.
Issue 1: To Fund Public Infrastructure Capital Improvements by Permitting the Issuance of General Obligation Bonds
The constitutional amendment will be put before voters as a result of the General Assembly’s passage of Senate Joint Resolution 6.
The language, as well as the approved explanation and arguments for and against the issue, are available online at the secretary of state’s website.
COLUMBUS — State Representatives Tony Burkley (R-Payne) and Brian Hill (R-Zanesville) announced Wednesday that the Ohio House of Representatives passed legislation they sponsored to increase the number of calamity days that school districts are allocated for the 2013-14 school year.
House Bill 416 will now be under consideration by the Ohio Senate.
House Bill 416 would allow two additional calamity days, as well as allow for two additional professional development days for teachers that may count toward the required minimum number of school days. Schools are currently allotted five calamity days for the year, with school districts making up days beyond the fifth.
“The severity of the weather and a seemingly unrelenting cold snap has caused many districts around the state to consume all of their five calamity days long before today,” Rep. Burkley said. “More than a third of the state’s school districts have already used up their days. This bill will provide the districts with needed flexibility.”
“The safety and well-being of our children must be the top priority for our local school districts. House Bill 416 will alleviate some of the pressure on school superintendents when they are deciding whether or not to cancel school because they have already used their allotment of calamity days,” Rep. Hill said. “Concern about calamity days should never outweigh the safety of our children.”
In addition to calamity days, schools already have the ability to make up three days through the use of “blizzard bags,” which are lesson plans and teaching materials prepared in advance of inclement weather. Starting with the 2014-15 school year, schools will be switching from a measurement of days to hours for minimum instruction time.
This article about a trip to the Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, in 2010 was originally published in the Progress on March 3 and March 10, 2010.
By NANCY WHITAKER • Progress Staff Writer
“You need to experience it in person. It is so different than watching them on TV,” said Melinda Krick, who just returned from a trip to see the Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Krick began planning her trip to the 2010 Winter Games about eight years ago after she and her friend, Cheri Leonard Dix of Seattle, attended the 2002 Games in Salt Lake.
Planning a trip to the Olympics takes a lot of time. There were tickets to obtain, airplane flights to schedule, and passports needed to cross the border to and from Canada.
Kevin and Cheri Dix are friends of Krick. Kevin and Melinda graduated from Paulding High School, and Cheri and Melinda were best friends in college. The couple, who reside in Seattle, began their quest for tickets in 2008.
Canadian residents had the first opportunity to purchase event tickets. Cheri tried to order tickets for a half-dozen events in October 2008. The ticket system, which works like a lottery, only gave them a ticket to one event.
They began asking, “Do we really want to go for just one event?”
However, in May 2009, more tickets became available. Then both Cheri and Kevin got online at the same time and purchased tickets to three more events. Hotel reservations were made and then finally it was all systems go! Vancouver, here we come.
Krick applied for her passport in December and received it in within three weeks. The plan was for her to fly to Seattle, meet Kevin and Cheri, and then drive into Vancouver for the games.
On Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, Melinda hopped a flight in Fort Wayne, changed planes in Chicago, and flew into Seattle.
After sightseeing and shopping in Seattle for a few days, the trio of friends exchanged their American dollars for Canadian money and on Wednesday headed north on the two-hour drive into Canada.
Krick said, “There was no unusual wait at the border. So after showing our identifications, we drove to our hotel which was located in Langley, on the east side of Vancouver.
“After taking in our luggage we drove into the city center. The traffic was heavy, but we were able to park and walk into Gastown, a historic district along the city’s waterfront.
“The weather was like spring and the daffodils and cherry trees were all in bloom. Toward evening, we walked to the Olympic Cauldron.
“Each year the cauldron is different. This year there were five different flames. It seemed funny because each day it seemed as if something different was done to the cauldron.
“They had a fence around it at first and it was hard to take a picture. The next day, there was a part of the fence removed so you could get a better picture. Later, they opened an observation platform so you could get an unobstructed view of the flame, but there was over a hour wait for it.”
After walking around for several hours, they found the Olympic Superstore, housed in a huge department store, The Bay. The superstore had every type of Olympic merchandise you could think of to buy. Sometimes the lines were more than two hours just to get inside. The store ended up being open 24/7 just to accommodate all the shoppers.
Toward the end of the day, they ventured to a pub called The Elephant and Castle. It was full of tourists and everyone was watching the Olympic coverage on TV.
Krick said, “Vancouver really relied on their public transportation to get people around the city. We rode a streetcars, a monorail, a charter bus, a mini bus and the subway.” Plus, they saw ski gondolas, water taxis, ferries and helicopters.
Thursday, Feb. 18, was the first event they were scheduled to see. It was a sport called skeleton. It is like the luge except the competitors slide down the track head first.
The event was held at Whistler. This was a two-hour drive by a chartered bus. Krick said, “We packed backpacks and took everything with us. We took snow pants, extra clothing and mittens.
“Whistler is a ski resort and it was there that the alpine skiing, bobsled, luge and skeleton events were held. There were a lot of vacation homes, condos, boutiques and bars around.
“Just before noon, we stopped at a pub and had lunch. We then took a shuttle bus to the Whistler Sliding Center. We staked out a good place along the track.
“We happened to be in the place where the Olympic luge competitor had lost his life a few days earlier. It gave me an eerie feeling to stand there and think of it. I did notice they had put padding around the beams.”
The event was to begin at 4 p.m. There were a total of four preliminary events. The women and men each competed twice.
“If you are going to make a trip to go see the Olympics,” said Krick, “make sure you take warm clothing and be prepared to do a lot of walking and standing in line.”
The skeleton event lasted approximately four hours and spectators were on their feet for the whole event. In the skeleton, competitors go down on a sled on their stomach, head first. Going up to speeds of 95 mph, there were 21 female competitors and 28 males.
“These were the preliminary runs. You would not believe how fast these people go around the track. It sounds like thunder when they go by. They also had a big screen TV to watch the event on,” noted Krick.
“My toes and fingers got so cold. They felt as if they were frostbit,” continued Melinda. “We stayed at the event and watched the ladies compete and one run of the men’s competition. It was almost 9:30 p.m. and we had been on our feet since about 3 p.m. We then caught the charter bus for the two-hour drive back to our car. On the way through Whistler to the bus, we saw the fireworks at the end of a medals ceremony.
“By the time we got back to the hotel, it was almost 1 a.m. We knew we weren’t going to catch too much sleep because we had to get up Friday morning by 6 a.m. to go to the curling event at the Vancouver Olympic Centre.”
If anyone is not familiar with curling, it is a team sport where team members slide stones across carefully prepared ice towards a target area, called a house. The game is similar to shuffleboard, with each alley being 150 feet long. There are four members on a team who alternate the throwing and sweeping duties.
On that day there were three matches being held simultaneously. It was a women’s competition and was a round robin tournament. China defeated Denmark (11-1), USA defeated Russian Federation (6-4) and Great Britain beat Germany (7-4).
Following the curling competition, they went to one of the LiveCity sites. There were several of these sites throughout the city. It was a place where you could go watch live coverage of the games on a big screen and visit corporate and provincial buildings.
Food and beverages were next on the agenda. There were a lot of various ethnic food choices to choose from. Krick said, “In some of the LiveCity venues, a beer was $10, a brat was $7 and a bottle of pop was $4.
“It was so nice that day, some people were wearing tank tops. The sky was clear and beautiful.”
Then it was time to head downtown and check out some of the activities. Melinda said, “One thing I noticed was wherever we were, either standing in line, on public transportation or in restaurants, we heard all kinds of languages. Slovak, Russian, Thai, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Portuguese, French, German, Australian and British accents, Norwegian, Swedish, you name it.”
The next day, Feb. 20, Melinda, Cheri and Kevin had tickets to a men’s ice hockey game between Switzerland and Norway. The event was downtown at the Canada Hockey Place. “It was pretty noisy and exciting because both teams had huge cheering sections,” said Melinda.
Following the hockey game, the trio of travelers were able to get tickets for the medals ceremony the next day. Then walked over a bridge near the entrance to Vancouver Olympic Village. Olympic Village is where the athletes reside during the games, so it is a restricted area.
“We then took a streetcar to Granville Island,” noted Krick. “It’s a popular attraction that has a huge public market, art galleries, artisans, shops and restaurants.”
On Feb. 21, they had been scheduled to return to Whistler for the men’s Super G alpine skiing event. However, due to some weather conditions, this event was postponed until the next Tuesday. No refunds are given on tickets. “So we lost the ticket price, $85. Like Cheri said, it’s an expensive souvenir.”
So, this gave them a free day to look around. They headed back downtown and took another look at the caldron, did some pin trading, and hobnobbed with the rest of the Olympic travelers in the festival atmosphere.
They went to another LiveCity and saw hockey’s Stanley Cup. It was guarded by Mounties as people swarmed to take photos.
“On our way over to the medals ceremony,” said Krick, “we found another LiveCity. This one had the Moulson Hockey House.”
At the same time, the Canadians were playing the USA in men’s hockey in a game that the USA won 5-3. Excitement was running high as everyone was cheering for their hockey team, crowding around the LiveCity big screens and every television in every bar and restaurant.
Krick said, “One of the things most people ask about my trip is about the most memorable moment. I have to say it was the medals ceremony we attended in Vancouver. We saw two Americans receive medals – Apolo Ohno, who won a bronze in short track speed skating, and Shani Davis, who won a silver in speed skating. A team of Mounties raised the flags of the gold, silver and bronze medal winners just a few feet behind us. We could have touched the flags, they were so close.”
The Whistler medals ceremony was going on simultaneously. “We were able to watch their awards in between the ones in our stadium. Bode Miller received his gold medal for men’s super combined skiing. We stood up to sing the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ when the American flag was raised. It still gives me goosebumps just remembering it,” she said.
“Maybe more than the medals ceremony was the whole experience of being there, being part of the event and sharing experiences with people from every corner of the world. When you see highlights on TV or hear someone talk about one of the events, you can think ‘I was there.’
“Television can’t convey what it’s like in person. You miss the energy of the crowds, you miss many of the athletes’ performances, you miss being in the middle of a historic event.
“I get upset when people dwell so much on the medals count. It really doesn’t matter who wins the most gold, or who brings home the most medals overall. These athletes train for years; they and their families often sacrifice everything to make an Olympic dream come true. It’s a privilege and honor to compete at the Olympic Games.
“You see how people can win and lose with grace. No one likes to see a sore loser, as if winning a silver medal makes you a loser. We saw some athletes disappointed to get silver and some that were ecstatic to win fourth, or even to finish their event at all. That’s what it should be about – the joy of being able to compete and to do your best.
“We saw people compete with broken bones, with terrible weather conditions, with distracting personal problems. Almost nothing could stop them from competing and going for the gold. Their examples are something we should look to.”
Melinda left Vancouver on Monday, Feb. 22 and arrived back in Paulding early Feb. 24. She said, “In four years, the Winter Games will be held in Sochi, Russia.”
Is she thinking about going to her third Olympics? “Not then, but perhaps in eight or 12 years. It depends on where it is.”
Update: The next Winter Olympics in 2018 will be in South Korea. While watching the Sochi coverage this past week, Melinda and Cheri started talking about possibly attending those Games.
This article about a trip to the Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2002 was originally published in the Progress on March 6, 2002.
The fire within: Going to the Olympics is a thrill for spectators as well as athletes
By JIM LANGHAM • Progress Feature Writer
Paulding resident Melinda Krick will never forget the sight, sound, and emotion of watching the medal ceremony for the Men’s Figure Skating at the 2002 Winter Olympics. The excitement of America’s Timothy Goebel receiving a bronze medal represented the spirit of the Salt Lake City event.
“He (Goebel) was not really expected to win a medal,” Krick said. “It was a surprise for him. He went out and had a good skate, and there he was in the ceremony.
“There’s no way to put into words the emotion you feel when the flags come out,” continued Krick. “You know they worked so hard for this moment. The happiness he experienced over coming in third really got to me. It was something for them just to be there and to do well.
“And for me, to be there at that moment, to be a part of it; it was a dream come true,” added Krick.
Krick, editor of the Paulding County Progress, iced the opportunity to attend the Winter Olympics, when she and a close friend from Seattle decided to apply for tickets two years ago. She was overwhelmed when she learned that the request had been granted.
“Cheri and her husband (Kevin) drove from Seattle to Utah, and I flew to Salt Lake and met them,” Krick noted. “I fell in love with the beauty of the country – I had never seen mountains so beautiful or a sky so deep blue and clear.
“I’m not a sports fan, but I’ve always enjoyed watching the Olympics, especially the Winter Olympics,” continued Krick. “When the Olympics were in Lillehammer (Norway), I found it to be so fascinating. I’m half Norwegian, and I thought, ‘I would really love to be there and be a part of that.’ I felt the same when it was in Japan (in 1998).”
Because of the cost of staying in a motel, Krick and her friends decided to bundle into a KOA campgrounds, although she admitted that there was a price to pay.
“The first several days I wore eight layers of clothes,” said Krick. “I wore two layers of long johns, a turtleneck, sweater, ski bibs, Polartec, and everything else that I could get on. In the morning we went to park-and-ride for Snow Basin, which they said was the coldest place in Utah.
“I was surprised at how well they were organized. With all of those people there, there was never a traffic jam. Every venue had a park and ride spot. It was amazing to see the buses from all over – Atlanta, Cleveland, St. Louis, California, Washington, D.C. – there were hundreds, thousands of buses,” observed Krick.
One area that wasn’t quite as organized was the matter of food and restroom facilities at the sites. Krick noted that she stood in line two and a half hours to get food at the Men’s Downhill Skiing event. The situation was very similar for restroom usage.
“The first day, they wouldn’t let you bring your own food. You had to eat at one of their tents. People must have complained, because you were allowed to take your own food after that,” noted Krick.
“In the first event we had bleacher seats at the end of the run. It was unbelievable. You look up at this thing that looked like a cliff of ice. You wondered how they could stand up, let alone compete under these conditions.
“Television can’t capture it. It just can’t capture how steep or dangerous these situations are,” Krick said. “Nothing can capture the emotion of being there and feeling the excitement,” continued Krick.
“As each skier came down, they would knock the person ahead of them out of first place. The American, Bode Miller, was not expected to place, but he won a silver medal. To see him come down, knowing he won a silver medal, it just made tears come to your eyes.”
During her visit, Krick attended the Men’s Combined Downhill, Men’s Figure Skating, Men’s Double Luge, Team Ski Jumping, Biathlon, Ladies Super-G Slalom, and Medal Ceremonies. An extra bonus occurred when another spectator offered tickets to Women’s Ice Hockey.
While Krick was thrilled to see the medalists, it was the “victories” behind the scenes that often moved her heart. She noted one situation where a man from China fell during the figure skating. The crowd cheered and supported him to the extent that he finished his event, even though he was obviously injured.
“On television, all you hear is, ‘America,’ and the American performances, but it was much more than that. People would rally behind the underdogs, even though they weren’t from their country. The real story was all of the countries there, and how everyone pulled together to cheer and support each other,” observed Krick.
“A lot of the stories were about people you never heard about on TV or read about. Their names weren’t listed with medals, but they were proud; they had been there, and they had finished. They had worked hard, they did their best, and they knew they had accomplished something.”
Krick noted that such a closeness had developed over a short period of time that a sense of sadness pervaded the closing ceremonies, as though onlookers were saying “good-bye” to family or friends.
“It was really hard to watch the closing ceremonies,” said Krick. “Even as a spectator, you felt like you were a part of it in some way.
“You think, ‘I was there, I saw this venue, I saw this athlete.’ It was hard when they extinguished the torch. It seemed like it was closing the door on such a beautiful experience. You couldn’t help but feel the emotion of being one, not only with people from your own country, but people from around the world who were there.”
Would she go again if she had chance?
“It’s hard to think of not going again,” said Krick. “There’s rumors that there might be one in Vancouver sometime. I said to Cheri, if that happens, we’ll have to get tickets and go.”
TOLEDO – Catholic Charities Diocese of Toledo is accepting applications for grants to assist local groups working to address causes of poverty in northwest Ohio. Two types of grants are available — Community Development and Economic Development — and are made available through funding from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD).
Local CCHD grant applications for up to $15,000 are available to 501c3 non-profit organizations that demonstrate grass-roots efforts to break the cycle of poverty by empowering the poor within the Diocese of Toledo. Eligible counties include Allen, Crawford, Defiance, Erie, Fulton, Hancock, Henry, Huron, Lucas, Ottawa, Paulding, Putnam, Richland, Sandusky, Seneca, Van Wert, Williams, Wood and Wyandot counties.
Established in 1970, CCHD is the domestic anti-poverty program of the U.S. Catholic Bishops and is funded by an annual national collection in churches. Applicants do not need to be affiliated with the Catholic Church but must be in compliance with Catholic moral and social teachings.
Local grant applications are due March 19. To obtain an application or for more information, please visit www.catholiccharitiesnwo.org or contact CCHD coordinator Ms. Germaine Kirk at email@example.com or 419-244-6711, ext. 225.