Monday, January 31, 2011

Making the Footballs for the Super Bowl in Ada, Ohio

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 12:58 PM

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When the Super Bowl kicks off on Sunday night, Ada, OH will be well represented. That's because all the balls for the game come straight from the Wilson plant, as do all the other footballs used for NFL games.

ESPN's Uni Watch extraordinaire Paul Lukas took a trip to Ada to get a close-up view of the process. Here's just a snippet of his report, but make sure to head to the full piece for much more merriment and a video of his experience.

Here's the deal: I'd forgotten that the Super Bowl footballs have the names of the two competing teams stamped into the leather. So Wilson, which manufactures all the NFL footballs — and makes them in America, not in China — can't make the Super Bowl balls until after the two conference championship games.

"Wow," I said to Molly Wallace, the Wilson publicist who was explaining all of this to me, "so I guess your football factory must be hopping on the Monday after those games."

"Oh, they don't wait until Monday," she said. "A work crew shows up at the factory during halftime of the second game on Sunday. They have some pizza and soda on hand and make a little TV party out of it. Then, when that game is over and we know who'll be playing in the Super Bowl, they start making footballs."

"Wait a second," I said, checking the playoff schedule and doing some quick math, "that game won't be finished until about 10 p.m."

"That's right," Wallace said. "They work all night, until five or six in the morning. Then a new crew comes in to take over for them."

That sounded like a hoot. So I packed a bag, told Wallace to order an extra pizza for me and made arrangements to visit tiny Ada, Ohio (population 5,300), where Wilson makes all the footballs for the NFL.

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FirstEnergy Fights Environmental Group’s Supreme Court Appeal

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 12:43 PM

To save, or not to save?
  • To save, or not to save?

The battle is heating up over what Ohio utility companies can use as renewable biomass fuel to stoke their power plants.

We reported two weeks ago that the Ohio Environmental Council filed an appeal with the state Supreme Court in November (“Dead Wood,” January 19, 2011). It’s their attempt to overturn a renewable-energy certification granted by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to FirstEnergy’s R.E. Burger power plant in rural Shadyside.

At issue is the environmental group’s interest in having the PUCO determine whether a particular biomass material is actually renewable and sustainable before issuing lifetime certifications for it. FirstEnergy, on the other hand, would prefer that it doesn’t.

Continue reading »

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Ohio Prisoners Make Pricey Goods

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 12:25 PM

The Golden Years of Prison Work.
  • The Golden Years of Prison Work.

Gone may be the days of the traditional chain gang, dust and pick-axes a la Cool Hand Luke, but Ohio’s incarcerated aren’t out of work options to fill their jailhouse hours. In fact, the state has an entire branch of the prison system devoted to Big House-based capitalism, an enterprise that reaches beyond the usual license plate stamping. The question is whether or not it’s worth it, dollars-and-cents wise.

The Columbus Dispatch has an article that looks into Ohio Penal Industries, the part of the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction responsible for running the in-prison shops that produce various and sundry items, from brooms and office binders to dentures and hand soap and toilet paper. That’s right, fake chompers courtesy of the convicted.

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Pic of the Day: Homemade 25-Foot Ice Sculpture

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 11:02 AM

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  • WARREN DILLAWAY / Star Beacon

What drives a man to build a 25-foot-high ice sculpture in his front yard using nothing more than string and a garden hose? Who knows, but we're glad Mark Mihalik did just that in Harpersfield Township.

The Star Beacon reports:

Last year he saw a story about a man in Lorain who made a large ice sculpture and his competitive juices began flowing. Mihalik said he thought he could do better and began his plans for the icy creation.

“There is a pipe coming up the middle. I did it in 5-foot sections. I use string to entice the ice,” Mihalik said. He said he started creating his ice sculpture on New Year’s Day.

Mihalik said he created the sculpture by putting a garden house through the tube and carefully weaving the string into patterns.

Creating the appropriate flow of water from the garden hose, placed inside the tube, was one of the more challenging parts of the experience.

“I tried 15 different spray heads. I’m making my own now. I’m going to patent it,” Mihalik said with a laugh.

Next year he plans a 50-foot-high sculpture. It's good to have goals.

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High Court Rules Nancy Smith and Joseph Allen Must Return to Jail

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 10:28 AM

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Update: Nancy Smith spoke with the Morning Journal this weekend.

Few courtroom dramas in Northeast Ohio have rollercoastered as erratically as Lorain County's infamous “Head Start case.” In the mid-'90s, Nancy Smith and Joseph Allen were tried, convicted, and sentenced for molesting a pack of four- and five-year-olds in Lorain. The salacious case drew attention far and wide, not least because the prosecution’s argument sagged under accusations of misrepresentation and inaccuracy. Many observers were quick to charge the pair had been railroaded.

Through some surprise legal left turns that could have come straight out of an hour-long TV drama, the pair was released from prison in 2009, a happy ray of sunshine capping a long legal nightmare.

The story zig-zagged again Thursday when the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that Smith and Allen must head back to prison.

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John Boehner Will Continue Smoking, Thank You Very Much; Please Stop Asking About It

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 10:14 AM

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There seems to be only three things that reporters want to ask John Boehner about: his propensity for shedding tears, tanning, and his smoking habit. He will not apologize for for any of those, and in fact, seems more interested in talking about, ya know, substantive issues than his orange complexion or appetite for cancer sticks.

Two of the three were addressed in this video, the tobacco issue included, to which Boehner had this to say: "Why do you bring this up again? It's a legal product. I choose to smoke it. Leave me alone."

We actually respect Boehner more 13% more after hearing that.

(Via Gawker)

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Video: Alex Mack, Browns Center, Scores Fun Touchdown in Meaningless Pro Bowl

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 9:32 AM

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If you missed the Pro Bowl yesterday, which means 99.99999% of you, you missed Browns center Alex Mack scoring a touchdown, which sounds totally awesome until you remember it's the Pro Bowl and no one tackles during the game, lest the twist an ankle and are unable to enjoy the fine spa at their Hawaiian hotel.

Still, it's a center scoring a TD on a multi-lateral desperation play, so it's still worth your time. Enjoy.

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