The following column recently appeared in The Courier-Times.
The other morning I looked down and there was our Boston Terrier, Reggie, enjoying a cuddle in the
comfort of our true-blue afghan.
That piece of handiwork was crocheted as a 1976 Christmas present my senior year of high school.
All the kids in the family got one, each in a different color scheme, made by my sister-in-law
Jeannie's mother, Evelyn, who passed away last year.
Who could have possibly guessed that over the next 42 years—and counting—that blanket would not
only hold up great, but retain its bright blue hues, machine wash and dry like a dream, and fold neatly
on the sofa?
In the early days of our marriage, Brian recalls us fussing over which one would take possession of the afghan first on a cold winter's night. Known for its extra-long, mega-wide size, it has always been a favorite warmer.
I remember our couple friends who visited on New Year's Eve 1978, where we played Atari. Brian and I had been married just a couple months, and one of our friends realized she was chilling and taking ill that very evening. We swaddled her in the blanket to warm her up. I think it went home with them for the night.
Once it wrapped a baby niece who was visiting—and went home with her on the ride home in a chilly
car. We got it back next time we visited the family.
Older son Sam describes the blanket as a "family heirloom," because our sons have spent their fair
share of moments wrapped in the still-serviceable keepsake.
For a while, we thought the afghan was gone for good. It hadn't turned up for a couple years, a
mystery. Brian and I remained convinced that it had gone off with son Ben to college when he and
three other boys rented a house for two years. We could only speculate—but not dwell—on what had
happened to cause the disappearance of the old afghan. One thing for sure, we didn't think we'd ever
see it again.
Then one day last year I was rummaging through layers of blankets folded under some throw pillows in an antique family cradle kept upstairs in our home, out of the way. To my astonishment—there was the blue afghan. I don't remember placing it there, but it looks like something only I would have done in an absent-minded way, perhaps in the heat of summer when the need for an ultra-warm afghan was a distant concept.
I quickly summoned Brian with news that what was lost is now found! We were both delighted.
This winter, the afghan is in use again, generally splayed across the sofa after being enjoyed yet again,
now by the empty nesters and their dog. And yes, Reggie is quite happy to take her turn under or on
top of its thick and cuddly surface.
Here's to you, blue afghan. Long may you warm the chilled and comfort the ill.
We're getting some new furniture. It came in earlier than we expected, which means we aren't ready and had to delay delivery for a week. It also means that we got ourselves in gear to redistribute the old stuff.
So today, it was up and cooking breakfast early for the moving crew. In the spirit of make-do Americans past and present, at least those in our families, Ben said he would like our old sectional sofa. I think it's in the blood, as well as the bank account, because Brian and I were handed down a sofa from his folks for our first rental home--and we were glad to get it, I might add.
We were so excited to sleep in our rented farmhouse that first night before our other furniture arrived (notably, my childhood canopy bed, sans canopy) that we slept side-by-side on our used sofa.
So at 7:45 a.m. today, Sam was the first arrival and I began creating custom-order omelettes for the three of them.
Brian picked up the truck and the guys rolled to Indy not long after that. I had fully planned to go along and offer essential advice that every mom is good for -- "Be careful on those steps, you guys;" "Don't drop it!"; "Easy;" "Watch your fingers."
But before I could get on the road, a text came from a charity that I had given up on regarding taking our upstairs sofa and love seat. There was a chance they could pick them up at 11 if that worked. I said I'd stick around and see if it worked out. It didn't, but I was pleased to know that my trio down at Indy survived not only the move upstairs to Ben's apartment of the old sectional sofa, but also the move down and out of Ben's former used sofa. They got by without my, "Be careful in the door frame!"
When Brian got back to town, he called for me to head out to pick him up at the rental place. "That went about as smoothly as it could have," he assessed of the morning move.
Buoyed by the news, and it being a mere minutes after noon, we decided to delve into a related project. If your family is like ours, whenever there's a decorating project such as new furniture, that leads to another semi-related project. In our case, it's prep work for a revamp of our upstairs bonus room. That means many things, starting with weeding out a large number of books of all kinds. I'll save those details for another blog post.
Since I wasn't there to see the results, I asked Ben to text me a photo. He did, along with a photo of a meal he put together with some leftovers I sent him home with.
And, he sent this text, "Cannot believe the beloved Cronk couch is in my apartment."
Warms this mama's heart, for sure.
Donna Cronk / Courier-Times Photo // Courier-Times, Connersville News-Examiner and Shelbyville News Publisher Tina West is retiring next Friday after 41 years in the newspaper industry. She began as an advertising clerk, delivering proofs to businesses, working her way up to publisher of multiple newspapers at once. She holds the current and first issue of her magazine for women, which she started, and of the daily Courier-Times.
By DONNA CRONK
Tina West didn't set out to spend her career in the newspaper industry. But it worked out that way and she would do it again.
West, a graduate of Anderson Highland High School, attended Ball State University to major in
elementary education. Then came a summer job with the Anderson Herald delivering advertising
proofs to businesses.
A promotion came quickly to the classified department. In less than a year she was promoted to the
"In a short time I had done payroll, accounts payable, sales, accounts receivable and saw different
sides of the newspaper," recalls West. "I loved every department I was in so I just decided this was the
career for me. Forty-one years later, it has been a great career. I would choose it all over again."
When she started out in the industry, most publishers and editors were male. "For some reason, I did
not see that as a hurdle to keep me from climbing a ladder," West recalls. "My thoughts were yes I am
a woman but I can multi-task with the best of them."
Being a mom prepared her to wear many hats. "My advice to young women starting a career is just to
work hard and respect yourself. If you do that, others will start respecting you and see your potential."
West has always found faith and family extremely important. "My faith is absolutely the most important thing to me," she says. "I am just an average woman with an amazing God. He's pretty good at what He does and He gave me some skills."
She stresses that she did not get anywhere on her own and has never taken jobs, promotions, awards
and paychecks for granted.
"I am really not that smart," says West. "He just gives me wisdom and love for people. Both of those
characteristics are very important in the workplace."
When asked which achievements and memories leading The Courier-Times mean the most to her,
West finds it an emotional question. "So many memories," she says. "Obviously the memories will be
meeting and working with so many wonderful people."
West founded her magazine for women, a specialty publication the paper launched in 2011, and says
she is proud of that. She credits staff and columnists with their work on the periodical.
"Every time it is published, it is like holding a newborn baby in my hands," says West. "Women tell me
all the time about how much they love it and can't wait for the next edition."
She said on Super Bowl Sunday, the day the current issue came out, she got a text from a friend in
Florida who had friends from New Castle already texting her about an article in it.
"Anything that brings joy to people, brings smiles and fun in their lives, is good," West says. "It was a
blessing to be a part of it."
When recalling stories from her work here, West remembers one from 1996 when the Colts played the Steelers in a championship game. Those who know West are aware that she is a huge fan of the
"My two least favorite teams are Patriots and Steelers (in that order)," says West. "Anyway, my boss
and his partner in crime (my neighbor) thought it would be funny to have me drive all over town with a Steelers license plate on my car."
She continues. "I think I drove it for a few days before I walked out of Kroger and saw a car like mine
with the Steelers plate on the front of it. Knowing that it was not my car, I kept walking around the
parking lot, again and again. Finally, I went over and looked in the car and realized it was my car. I
went back to work. I walked straight into my office and grabbed a screwdriver to remove the plate. My boss laughed for days. By the way, the Steelers won 20-16."
With 41 years under her belt in the news business, West decided at age 62 to make a change and
retire. "I want to spend time with my family," she says. "Also, my daughter and I just released a book
called 'Be Still: Memoirs of a Motherless Daughter.' I want to do more in women's ministry."
Specifically, she plans to watch Hallmark movies, read books, spoil her children and grandkids more
and pursue speaking opportunities in women's ministry. She's also writing a second book.
Tina's children are: Lyndie (husband Taylor) Metz of Pendleton. Their children are Emerson, Tennor and Beckham; Amy (husband Kevin) Westfall of Melbourne, Florida, whose daughter is Abby; Michael (wife Rachel) West of Batesville, parents of Coleman and Lucy, and Mallory (husband Sean) Finley of
"I would just like to thank all of the employees at The Courier-Times and people I have worked with at
other newspapers," says the newspaper veteran. "I have made some awesome friends. Also, my boss
David Holgate and Paxton Media Group have been nothing but great to me. Thank you for that."
Community friends, colleagues, advertisers and readers are welcome to visit with West during a
retirement open house from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13 at the newspaper, 201 S. 14th St.
West will be available to chat with those who attend the come-and-go event. There will be a basket for cards and light refreshments will be available.
'A joy to work for'
Courier-Times Advertising Director Marka Sonoga said that when she heard West would be her boss,
she was delighted.
"I think she will be missed by the staff and by the community," says Sonoga. "She was a great
representative for our newspaper. She's been good to work with. I hate to see her go but she'll have
Sonoga, who will become interim publisher, admires all that West does inside and outside the
newspaper. For example, she said West plans to remain involved with her "little buddy" in a New
Castle school program organized by Believe and Achieve Mentoring (B.A.M.) She also mentions how
West is a hard worker who is not afraid to lead by doing and rolling up her sleeves and getting to work on a task.
That comment is affirmed by Courier-Times veteran reporter Darrel Radford. He admires how he would see West quietly at work on maintenance-type issues around the plant during off hours and assuming such tasks as leaf and snow removal.
Sonoga sums up how she feels about West. "She's been a joy to work for."
Longtime friend Beverly Matthews, president of the Henry County Community Foundation, said that on rare occasions, you meet someone in life who helps you fill a larger part of yourself.
"One of those people in my life is Tina West and she makes me a better person," Matthews says. "As
a friend, she encourages me; as a professional, she mentors me; and as a Christian, she influences me
with her solid faith."
She is thrilled that West gets to retire from her beloved career and "fulfill her passion of writing,
speaking and sharing her life experiences to bring help to others and glory to God."
Matthews continues, "She's not finished yet and I'm looking forward to sharing more adventures with
My name is Donna and I like to tell stories; good-news stories in particular. Here's one about a local girl who only wanted to give back to a hospital that has helped her family. From today's New Castle Courier-Times.
by DONNA CRONK
When thinking about how to celebrate her 12th birthday, Blue River Valley sixth-grader Ava Loveless had only one thing in mind. She wanted to raise money to benefit Riley Hospital for Children.
Her dream came true, taking in $400, and exceeding her expectations. She plans to hand-deliver the money soon.
Ava has a personal reason behind her love for Riley. Her brother Finnton Loveless, 9, was born there with a chromosome disorder, 5p minus syndrome, which is short for Cri du chat syndrome. Essentially, he is missing his fifth chromosome. He is unable to walk or talk.
“I know how hard it is to take care of him and to buy stuff for him,” says Ava. “I didn’t think I was going to get that much money.”
The siblings’ birthdays are very close. Ava was born Jan. 26, 2007 and Finnton three years later on Jan. 28, 2010. They are the children of Jerome and Brooke Loveless.
Says Brooke about her daughter, “She just always wanted to give back. I’m really proud of her for this.”
Ava’s Papaw, John Turner of New Castle, echoes the pride. “I’m just really proud of her for wanting to do it.”
Brooke says Finnton spent so much in-patient time at Riley that she and her daughter would stay together at the Ronald McDonald House.
The goal to raise money for the hospital that has served her family is not a new idea to Ava.
“I’ve actually been wanting to do that for my last birthday,” she says. “I’ve kind of always wanted to raise money for Riley.”
She’s excited about hand-delivering it very soon. When she’s not being a junior philanthropist, Ava enjoys volleyball when in season, social studies in the classroom, drawing, roller skating and playing on the trampoline. She attends Ninth Street Church of God.
Ava recently won an art contest by drawing the cover of her school’s upcoming yearbook. She also enjoys little kids and hopes to one day become an art teacher.
Miracle credited with saving Bob Pierce's life
From today's New Castle Courier-Times. This is one of those stories where I float home from the interview. This is why it's my honor to be a community journalist.
Story and photos by Donna Cronk for The Courier-Times.
STRAUGHN — A week ago Saturday, Bob Pierce of rural Straughn decided to work on his lawn mower in the family's detached garage.
He wouldn't recall the events that happened next until a few days later when he woke up in St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis and at first, wondered why he was there.
When he went to the garage on Saturday, Kathy, his wife of more than 38 years, and their granddaughter, Ruby Pierce, 5, stayed inside the house. Ruby asked her grandmother, "Can I just go see my Papaw?" Ruby got ready and walked the few steps outside to the garage.
She came right back and reported to her grandmother, "He's sleeping and he's snoring."
Kathy knew something was wrong. She went to the garage and saw that Bob was breathing and called 911 and family members. "I figured he had a heart attack or a stroke," says Kathy, a New Castle school bus driver.
Seven minutes later the Lewisville and Straughn fire departments arrived. New Castle medics also showed up. "They thought they smelled something," Kathy says, adding that they suspected carbon monoxide.
Bob recalls that he had been getting his mower ready for spring by greasing it, then preparing to change the oil. So he started it and let it run in a closed garage for around 20 minutes.
"I had signs," he says. "I see them now. I didn't see them then."
He recalls thinking, "I just feel so bad," as he prepared to add the oil. His legs buckled, then he locked them and they buckled again. "The next thing I remember was being at St. Vincent Monday at 11 o'clock." But he had no idea why he was there.
First responders tried inserting a tube down his throat when they reached the garage, but his throat had swollen so much they were unsuccessful. Oxygen was not getting to his body as it should. He was taken to Henry Community Health where they forced oxygen into him. It was determined to transfer him to St. Vincent by ambulance at 1 a.m. Sunday.
He was on 100-percent oxygen, then slowly decreased it. They were able to insert a child's ventilator because his throat was swollen so much.
Bob was given some chilling news. "If I'd been in there (the closed garage) two more minutes, I wouldn't have made it," he recalls being told. "The doctor said it's a miracle how well I responded."
He was dismissed on Tuesday, and it is believed he will have a full recovery. "I got well as quickly as I got ill," Bob says.
Described by Kathy as very organized, disciplined and well trained, Bob expresses disappointment in himself because he knows better than to put himself in such a situation as what happened in his garage.
"Something good will come from it," Bob says. "I'm disappointed that I put my family through this."
When asked about his granddaughter saving his life by going out to see him at the exact right time before he was gone, Papaw is emotional searching for the words. Kathy fills in. "He's proud of her," she says. "He knows if she hadn't wanted to see him it would have been over."
Adds Bob, "I hated it that she had to find me like that but I'm glad she did."
Kathy asks Ruby why she wanted to go see Papaw in the garage. She answers, "Cause I love him."
The daughter of Bob and Kathy's son, Brandon and wife Brooke Pierce of New Castle, Ruby attends Kidding Around Daycare in New Castle. She likes spending time with her grandparents. She enjoys drawing pictures and letters, and shows a groundhog she made at daycare. She also enjoys her hoverboard, Barbie Dreamhouse, LOLs and watching SpongeBob with her Papaw.
She wants to someday be a ballerina—and a teacher.
When asked why she loves Papaw she is quick with an answer. "He's the best thing ever." The two of them agree that she's Papaw's girl.
The Pierces have another son, Aaron, and another granddaughter, Addyson, 9. Bob says he's blessed to be from a big, extended, close family, A 1974 graduate of Tri High School, he says he's "a Lewisville Bear by heart."
Bob says he's been blessed with a career working in the family business, a salvage yard in New Paris, Ohio, with extended family and his sons.
When asked how the incident affected his faith, Bob says, "We've always been Christian family. We are very faithful Christians." He points to Romans 8:28:
Romans 8:28 New International Version (NIV): "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose."
Adds Bob, "I always believe no matter how bad things get even in a bad situation good will come from it." The family attends Southside Church of Christ in New Castle.
Says Bob, "I've just been blessed so much and I knew it before."
As for Ruby, people are telling her she's a hero. She giggles at the idea.
And gives her Papaw frequent hugs.