Reporter's Notebook: Reluctant McKeen cracks down on seat belt offenders

Like many Americans, Commissioner Nancy McKeen admits she doesn't always fasten her seat belt. The commissioner voted
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

Like many Americans, Commissioner Nancy McKeen admits she doesn't always fasten her seat belt.

The commissioner voted to approve funding to allow Sheriff Terry Lyons to crack down on seat belt use, but grumbled during the vote and afterward.

McKeen joined the other two commissioners Thursday in voting 3-0 for a routine grant application for "Click It or Ticket" funds to enforce seat belt use, but said she doesn't like such campaigns.

"You must have gotten a few tickets," teased Commissioner Bill Monaghan.

"Several," McKeen responded.

McKeen's dislike of seat belt rules has failed to sway a key constituency -- her children.

"They won't start the car until I put my seat belt on," McKeen said. "They've been yelling at me for years."

The National Safety Belt Coalition says many lives would be saved if everyone always used seat belts.

"It's often the difference between life and death," the coalition says.

-- Tom Jackson

Westerhold family tree

Employees at Borders bookstore are working feverishly to have it open by Nov. 8 -- the store's soft opening date.

While interviewing the workers about setting up the store, I met Marla Westerhold. Excited, I asked her if she was related to Matt Westerhold, the Sandusky Register's managing editor. She said she wasn't sure, but indicated that the last name Westerhold was uncommon. She passed along a business card to give to Matt, who said he was eager to contact her. I'm not sure if he has, but here's a good chance I may have connected my boss to a long, lost relative.

Or a new friend.

-- Janet Nguyen

Waiting game

Competition can often be fierce between reporters of competing newspapers.

I came to find that out after months of working on stories when The News-Herald would either scoop me on a story or find out a detail I neglected to mention in one of my stories.

When I arrived at the Ottawa County Courthouse on Thursday for a pretrial hearing, I was not surprised to see a News-Herald reporter waiting.

Both of us were planning to sit in on a hearing involving a city official who was charged with theft in office. After nearly an hour, both of us were still in the courtroom expecting the hearing to start any second.

Needing some advice, I called my editor.

She said I should stay as long as it took to get the story. I agreed with her not only because I wanted to cover the story, but also because I didn't want to get beat.

As soon as I got off the phone, I bumped into a secretary from the probation office.

She said, "You're still here?"

"Why wouldn't I be? This is a pretty big story."

She said, "The hearing's been moved to December. I thought you knew."

Needless to say, the other reporter and I were a little embarrassed.

-- Jacob Lammers

Outstanding art teacher

A Cleveland teacher with local ties will be honored Thursday at the Ohio Art Education Association's annual conference in Dayton.

Marlene Byer, daughter of Marvin Byer of Sandusky, will receive the 2007 Ohio Outstanding Art Teacher Award for the Northeast Region.

She teaches art at Brooklawn School, a K-8 building in the Cleveland Municipal Schools. As chairwoman of her school's Fine Arts Committee Byer was instrumental in obtaining a $100,000 four-year grant that provided a theatre artist with the opportunity to integrate the arts and academics. As a result test scores went up, and so did parent participation in the school.

She works on numerous school committees and management teams to promote the arts, including the annual Spring Arts Show and Cleveland Museum's Students Parade the Circle.

As an artist, she has participated in numerous exhibits, including the Tokyo Central Museum in Japan. As an enamelist and jewelry maker, she has been a guest artist, lecturer and teacher at the Cleveland Institute of Art, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Pi Beta Phi, Museum de Bellas Artes, Venezuela, and Penland School of Crafts.