Reporter's notebook

Local election board prepares for war If war comes to Sandusky, the Erie County Election Board will
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010


Local election board prepares for war

If war comes to Sandusky, the Erie County Election Board will be ready — or at least will have a plan.

Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, hoping to avoid the controversies of the 2004 presidential election, has been issuing a barrage of directives to local election boards.

Most are fairly mundane. All election boards, for example, have to place their voting machines in a secure, locked room to guard against tampering.

But one provision surprised Debbie McDowell, director of the election board. The  board has been told to prepare a contingency plan “in the event of an interruption, including natural disasters, attacks or acts of war, or degradation of service.”

McDowell plans to study the contingency plan already prepared by Allen County.

Although she has years of experience conducting elections, McDowell admits she doesn’t have an extensive  background in preparing for combat.

“It throws me for a loop,” she said.

Tom Jackson

It’s not always easy

Not every newspaper assignment is enjoyable, and some make you downright queasy.

Like the other night, when I was told to contact the family of a high school senior killed earlier that day in a one-car accident. The editors wanted a story about what she was like, what she enjoyed and what dreams she had.

There was only one way to get that information and, inwardly, I blanched at the thought.

I’ve covered a lot of stuff as a reporter, but had somehow managed to avoid the job of interviewing parents whose child has died tragically.

As I drove to their residence I practiced what I was going to say to them, and how I was going to say it.

No matter what I formulated, it sounded crass and ingenuine.

How do you convince someone in the throes of horrible grief to converse at length about a loved one who died only hours earlier? Is it just a callous ploy to get an endearing story? Is it reprehensible to even try?

Contrary to popular belief, not all journalists are cold-hearted slugs determined to get the facts at any cost. We can question the ethics of our actions, too, and sometimes find them a bitter pill to swallow.

David J. Coehrs

Rising from the depths

In a voice that wanes to a whisper every few minutes, Marla Chudy speaks of rising from the depths of despair, finding faith and learning to live with mental illness. It’s hard not to be intrigued by this woman, who survived three suicide attempts and had the courage to share her darkest moments with the world.

Chudy, who is a facilitator for the Erie/Ottawa chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, recently published a book chronicling several decades of suffering from bipolar disorder and severe depression.

Through vagus nerve stimulation, or VNS therapy, surgeons implanted a small device to send signals to the part of the brain that controls moods. This causes her to lose her voice momentarily at regular intervals, but Chudy seems otherwise healthy and much happier.

She was kind enough to offer me a copy of her book, “Somewhere Under the Rainbow.”

I haven’t finished it yet, but in my opinion, it’s a captivating story packaged into an easy read.

Chudy should be commended for taking the time to share her journey with others.

Visit the publisher’s Web site,, for more information.

Annie Zelm

The pizza man is your friend

Delivering hot cheesy pies can be a hazardous job.

When I worked as a delivery driver in Pittsburgh many years ago, about half of my coworkers had been held up by knife or gunpoint.

One employee still had a scar on his neck from when a heroin junkie hopped into the back of his car and made him his personal taxi.

As thanks for the ride, the junky slit him deep.

During the summer I worked for Pizza Hut there was a string of violent burglaries against drivers.

One driver was shot in the face, and the responsible party got away with about $80.

Another driver was pumped full of bullets.

I was saddened to read recently that another pizza man in my hometown was shot in the back during a delivery.

That came on the heels of the murder of two employees inside a neighborhood pizza shop.

And now Billy Craft, 19, of New London is in jail on aggravated robbery charges after he allegedly threatened a pizza delivery driver Tuesday night.

Authorities said he used a knife to steal about $200 from the pizza delivery person.

As a former pie guy, I hope to make a plea for pie guys everywhere: Please stop being violent toward delivery people.

All drivers want to do is get you your order in a timely fashion.

It’s hard to remember dipping sauce when you are busy fearing for your life.

Cory Frolik