A different 100-year-old birthday

I had never been to a 100-year birthday before I attended the Ohio State University Extension, Jefferson County division, anniversary celebration on May 10. The state observation was May 8 when the Smith-Lever Act was signed in 1914.

There were many activities planned at Friendship Park, where the day-long excitement was to take place, but the rain put a damper on some events.

Actually, OSU has enjoyed 95 years in our county, when the first agriculture agent was hired.

Since the 1919 date, Extension has had five homes, the first out of the Jefferson County Farm Bureau office at the National Realty Building.

In 1936, the Farm Bureau moved, so Extension left to an office in the Federal Building, the former Steubenville Post Office, and stayed there almost 40 years.

In 1975, county commissioners purchased the Washington School on Adams Street and moved the Extension office there. In the mid-1980s the advisory committee discussed moving the office to the West End to be more centrally located – and made the move in 1989 to the Stambaugh Plaza.

In 2012, the Indian Creek School District was renting space at its administration building on Bantam Ridge Road. The facilities offered two classrooms to be used as office space, two storage areas and a gymnasium for meetings.

In 2014, commissioners purchased the Towers Building and invited Extension to move there. Because of the central location of the Bantam Ridge building, they opted to stay put and pay their own rent.

A three-year lease was entered with Indian Creek Schools, and the Extension goal is to raise the entire lease amount. Someone with great mathematic skills computed the lease out to $27 for a day’s rent. Therefore, a fundraiser is under way to “Sponsor a $27 Day.” And that is what the spaghetti dinner, Chinese and fun auctions were for.

Janine Yeske, Extension educator-4-H, told those gathered together in the restaurant that there were two reasons for the celebration: To raise money for the rent and to honor longtime employees, committees, advisory groups and young people in 4-H.

Three Extension employees spent more than 30 years in the agriculture and youth-oriented work.

Pop Taylor was the first to spend 30 years, from 1930 to 1960. He talked farm problems and advice on WSTV-AM, WWVA-AM and KDKA-AM radio. On Pop Taylor Day, a day designated just for him, he received a car radio that was installed in his vehicle, a rarity for those earlier years. He put contour strip farming on the map in the county and wrote many articles on the subject.

Ken Simeral spent 30 years with Extension. The first four, 1967-72 were as a 4-H agent in the county; in 1972 through 1976, he was an ag agent in Noble County; and from 1976 until his retirement in 2008, he was in agriculture.

Jamie Bell was program assistant, bringing many informative issues to the people and was called the “Girl Friday” who could answer phones, relate farming information from the top of her head and plan programs at the drop of a hat. She was at the office from 1971 to 2008.

Dave Grumm was another who worked in the Extension office as ag agent from 1962 to 1972. He is retired and now living in Belmont County.

As I was hopping over (and into) puddles making my way to the fair grounds restaurant, where all the action was taking place, I nearly ran into Bob Hickle, co-adviser for the Island Creek Sporting Clays Inc. The Shooting Sports group was not able to do all they wanted to accomplish for the day. I learned they are looking for 14 members to join the group. At present there are six, and the allowed amount is 20.

Their biggest aim is to teach safety and give instruction on how to operate a gun. Their next meeting will be on June 14, so those interested need to call the Extension office to sign up.

As I was talking to Hickle, two boys were standing in puddles that would rise up beyond the soles of my shoes, but they had no worries about this. They were wearing knee-high rubber boots. Ben and Luke Linscott of Toronto were the sons of another adviser for the Shooting Stars.

Corky Saiter was struggling with an enormous box that contained the 100-year birthday cake. He got it settled on a table, and I asked him to tip it up so I could photograph him holding it. Then I sent up a few prayers that the cake would not slide and end up in a sugary puddle on the floor.

Ken Perkins was checking tables for dirty dishes to be removed to make space for other groups of hungry pasta patrons. I wanted to take his picture but he referred me to Suzanne Kresser, who was next on my list anyhow.

Even though it was a bit chilly outside, the kitchen was steaming hot, due to the cooking of 50 pounds of pasta. The cooks and servers looked cool and collected as they cooked and served the pasta, though.

I got Suzanne, Sherry Finney and Judy Saiter in the picture. The last two gals know all about the kitchen. They worked it many hours when the 4-H committee was operating during past fairs. Judy was the head planner for years. Sherry and Loretta Finney prepared the sauce.

There were banners worn by select people -those named junior fair queen or king in past years. The first was Rachel “Maxine” Bonecutter Milligan, 1960 royalty; Bev Huffman Riddle, 1966 queen; Heather Pruneski Saiter, 1990; Erin Saiter Best, 1992. The king sashes were worn by Clint Finney, 1998; T.J. Arnett, 2007; and James Wood, 2009.

Katherine Whinnery, 2013 county queen, was wearing her 2014 Ohio Fairs’ Queen crown as the representative of the state. She was presented a gift by Yeske.

While Lamont and I were eating dinner, and I was jumping up taking pictures and jotting down names, my reporter’s notebook came up missing. After wandering about checking tables to no avail, Janine put out the plea that everyone’s favorite reporter was missing a notebook. Since I was the only reporter there, I had to assume that was me.

After I convinced myself I had thrown it away when I tossed out the trash, Bruce Riddle, seated next to me, held it up and asked how much I was offering for a reward.

Since we were seated rather close together, it got slipped under his placemat and wasn’t noticed until he cleared the table.

It was heart warming to see Suzanne Kresser give a little girl’s theme-puzzle she received in the fun auction to Lindsey Best.

I think someone did likewise with a fun gift for Leland Bonecutter, 6, who was looking at a toy basket in the Chinese auction with great longing.

(McCoy, a resident of Smithfield, is a staff columnist and food editor for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at