MANSFIELD — We’re raising the stakes on solutions in Ashland County. 

On Saturday, June 25, we are hosting our second volume of “Reporting: Reimagined,” an event that asks local artists to use their talents to reinterpret our solutions journalism work. 

The goal of the event is to celebrate the individuals and organizations that have introduced solutions to north central Ohio. 

That’s why we will also be awarding our first-ever “Solutions Seeker” award at our June 25 event. 

We want to honor three individuals that live out the values of the Source with this award — one for Ashland Source, one for Richland Source, and one for Knox Pages. 

A Solutions Seeker is a person who brings people together, stands for north central Ohio, delivers on promises, begins with gratitude, looks for solutions, and iterates on ideas.

Solutions Seekers are problem-solvers. They are challenging the status quo. They don’t accept past challenges and limitations, and instead push through them. They are actively working to leave their communities better than they found them. We believe they should be recognized for this worthy work.

Nominations for the first-ever award were collected for the first two weeks of April. The entire staff at Richland Source, Ashland Source and Knox Pages were invited to submit an individual for consideration who was the main focus of a story written in 2021 or 2022. We collected 22 eligible nominations that included links to the article referencing the nominee – 12 from Richland Source, 6 from Ashland Source, and 4 from Knox Pages.

Finalists from the 22 total nominations were selected by Director of Journalism Sustainability Angie Cirone, and Engagement & Solutions Editor Brittany Schock. Finalists were measured and chosen against the core values criteria based on the submitted article with their nomination.

Now we’re asking you, the readers, to select one winner from each Source media property. This person will be announced at our Reporting: Reimagined event on June 25: 

Read more about the finalists for the first-ever Solutions Seeker award:

Terry McQuillen – Ashland Source

Terry McQuillen is the director of life enrichment and volunteer coordinator at The Good Shepherd, a nursing home in Ashland. Mental wellness of the residents has always been a concern for McQuillen, and that led her to starting the “As You Wish” program. The goal of the program is to give residents a chance to do something they’ve always wanted to do, or allow them another chance to do something they have long loved.

Russell Matz – Ashland Source

Russell Matz was looking for a church outreach activity when he discovered the idea of group bike rides, plus fixing up old bikes and giving them to people in need. Thus, Rail Rollers Bicycle Adventures was born, giving away 23 bikes and gathering as many as 40 people to go on weekly rides in its first year. Rail Rollers is just one way Matz has kept his church community engaged, and stepped into the community during uncertain times.

Brandon Nettleton – Ashland Source

Agriculture has some of the highest rates of preventable fatal work injuries, and farm-related fatalities per year in Ohio have been increasing. Brandon Nettleton helped in developing a grain elevator rescue training project at a training facility in Wayne County. This project will prevent farming accidents and save lives, preserving the future of the farming business.

Ed Akinyemi – Richland Source

Originally from Denmark, Ed Akinyemi has made his mark since moving to Mansfield. He is a former NECIC staffer and an avid financial literacy advocate, even testifying before the Ohio Senate. But his nomination comes from his work with Demeter’s Developments, a rent-to-own matched savings program that gives people a path to home ownership.

Latonya Palmer – Richland Source

Latonya Palmer has been incarcerated. She knows the myriad of problems that present for people in jail – and their family members on the outside. That’s why she founded the Perfect Peace Prison Project to bridge that gap with the community, and giving away Easter baskets is just one example of her important work.

Tony Vero – Richland Source

Tony Vero moved progress forward on the former Westinghouse property seemingly by sheer force of will. Through a collective effort with the so-called “Westinghouse Team Force Group,” the property has since been absorbed by the Land Bank and the governor himself announced $4 million from the state for demolition and clean-up. But none of it would’ve happened without Tony first pushing to “start doing some things.”

Courtney Lower – Knox Pages

The well-being of Knox County Job & Family Services employees was the catalyst for implementing two programs to reduce burnout and combat high job turnover rates. Their human resources director, Courtney Lower, said this is a passion project for her. So far, those who have participated in the programs have learned to better cope with stress, be more optimistic, and regulate the trauma they’re exposed to on the job.

Ptl. Jeremiah Armstrong – Knox Pages

Patrolman Jeremiah Armstrong is the School Resource Officer with the Mount Vernon Middle School, high school, and Knox County Career Center. He came up with the idea to create PAK United, an initiative that brings together youths and Mount Vernon police officers in a positive atmosphere. Similar programs have reduced recidivism rates and created better relationships in the community.

Jeff Gottke – Knox Pages

Ready or not, Intel is coming to Licking County, and bringing with it the single largest private commercial investment in Ohio’s history. Such an investment is bound to have ripple effects in Knox County, so Area Development Foundation president Jeff Gottke focused on one question: “How are we going to plan for this?” He decided to answer that question personally by creating a local strategy through research and conversations with other economic development officials, with the goal of preparing Knox County for the decades ahead.

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