The center of secrets

The East Liverpool Area Community & Learning Center is one of the best kept secrets of the East Liverpool area. In operation now for over two years following its Grand Opening in May of 2016, the Center has offered a variety of new programs and events to residents of the greater tri-state area appealing to people of all ages and a variety of interests.

In the last couple of weeks, however, there have been a number of people who have visited the Center and have said “I had no idea what a wonderful facility we now have in our community,” “I didn’t realize that it was not longer a church,” and “I wish we would have held our (party, event, wedding reception, vendor show) right here with the air-conditioning and abundance of easy parking.”

The Center hosts up to five events during a single day. This is in addition to baseball games held in the Potters baseball field, which adjoins and utilizes the Center parking lot. Also there is the Columbiana County AAA driving instruction and spill over parking at East Liverpool High School special events at the school. The Center is home to the East Liverpool Lions Club, the Beacons, Guardians of Children, a bridge club, the Youth Choir, the Valley Nurses Ministries Association, the Collolquim Club, two narcotic counseling programs among others.

The Center has been a seat of learning when it comes to the arts and education. There are adult and children’s libraries, lecture series offering programs that dealt with consequential individuals and events in the greater community, tutoring elementary age children directed by retired teacher Denise Pershon, free piano lessons with Nancy Hornick and art classes with Lora Russell.

At its annual Installation Meeting last month, the East Liverpool Rotary presented a $1,000 grant to Lora Russell to assist her with the expenses she incurs each week to provide free canvas, paint and brushes to the 25 or so youngsters participating. Lessons are free and Lora gives of her time without charge. Lora reports a tremendous satisfaction she receives from teaching her children. She says now that she would even rather teach than paint.

Lora and her husband Charles have lived in Hookstown, Pa., since 1992. She is a native of Burgettstown, Pa. Lora first discovered her talent in art when she began her studies at Flagler University in St. Augustine, Fla. She paints under the name of L. Russell Paintings. Lora had been holding adult art classes in Thompson Park in the summertime. At the same time she first felt a need to expand her teaching, Lora discovered the Community Center. Lora has now made part of the west wing of the Center into her art studio where she conducts lessons each Wednesday. Over the last couple of years Lora has acquired many new budding students. Some of her own art work along with that of her students are on display to the public during normal Center hours seven days a week.

Recently Lora was invited to show several of her paintings at the Summit Art Studio in Weirton, W.Va. This past May, she again participated in the Oak Glen Arts & Crafts Show held at the school. Many local as well as former area resident artisans, authors and musicians gather each year to share their talents with the greater community. In addition to teaching, Lora is often commissioned to paint still subjects such as pets, scenery and other subjects by patrons wishing to give a special gift to family and friends, particularly during the holidays.

Lora can reasonably handle 25 children at a single art class during her regular Wednesday afternoons at the Center. She also holds private lessons for adults and children who wish to receive more individual attention before and after the children’s art classes. However this month Lora intends to increase her time at the Center offering private lessons to adults and the children. Presently she has 50 children on a waiting list for her free art lessons.

At the recent open house at the Center, Lora conducted an exhibit of the art work of her students. Four judges selected winners in various categories including first, second and third place in various categories and Best of Show. It attracted many visitors to the Center who expressed their surprise at the creativity of her students. In order to enroll in her classes, Lora can be contacted through the Center by phone at 330-303-2110 or at her home phone number at 724-544-5013.

The Board of Directors of the HHH Foundation will hold its regular quarterly meeting next week in the Fletcher Board Room at the Center. Since it opened, the Center has concentrated on hosting special events and learning opportunities. However the Center feels a needs to promote the Center as a place where people can simply visit, sit for awhile and relax with friends. The Board would like your input on some activities that the community would like to have available at their Center.

Some possible activities to be discussed will include weekly band concerts featuring local area entertainers in the air conditioned Blair auditorium, and also outdoor concerts during summer months. It was apparent from the recent Center Expo how much musical talent is available in this area who would be willing to share their music with their community.

Some other ideas to be discussed will include another wine tasting event like the one presented by the Ohio Wine Growers Association several years ago; after hours televised sporting events for open gatherings or private parties at any one of the Center large screen TVs and the new Center Theatre; a recent inventory revealed hundreds of VHS classic movies that could be shown on one of two big screen venues TVs coincident with the showing of the weekend Center Theatre presentations; providing transportation to and from the downtown area of East Liverpool for visitors and local residents wanting to extend their stay; other participatory activities in the Teen Zone in addition to the pool table, ping pong, corn hole toss, air hockey, and Foosball that has been so popular with children of all ages; the appointment of an Activities Director responsible for the activities at the Center that will better respond to local needs and desires; more Vendor Shows in the all-weather, air-conditioned Banquet Center that can easily accommodate 30 or 40 vendors and over 200 people at a time.

You are invited to call or visit the Center with your suggestions and ideas about how to help make the Center even better.

The generosity of former and current residents continues to be amazing. Another piano has been offered to the Center in response to an appeal in the last article. Martin and Carol Liebschner are donating an upright piano in support of the free piano lessons being offered at the Center under the direction of pianist instructor Nancy Hornick.

A former resident of our general area contacted the Center and offered to donate her complete collection of Hall China teapots. It includes all colors ever made. She wants her collection to be seen and enjoyed by the people right where the ceramic ware was produced. The teapot collection will compliment the Harker Pottery Exhibit donated by ceramic collectors and authors Bill and Donna Gray, the private collection of Homer Laughlin ware under loan from David Conley, and the Exhibit of local artist Hans Hacker on display at the Center.

The Center is now accepting applications for the third season of the Legacy and Legends lecture series. The first of the 2018-19 programs is to be offered in late August. Past lectures dealt with such local subjects and individuals like the death of Pretty Boy Floyd; the life and times of C.A. Smith, godfather of Chester and Rock Springs Park; the Homer Laughlin China Company; the Yellow Creek Massacre; “World’s Greatest Life Insurance Salesman” Ben Feldman, who was a resident of East Liverpool; and the music of local benefactor and producer of popular turn of the century music Will Thompson. Most lectures have been recorded and are available for viewing by Center visitors. This next year the six lectures will deal with equally interesting and entertaining subjects as voted on by present members of the lecture series.

The cost of joining the Legacy & Legends Series for six evenings of enjoyment of subjects of particular interest to tri-state area residents is a one-time tax exempt donation to the Center of $100. The events are held on Tuesday evenings opening with the reception honoring the speakers at 6:30 p.m. This is followed by educational and entertaining presentations by authorities on the subject of the evening. Applications can be picked up at the Center and they will also be mailed to former members.