Saturday, August 17, 2013


OUR OPINION: Tough Mudder a good deal for city

The City of Mansfield deserves praise for securing the return of the Tough Mudder event next year.

This year’s two-day event brought nearly 20,000 people to Mansfield to challenge themselves on the 12-mile extreme obstacle course.

More importantly, the event pumped $5.3 million to our local economy in the form of spending by organizers and participants. Part of that came from indirect or induced spending, a multiplier that pumps dollars into our economy from suppliers or others peripherally connected to the event.

Last year’s Tough Mudder challenge was hailed by participants
and visitors as a huge success, nearly selling out despite several issues beyond the control of organizers.

When nearby parking fell through, organizers reacted quickly to find a suitable solution, using rented school buses and parking lots at the Richland Mall and the former GM plant.

Mother Nature also brought a rainstorm on the second day of the event, making the run through the mud even muddier.

After planning began for the event more than a year ago, Tough Mudder and the city entered a five-year agreement that located the course on city-owned land near Mansfield Lahm Airport.
Tough Mudder agreed to pay the city $30,000 each year— even if the event were to be canceled.

Last month that became a very real possibility when Tough Mudder raised major issues about parking and— believe it not— too much mud.

Turns out Mansfield’s mud run was the muddiest run of Tough Mudder’s 52 venues this year. It was so muddy, in fact, that construction of the course nearly held up the race.

However, organizers came together to work out a deal that would provide nearby parking for 6,000 vehicles and allow for an access road for course construction.
There is no question that Mansfield has many assets that can be leveraged in ways that benefit our community financially. One of those assets is our location between two of Ohio’s major metropolitan areas. This was a key element in Tough Mudder’s decision to bring their wildly popular extreme obstacle course here. The city’s ability to find a way to accommodate the needs of this business shows what can be done when local leaders work together.

This is the kind of action we expect from our elected leaders and we encourage similar behavior in the future.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Published June 16, 2013, in the Mansfield News Journal

Pick up a paddle:

Explore Ohio from network of waterways

By David Kennard
News Journal

MANSFIELD -- The soft gurgle of clear water as it whirlpools around moss-covered stones is the siren call to Ohio’s canoeing enthusiasts.

From the earliest days when American Indians began building wood-framed boats covered with the bark of birch trees, held together with sinew and pine sap, people have explored the waterways that snake across Ohio.

Stepping into a canoe is stepping back in time.

Virtually unchanged in design, canoes continue to carry modern-day explorers seeking adventure through remote areas of our state otherwise inaccessible to humans.

And, as the warm summer months bring more people to the water’s edge, more explorers will answer the call of the streams and rivers that push through deep forests, majestic cliffs and historic areas.

According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, recreational paddle sports — canoeing and kayaking — account for 20 percent of all watercraft registrations. However, only within the last 10 years has the state committed serious resources to help paddlers discover Ohio’s river systems.

The State Water Trail program began in 2003, and in 2006 the Kokosing River in east central Ohio became the first river with the designation.

Explorers can put in at Mount Vernon and travel the nearly 28-mile, mostly-wooded river east though Knox and Coshocton counties. The trail includes a good variety of paddling experiences, including deep water and short rapids.

The Kokosing and its sister to the north, the Mohican River, are the epicenter of Ohio’s inventory of canoe-able waterways.

“Thousands of visitors come here every year, if you include all the commercial liveries in the Loudonville area,” said Kim Marshall, director of the Knox County Park District.

Marshall is well acquainted with central Ohio’s popular water ways.

“This whole area is rich in Ohio history,” Marshall said. “I know the Delaware tribes used these waterways. Before that, very early woodland Indians also were in this area.”

Putting in on the Mohican River at Mohican State Park south of Loudonville, paddlers will push their crafts under the dense forest canopy south and soon begin to see remnants of Ohio’s earliest residents — sandstone bridge piers from vacated railroad grades, stone foundations from early settlement long abandoned.

At the point where Holmes and Knox counties meet, boaters will float past the Greenville Treaty line that in 1795 established the boundary between the United States and American Indian land. Drawn after the end of the Northwest Indian War, the line marked land open to settlers to the south, and northern lands that remained American Indian territory.

Any one of Ohio’s nine designated State Water Trails is a good way to introduce yourself to canoeing or test your ability level the same as early Americans did so many years ago.

Nearby: Mohican State Scenic River

Loudonville has built an industry around a tourist destination that has — for years — drawn visitors to the forests, rivers and trails of southern Ashland County.

Six canoe liveries operate in the Loudonville area, including the oldest livery in the state, Mohican Adventures, which began shuttling paddlers along the Mohican River in 1961.

“This is an essential part of the local economy,” said Bob Yun, executive director of the Loudonville-Mohican Convention and Visitors Bureau.

This year’s canoeing season, which traditionally begins in April or May depending on water levels, shows all the signs of an excellent year, he said.

“It’s looking pretty good,” Yun said. “Interest in the area is up. We’ve had more phone calls and requests for information. Our website traffic is up.”

The commercial liveries rent canoes, kayaks, tubes and rafts for floating the river system. Detailed information about the services provided can be found at the visitors bureau website, www.loudonville-

The liveries are full-service operations designed to provide everything you need to float the river.

If you bring your own canoe and need shuttle service, call ahead to arrange transport. Each livery operates a little differently.

If you are planning your own trip, the best place to put in is near the entrance to Mohican State Park on Highway 3. Park at the Mountain Bike Trail parking lot. A short day trip — about 11 miles on the river — will take you through Amish country to Greer, near the Wally Road Scenic Byway.

A longer trip will take you further south toward the confluence of the Kokosing River.

Take plenty of water and always wear a life jacket, as the last 17 miles of the trail take you into a very remote natural area.

Getting started

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has detailed information, including maps and descriptions, on the nine waterways designated as State Water Trails.

East Sandusky Bay Water Trail: This is the only open water trail in Ohio and provides scenic views along Sandusky Bay on Lake Erie. (15.3 miles, circular route)

Great Miami River Water Trail: This is the longest trail in the state, connecting Indian Lake to the Ohio River in Cincinnati. In Dayton, the Great Miami is joined by the Stillwater and Mad rivers, which make up the Great Miami River Watershed Water Trail, collectively offering 265 miles of waterway. (157 miles, north to south)

Kokosing River Water Trail: The trail passes through historic areas in Ohio and includes long lengths of remote river with no human population. (28 miles trail, west to east)

Mad River Water Trail: From Bellfontaine to Dayton, this trail includes sections of fast water as it moves paddlers south toward its confluence with the Great Miami River. (65 miles, north to south)

Mahoning River Water Trail: The trail winds through wooded, rural and urban areas in Trumbull County in northeast Ohio. It’s location near the Western Reserve Greenway Trail and Bicycle Route J make it a nice paddle/pedal destination. (23 miles, south to north)

Mohican River Water Trail: The state’s premier paddling destination, The Mohican State Scenic River is a must-visit for anyone serious about canoeing. The trail provides a true wilderness experience through Ohio’s Mohican backcountry. (28 miles, north to south)

Muskingum River Water Trail: The trail connect Coshocton to the Ohio River along the longest navigable river wholly in the state. It includes the hand-operated locks of the Muskingum River Parkway and passes through the historic communities of Dresden, Zanesville, Malta-McConnelsville, Beverly and the port town of Marietta. (112 miles, big river paddling, shared water ways with power boats)

Stillwater River Water Trail: This trail begins in remote Darke County on the west side of the state. The meandering river flows through several small farming communities before merging with the Great Miami River in Dayton. (65 miles, west to southeast)

Vermilion-Lorain Water Trail: This unique trail begins in northern Ohio and includes both river and open water travel on Lake Erie before going back inland toward the town of Lorain. (27 miles, south to north)

Find a canoe

Like most outdoor sports, equipment can be the difference between a great trip or a soggy failure.

Consumers can purchase a decent river canoe for $400 to $2,500. Used canoes also can be purchased for much less. Add to that the expense of paddles and life jackets, and the cost can get pretty high, pretty fast.

A good alternative is renting, especially if you are planning to only occasionally venture off shore or would like to get a taste of the sport.

A simple online search will point to any number of canoe liveries that will quickly get you onto Ohio’s back country water ways. These companies offer every variety of services you may need on your adventure, from equipment to shuttle services.

What to know before you go

There are a number of things you should know before you set off into the wild. Here’s a short list:
  • Wear your life jacket: Water seems cool and inviting, but canoes tip easily, putting you and hard rocks within close proximity.
  • Mind the weather: A little rain won’t sink your canoe, but wind, heavy rain and lightning can be deadly. Seek shelter when necessary.
  • Stay off private property: You’ll see the signs posted.
  • Pack it in, pack it out: Carry a litter bag. Don’t bring glass and if you find some, pack it out. Canoes can haul a lot; do your part to keep our water ways clean. 
  • Wear shoes or sandals at all times: Foot injuries are no fun on a canoe trip.


Ohio has many resources to help canoeing enthusiasts travel the state’s waterways.

A good place to start your adventure is with information from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. You can find just about anything you need to know at

Talking to experts at sporting goods stores or a visitors bureau also will point you in the right direction.
Twitter: @davidbkennard

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

2012 Awards

Mansfield Awards in 2012

AP: 12 total

Kennard, Best Editorial Writer
Kennard, Best Graphic Artist
Kennard, Best Informational Graphic
Spencer, Best Sports Writer
Spencer, Best Sports Columnist
Staff, Best Sports Section
McCurdy, Best Sports Enterprise
Whitmire, Best Business Writer
Durbin, Best Business Writer
Polcyn, Best Photo Essay
Ramaley, Best Full Page Layout
Staff, Best Community Service

Gannett: 3 finalists, 2 firsts
Q1 Finalist, Jon Spencer, Iditarod
Q2 Finalist, Staff, Fire coverage
Q2 Finalist, Staff, storm coverage (shared with MNCO)
Q3 First Place, Staff, Jobs package
Q4 First Place, Mark Caudill, Kidnapping
Q4 Finalist, Kennard, Twig Beetle graphic

Bucyrus Awards in 2012

AP: 3 total
Chandler, Best Sports Writer
Messerschmidt. Best Sports Writer
Tobias, Best Photo Essay