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Lillards head up United Way 2019 fundraising campaign

Zeb and Stacy Lillard, of rural Montpelier, see the value in being involved in making the Williams County community a better place to live. And they are continuing to put that belief into action as the chairpersons of the 2019 Williams County United Way fundraising campaign.

The Lillards were announced as chairpersons at the Williams County Fair in September for the campaign that will run through March of next year. United Way Executive Director Chasity Yoder said the goal is to raise $360,000 this year, which goes to help about three dozen local nonprofits and initiatives that receive financial assistance through the United Way.

“We know they believe in the United Way and they are very involved in the community. We try to have involvement from people all over the county and we haven’t had chairpersons from the Montpelier area recently, so we’re really excited to have them join us and help us reach our goal this year,” Yoder said last week.

The Lillards are Williams County natives — Zeb grew up in Pioneer (North Central Class of 2002) and Stacy in Montpelier (MHS 2003). They were high school sweethearts who met during Locomotive football games and married in 2014. They have no children, but humorously note that it’s a blended family — each brought a dog into the marriage.

Stacy, a local real estate agent, recently completed her term as president of the Montpelier Civic League, while Zeb — the operations manager for Saneholtz-McKarns Inc. — recently completed his term as president of the Montpelier Rotary Club.

Both said they grew up in homes that stressed charity and being involved with the community. Plus, said Stacy, the timing was right.

“When we met with Chasity, we were just finishing up our terms. It didn’t overlap, so it was good timing,” Stacy said.

Stacy said she knew about the United Way when she worked at Spangler Candy Company in Bryan for 10 years, and was a regular United Way contributor through the payroll deduction plan. But she said she didn’t know how many organizations and how deep the United Way’s commitment to local nonprofits was until she and Zeb initially met with the board.

“Once we really learned about the United Way and how dedicated they are to helping the community, we knew we could really buy into it and be convicted to ask people to dig deep,” Zeb said, adding he and Stacy are thankful they both have workplaces that offer them the flexibility to be involved with United Way.

United Way of Williams County, a 501(c)(3) organization, supports a diverse array of 37 nonprofits and initiatives, whose programs touch the lives of an estimated 18,000 people in Williams County — about half the total population. A few of the groups that receive United Way financial assistance include the Let Me Play fund, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Station library, Never Let Go Ministries, Sarah’s Friends, the Red Cross and Cancer Assistance of Williams County.

Importantly, said Yoder, “All the money raised stays right here in Williams County.”

The Lillards will be part of the upcoming Trivia Night, Day of Giving radio-a-thon and other United Way activities throughout the campaign, and will accompany Yoder on visits to local companies to make personal presentations about the importance of giving to United Way through donations and/or payroll deductions.

Stacy also laughed when she said she and Zeb plan to use their extensive wedding list of local contacts to leverage support for the campaign.

Yoder said United Way welcomes the Lillards’ youthful energy and enthusiasm.

“We always love for young people to be involved. The younger generation needs to see the value of United Way’s investment in the community. They’ll help be a voice not only for us, but for the whole community,” Yoder said.

For more information about the United Way of Williams County, find it on Facebook, its website at www.unitedwaywc.org, visit its office at 1100 E. High St., Suite B, Bryan, or call 419-636-8603.

GM selling shuttered Ohio factory to electric truck maker

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — General Motors is selling a massive assembly plant it shut down earlier this year in Ohio, a closing that drew threats and scolding from President Donald Trump, to a newly formed company that said Thursday it intends to begin making electric trucks by late 2020.

The company called Lordstown Motors Corp. plans to hire 400 production workers at the outset, but said it still needs more investors before manufacturing can begin.

GM had employed 4,500 people at the factory near Youngstown just two years ago before it began cutting production and eventually in March ended more than 50 years of car manufacturing there, part of a major restructuring plan.

The closing of the once-bustling factory that last made the Chevrolet Cruz came into the political spotlight last November after Trump criticized the plan and pushed GM executives to either reopen or sell the plant, at one point threatening to cut off all federal subsidies to GM.

Trump took a particular interest in the Lordstown plant, which sits in an area of Ohio that will be important to him in the 2020 election and is where he promised supporters at a rally that manufacturing jobs are coming back to the Midwest.

Terms of the sale and the investors who are behind the deal weren’t disclosed by the privately held Lordstown Motors. CEO Steve Burns said Thursday that GM is not among the investors.

Acquiring the plant will allow the company formed just months ago to begin seeking more money so that it can begin production of a new electric pickup truck that will be marketed to commercial customers such as utility companies and municipal governments.

So far, the focus has been on designing the truck, building its management team and buying the plant, he said. “We’ve raised money to get this far, but the large fundraising starts now,” Burns said.

The company, he said, had a unique opportunity to buy an auto plant still equipped welding, stamping and painting operations needed to produce vehicles.

“Normally when these plants shut down, by the time someone buys it, it has been gutted,” he said. “To build from scratch would be in the billions.”

While production will be limited in the beginning, the plan is to create a hub for electric vehicle manufacturing. “We didn’t buy this plant to not fill it up and get to full production,” he said.

Burns was a founder of Cincinnati-based Workhorse Group, a fledgling electric truck maker, that will hold a minority stake in a new venture and provide it with technology needed for the new pickup trucks.

Speculation on the plant’s future had centered on Workhorse since Trump happily tweeted last May that the company was in talks to buy the huge facility. But there also have been plenty of questions about its financial footing.

Burns said he knows there will be skepticism until Lordstown Motors starts producing an electric pickup truck that customers love.

The trucks, he said, will use hub motors in each wheel, eliminating the need for drive shafts and other parts.

“We’re essentially reinventing electric vehicles,” Burns said. “The wheel is the motor. The only moving parts on this truck are the wheels. It’s a super, simple vehicle.”

The deal comes as GM itself is trying to move toward the future with an eye on autonomous and electric vehicles, with plans announced earlier this year to build its own electric pickup truck at a Detroit plant. GM also is building an electric vehicle battery cell factory in the Lordstown area that will be run by a joint venture.

Burns thinks his company can compete for a share of the electric vehicle market by being quicker to adjust to new technology and by targeting commercial, fleet customers who want more than what conventional trucks can supply.

Table is set for a missing vet
Table is set for a missing vet

Members of the board of the Williams County Veterans Memorial met with Williams County Commissioners at the entrance of the Williams County Courthouse to welcome the installation of “The Soldier’s Table.”

The table is set in observance of National Veterans and Military Families Month.

Military Family Month was established in 1996 by the Armed Services YMCA, with the U.S. Government recognizing the occasion every year since. Each November, the President signs a proclamation declaring November Military Family Month, and with hundreds of thousands of service members deployed overseas, recognizing the daily sacrifices made by active duty, Guard, and Reserve military families has never been more important.

The proclamation signed by President Donald J. Trump this year states:

“America’s military men and women and their families are vital to the security and prosperity of our Nation. We have a responsibility to protect and serve those who have made countless sacrifices for love of country. As President Lincoln once said: “Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country’s cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as best he can, the same cause.” We also recognize the integral role our more than 2.6 million military family members play in supporting our Armed Forces and contributing to their mission. While our military men and women are serving at home or overseas, it is our duty to provide their families with the resources they need to thrive in our communities.”

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy A.T. Johnston earlier posted the following on a DOD website.

“Each year, November is designated as National Veterans and Military Families Month. It’s appropriate that during this special month we give thanks for what we have and hold dear – the blessings of freedom secured for us by our service members and their families.

“For National Veterans and Military Families Month – and for all other months of the year – remember the burden and hardship shouldered by our veterans and military families, which they gladly took on for all of us. While we thank them for their service, the time has come to move beyond words to action. Where and when you can, please extend a hand to our veterans and military families in friendship and solidarity, in appreciation of the work they have done for America.”

In recognition of the month, leadership of the Williams County Veterans Memorial asked that The Soldier’s Table be placed in the lobby of the courthouse.

The installation, dedicated on Thursday, signifies the missing men and women who served our country.

The symbolism of the table and each element of the table represent:

• The table is round – to show our everlasting devotion and concern for our fallen comrades.

• The cloth is white – symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to serve.

• The single red rose reminds us of the lives of these Americans….and their loved ones and friends who keep the faith, while seeking answers.

• A slice of lemon reminds us of their bitter fate, captured or missing in a foreign land.

• A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears of our missing and their families.

• The non burning candle is the stillness and respect for a life lost.

• The glass is inverted – to symbolize their inability to share a toast.

• The chairs are/chair is empty – they are not here — and will remain so until they return or are accounted for.

The table will remain at the entrance of the courthouse throughout the month of November.