The past year marked a fond farewell to several beloved officials and the closure of two neighborhood schools, while 2008 also celebrated a local World War II hero, inaugurated a cancer fundraiser and celebrated the Hartford Fair's Sesquicentennial.

The past year marked a fond farewell to several beloved officials and the closure of two neighborhood schools, while 2008 also celebrated a local World War II hero, inaugurated a cancer fundraiser and celebrated the Hartford Fair's Sesquicentennial.

The procession of respected leaders who left their public positions began with long-time Hartford Fair secretary/manager John McDavid, who resigned on Jan. 31.

McDavid had served as secretary/manager for 16 years,and was a Hartford Fair director for 37 years. During that time, he saw the fairgrounds double in size and expand its facilities, including the addition of an administration building, small animal barn, new 4-H center, Wright Arena addition, Jay Baird arena, natural resources park and pavilion and the Babcock building.

One reason McDavid decided to resign was to allow him to travel to China for the Summer Olympics, where his son Brad served as one of three band directors for the games.

Larry Hughes, a fair board member since 1970, took over McDavid's responsibilities as secretary/manager.

Despite the change in leadership at the fair, Hartford's Sesquicentennial made history, setting an overall attendance record and several single-day records.

Attendance from Sunday, Aug. 3, through Saturday, Aug. 9, brought a record 219,544 visitors to the fairgrounds.

Johnstown's Big Red Band also marched under the direction of a new leader in 2008, after Marc Zirille resigned at the end of the 2007-08 academic year to take a position at Olentangy Orange High School.

Zirille built Big Red from 60 members when he arrived eight years ago to an approximately 175-strong band.

Joe Carver, former assistant band director at Lakewood Local, was hired in June in take over Zirille's position. Carver graduated cum laude with a bachelor's degree in music education from Ohio University in March 2007.

The community also experienced the loss of two public officials with the death of Karl VanDeest on March 8 and the death of Joe Robertson on May 1.

VanDeest was serving his third term on the Johnstown Village Council. He had also served as mayor from 2006-08.

Robertson was serving as vice president of the Monroe Township trustees. He had been a Monroe trustee since 2006. He had also served on the Johnstown Village Council from 1977 to 1991.

The village of Johnstown also said goodbye to manager Sarah Phillips, who left her duties Dec. 12 to become city manager of Rolling Meadows, Ill.

She had served as village manager for almost six years.

It wasn't the loss of a person, but of a pair of neighborhood schools in the Northridge Local School District.

Hartford and Homer elementary schools closed for good at the end of the 2007-08 academic year to make way for the new Northridge Primary in Alexandria (formerly Alexandria Elementary) and a modular unit, Northridge Intermediate, adjacent to the middle school.

Northridge Primary houses K-3, while Northridge Intermediate is home to the district's fourth- and fifth-graders.

Hartford and Homer were both ranked in the top 20 of the "most needy" buildings in the state of Ohio in February. Homer ranked 11th, Hartford, 19th.

The district qualified for the Exceptional Needs Program through the Ohio School Facilities Commission based on the condition of the buildings.

The elementary schools celebrated their heritage on May 30, the last day Hartford and Homer were open to students.

Hartford also hosted a Blow Out Bash on May 23 that was touted as a "farewell party for the kids and the school."

Local residents formed 30 teams on one of the hottest days in July to kick off Johnstown's inaugural Relay for Life, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society (ACS).

About 230 Johnstown area participants helped raise an estimated $27,000 that will be used for ACS research, education, advocacy and patient service programs.

Various fundraisers were held prior to and during the relay on July 18-19 at Johnstown-Monroe High School.

Event chairman Mary Wiswell said plans are already being made for the 2009 Relay.

About 1,600 Johnstown school district children and 400 community members packed the J-M gym on Nov. 11 to give a hero's welcome to Don Jakeway, who was the guest of honor in a Veteran's Day celebration.

School children waved American flags and the high school band played a military tribute, as the day was proclaimed "Don Jakeway Day" in Licking County by commissioner Tim Bubb.

Jakeway, 85, was a member of the 508 Parachute Infantry Regiment. He served as a sergeant in H Company, third platoon and is a veteran of Normandy, Holland and The Battle of the Bulge in Belgium

Congressman Pat Tiberi presented Jakeway and J-M Principal Kim Jakeway with a check for $100,000 to be used as a scholarship for a student athlete. The $5,000 scholarship will be awarded annually to a Johnstown athlete.

Jakeway, a 1942 graduate of J-M, earned nine varsity letters in basketball, football and baseball. He gave up a scholarship to play football to fight in the war.