November 7, 2005

Learn about and enjoy folk music Wednesday afternoon

Members of Spring Grove, from left, Carter Jastram, Becky White, Steve Zelenka and Gordon Franklin
In a folksy mood? Join Columbus State's new music group Spring Grove and while away the afternoon with Irish jibs, fiddle and novelty tunes, and instrumental compositions November 9 at 3 p.m. A part of the faculty lecture series presentations, Spring Grove's free concert features Gordon Franklin, Carter Jastram, Steve Zelenka and Becky White.

At the concert, Spring Grove will play and sing old-time and modern folk music, including Carter Family songs, novelty songs, sea shanties, and fiddle and dulcimer tunes. A highlight will be a rendition of "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring," performed by Gordon Franklin on a hammer dulcimer he hand crafted, with Carter Jastram accompanying him on guitar. During the concert, the musicians will discuss the folk music and the role their instruments play in the genre.

Spring Grove formed in April 2005, after Franklin sent an email to find interested folk musicians. Two employees and a friend of an employee took him up on the offer. They began meeting on Tuesdays to practice and came up with the name Spring Grove from Spring and Grove streets that run along the perimeter of the campus.

During performances, everyone does a bit of singing, with Franklin and Carter as the main vocalists and White and Zelenka providing back-up. Everyone plays an instrument.

Gordon Franklin, director of Chorus Columbus State, plays the fiddle and dulcimer. He has both a traditional folk and classical music background and received his training at the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati.

Carter Jastram, adjunct faculty member in Developmental Education, plays guitar. He learned folk guitar when he was 15 and has performed in many Columbus area coffeehouses and churches.

Becky White, a friend of Jastram, plays fiddle. She has been playing violin since she was 10 and has played with numerous bluegrass and gospel groups in the community and at her church.

Steve Zelenka, office assistant in Human Resources, plays bass. He took up the bass in his late teens and has played in a rock band, as well as played blues and bluegrass and for musical theater productions.

Already garnering a name for themselves on campus, having played at the annual college fundraiser Taste the Future and a bookstore open house, the group was recently booked at an engagement party. As to their future plans, according to member Zelenka, "We hope to start small, but we do hope to do more performing in the community in the future."

All are welcome to attend the free concert at 3 p.m. in the music room in TL 123.


OTAP graduate finds success with Ironworkers

Craig Abercrombie recently was assigned to work on the Columbus State bookstore construction site as an Ironworkers Union Local 172 apprentice for the Smoot Construction Co., general contractors on the job.
Not too long ago, Craig Abercrombie was balancing between prison, poverty and poor self-esteem.   Now he's balancing on top of the world, working as an apprentice with the Ironworkers local union, tiptoeing along the huge steel framework of buildings as they take shape, and pulling down a hefty paycheck in the highly skilled trade of the ironworker.

Abercrombie, a family man with two children and a wife, decided to turn his life around after getting out of prison in 1992.   He earned his GED, then enrolled in the federally funded Orientation to Trades and Apprenticeships Program, (OTAP) offered at Columbus State. The program is a Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) funded program through the Franklin County Department of Jobs and Family Services. Students must be parents living below the official poverty level to qualify.

Carol Higgins, coordinator of Columbus State's OTAP program, says Abercrombie stopped in November 1 to thank her for helping put him on the fast track toward a career that has restored his sense of self-worth. "When he got his first paycheck as an apprentice, he brought it in for us to see and he was positively thrilled," said Higgins.

"Over the past several years of this program, about 80 percent of those who complete the coursework become employed as apprentices and tradesmen. They learn how to take tests, do interviews, develop proper work habits, as well as learning the skills necessary for the trade. It's not that our students don't want to work; in many cases, they just don't know how to work," explained Higgins.

In 2004-2005, 121 students completed the Columbus State OTAP program.

Ironworkers Union Local 172 president Pasquale Manzi, who hired Abercrombie, recently told Higgins, "If you can give me any more like him, I'll come to your class every day." He told Higgins that Abercrombie has been an outstanding apprentice. Higgins agrees, noting that since starting the OTAP program, Abercrombie has lost 45 pounds and gained a ton of self esteem. "He is an absolute success story," said Higgins.


Academic Center D taking shape

After many months of construction, Academic Center D is shaping up into a state-of-the art facility containing myriad offices for Community Education and Workforce Development, conference rooms, classrooms, a kitchen for catering, many classrooms, a child development center, and a knock-your-socks-off conference center. The carpet, made of two-foot squares that are easily replaceable, ranges from neutral tans to gray with yellow and blue circles, and the walls run the gamut of burnt orange, cream, yellow and peach.

Below are a few photos, and if you'd like to see more, click here for the gallery.

The stunning fourth floor conference center will be able to seat up to 500 guests and can be divided into three separate meeting spaces.

Glenn Smith leads a tour through the second floor office space of B&I.







View from the fourth floor conference center patio, looking at the future play area and entrance to the Child Development Center.





Fitrakis becoming authority on 2004 presidential election

The reputation of outspoken journalist, political junkie, social policy commentator and Political Science Professor Bob Fitrakis is growing rapidly across the nation.

His latest venture into the political arena has seen him jet-setting across the country to promote his two latest books, Did George W. Bush Steal America's 2004 Election? Essential Documents and How the GOP Stole America's 2004 Election and Is Rigging 2008.   Both were co-written with Adjunct Communication Skills Professor Harvey Wasserman.

How the GOP Stole America's 2004 Election and Is Rigging 2008 is an investigative report citing more than 180 instances alleging massive voter theft, fraud and illegalities in Ohio's presidential balloting. Of the book, the Reverend Jesse Jackson has said, "Fitrakis and Wasserman are the Woodward and Bernstein of the 2004 election."

During this past summer, Fitrakis went on two book tours to Southern California and Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington.

A frequent speaker on political, labor and social policy issues at national academic and political conferences, he has also appeared on many local and national radio programs, as well as in documentaries. Nationally, he's been interviewed on Pacifica, National Public Radio, many independent stations all over the country, and on Air America shows of Stephanie Miller, Randi Rhodes, Laura Flanders and the Minority Report.

Fitrakis has also been featured in many independent video documentaries about the election including Electile Dysfunction, A Little Light'll Do Ya, and Got Democracy.

He has also appeared on Capitol Hill. "I testified before Congress in Washington, D.C., last December, and my, and Harvey's, reporting from made up most of the information in Representative John Conyers' report 'What Went Wrong in Ohio?'" Fitrakis said. "I also testified at the Election Assessment Hearing in Houston in June, and my testimony became part of the Carter-Baker Report."

Fitrakis' and Wasserman's article "How a Central Ohio Election Official Stole the Vote in Black and White," which appeared on, a web publication with progressive news and commentary, was recognized by Project Censored as the third most censored story of the year. Project Censored, a media research group out of Sonoma State University, which tracks the news published in independent journals and newsletters, annually compiles a list of 25 news stories of social significance that have been overlooked, under-reported or self-censored by the country's major national news media.

When not writing books or teaching, Fitrakis hosts two weekly public affairs call-in talk radio programs on WVKO 1580 AM: "Fight Back," from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturdays, and "The Fitrakis Files," from 8-9 a.m. Thursdays. He also serves as the National Vice Chancellor and Chancellor of Ohio for the International Association of Educators for World Peace.


Brad Farmer named president of ONAEB

Brad Farmer, Purchasing, Accounts Payable and Travel supervisor, was elected president of the Ohio National Association of Educational Buyers (ONAEB) at the 66th annual conference earlier this month at Baldwin Wallace College.

ONAEB is the Ohio division of the national organization, which was founded in 1921 and is headquartered in Baltimore. NAEB's mission is to facilitate the development, exchange and practice of effective and ethical procurement principles and techniques within higher education and associated communities through continuing education, networking and advocacy.

ONAEB was founded in 1939 and has 76 member institutions consisting primarily of Ohio public and private two-year and four-year colleges. Only four times in the past 66 years have representatives from community colleges led the organization.

One result of Farmer's role as president of ONAEB is that Columbus State will host the 2006 annual conference, already being planned for October.

Klimek awarded scholarship for professional development

In other ONAEB news, Cindy Klimek, buyer in the Business Office, was awarded a $750 scholarship from the Ohio National Association of Educational Buyers. Klimek, who wrote an essay detailing how state budget cuts have affected the college's budget, will use the scholarship money to attend professional development seminars in the next year. 

Leeman paints the town

Stacy Leeman, adjunct faculty in Humanities, was chosen as one of 10 finalists for the 2006 Miami University Young Painters Competition William and Dorothy Yeck Award. Her paintings are a part of the exhibit that will run December 12-February 10 at the Hiestand Gallery at Miami University. The winner of the award will be named at the January 20 artists' reception.

Leeman is also participating in all media competition November 16-December 14 at the Gallery International in Baltimore.

National Center for Adoption Law and Policy to host informational talk

If you are considering adopting a child, the National Center for Adoption Law and Policy invites you to attend a live video informational talk at noon Tuesday, November 15, to learn about the many issues to consider with adoption, as well as whether attending the Center's Adoption Academy is right for you.

The Adoption Center, in partnership with Children's Hospital, has produced the Adoption Academy, a 12-week, two-hour-a-week program covering legal, medical, financial, cultural, and other issues surrounding domestic and international adoption. The Academy has three four-week tracks covering core issues, domestic issues, and international issues. Fees to each of the tracks, which cover photocopying costs, are $20 for an individual or $35 per couple.

The November 15 video feed is a one-hour opening session presented by Kent Markus, director of the National Center for Adoption Law and Policy at the Capital University Law School, and will be held in the global classroom, Room 006, of the ERC. There is no cost to attend the video feed seminar.

For more information about the Adoption Center or Adoption Academy, contact Kent Markus at 614-236-6545 or