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‘Ragtime’ Set To Close On Broadway

January 3, 2010

Happy New Year, readers!

It seems as though it were only yesterday that we were hailing the arrival of the "new" 21st century and the "new" decade of the '00s. I know, I know, it's a sign of age that the years seem to be slipping by so quickly!

Looking back, the past decade has brought major changes - some great, some good, some terrible, some merely bad, some in-between - to everyone around me. Here's hoping that the decade of the '10s will bring better developments for all of us!

I note with sadness that the revival of the musical, "Ragtime," with Wheeling native Aaron Galligan-Stierle in the role of Henry Ford, is set to close on Broadway today, Jan. 3, after a run of 57 performances.

Rumors of the impending closing of "Ragtime" had been rampant online and in the theater community for weeks; all of the reports had been denied until Monday, Dec. 28, when producers announced the show's closure.

Michael Kuchwara, Associated Press drama writer, reported, "The $8 million musical will close after a disappointing run of less than two months at the Neil Simon Theatre. ... The ambitious revival opened Nov. 15 to generally positive notices but never took off at the box office."

Congratulations go out to Roger Micker, a Steubenville High School history teacher who has been named to Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland's 15-member Civil War Sesquicentennial Advisory Group. He is one of two teachers from the Buckeye State selected to serve on the advisory group.

Micker, who was nominated by the Ohio Historical Society administration, is a living-history and Civil War re-enactor. Currently, he is writing a book on the Civil War. He also is a member of the Ohio Historical Society, president and trustee of the Ohio Valley Civil War Roundtable, a member of the Buckeye Council for Social Studies, a member of the Ohio Historical Society teacher advisory committee and a member of the Ohio Think History 2 program.

Former Wheeling businessman Steve Merrick forwarded a copy of an article from The Chronicle of Higher Education that offers a glowing account of "President Buck," in an examination of G.T. "Buck" Smith's pesidency at Davis & Elkins College.

Area resudents will recall that shortly after retiring as president of Bethany College in December 2007, Smith accepted the top post at Davis & Elkins.

In The Chronicle article, writer Scott Carlson opined that "in higher education, Mr. Smith is known as a turnaround artist, a man with the talent and disposition to take a failing college and transform it into a winner. Here, at 74 years old, taking no salary, he is trying to save a tiny, debt-ridden college in one of the poorest states in the country. His strategy is so simple and earnest, it may sound naive to the jaded."

The article quoted Smith as saying, "The underlying thing for me is relationships -hardly anything important happens that doesn't have to do with relationships."

According to the article, Smith reportedly told the Davis & Elkins trustees that he would work as long as he and his wife, Joni, who has chronic respiratory problems, were healthy enough.

"Joni and I are spending our years together doing this, and we'd love it if we can make a difference in the lives of these kids, this institution, and this community," Smith is quoted. "It's not a job, it's a mission. I wouldn't do it if it was a job."

Linda Comins can be reached via e-mail at:

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