Hearts Afire Inspired by a Love for Event Planning
Meet Nancy Duff, one of the volunteers helping to plan the city’s Hearts Afire Weekend. Love is in the air… Nancy shares how her love for event planning helped inspire the new celebration!
I’ve lived in Cincinnati my whole life, and moved to Loveland 30 years ago with my husband, Jr. We have two kids, Logan and Lexi, both graduates of Loveland High School. I work in the Special Education Department at Loveland High School, which I LOVE.
I was a stay–at-home mom when my kids were younger, and I loved helping out in their classrooms as a volunteer/room mom. It didn’t take me long to figure out that I was born for this kind of thing, and before I knew it, I was that “over the top” room mom that was in charge of all the parties! By the time my kids were in high school, I got to take on bigger jobs like decorating for school events, band fundraisers, and show choir functions. It was around this time that I met another high school mom that suggested that I start going to the City of Loveland Events Planning Committee meetings with her.
And that’s where it all started for me! It’s been about six years now that they have let me help plan Christmas in Loveland and the Independence Day Celebration. I think they let me keep coming back because I am pretty good at convincing people to do things they didn’t even know they wanted to do!
Between these two events, meetings and planning happen pretty much year-round with a month or two break here and there. Even though it’s a lot of work and long hours, I keep coming back because I love the group I work with! City Hall’s Misty [Brents] is a great leader that keeps us organized and moving forward. Our meetings are always full of laughs and giggles.
My favorite Christmas was the year we went “Who-Ville.” We opened a “Cindy Lou Hair Do” salon, where four hair stylists created awesome Cindy Lou up-do’s! While waiting inside City Hall to see Santa, people could pet baby sharks from the aquarium (you know, One Fish, Two Fish) and dance to the “Baby Shark” song played by a DJ. It was a stretch, but people had a great time. You had to be there; it really was epic!
Over the years, I got to attend Valentine Breakfasts when my daughter was lucky enough to win the Annual Poetry Contest. It became something we really looked forward to every year. These breakfasts got me thinking that we could do so much more to celebrate Valentine’s Day in our city. My friend, Sherri, and I talked about the things we would do if we got the chance, and then, after the Valentine Breakfast last year, we approached Misty with all of our ideas. It didn’t take long until she was onboard with giving it a try!
The City of Loveland Events Planning Committee decided on the Hearts Afire name because we thought it stood out from other event names — just like we feel our city stands out from others! I think people will be surprised when they see how much fun will be going on all around town the weekend before Valentine’s Day. Nearly every shop and restaurant in town has been planning something special to offer their customers …that they LOVE! Hearts Afire will be such a bright spot during what can be a cold and dark time of year. And there will be so many fun activities…ice carving, a charity date auction, painting and craft classes, fire twirlers, a Newlywed Game, love “spell” workshops just to name a few things….that there is really something for everyone. There will be indoor and outdoor activities throughout the weekend. This is a chance to bring the community together after so many of us have been distanced during the pandemic.
Anyone who knows me, knows I love to watch Hallmark movies! The cute towns they use for their movies are the vision I have for us here in Loveland. I won’t be happy until Hallmark features Loveland in one of their movies!
I can see Hearts Afire being a popular destination that people from all over Cincinnati want to visit. We aren’t called the “Sweetheart of Ohio” for nothing!
Loveland Sustainability Council Reduces Waste
What can you do today for a better tomorrow? The Loveland Sustainability Council (LSC) encourages residents to recycle, reduce waste, and practice sustainable habits in their everyday lives.
During the holiday season, LSC is promoting The Great Holiday Light Challenge, a friendly competition held annually among City of Loveland, Miami Township, and Symmes Township residents. Residents are encouraged to recycle used holiday lights at drop-off locations. The community that recycles the most “wins” bragging rights. Loveland residents may drop off their lights at City Hall (120 W. Loveland Ave.) through Jan. 30.
“Last year we collected over 530 pounds of lights. Symmes won with almost 250 pounds,” said Amy Van Strien of LSC.
If you are thinking beyond the holidays, LSC holds programs throughout the year to help residents recycle and declutter their homes. Dates will be announced in the coming months for these annual programs:
- Electronics Recycling Drive – April
This event normally coincides with Earth Day. Items like computer monitors and TVs are typically accepted.
- Hazardous Waste – June
Items like paint, batteries, appliances, and pesticides are collected at this event.
- One Stop Drop – October
LSC holds this multi-site event in the city in the fall. Items that can be recycled or reused are collected. For instance, clothing and furniture donations may be accepted.
Throughout the year, LSC hopes to be a resource for residents. If you have an item you would like to recycle but you don’t know if you can and/or where, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
LSC also encourages residents to visit hamiltoncountyrecycles.org for tips.
To learn about volunteer opportunities or how you can donate to LSC, please visit https://www.lovelandsustainabilitycouncil.org/.
Independent Record Shop & Music Label Has Rockin' Success in Loveland
Did you know Loveland is home to one of the region’s largest record shops AND an international record label?
Strolling through Downtown Loveland, the casual shopper might not realize they have stumbled into a new and used record mecca, as well as a recording studio, upon entering Plaid Room Records (122 W. Loveland Avenue).
Not to mention that Plaid Room has weathered the pandemic stronger than ever! The business has hired 20 new employees within the past year. Its online sales are booming; business has never been better.
Let’s take a look at this unique Loveland business…
A Love for Music
Owners Bob and Terry Cole grew up around music. Their dad is an avid record collector, and they began helping him sell his collection on eBay when they were in middle school. Through college, Terry continued to sell records.
Upon graduation in 2007, Terry created Colemine Records, the now international record label. The label began as a funk/soul label with a late 1960s/early 1970s sound. It served as an outlet for Terry’s own music and allowed him to release music for friends, while eventually leading him to several partnerships with larger bands.
But he knew if he wanted to continue to grow the label, he needed a source of steady income.
“The answer was opening up a record store to complement the label,” explained Bob, who had been working as a computer engineer when Terry approached him with the idea.
“At first, it was just fun for me. I had a great job. I started working part-time at Plaid Room in the evenings. At some point, it became obvious that I could be all in and really do this with Terry. We could grow both sides of the business together – the record store and the label.”
Loveland: The Perfect Location
“Record stores are destination locations. We are not reliant on foot traffic, but it certainly adds to the business,” said Bob.
Originally hailing from Middletown, Ohio, the brothers knew they wanted to be on the outskirts of Cincinnati and not too close to any other record store. There are approximately 20 record stores in Greater Cincinnati.
Loveland was the ideal location. They were familiar with the Little Miami Bike Trail and Historic Downtown area: “Loveland is a cool town. We always liked it. When we found available space here, we knew it was going to be a good fit for us.”
In 2015, the brothers leased space in the Brown Building and opened Plaid Room Records. Then, in 2018, they purchased their current two-story building. The lower floor houses the record store, and the upstairs features the recording studio and label offices.
Colemine Records: An International Label
Colemine Records has developed into an international record label featuring more than 50 artists.
Terry and Bob pride themselves on building relationships with their artists and providing different services based on the artists’ individual needs. For instance, one artist may only ever record four songs with the label, whereas another may release an album each year and require venue booking and tour support.
“We are willing to work with anyone on their level, if we enjoy their music,” explained Bob. “Our big picture goal is that we want to develop artists and become a household name.”
Over the years, its reputation has grown. A major piece of this is pitching artists’ music for commercials and TV shows. In the past year alone, songs have been featured in an Apple Watch commercial, Bose commercial, and the Sonic the Hedgehog movie.
Another sign of success: the label now receives 10-20 demos per day from multiple genres, which prompted the brothers to branch off from the label’s original funk/soul roots. They created a sub-label called Karma Chief in 2018. (The new label’s first signing was the four-time Grammy-nominated psychedelic soul band the Black Pumas!)
Plaid Room is one of the Midwest’s largest record shops in terms of sales volume. It averages 100-175 new releases per week, whereas comparable stores average 25-50. Because of its sales volume, Plaid Room can consistently offer a unique selection to its customers.
In fact, Bob and Terry have hired more employees to keep up with demand. Pre-pandemic, the store had six employees; now 26 employees are on payroll.
Bob cites that when the mandatory shutdowns occurred in 2020, it forced them to improve their online shopping experience: “Online shopping just started going crazy. We had to hire more employees to keep up with sales. The pandemic ceased up all our operations in the beginning, but it gave us much-needed time to focus on building our online side of the business.”
And the store still has a steady flow of in-person customers, eager to see the variety of new releases each week.
“We have regulars who come in two times a week. We have a great local following,” explained Bob. “Now we also have a great national following through our online side, too.”
Check it out for yourself! Plaid Room Records’ hours of operation are Wednesday-Saturday (noon-7 p.m.) and Sunday (noon-5 p.m.). Visit www.plaidroomrecords.com to learn more about the shop or www.coleminerecords.com/ to learn more about the label.
Plaid Room Records will a Record Store Day event on Nov. 26 (Black Friday). The store will celebrate with store-wide sales (some exclusions may apply).
Loveland Library Adapts with Pandemic
The pandemic changed the way many organizations operate, and your local library is no exception. Lovelanders, your librarians have been hard at work adapting and dreaming up creative ways to keep in touch over the past year.
Most recently, the Loveland Branch Library, located at 649 Loveland-Madeira Road in the Shopper’s Haven complex, partnered with the Loveland-Symmes Fire Department to host Zak Morgan at KidsFest on Oct. 2 in Nisbet Park. Morgan is a GRAMMY-nominated children’s performer, known for his creative writing and lively concerts.
“Zak does a great job of communicating excitement about reading,” said Heather Jobson, Children’s Librarian at the Loveland Branch. “Due to the pandemic, we are unable to host large gatherings of children in the library. So, we are trying to reach kids out in the community to inspire excitement about reading.”
In the week leading up to KidsFest, the library partnered with a secret “book fairy.” In this creative idea to inspire reading excitement, children’s books were hidden across the city for kids to find. This is called “bookfairying” and done simply as a good deed to share the love of reading!
Don’t fret if you missed out on these events. The library has another fun event coming up: Loveland Library Game Quest on Oct. 22-23 for families and adults. This is a weekend featuring tabletop board games, role-playing games, card games, storytelling and more. Due to the pandemic, advanced registration is required. Check it out online and sign up!
The pandemic has brought many changes to the library. Heather shares a few FAQ to help keep residents informed.
How can I find out about library events?
Visit the library website, or visit the library to pick up a Schedule of Events.
What are the library hours?
Hours have changed during the pandemic. Presently, Loveland hours are Monday and Tuesday 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.; Wednesday – Saturday 10 a.m. -6 p.m.; closed Sunday.
Are book clubs meeting in person?
Loveland has an adult book club that meets monthly. The Loveland Bookclub is currently being held virtually. Register online for the meeting link.
What’s new at the library?
We have an active MakerSpace for customers of all ages to use. Only several Hamilton County branches have a unique MakerSpace! Equipment includes a 3D printer, vinyl cutter, sewing and embroidery machine, digital conversion, and button maker.
Loveland is in three counties. Do you have to be a Hamilton County resident to get a library card?
No, you do not have to live in Hamilton County. If you live in the state of Ohio, you are welcome to get a Hamilton County library card. Just bring a photo ID (such as a driver’s license or state ID) with your current address to the library, and we will set you up with a card in a few minutes.
Is there an age requirement to get a library card?
Anyone from infant to centenarian may get a card. Minors do not need a photo ID to get a card.
Can I volunteer at the library?
Yes, we are always seeking volunteers. Teen and adult opportunities can be found on our website.
How can I make a monetary donation to support the library?
The Library Foundation is always accepting donations to help strengthen collections, expand programs, and enhance services.
Can I donate books to the library?
Donations are being accepted at branch library locations as of July 2021. In addition, The Friends of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County accepts donations at their warehouse.
Mike's Carwash Named a Top Ohio Employer
Mike’s Carwash has been recognized on the Best Employers in Ohio 2021 List in the Large Employer Category (250 or more employees). It’s the 7th time Mike’s has been honored as a top Ohio employer.
Founded in 1948 in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, the company is one of the largest exterior-only carwash chains in the United States with 30 locations across Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio. Mike’s prides itself on its quality service — delivering a clean, quick carwash every time, with a smile. Approximately 348 employees work in Ohio.
Mike’s Carwash operates its support office from Loveland, Ohio. The office opened in 2014 and is located in Loveland’s Commerce Park off Union Cemetery Road.
The Best Employer in Ohio 2021 List, published by Crain’s Cleveland Business, recognized the company for its investment in its employees. The award speaks to the importance the company places on finding, training, and nurturing team members.
“We’re so proud to again be named as one of Ohio’s top employers,” said President Mike Dahm. “The award validates our commitment to building the best team in the carwash business. We work hard to create a culture that is challenging, rewarding, and especially fun for our team members. Winning this award is proof that our hard work is paying dividends.”
Mike’s offers its team members training and development; tuition reimbursement; wellness programs; and diversity training. The company was also recognized for its flexibility in adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic by allowing employees to work from home as needed.
Another hallmark of the Mike’s Carwash business model is its commitment to give back to the communities in which it does business. The company has given millions to local charities through partnerships with the Cincinnati Reds Community Fund, The Anthony Munoz Foundation and Big Brothers Big Sisters, to name just a few. Mike’s has even supported City of Loveland events like the annual Independence Day Celebration.
Adds Dahm: “As committed corporate citizens, we believe it is important to support causes that are vital to the towns in which we do business. In particular, we’re humbled to be able to partner with so many wonderful organizations that support the neediest of all — our children.”
CancerFree Kids Hosts 100 Mile Challenge
Be a champion for kids with cancer! CancerFree KIDS is hosting the 100 Mile Challenge in September, which is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
“The 100 Mile Challenge is a fitness and fundraising campaign. This is the first year for the event,” said Cari Speed, Marketing Manager of CancerFree KIDS.
Participants are challenged to complete 100 miles of activity (walk, run, cycle, swim, skate, etc.). As participants complete the physical challenge, they are encouraged to reach out to friends and family to raise $100 to help kids with cancer. CancerFree KIDS ensures that 100% of fundraising dollars will go toward pediatric cancer research.
In addition to the individual challenge, there is also a corporate challenge. Businesses can compete to have the largest team (most individuals) conquer the challenge. The winning company will receive a grant named in its honor in CancerFree KIDS’ 2022 grant cycle.
This September, during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, about 1,290 kids in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer, the leading cause of death by disease in children. They join thousands currently in treatment and hundreds of thousands more who have previously battled cancer.
However, despite these numbers, research for childhood cancer is severely underfunded. Only 4% of the federal research budget is dedicated to pediatric cancer; none of which funds new, innovative ideas. The 100 Mile Challenge exists to spread awareness and to raise funds to fuel CancerFree KIDS' mission to get such new, innovative ideas off the ground.
A $25 registration fee covers the costs of the program, including a t-shirt, finisher certificate, and medal upon completion of the challenge. All participants will be invited to join the 100 Mile Challenge Facebook Page to connect with others and plan meet-ups to hit the mileage goal.
Founded in 2002 by Loveland residents Ellen and Sam Flannery, CancerFree KIDS is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that funds innovative childhood cancer research at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and Nationwide Children's Hospital (Columbus, Ohio). In July 2021, the organization announced its latest and largest round of funding — $1 million in grants — that will fund 19 research studies at Cincinnati Children’s and Nationwide Children’s.
“My husband, Sam, and I were motivated to action when our 5-month-old daughter was diagnosed with cancer in both of her eyes. Today, that baby is a healthy college student because of cancer research. CancerFree KIDS developed out of our family’s experience into a deepening commitment among thousands to fight and end childhood cancer through research. Our goal is to give every kid a chance to grow up healthy and cancer-free,” said Ellen Flannery, Founder of CancerFree KIDS.
To learn more and to sign up for the 100 Mile Challenge, please visit www.cfk100milechallenge.org.
To learn more about CancerFree Kids, please visit www.cancerfreekids.org. If you would like to make a donation to pediatric cancer research, donations can be made online or sent by mail to CancerFree Kids, PO Box 575, Loveland, OH 45140.