Man proposes with snow sculpture, stolen cell phones retrieved after the victim's family conducts their own sting, and one REALLY old fruitcake - all that and more in this week's edition. 


Man proposes with snow sculpture

NORTH CANTON, Ohio — Dan Winger wanted to do something special to propose to his girlfriend, but he wasn’t sure just what.

“I researched all the cliché stuff,” he said. “Then I saw where (The Repository newspaper was) looking for pictures of snow sculptures.”

That gave him an idea. The next morning, Feb. 18, Winger went to work. He spent four hours building the block letters that asked Stephanie Pavona to marry him.

“I had no idea he was going to do this,” she said. “It isn’t how I imagined being proposed to. I always thought it would be a quiet evening with just the two of us.”

Pavona goes home for lunch from her job at the Cain Toyota and Scion dealership. As she pulled into the driveway on Thursday, the proposal greeted her.

Winger is a landscaper and owner of New Image Landscape in North Canton. During the winter months, he does snow removal.

“I had to wait until about 9 a.m. to start (the sculpture) because I was out doing jobs. By the time I finished the words, there was no time to add a question mark at the end.”

Cops arrest accused cell phone thieves after victims set up sting

WATERTOWN, Mass. - Two men who robbed a Belgian exchange student at knifepoint on Feb. 18 were arrested a little more than an hour later in a sting set up by his savvy host family, according to Watertown Police.

Jonathan Brown, 19, and Nicholas Schiavo, 21, were arrested and charged with armed robbery for taking two cell phones from the student.

Police said the student was walking home when he saw Brown and Schiavo standing on the opposite side of the street. One of the men grabbed the student while the other held a knife to his midsection. After the men took the phones, they got into a Toyota Camry and sped away.

The student’s host family began texting the phones and set up an exchange where the family would leave $500 in a barrel. Brown and Schiavo showed up at the predetermined location and began searching the barrel for the cash.

Police stopped the two men as they tried to drive away from the location.

Really old fruitcake passed down through 3 generations

NEOSHO, Mo. - When Mary Ashford of Cheyenne, Wyo., came to visit her sister in Missouri, she brought along a family heirloom — a 103-year-old fruitcake that has been passed down through three generations.

This fruitcake, which is intact, was made in Shenandoah, Iowa, in March 1907 as a birthday cake for 8-year-old Clarence Henry VanVelkinburg.

But the birthday cake was never eaten because VanVelkinburg's mother, who made the cake, died in childbirth that evening. VanVelkinburg did not want to eat the cake so he wrapped it in a cloth and put it in a cupboard. And as he grew up, he kept the fruitcake with him.

VanVelkinburg passed the cake on to Mary, a married daughter who lived in Jackson, Mich. Mary died in 2006, and the cake went her oldest daughter, Mary Ashford, the current owner.

While the old cake has been passed through three generations, its progress through the family may come to an end. Mary feels it is time to move it on to another place. She is giving serious consideration to selling the cake. Several museums, including the Smithsonian, have expressed interest.

Couple arrested after street fight

MASSILLON, Ohio — A couple was arrested on felony charges Monday night after police saw them fighting in the street.

Christopher R. Holland, 24, and Fiora A. Castorani, 19, were arrested at 9:30 p.m., Stark County Jail records said.

He was charged with felony domestic violence, and she was charged with felonious assault and misdemeanor domestic violence.

Jail records said police were driving when they saw a white vehicle and Holland standing alongside it in the road.

Holland began throwing punches through the driver’s side window, and then the car was put into gear, the jail records said.

The records said Castorani attempted to strike him with the car, at which time he bounced off the hood and hit the ground.

Good Samaritan finds, returns $1,000

KINGSTON, Mass. - Don MacPhail reached into his pocket to pay for his family’s dinner at the Charlie Horse restaurant in Kingston. Then he panicked.

A thousand dollars that MacPhail had planned to deposit in the bank had vanished.

MacPhail, 62, thought the money was gone forever, but when he asked the waitress if she had seen $1,000 clipped to a deposit slip, she said a customer had found the money and given it to the manager.

“With the economy being what it is right now, how many people would give ten $100 bills back?” MacPhail said.

Derryl Lawrence, 59, found the money. He said he and his son turned the money over to the restaurant manager after he found it on the ground in the parking lot on a weekend evening.

“It’s just automatic to us,” said Lawrence. “We are true Christians, and we believe it’s the right thing to do.”

While MacPhail and Lawrence did not know it at the time, both of them are Vietnam veterans disabled in the war.

Lawrence suffers from severe respiratory problems, in part because of exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam, he said.

“It isn’t the time I have left, it’s the quality of it,” Lawrence said, “and being honest does affect that quality of my life. I feel a sense of honor by being honest.”

MacPhail sent Lawrence a gift certificate to the Charlie Horse.

“I just told him how special he was,” MacPhail said. “He’s just a very, very, very special person.”

GateHouse News Service