Marilyn Huffman thought there is something we ought to know.
Back in December, the Lima woman wrote a letter to the newspaper about heroes. She mentioned those in the military as well as police and firefighters. Then she added there are also “the ones you don’t hear about, those that assist us in our lives making some aspect a little easier.”
Huffman said she has such a hero who stops at her house every morning. It is Colleen Miller, who places The Lima News in front of her door every day. “If there was ever an award for newspaper carrier of the year, she should receive it,” Huffman wrote.
Well, guess what? There is such an award. It’s handed out by the Ohio News Media Association every February. And we are happy to say on Thursday this year’s honor is going to Colleen Miller.
When you look at the nominating petitions, it’s easy to see why.
Her customers praise her for not only placing their newspaper where it is easy for them to reach but also for being a friendly face that looks out for them. “Colleen just doesn’t deliver the paper, she makes a connection with her customers and cares deeply about them,” said Tina Bowers, who has been subscribing to The Lima News for 68 years.
Jerilyn Johnson recalls the time her brother was ill. “Colleen would place our paper on the ledge of our front door so that he did not need to stoop down to get the paper.”
Fran Johns calls Colleen a “keeper.” She and her husband Bob are the last customers on Colleen’s route. Fran said Colleen will stop and visit and pet their dog Chloe. “Chloe knows when Colleen’s in the neighborhood and barks to let us know.”
Colleen, 57, has delivered newspapers through heavy snow, ice, flooding rains and dense fog during the four years she’s had her routes on the west side of Lima and Shawnee Township. She’ll pick up her papers around 3 a.m. in the darkness of night and have them delivered as the sun comes up.
She has one rule she follows when delivering to her 250 customers.
“I just treat people the way I would want them to treat me,” she said.
That means turning off the lights to her car when she pulls into someone’s driveway. “I don’t want the lights of my car waking anyone up.” It also means walking up to the porch to place the newspaper exactly where the customer wants it. “So many of my customers are elderly. If I can put the paper in a spot where they don’t have to bend down, then that’s what I’m going to do.”
She writes notes to her customers if she knows the delivery is going to be late for some reason, such as an Ohio State football game, or if she notices something may be amiss.
Denise Brown said one time Colleen noticed the newspaper was still on her porch from the day before. “She called my cell phone to make sure I was alright,” Brown said.
Of course, when you work in the middle of the night, weird things can happen. One time someone saw Colleen darting from house to house and called the police on her, thinking she was a prowler. Another time her car became stuck in snow. “Four policemen pushed it out for me,” she said.
When Colleen is not delivering her newspapers, she’s cleaning houses for the elderly or volunteering her time with the Humane Society. And then there’s a grandson, “I have to spend time with him,” she smiles.
Bryan Mullins, a district manager in the circulation department of The Lima News, says it’s an on-going battle finding good carriers, especially in this tight job market.
“We wish we had more carriers as dependable as Colleen,” Mullins said. “She sets the standard pretty high.”
ROSES AND THORNS: A heroic rescue earns a firefighter a spot in the rose garden.
Rose: To Platoon Chief Jared Jenkins of the Bath Township Fire Department, who rescued a boy who was stranded on ice in the middle of a pond last Tuesday. Wearing a cold water rescue suit and tethered to the shore, Jenkins made his way out about 50 yards to reach the youth. Jenkins then had to convince the scared boy to allow him to assist the boy off the ice and back to shore.
Rose: To the friendly stranger who found the purse of 93-year-old Helen Stambor and made sure the Lima woman got it back. Helen left her purse on top of her son’s car. When they got to their destination the purse was gone. She thought it would be lost forever, but when she arrived home, the purse was waiting for her on her porch.
Thorn: Two days after a program about 1930s’ bank robber John Dillinger was held at the Allen County Museum, a white man wearing a neon yellow sweatshirt and sunglasses robbed the Chase Bank on Harding Highway around 10:39 a.m. Tuesday. The Allen County Sheriff’s Office used drones and K-9s to search for the thief, but he slipped away.
PARTING SHOT: You might as well laugh at your problems because everyone else is.
Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0391 or at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807.