The Medina County Gazette The Medina County Gazette is a community newspaper serving Medina County, Ohio, since 1832. 2016-05-31T18:17:57Z http://medinagazette.northcoastnow.com/feed/atom/ WordPress Associated Press - The Chronicle-Telegram <![CDATA[Watchdog group wants Cincinnati Zoo held responsible in gorilla’s death]]> http://chronicle.northcoastnow.com/?p=301726 2016-05-31T16:02:57Z 2016-05-31T16:02:57Z CINCINNATI — An animal protection watchdog group Tuesday called on federal authorities to hold the Cincinnati Zoo responsible for the death of an endangered western lowland gorilla. The zoo’s director, Thane Maynard, said Monday it remains safe for its 1.6 million annual visitors despite a weekend tragedy in which a gorilla was fatally shot to Read More...

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CINCINNATI — An animal protection watchdog group Tuesday called on federal authorities to hold the Cincinnati Zoo responsible for the death of an endangered western lowland gorilla.

The zoo’s director, Thane Maynard, said Monday it remains safe for its 1.6 million annual visitors despite a weekend tragedy in which a gorilla was fatally shot to protect a 4-year-old boy who had entered its exhibit. But, he added that a review is underway to determine any improvements that can be made.

Maynard said the powerful gorilla was agitated and disoriented by the commotion during the 10 minutes after the boy fell and that the zoo stands by the decision to shoot 17-year-old Harambe. The boy was taken to a hospital and released Saturday evening; his family said he was “doing just fine” in a statement Sunday. He hasn’t been identified publicly.

The Cincinnati-based Stop Animal Exploitation NOW said the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which inspects zoo facilities, should fine the zoo for violating the Animal Welfare Act by having an exhibit in which people can gain access to animals. The zoo didn’t immediately respond Tuesday to requests for comment.

Tanya Espinosa, a spokeswoman for the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said Tuesday there wasn’t an investigation open yet, but that the service will “be looking into this incident.”

“The (zoo’s) barrier obviously isn’t sufficient to keep the public out,” the watchdog group’s executive director, Michael Budkie, told The Associated Press. “Otherwise, Harambe wouldn’t be dead.”

He said the zoo has had past issues, including in March, when two polar bears wandered through an open den door into a service hallway The zoo reported March 16 that zoo visitors were moved for safety after a male and female bear entered the behind-the-scenes service area, but remained contained.

Zoo staff moved the bears back to their main containment area with two hours, the zoo said at the time, adding that there were no injuries to bears or people.

Jack Hanna, host of “Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild,” said the zoo made the right call by shooting the gorilla. Hanna said he saw video of the gorilla jerking the boy through the water and knew what would happen if the animal wasn’t killed.

“I’ll bet my life on this, that child would not be here today,” Hanna told WBNS-TV.

In an interview with Boston television station WFXT, conservationist and television host Jeff Corwin suggested that the boy’s family should shoulder some of the blame, saying “zoos aren’t your baby sitter.”

“I don’t think this happened in seconds or minutes. I think this took time for this kid, this little boy, to find himself in that situation. Ultimately it’s the gorilla that’s paid this price,” he said.

A Cincinnati police spokesman said Sunday that no charges against the parents were being considered. A spokeswoman for the family said Monday they had no plans to comment.

“I do think there’s a degree of responsibility they have to be held to,” said Kate Villanueva, a mother of two children from Erlanger, Kentucky, who started the “Justice for Harambe” page and attended a Monday vigil for the gorilla outside the Cincinnati Zoo.

The Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas, where Harambe spent most of his life, said its staff is deeply saddened by the gorilla’s death. Harambe was sent to Cincinnati less than two years ago in hopes he would eventually breed with gorillas there.

Jerry Stones, facilities director at Gladys Porter Zoo raised Harambe since birth and has worked with the gorilla’s family since they first entered the U.S., the Brownsville Herald reported. He spoke Monday about his relationship with Harambe.

“He was a character. . He grew up to be a beautiful, beautiful animal, never aggressive and never mean,” Stones said, according to the newspaper. “He would tease the heck out of people and would do things to irritate you just like some kids.”

Stones said he would take Harambe home with him when the gorilla was a baby and let him sleep on his bed, according to KRGV-TV.

There are critics of the zoo’s decision to kill Harambe. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said the zoo should have had better barriers between humans and the gorillas.

Maynard said the atmosphere following the incident is “very emotional.”

“Not everyone shares the same opinion and that’s OK,” he said. “But we all share the love for animals.”

Maynard said the zoo has received messages of support and condolences from around the world, including from other zoo directors and gorilla experts. He said zoo visitors have been leaving flowers at the exhibit and asking how they could support gorilla conservation.

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Rick Noland - The Chronicle-Telegram - The Chronicle-Telegram http://chronicle.northcoastnow.com <![CDATA[LeBron ready for sixth straight NBA Finals appearance; will get rematch with Warriors]]> http://chronicle.northcoastnow.com/?p=301724 2016-05-31T15:58:41Z 2016-05-31T15:58:41Z INDEPENDENCE — One Cavaliers veteran unsuccessfully tried to claim he wasn’t impressed that teammate LeBron James — and James Jones, of course — will join Bill Russell and a handful of other members of the 1960s Boston Celtics as the only players to appear in six straight NBA Finals. “I don’t care about LeBron,” backup Read More...

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INDEPENDENCE — One Cavaliers veteran unsuccessfully tried to claim he wasn’t impressed that teammate LeBron James — and James Jones, of course — will join Bill Russell and a handful of other members of the 1960s Boston Celtics as the only players to appear in six straight NBA Finals.

Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) clasps hands with coach Tyronn Lue during the second half of Game 6 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals against the Toronto Raptors, Friday, May 27, 2016, in Toronto. CANADIAN PRESS VIA AP

Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) clasps hands with coach Tyronn Lue during the second half of Game 6 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals against the Toronto Raptors, Friday, May 27, 2016, in Toronto. CANADIAN PRESS VIA AP

“I don’t care about LeBron,” backup small forward Richard Jefferson quipped following practice Monday at Cleveland Clinic Courts. “Unless that man helps me get a championship, I don’t even know his last name, man.”

Jefferson, who appeared in two NBA Finals with the then New Jersey Nets, was in a fairly lighthearted mood as the Cavs awaited their next opponent.

Oklahoma City and Golden State met in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals Monday night, with the Warriors advancing to play the Cavs on Thursday at 9 p.m. Game 1 will be at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif.

“We want to play the winner,” Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said when asked if he had a preference.

The winner, for six straight years — and seven overall — in the Eastern Conference has been James, who didn’t speak to the media Monday but will be out to improve his 2-4 record in the finals.

“He’s a winner,” Lue said. “Getting to the finals six straight times is not easy. … You can’t take it for granted. It’s tough to get there. We understand that and he understands that. It just shows LeBron’s been a proven winner throughout his career.”

Jefferson, who serves as James’ backup in Cleveland, made the NBA Finals the first two years of his career — the Nets lost both times — then didn’t even get back to the conference finals until this season, the 15th of his career.

James, by contrast, will be in the finals for the seventh time in 13 seasons.

“When you start hearing that, that’s crazy,” Jefferson said. “We make jokes about the Celtics and how they won all the championships and how they had eight Hall of Famers. You’re just like, ‘Well, they were dominant, but it was easy to be dominant in that era.’ That’s no disrespect to them.”

To illustrate his point, Jefferson mentioned early New York Yankees dynasties and John Wooden’s run of NCAA titles at UCLA before adding, “In this day and age, to see LeBron do something like that and it hasn’t been done in 50 years, that’s crazy.”

The next step for James, Lue, Jefferson and the rest of the Cavs is to finish the job.

“For the most part, you’re not satisfied,” Jefferson said. “It’s tough to enjoy it when you’re so close to the finish line. You can’t slow up. You can’t start waving to people. You have to cross that finish line until you can really, really enjoy where we are.”

A title would be Cleveland’s first in a top-level, major pro sport since 1964, but that doesn’t appear to be weighing on the players in any way.

“That means absolutely nothing to me,” Jefferson said. “I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way to Cleveland. We’re doing this for the team, we’re doing this for our guys, we’re doing this for our families, we’re doing this for the people that believe in us and we’re happy to be doing it in Cleveland.”

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Associated Press - The Chronicle-Telegram <![CDATA[NBA Playoffs: Finals matchup set as Warriors beat Thunder in Game 7]]> http://chronicle.northcoastnow.com/?p=301723 2016-05-31T15:49:25Z 2016-05-31T15:49:25Z OAKLAND, Calif. — Stephen Curry knocked down yet another 3-pointer in the waning moments, pulled his jersey up into his mouth and yelled to the rafters in triumph once more. A special, record-setting season saved for the defending champs, with a memorable comeback added to the long list of accomplishments. Splash Brothers Curry and Klay Read More...

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OAKLAND, Calif. — Stephen Curry knocked down yet another 3-pointer in the waning moments, pulled his jersey up into his mouth and yelled to the rafters in triumph once more.

A special, record-setting season saved for the defending champs, with a memorable comeback added to the long list of accomplishments.

Splash Brothers Curry and Klay Thompson carried the 73-win Warriors right back to the NBA Finals, as Golden State rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 96-88 on Monday night in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals.

Now, Curry and Co. are playing for another NBA title — just as they planned since Day 1 of training camp in September.

Bring on LeBron James again.

“You appreciate how tough it is to get back here,” Curry said. “You’ve got to be appreciative of this accomplishment, and look forward to getting four more wins.”

The MVP scored 36 points with seven 3-pointers to finish with an NBA-record 32 in a seven-game series, and also had eight assists. Thompson added 21 points and six 3s, two days after his record 11 3-pointers led a Game 6 comeback that sent the series home to raucous Oracle Arena for one more.

The Warriors became the 10th team to rally from a 3-1 deficit and win a postseason series. They return to the NBA Finals for a rematch with James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who lost the 2015 title in six games as Golden State captured its first championship in 40 years.

Game 1 is Thursday night in Oakland.

“We survived by the skin of our teeth,” coach Steve Kerr said. “We were able to pull it out, and we’re moving on.”

His signature mouthpiece dangling out and the game ball cradled in his left hand, Curry pumped his right arm as yellow confetti fell through Oracle Arena once the final buzzer sounded.

With the Thunder trailing 90-86, Serge Ibaka fouled Curry on a 3-point try with 1:18 to go and the shot clock running out. Curry made all three free throws, then that 3-pointer to seal it.

“This is who he is. Having a clutch performance in a Game 7, that’s Steph Curry,” Kerr said.

And Golden State’s beloved “Strength In Numbers” catchphrase coined by Coach of the Year Kerr was needed in every way.

“No one ever had any doubt that we could get this done,” Draymond Green said. “People have seen teams down 3-1 before but they ain’t seen many. They’ve definitely never seen a 73-win team down 3-1.”

Andre Iguodala joined the starting lineup for just the second time all season and the 2015 NBA Finals MVP hung tough against Kevin Durant, who scored 27 points on 10-for-19 shooting. Shaun Livingston’s breakaway, one-handed dunk late in the third provided a big lift off the Warriors bench.

Oklahoma City won Game 1 108-102 at deafening Oracle Arena, so Golden State never envisioned this one coming easily. Russell Westbrook had 19 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds for the Thunder.

“It hurts losing, especially being up 3 games to 1,” Durant said.

It took a quarter and a half for Thompson to warm up after his 41-point performance in a 108-101 win Saturday at Oklahoma City that sent the series back to the East Bay.

He missed his initial seven shots before hitting a 3 6:02 before halftime, energizing the Warriors in their first Game 7 at home in 40 years.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by Thompson and Iguodala pulled the Warriors within 54-51 with 7:57 left in the third. They tied it on Curry’s 3 at 7:21 and he followed with another 3 to give his team the lead.

Curry and Thompson each topped the previous record for 3s in a seven-game series, 28 by Dennis Scott and Ray Allen. Curry hit one over 7-foot Steven Adams in the third, and Thompson wound up with 30 3s.

Iguodala replaced Harrison Barnes in the starting lineup and what a move by Kerr, who did the same thing last year in crunch time. Iguodala made a pretty bounce pass through the paint to Green for Golden State’s first basket, and his smothering defense on Durant kept the Thunder star without a shot until his 3 at the 5:45 mark in the first. Durant had just nine points on five shots in the first half.

But Oklahoma City dictated the tempo with snappy passes and the hard, aggressive rebounding that had been such a part of its success this season. The Thunder couldn’t sustain it.

“They won a world championship last year, and they’ve broken an NBA record, and people are already talking about it before the playoffs started, this may be the greatest team to ever lace them up in the history of the NBA,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said.

The Warriors, who fell behind 35-22, lost their last Game 7 at home: 94-86 to Phoenix in the Western Conference finals on May 16, 1976.

TIP-INS

Thunder: The Thunder’s 12 third-quarter points were the fewest allowed by Golden State in a playoff third quarter during the shot clock era. … Durant took nine shots in the first 33:25. … Oklahoma City led by as many as 13 in the first half. … Donovan celebrated his 51st birthday. … The Thunder and Portland Trail Blazers, Golden State’s opponent the previous round, are the only teams to beat the Warriors twice this season.

Warriors: The Warriors are 4-4 all-time in Game 7s — 3-1 at home. … Iguodala earned his first since Jan. 2 against Denver. … Golden State wasn’t whistled for its first foul until 2:34 in the first. … The Warriors’ 42 first-half points were their fewest at home this season. … Curry hit a 3 in his 51st straight playoff game.

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Elizabeth Dobbins - The Chronicle-Telegram <![CDATA[Brunswick marks holiday with parade, presentation]]> http://medinagazette.northcoastnow.com/?p=293951 2016-05-31T14:32:32Z 2016-05-31T14:32:32Z Read More...
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State Sen. Larry Obhof, R-Montville Township, and state Rep. Steve Hambley, R-Brunswick, joined many Brunswick and Brunswick Hills Township officials at the Memorial Day parade Monday starting at Visintainer Middle School in Brunswick.

During a short speech, Obhof said growing up in the United States was an honor. Hambley spoke about the difference between government and country, highlighting the importance of supporting the latter. “May we in government aspire to be worthy of their support,” he said.

The Monday morning presentation and parade was organized by Brunswick Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9520 and American Legion Post 234.

The Brunswick Summer Celebration queen and court, Ladies Auxiliary America Legion and VFW and several Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, among others, marched in the parade.


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Elizabeth Dobbins - The Chronicle-Telegram <![CDATA[Hinckley Township parade followed by solemn program]]> http://medinagazette.northcoastnow.com/?p=293900 2016-05-31T13:24:02Z 2016-05-31T13:24:02Z Read More...
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Residents waved from cars and children scrambled for candy at the Hinckley Memorial Day parade, but the short program that followed the parade was more solemn.

The Highland High School Marching Band performed the national anthem and Vietnam veteran Jack Forester presented the holiday address.

A recognition of fallen veterans and rifle volley followed his speech.

The parade Monday morning drew hundreds of spectators who watched the procession of about 25 groups, including Our Savior Lutheran Church, the Hinckley Township Fire Department and the Ancient Order of Hibernians.


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Obituaries - The Chronicle-Telegram <![CDATA[Carl E “Dood” Crebs]]> http://medinagazette.northcoastnow.com/?p=293896 2016-05-31T15:29:06Z 2016-05-31T09:32:17Z Read More...
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AA - don't move -OBIT FLAGCarl E “Dood” Crebs, 77, of West Salem, died Sunday evening, May 29, 2016, surrounded by his loving family.
Funeral Services will be Thursday June 2, 2016 at1 P.M., at the Matteson Funeral Home in West Salem, with the Reverend Margaret Bailey officiating. Friends will be received Wednesday evening, June 1, 5 until 8 P.M., at the funeral home. Burial will be at a later date in West Salem Cemetery.
He was born December 19, 1938 in Lodi, the son of Claude and Viola (McBride) Crebs. He served in the U.S. Army during Vietnam, serving in the Dominion Republic. He retired in 2001 from Holmes Wayne Electric Company for 46 years. He was a member of the Amvets Local 149 of Wiggletown.
Dood is survived by his loving wife and soulmate, Linda (Burden-Grimwood) Crebs, who he married May 17, 1996; children, Lori (Martin) Riffel and Steve Crebs of West Salem, Wendy (Tim) Grimwood of South Carolina, Robin (Dana) French of Ashville, Ohio and Tammy (Matt) Boehringer of Florida; 11 grandchildren and eight great- grandchildren.
His parents, two sisters, Pauline Bell and Norma Jean Crebs and six brothers, Donald, Kenneth, Raymond, Robert, Charles and Ralph Crebs died previously
Online condolences may be shared at mattesonfh.com


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Obituaries - The Chronicle-Telegram <![CDATA[Clyde Johnson]]> http://medinagazette.northcoastnow.com/?p=293894 2016-05-30T21:09:03Z 2016-05-31T09:31:19Z Read More...
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AA - don't move -OBIT FLAGClyde Johnson, 87, of Spencer, passed away Saturday, May 28, 2016, at the Sanctuary of Medina. He was born June 26, 1928 in Litchfield, to Clyde, Sr. and Edith (Ross) Johnson.
He served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Korean War. Clyde farmed most of his life and had also been a truck driver for Parker Transfer in Elyria for over 30 years, before retiring in the early 80s. He was a member of the Chatham VFW, Creston Moose, and Medina Eagles.
He is survived by his daughters, Lori Aylard of Medina, Robin (Steve) Gammell of Chatham, Penny (Fritz) Hauff of West Salem; five grandchildren, Ashley Dunn, Stacy Gammell, Bradley and Derek Hauff and Jarette Wilson; one great- grandson, Waylon Dunn.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Ruby; sisters, Hazel, Mid, Florence, Irene, Loreen, Mabel and Dorothy and a brother, Paul.
Funeral Services will be held Friday, June 3, at 11 A.M., at the Parker Funeral Home, 210 Medina St., Lodi, (330-948-1122). Pastor Patty Humphress will officiate. Visitation will be Thursday, June 2, from 5 until 8 P.M., at the funeral home. Burial will be at the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman, Monday, June 6, at 10:30 A.M.
Online condolences may be shared at www.parkerfuneralhomes.com


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Obituaries - The Chronicle-Telegram <![CDATA[Timothy Edward Williamson]]> http://medinagazette.northcoastnow.com/?p=293891 2016-05-30T21:07:55Z 2016-05-31T09:30:54Z Read More...
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AA - don't move -OBIT FLAGWilliamson_TimTimothy Edward Williamson, 68, of Brunswick, passed away suddenly, Saturday May 28, 2016, at his residence. He was born July 5, 1947 in Bedford, to James Edward and Lois (nee Frank) Williamson.
Tim and Barbara (nee Schmidt) would have celebrated 35 years of marriage in July. Tim was a U.S. Navy Seabee veteran, serving in Vietnam. He was employed with NTB as an auto mechanic. Tim enjoyed working around the house, creating or repairing and doing woodworking projects.
He will be dearly missed by his beloved wife; daughters, Lori (Walter) Asbury, Robin (Nicholas) Collins and son, Steven (Teresa); 10 grandchildren; his brother, Terry (Joan) and sisters-in-law, Dorothy Manwell, Dee-Dee (Mark) Maurice; brother-in-law, Richard (Ellen) Schmidt and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents.
There will be no Services at this time. Inurnment, at a later date, will be in Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman.
Carlson Funeral Homes & Cremation Services, 1642 Pearl Road, (1/2 mile south of Route 303) Brunswick, have been entrusted with his arrangements.
Online condolences at www.carlsonfuneralhomes.com and www.funerallocation.com


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Obituaries - The Chronicle-Telegram <![CDATA[Roy Glenn Collins]]> http://medinagazette.northcoastnow.com/?p=293898 2016-05-30T21:21:50Z 2016-05-31T09:29:24Z Read More...
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AA - don't move -OBIT FLAGRoy Glenn Collins passed away peacefully on Monday, May 23, 2016, surrounded by family, after a brief stay at Hospice of Medina County.
Roy was born November 2, 1928 in Marysville, Tennessee. He met his wife, Marcia, in Watertown, New York while stationed there in the U.S. Army, as a mess sergeant. They wed May 10, 1952 in Brownville, New York and resided in Brunswick, where they had their only daughter, Amy in 1961.
Roy was an avid picker of fine antiques who loved spending time with family and the outdoors. He started the Northeast Ohio Antique and Classic Car Club with his wife and friends. People who knew Roy knew that family was the most important thing. He was often known as a prankster and always had a joke to tell friends. Even in death, Roy thought of others and graciously donated his body to science and education.
He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Marcia; daughter, Amy Kluck (Michael) of Valley City and cherished granddaughters, Corrice and Calla Caudill.


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Scott Petrak - The Chronicle-Telegram - The Chronicle-Telegram http://chronicle.northcoastnow.com <![CDATA[Browns’ Erving looking for on-field play to match off-field boost]]> http://chronicle.northcoastnow.com/?p=301542 2016-05-31T05:21:55Z 2016-05-31T05:21:55Z Offensive lineman Cameron Erving became a popular punching bag for fans last year as a rookie. Despite being the No. 19 pick, he started only four games, and only because of injury. When he did play, he was often overmatched, with the widely circulated videos to prove it. The public reaction to Erving changed recently, Read More...

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Offensive lineman Cameron Erving became a popular punching bag for fans last year as a rookie. Despite being the No. 19 pick, he started only four games, and only because of injury. When he did play, he was often overmatched, with the widely circulated videos to prove it.

The public reaction to Erving changed recently, and it has nothing to do with his offseason work as the presumptive starting center.

KRISTIN BAUER | CHRONICLE Elyria High School senior Elna Wright, 17, leaves her family home, in Elyria, with Cleveland Browns football guard Cameron Erving on Saturday evening, May 7.

KRISTIN BAUER | CHRONICLE
Elyria High School senior Elna Wright, 17, leaves her family home, in Elyria, with Cleveland Browns football guard Cameron Erving on Saturday evening, May 7.

He escorted Elyria High’s Elna Wright to prom. She suffers from Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia and is nonverbal and in a wheelchair. The story got national attention and struck a chord with many fans.

“Cameron Erving is a good man,” tweeted @Shaughnessy.

“Dear Johnny Manziel Look at how Cameron Erving handles his responsibility as a pro athlete and follow his lead. #PureClass,” tweeted @EdlundEric.

“Respect has great importance in everyday life. @BigErv_75 thank you for being An amazing soul,” tweeted @samyajames.

Erving experienced the positive reaction in person at Fan Fest earlier this month.

“Everybody really appreciated the fact that I did it,” Erving told The Chronicle-Telegram during organized team activities. “It was rewarding for me because getting a little bit of perspective, and I appreciate life a lot more. It’s awesome for everybody.”

Erving made it clear taking Wright, whose boyfriend had died, wasn’t to improve public perception. He was presented with the opportunity to do a good deed and jumped at it.

“Words can’t … I use awesome a lot when I speak of this, because it was just that type of experience for me,” he said. “It impacted me a lot. I appreciate her and her family for reaching out to me and giving me the opportunity to be a part of that night.”

The goodwill should stick with Erving at least until the preseason. Then his Year 2 on-field development will become a key storyline of the season.

Cameron Erving

Cameron Erving

After bouncing among positions as a rookie, if he can get comfortable at center and serve as a capable replacement for three-time Pro Bowler Alex Mack, who left in free agency, the Browns will have filled one of their most pressing needs. If he struggles with technique and power again, his first-round selection will be another stain on former general manager Ray Farmer’s resume and the Browns will need to begin the search for an anchor on the line.

Erving moved from left tackle to center in his senior year at Florida State and didn’t play the position in a game last year, so he said it’s premature to say he’s settled in less than two months into the offseason.

“It’s still getting used to the position. But I’ll definitely say that I’m making strides to becoming the player I want to be,” he said.

Hal Hunter is the new line coach, and Erving appreciates his focus on technique, which may have been the biggest culprit in Erving’s struggles last year. New coach Hue Jackson also gets a thumbs-up.

“He pushes you and he believes in you but he also criticizes you when you’re not doing something right,” Erving said. “Those are the types of things that help you. I haven’t mastered the position by any means, but I’m definitely making strides in the direction that I want to go.”

Erving (6-foot-5, 320 pounds) said he trained hard in the offseason, put on muscle and dropped about 8 percent body fat. He’ll need more than a better physique to fill Mack’s shoes.

“You can’t replace a guy like that,” Erving said. “You can only come in and create your own identity and that’s what I plan on doing.”

The ugly images from the rough rookie year will follow him until he gives people something better to remember. He was manhandled at times, including being walked back into the backfield or simply flattened by a defensive lineman on his way to the quarterback.

“I mean, it was tough, man,” he said. “I was a rookie and there were some very adverse situations. But those type of situations and those moments define who you are. Just being able to overcome whatever. Because when I look back at it, there were some plays that were pretty bad. But as a whole my experience as a rookie wasn’t horrible.”

Left guard Joel Bitonio worked out with Erving and right guard John Greco when the team reconvened for the offseason program, and came away impressed.

“He is a competitive kid and he wants to come in here and prove that he was a first-round draft pick for a reason,” Bitonio said. “I think he set his mind this offseason to come and make those changes and really try and fight and prove himself this year.”

Jackson has seen Erving grow since they’ve taken the field, calling him more vocal during practice.

“Alex was a very vocal guy, he made sure that he communicated things really well and I saw how guys reacted to how he played,” Erving said. “I try to take some of the bits and pieces from his game and try to add them to what I know and I try to add them to the type of player that I am.

“Just being vocal, that’s natural, but at the same time I’m just trying to be the best teammate I can be. And the best teammate that I can be and the best teammate that the guys on the team need, are they need a vocal center, they need someone who can lead and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Erving has a fresh start under a new coaching staff. He also has been given a second chance by many of the same fans brutal toward him last season but moved by his selfless display with a girl from Elyria.

“Life is bigger than football, and that’s what I want people to understand,” he said. “I love football and I play it because I love it and, not speaking on last year, but it was a rough time for me and at the same time I also learned a lot from it and it’s going to make me a better player in the future for it.

“People support me for me, and those true fans who are respectful, those are the guys you appreciate. And even those who aren’t, you appreciate the support either way it goes. I don’t really dwell on those types of things, the negativity, I just push forward and keep continuing to strive to be the person I want to be in the future.”

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