We love food; forum was great; 30 years of Homemakers Show

By Gary Abernathy - [email protected]

We were getting ready last week to post onto Facebook reporter David Wright’s story on LaRosa’s moving into the former Dakota’s building, and I said to him, “Watch what happens.”

Sure enough, the story exploded on The Times-Gazette’s Facebook page. As of this writing, it has “reached” nearly 30,000 people, has 210 reactions (formerly called “likes”), 215 comments and a whopping 667 shares.

I was confident of the reaction based on what happened back in 2014 when we reported that Taco Bell had decided to rebuild here after its facility was destroyed by a fire. The celebration was immense, with reactions ranging from “Thank God!” to “Praise Jesus!” As I said in a column at the time, no matter what else is going on in Hillsboro, Highland County or the world in general, what we really care about is food.

Since 2014, Facebook has expanded the reactions users can register beyond mere “likes.” People can still use the old-fashioned thumbs up “like,” but can now express reactions that represent, according to Facebook, “love,” “haha,” “sad,” “wow” and “angry.” All that’s missing is a stoney-faced emoticon indicating ambivalence, but I guess if that’s how you feel, it would be contradictory to actually express it.

The reactions to the LaRosa’s story include 112 likes, 30 loves, 18 sads, 11 wows, 34 angrys and 5 hahas.

As I mentioned in 2014, newspapers get accused of writing headlines and stories just to sell papers. If we really wanted to do that, every day’s newspaper would include a front page story speculating on a new restaurant coming to town, aka, “Olive Garden heading to Hillsboro?”

Despite the “likes” and “loves” combining to far outnumber other reactions to LaRosa’s coming to town, a lot of comments said something like, “Just what we need, another pizza place.” Some comments seemed to blame city officials for not offering a bigger variety of eateries, as though it’s their decision.

Fortunately, a couple of others rightfully pointed out that local officials don’t decide such things. It’s not like we can take a vote on our favorite restaurant and force the winner to locate here.

LaRosa’s will do well. I know several people who are devoted to it and travel regularly to other places where LaRosa’s exists. Like many local pizza places, it offers a large menu beyond pizza pies.


On another subject, thanks again to everyone who helped make last week’s candidate forum sponsored by The Times-Gazette and the Wilmington News Journal, featuring Shane Wilkin and Beth Ellis, a big success. More than 150 turned out at the Southern State Community College North Campus in Wilmington for the debate featuring the Republican primary candidates for the 91st House District.

Special thanks again to Kevin Boys, president of SSCC, for going above and beyond the call of duty to make it happen, along with John Joy, North Campus director, who helped with some last minute chair setup when it became clear the people would outnumber the seats.

I thought both candidates acquitted themselves well. They were well prepared and answered the questions with intelligence and in a forthright manner. You can watch the forum on our YouTube page, www.youtube.com/thetimesgazette.


Finally, when we present our annual Homemakers Show this Thursday at Southern State’s Patriot Center in Hillsboro, it will mark the 30th such event. Sharon Hughes, our media sales director, has been the driving force behind the show since its inception, and she gets a lot of help from staff members Ann Runyon-Elam, Chuck Miller and Tracie Guisinger. It’s a pretty remarkable accomplishment involving a lot of planning and organizing.

For some reason that no one can quite remember, one year was apparently skipped, so it’s not technically 30 straight years. It’s 30 shows in 31 years.

The event also serves as a “food-raiser” for the Highland County Homeless Shelter, and it’s the biggest source of food collection each year for the shelter. Those who bring five non-perishable food items get one door prize ticket, and those who bring 10 get three tickets. As many as 100 door prizes are typically awarded.

Sheriff Donnie Barrera is always on hand with other volunteers to help collect the food. He says it’s one of his favorite things to do each year.

Doors open at 4 p.m. Thursday to visit the many vendors on hand and enjoy some food and other free items. The show kicks off at 6 p.m. This year, presenters from Kroger, Walmart and Lowe’s will offer their favorite recipes during the cooking demonstration. Tickets are available at our office at 108 Gov. Trimble Place, or call 937-393-3456. Look forward to seeing you there.

Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456, or follow on Twitter @AbernathyGary.


By Gary Abernathy

[email protected]